CBD & The Human Endocannabinoid System

After Decades of research, scientists have only just begun to unlock the secrets of the human Endocannabinoid system. Discovering the HEcS is without a doubt one of the most important finds in human physiology. The HEcS is responsible for controlling and maintaining the body’s homeostasis (A Balanced regulation of every system in the body), it does this through two receptors called CB1 AND CB2.

While the body produces its own cannabinoids many scientists believe that most people suffer from “Cannabinoid Deficiency”. Without a sufficient amount of cannabinoids in our diet, the HEcS operates at a much less efficient rate, resulting in a general decline in overall health.

Supplementing your diet with full spectrum cannabinoids may be an essential part to maximizing your health.

The primary cannabinoid receptors are identified as either Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptors (CB1-R) and Cannabinoid Type 2 Receptors (CB2-R). These receptors can be “unlocked” by three kinds of cannabinoids,

1. Endocannabinoids
Endogenous Fatty-acid cannabinoids produced naturally in the body

2. Phytocannabinoids
Concentrated in the oily resin of the buds and leaves of plants such as Hemp.

3. Synthetic Cannabinoids
Manufactured by artificial means such as in a laboratory.

The Endocannabinoid System is found in every animal except for insects, and regulates a broad range of biological functions. The ECS is a biochemical control system of neuromodulatory lipids (molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A,D,E AND K and other) and specialised receptors configured to accept certain cannabinoids. in general, a given receptor will accept only particular classes of compounds and will be unaffected by other compounds, just as a specific key is needed to open a lock.

Specialised receptors are located throughout the human body, including but not limited to, in the hippocampus (memory, learning), the cerebral cortex (decision-making, emotional behaviour), the cerebellum (motor control, coordination), putamen (movement, learning), the hypothalamus (appetite, body temperature) and the amygdala (emotions). When a specific cannabinoid or combination of cannabinoids bind to a specialised receptor, an event or a series of events, is triggered in the cell, resulting in a change in the cell’s activity, its gene regulation and/or the signals that it sends to neighbouring cells. This process is called “signal transduction.” 

First detected in the brain, science now shows that CB1-R are also located in many other organs, connective tissues, gonads and glands. CB1-R are not found in the medulla oblongata (the part of the brain stem responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular functions). CB1-R play an important role in the coordination of movements, spatial orientation, sensory perceptions (taste, touch, smell, hearing), cognitive performance and motivation. 

The most important function of the CB1-R is the reduction of excessive or inadequate signalling by the neurotransmitters (messengers) in the brain. By the activation of the CB1-R, the hyperactivity or hypo-activity of the messengers (e.g., serotonin, dopamine) is regulated back into balance. For example, when THC binds to CB1-R, activity in the pain circuits is inhibited, thus resulting in reduced pain. Many other symptoms such as nausea, muscle spasticity and seizures can be alleviated or diminished with cannabinoid therapy.

CB2-R are primarily associated with the immune system and found outside of the brain in such places as the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands and reproductive organs. For example, CBD is keyed to CB2-R, and good evidence shows CBD is a beneficial therapeutic strategy to lessen the impact of inflammatory and Neuro-inflammatory diseases. Until recently, it was believed that CB-2R played no role with nerve cells or bundles. However, studies now show that it also plays an important role in the signal processing of the brain. 

A third receptor that gets little attention is the transient receptor potential vanilloid-type one (TRPV1). The function of TRPV1 is to detect and regulate body temperature. In addition, TRPV1 is responsible for the sensations of extreme external heat and pain and is subject to desensitisation. Therefore, if continuously stimulated, the pathway will eventually slow down or even stop. This raises therapeutic possibilities for agents to effectively treat certain kinds of neuropathic pain.

Key Phytocannabinoids

Cannabidiol (CBD)

A major phytocannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant extract. Extensive research has demonstrated CBD to be a powerful antioxidant and has the potential to treat a myriad of ischemic, age-related, inflammatory, and auto-immune disorders.

Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

The phytocannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of medical cannabis.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

May contribute to the overall analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effects of medical cannabis.

Cannabinol (CBN)

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid with analgesic properties that reportedly aids in sleep and appetite regulation.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

A homolog of cannabidiol (CBD) that has been reported to have powerful anti-convulsive effects.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

A non-psychoactive precursor and regulator of various key phytocannabinoids.

Cannabigerivarin (CBGV)

The propyl homologue of cannabigerol (CBG), CBGV has been shown to be holding great potential for treating cancer. CBGV was shown to be cytostatic in leukaemic cells and caused a simultaneous arrest at all phases of the cell cycle.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

The non-acidic form of cannabigerolic acid, cannagiberol is an adaptogenic molecule and is the “parent molecule” from which several other cannabinoids are made.