The Human Endocannabinoid System Produces Cannabinoids
Our body creates endogenous cannabinoids to promote a homeostasis environment in the body. The irony is that cannabis is federally illegal, yet the body creates the same cannabinoids as the cannabis plant, referred to as endocannabinoids.
Another shocker is that the human body also has many cannabinoid/THC receptors in major organs, such as the brain, gonads, glands, liver, heart, kidney and spleen. Let us not forget cannabinoid receptors are also found in your immune system. The underlying question is: why do we have THC receptors if cannabis plants have no benefits? Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology/oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and leading medical marijuana researcher stated that the human body actually produces its own endogenous cannabinoids, chemicals formerly known and associated with the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids bind to receptors throughout the body that regulate memory, cognition, motor coordination, movement, appetite, and emotions. Scientific research has been done on both animals and humans alike with the same results proving the body benefits from self-produced cannabinoids.
What is The Endocannabinoid System?
The “endocannabinoid system” was first identified by research scientists back in the early 1990’s. Located in our brains and throughout our bodies, the system is comprised of both cell receptors and the chemicals that bind to those receptors. Some of the most primitive creatures on earth have an endocannabinoid system, as it’s the most widespread receptor system within the human body. As such, it regulates important physiologic pathways in the human body, such as cardiovascular activity, gastrointestinal activity, maintenance of bone mass, protection of neurons, pain perception, hormonal regulation, metabolism control, inflammatory reactions, immune function, and inhibition of tumors cells. The varying pathways affected in the human body helps explain why cannabis has so many different effects on people.
Two categories of receptors make up the cannabinoid receptor system:
CB1 receptors – these receptors are mostly found in the brain, spinal cord and organs, such as the heart, uterus, small intestine, testis, liver, and peripheral cells
CB2 receptors – these receptors are mostly found on cells of the immune system, including T-cells, B-cells and macrophages, and the spleen
What are Cannabinoids and Where Do They Come From?
Cannabinoids, located within the marijuana plant, are the chemical compounds that contain medical and euphoric properties. THC and CBD, the two main cannabinoids, bind to distinct receptors in order to regulate a natural state in the body.
These cannabinoids can be found in three different areas:
Endocannabinoids – these cannabinoids are naturally produced by the body on demand, commonly as a response to injury
Synthetic cannabinoids – these cannabinoids are considered artificial, as they are produced in a lab setting
Phytocannabinoids – these cannabinoids are also naturally produced, they are created by the cannabis plant. Including TCH and cannabidiol, there are more than 113 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant
The interaction between cannabinoids and receptors work in a lock and key like fashion. In this dynamic, the receptor serves the role of the lock and the cannabinoid molecule is the key. A brain and body reaction is triggered when the cannabinoid molecule attaches to the receptor on the cell wall.
Let’s take the area of the brain that controls memories as an example, the amygdala. Memory is affected when cannabinoids bind to receptors on the amygdala. In this case, for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), memories are affected, as the triggering of the cannabinoid receptor changes brain function.
The Body Produces Cannabinoids to Promote a Healthy Balance
Whether you are curious about cannabis or are a cannabis enthusiast, the fact is that nature doesn’t make mistakes when it comes to how the body regulates itself. Cannabinoids are vital to our overall health and wellness and are key to aiding our body. This function of regulation allows the cells to maintain optimum levels of performance. Almost every animal has an endocannabinoid system that provides the same homeostasis function. When the body lacks endocannabinoids, the medical term is clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. This deficiency comes with ailments such as IBS, migraines, and fibromyalgia. At the 2016 Cannabis Health Summit Dr. Suni Aggarwal lectured about how endocannabinoids play a role in regulating:
· Pain perception
· Muscle tone and movement
· Extinction of traumatic memory
· Protection of nerves and brain tissue
· Bone growth
· Tumor regulation
· Baby breast-feeding reward
· Stress management
· Eye pressure
· Gastrointestinal motility
· Seizure activity
· And many others
Whether you’re a cannabis enthusiast or are against usage of the plant, the facts are clear: the body naturally produces the same cannabinoids found in cannabis to promote a homeostasis environment.