Endocannabinoid System: A Brief Overview
Alex Lototsky |
* DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It does not exploit or provide medical advice of any kind. Therefore, any reliance you place on the information below is strictly at your own risk. Please check with your medical provider before starting or changing a CBD routine.
The term 'endocannabinoid' was originally established in the mid-1990s after the discovery of cellular membrane receptors responsible for psychoactivity in Cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and their endogenous ligands (protein receptors). This now indicates a whole new signalling system that comprises of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands and enzymes that work concurrently with almost all other physiological systems.
This system seems to be involved in an increasing number of pathologies. With novel products already being aimed at the pharmaceutical market in just a little more than a decade since the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoid system seems to be very promising for the future development of therapeutic drugs.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been said to have a plethora of positive impacts on human physiology. Although much of the science is still in the preliminary stages, recent evidence is uncovering the truth about how important this system is and how it impacts other systems throughout the body.
Cannabinoids & Terpenes
Often times people hear the word “cannabinoid” and they instantly think, THC, MARIJUANA!
The truth is, yes, being that THC contains psychoactive properties it was one of the first to be highlighted in the cannabinoid family. However, THC is only one of over 421 chemical compounds that cannabis sativa produces, therefore only less than a half percent of what the plant produces and is capable of.
Yes, I know, it is ironic that the plant produces roughly 420 different chemical compounds and cannabinoids… Which includes over 80 different terpo-phenol profiles which are responsible for the different aromas and therapeutic responses that you can achieve with the usage of ingestible cannabinoids.
Recent literature from the past decade has explained that endocannabinoids have positive implications in achieving homeostasis (balance) within the renal system, gastrointestinal system, hepatic system, immune system, cardiovascular and the central nervous system. This is achieved through binding of these cannabinoids to receptors that are abundant in these systems that I explained above.
The endocannabinoid system is designed to not only regulate cannabinoid production within the body, it is also designed to receive external cannabinoids to assist in strengthening the ECS response and in turn regulating other systems more effectively.
So what does this all mean?
Well, there is still so much work to be done in terms of the research and science to solidify the safety and efficacy of hemp derived CBD oils. However, there is a broad range of evidence that continues to grow and point toward the effectiveness of CBD as a therapeutic agent.
It has been nearly three decades since the discovery of the ECS. Recent developments suggest that non-psychotropic phytocannabinoids exert a wide range of pharmacological effects, many of which are of potential therapeutic interest. The most studied among these compounds is CBD, the pharmacological effects of which might be explained by a combination of mechanisms of action. CBD has an extremely safe profile in humans, and it has been clinically evaluated (although preliminary) for the treatment of anxiety, psychosis, and movement disorders. There is good pre-clinical evidence to warrant clinical studies into its use for the treatment of diabetes, ischemia and cancer.
CBD Oil Dosage
The design of further clinical trials should: 1) consider the bell-shaped pattern of the dose–response curve that has been observed in pre-clinical pharmacology, and 2) establish if CBD is more effective or has fewer unwanted effects than other medicines. However, the establishment of these guidelines would require advisory from the food and drug administration (FDA).
CBD Oil For Pain
The pharmacology of THC-V is also intriguing because it has the potential of application in diseases such as chronic liver disease or obesity when it is associated with inflammation, in which CB1 blockade together with some CB2 activation is beneficial.
Concerning obesity treatment, it will be important in future studies to establish if THC-V is more effective or has fewer unwanted effects than rimonabant. Rimonabant was the first clinically available CB1 receptor antagonist, but was withdrawn from the market because of the increased risk of depression.
The plant Cannabis is a source of several other neglected phytocannabinoids such as CBC and CBG. Although the spectrum of pharmacological effects of these compounds is largely unexplored, their potent action at certain receptor sites (TRPA1 and TRPM8) might make these compounds new and attractive tools for pain management.
Completed Trials | Notable Conclusions
- Use of varying levels of CBD can help with reduction in seizures or spasticity for patients with seizure-related diseases
- Use of varying levels of CBD can help with reduction in pain
- Use of CBD has potentially aggressive adverse effects for patients with seizure-related diseases
- Use of CBD has little to no effect on cognitive side, e.g. moods
Use of CBD can decrease dependency on other drugs, such as opioids or even other cannabinoids
Overall, the trials show that CBD use has minimal adverse effects and does more good than harm. Between this mounting evidence and the recent FDA approval of Epidiolex, we should expect to see a steady rise of CBD use in pharmaceutical products, supported by the federal government and health- and nutraceutical industry regulators.
Research Targeting Pain | Notable Conclusions
- Use of CBD for pain is generally well tolerated, mostly depending on dosage levels, long-term vs. short-term
- CBD with physiological and psychological pain could be beneficial, no increased dosage for pain-relieving medications
- Mild-moderate adverse effects: dizziness, dry mouth
- Effective in reducing pain and improving sleep patterns
- Could be a good substitute for opioids to decrease dependency, especially in patients with extreme or chronic pain.
ATHLETE RELATIONS X PHYSIOLOGIST
Kai Pattison was born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Kai graduated with a Master’s degree in clinical physiology from Point Loma Nazarene University. He is very passionate about human physiology and the applications in sport performance, recovery and clinical diagnostics. Kai has specialized in cardiopulmonary diagnostics, exercise induced energy expenditure and metabolism. Kai has also gained extensive research experience at UCSD on Parkinson’s disease & fall-risk assessment. He enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of exercise to reduce risk of pro-inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. His passion for alternative medicine enables him to strive when promoting health and wellness.