One of the most vital systems of our body that plays key roles in regulating certain functions of other systems in the body and other activities of the body. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) releases certain compounds that affix themselves to neural receptors and induce several positive effects in the body. Let’s begin with the basics.
Endocannabinoid System: Definition and key Components
The ECS is a nerve cell stimulating system in the body that is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a state of equilibrium with optimal organ function. This keeps all physical, cognitive, and emotional functions in the body balanced. The ECS contains 3 main components:
The endocannabinoids also called endogenous cannabinoids are lipid-based compounds produced by the body with similar molecular structure and function od cannabinoids obtained from cannabis plants. They carry the signals from one cell to the other.
Based on research, there are two identified endocannabinoids produced by our body:
These compounds are produced based on the body’s requirements to ensure smooth functioning and homeostasis.
Throughout the body, the cell surface has cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid compounds bind themselves to the receptor and stimulate appropriate responses in the body. The type of response stimulated by the endocannabinoid is based on the type of receptor it is binding with. There are two recognized types of cannabinoid receptors in the ECS:
CB1 Receptor: it is present in the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. Endocannabinoids binding to a CB1 receptor generally stimulates pain relief.
CB2 Receptor: It is present in the peripheral nervous system and in immune cells. Endocannabinoids binding to this receptor generally stimulates an immune response like anti-inflammatory effects, relieve symptoms of autoimmune disorders, etc.
The enzymes in the ECS break down the endocannabinoid compounds to be reused by the body during successive neurotransmission. These enzymes are present in the nerve cells and there are two principle enzymes in the ECS:
Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) that breaks down AEA
Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) that breaks down 2-AG
Release of Endocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids originate from fat cells of cell membranes and are released when an endocannabinoid receptor is activated. When the ECS detects that the body is facing an abnormality, the endocannabinoids bind to the respective neural receptors to stimulate appropriate responses and restore balance in the body. The enzymes act on the endocannabinoids once homeostasis is achieved to prevent hyperactivity of the endocannabinoids.
Therapeutic Functions of the ECS
The ECS is a complicated system and more research is being done on how they function and their potential in restoring homeostasis.
The ECS plays a vital role in the functioning of various systems:
Central nervous system
The ECS is also helpful in regulating certain functions like:
Memory and learning
More research is being made on how the ECS brings about necessary responses to regulate homeostasis.
Interaction of CBD with the ECS
Cannabinoids are obtained from plants and have similar effects and molecular structures to endocannabinoids in the ECS. the cannabis plant yields several compounds. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two compounds that are exclusively used by the ECS. CBD is used to induce pain relief and immune response in the body, unlike THC which gives a “high” on iterating with the ECS.
Based on current research, the CBD interacts with the ECS but not enough research is made to understand how it works exactly.
Some research points that CBD prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, thereby increasing their effect on the body.
Some research says that the CBD molecules bind to CB1-R and CB-R of the ECS and stimulate the same effects of the endocannabinoids.
But the available data and research it has been proven that CBD has several therapeutic functions and helps relieve symptoms like pain, nausea, and other symptoms linked with several conditions
Therapeutic Effects of CBD
It helps in the treatment of neurological diseases and symptoms like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Multiple sclerosis, Alcohol-induced neurodegeneration/neuroinflammation, Traumatic brain injury, Stroke, and Seizures.
CBD is used to manage autoimmune disorders due to its reactivity with immune cells. They are used for Autoimmune uveitis, Systemic sclerosis, Inflammatory bowel disease, and HIV-1 brain infection.
It can be sued to treat psychiatric disorders and symptoms like Anxiety disorders, Bipolar disorder, Personality disorders, Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, Substance abuse, and addictions, Anorexia nervosa, and Atherosclerosis.
Some gastrointestinal disorders like Alcoholic and chronic liver diseases, Gut motility disorder, Inflammatory bowel syndrome can also be treated with CBD.
It is unclear as to what causes a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) to occur. But a decreased activity or disfunction of the ECS or reduced levels of endocannabinoids in the body can cause migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
More research is being made on how CECD can be reversed or treated as Endocannabinoids play a vital role in ensuring homeostasis and overall balance in the body.
Based on extensive research made in the past, there is enough evidence to state that the ECS is vital for the normal functioning of the body and reinstating homeostasis. Every day, the mind, and body is exposed to several stresses and factors that can contribute to disorders and diseases that can alter the quality of life and overall well-being.
There are also a number of inherited disorders that can hinder everyday lifestyles. The ECS plays a vital role in regulating and establishing balance to the mind and body in several aspects. Its interaction with vital systems in the body and its effect on mental, and emotional functions can help us stay healthy and whole by preventing and curing major discomforts and symptoms associated with life-altering conditions and diseases.