Balance is Health: The Endocannabinoid system
Keeping the Equilibrium in Your Endocannabinoid System
Until 1990ties, although much more phytocanabinoids were discovered, the mechanisms of their function were still a secret. A breakthrough was made after discovery of two forms of cannabinoid receptors for which THC and CBD bond to. They were named CB1 and CB2.
It took joining forces of molecular biology, neurology and other fields of medical research. That is to discover that CB1 and CB2 are just a part of much wider system, the ECS.
This network of receptors and transmitters, which works in parallel to our Nervous and Immune System. Regulates feeding, response to diseases, stress reaction, energy levels and storage, cognition and memory, but also relaxation and sleep.
It is common to all chordates and consists of three components: a) Endocannabinoids, b) Cannabinoid receptors c) Regulatory enzymes.
Scientists realized that ECS is following all the major processes in body. Influencing functions such as sleep, appetite, cognition, but also in our ability to fight against diseases, and doing so on a cellular level. Key word regarding Endocannabinoid System is keeping the equilibrium or the homeostasis in our body.
Bring the Balance Back…
It was discovered that cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 have much larger density. Than any other form of cell membrane receptors in our body. CB1 receptor – responsive to THC, is predominantly found in the brain, and Central Nervous System. It is particularly concentrated in areas that have to do with mediating pain. And limbic system controlling the motion, and reward pathways. So it has lot influence upon how we relate to food, sexuality, or drugs for that matter.
CB2 is found in organs connected to protective function like Spleen, Tonsils. But also in digestive track, as in bowels it prevents inflammatory processes. CB2 receptors act like parallel immune system and stay relatively inactive in healthy state. But when times get rough, that changes.
For example in brain injury, blood vessels constrict which in effect starves the brain. And one of the function of the Endocannabinoid system is to send impulse that promote dilatation of blood vessels. That is to bring back the system to balance.
ECS has a role to play in cardiac and bone physiology, helping the bone fracture healing. It is the homeostatic regulator of overall physiology of our body.
The Bliss Compound
It was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam team of researchers that Endocannabinoid System produces its own cannabinoids also. This fatty acid neurotransmitter was named Anandamide that binds mostly to the CB1 receptor.
It is sometimes also named Bliss compound, because as it acts as mood enhancer. Although it doesn’t have the same structure as THC it acts in the very same way. Anandamide plays important role in sleeping and feeding regulation, motivation and pleasure sensation.
Recent studies found that cannabinoids our body produces are found in mother’s milk. Where they play significant role in infant development. Its first function is to support the breastfeeding by providing incentive for the child to feed. In the same time it helps for infant to cope with the stress and bond with mother. ECS plays an important role in pre birth development, preventing the mother’s bodily defense mechanisms.