Let’s take a look at the Endo-cannabinoid System, or the ECS. I wanted to do research on this topic because I had not heard of this system before and it seemed like a lot of other people haven’t heard of it either.
Certainly, nobody in the mainstream, prior to about five years ago, was talking about ECS. The ECS is actually quite a new discovery. It was discovered in the early 90, about the same time that the Human Genome Project started. That may just be coincidence, but I would think that there is some connection between the two.
However, ECS is one of the oldest systems in our bodies, in fact almost every single mammal dating back to 600 million years ago offered evidence of having an ECS system. The ECS functions along with the other hormonal systems in the body. It is absolutely critical for the maintenance or the homeostasis of our bodies.
In a nutshell, cannabinoids are from the cannabis plant which trigger receptors that trigger our Endo-cannabinoid system. The cannabinoids are released into our system when the body has a need for them. It’s similar to when we feel like we are threatened, adrenaline is released and that allows us to move into a flight or fight type of response.
There are ECS receptors in almost every cell in our bodies and most of those are concentrated within the brain and central nervous system. This could be why cannabis is such a great medicinal plant, because there are high concentrations of receptors in the core systems of our body.
Basically, the Endo-cannabinoid system is one of the most important elements in maintaining the body’s internal balance, so it’s critical to our health. The systems that the Endo cannabinoid system regulates or mediates in are pain, appetite, sensation, inflammation, in thermal regulation, making sure that our bodies don’t overheat, ocular pressure, making sure that there’s not extra pressure on our eyes, our mood, energy and metabolism.
During the stress response, it’s not just adrenaline that’s released when we feel that flight or fight response it’s also and cannabinoids as well as other hormones. Our motivation, the reason we get up in the morning, and muscle control are all part of the hormonal system.
The ECS mediates the functioning of the liver, brain, heart, spleen and lymph nodes, long bones, blood cells and our nervous and immune systems. It’s really such an important part of our bodies, that when there is a depletion of Endocannabinoids, called cannabinoid deficiency, the body can start to shut down and become weaker. It usually takes a long time for this to happen, sometimes over months and years.
This gives you some idea how and why cannabis is such a great benefit to a lot of people with medical and psychological problems.
These are several symptoms of cannabinoid deficiency including, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, infant colic, glaucoma, severe menstrual cramps, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.
People suffering from Osteoarthritis have shown signs of pain relief after using cannabinoids. Studies of the use of CBD oils have shown that inflammation in joints is decreased with the use of cannabinoids.
With the legalization of cannabis in several US states and all of Canada, it is expected that medical research will increase ten-fold in the next five years.
The following information sheds some light on research that should be increasing in the area of the Endo-cannabinoid System.
The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy
Pál Pacher, Sándor Bátkai and George Kudos
The recent identification of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands has triggered an exponential growth of studies exploring the endocannabinoid system and its regulatory functions in health and disease. Such studies have been greatly facilitated by the introduction of selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists and inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism and transport, as well as mice deficient in cannabinoid receptors or the endocannabinoid-degrading enzyme fatty acid amidohydrolase.
In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. More importantly, modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few.
An impediment to the development of cannabinoid medications has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of plant-derived or synthetic agonists, mediated by CB1 receptors. However, this problem does not arise when the therapeutic aim is achieved by treatment with a CB1 receptor antagonist, such as in obesity, and may also be absent when the action of endocannabinoids is enhanced indirectly through blocking their metabolism or transport.
The use of selective CB2 receptor agonists, which lack psychoactive properties, could represent another promising avenue for certain conditions. The abuse potential of plant-derived cannabinoids may also be limited through the use of preparations with controlled composition and the careful selection of dose and route of administration.
The growing number of preclinical studies and clinical trials with compounds that modulate the endocannabinoid system will probably result in novel therapeutic approaches in a number of diseases for which current treatments do not fully address the patients’ need.
Here, we provide a comprehensive overview on the current state of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system as a target of pharmacotherapy.