Understanding the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabinoids

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July 15, 2020

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been considered one of the most significant scientific discoveries of modern times. But why is it so important? The ECS allows our bodies to interact with THC and feel the mind-altering effects of cannabis, but it does so much more than that. It is one of the 12 major systems in our body. It is integrally involved in maintaining balance within the body systems (aka homeostasis) and also has physiological functions like regulating inflammation and pain. The endocannabinoid system also allows us to receive the benefits of other cannabinoids like CBN, CBD, CBG, and more.  

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is made up of three main components: Endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and metabolic enzymes. 

Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are endogenous lipids, meaning they are made by your body, and they engage cannabinoids receptors. The two different kinds are 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglyerol) and AEA (anandamide). 2-AG assists in reducing inflammation, sleep, memory, pain, bone health, mood regulation, and reproduction. Anandamide is one some people are familiar with, as it is responsible for “Runner’s High.” It is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” and also plays a role in appetite, pain, and fertility. 

Endocannabinoid Receptors

These receptors’ role is to accept biological cues and then transport vital information from cell to cell for activation and deactivation processes in the body. This is done through two main types of sensors; CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are concentrated mostly in the central nervous system (CNS) in the spinal cord and brain. CB2 receptors reside on the peripheral nervous system (PNS), immune cells, and gastrointestinal tract. There are other receptors that also play a role; TRPA1 and TRPV1. TRPA1 receptors are found in the lungs, stomach, muscle, kidneys, and skin. TRPV1 receptors are concentrated in the stomach, liver, tongue, kidneys, ovaries, bone marrow, and blood. 

Metabolic Enzymes

The metabolic enzymes responsible for the degradation and synthesis of endocannabinoids are FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) and MAGL (monoacylglycerol acid lipase). They are unique and help identify endocannabinoids from other molecules because rather than being stored, they are synthesized on demand. FAAH typically breaks down AEA, and MAGL breaks down 2-AG. 

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a class of chemical compounds found in cannabis and hemp. Other plants produce cannabinoids as well, but the highest concentration is found in cannabis and hemp, and many of these cannabinoids are only produced in cannabis. Cannabinoids are considered the cornerstone of cannabis’ ability to bring healing and pain relief. They interact directly with the endocannabinoid system via the CB1 and CB2 receptors. There are over 100 different cannabinoids that have been isolated so far. The most well-known cannabinoids include THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), CBG (Cannabigerol), and CBN (Cannabinol).

 

THC (Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis and is responsible for the euphoric feeling that comes with ingesting THC. The effects of THC are facilitated by CB1 receptors. 

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is becoming almost as commonly known as THC. It is a great non-psychoactive way to benefit from cannabis. CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors. TRPV1 receptors are known to influence pain perception. 

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG is a chemical precursor to THC and CBD and is non-psychoactive. CBG interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, boosts anandamide, and may possibly inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. 

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN is growing in popularity and has virtually no psychoactive effects on the user. It is produced through the degradation of THC. CBN shows a higher affinity for binding to CB2 receptors. 

Ready to Experience the Benefits of CBN?

CBN can be beneficial for those experiencing insomnia and trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Some users report that CBN has a sedative effect that keeps them from counting sheep night after night. CBN is a great alternative to over the counter or prescription sleep aids. Slumber CBN provides certified CBN products that are made in Colorado from organically grown hemp. Don’t miss out on another night of restful sleep!

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