The Endogenous Cannabinoid System (ECS), also known as an “Endocannabinoid System,” regulates a range of biological functions. The ECS is a biochemical control system of neuromodulatory lipids and specialized receptors constructed to accept certain cannabinoids. Only particular classes of compounds are accepted by a given receptor and will be unaffected by other compounds. These specialized receptors are located throughout the body including the hippocampus (memory and learning), the cerebral cortex (decision making and emotional behavior), the cerebellum (motor control and coordination), putamen (movement and learning), hypothalamus (appetite and body temperature), and the amygdala (emotions). When a specific cannabinoid or combination of cannabinoids bind to a specialized receptor, a change in the cell’s activity occurs resulting in changes in its gene regulation as well as the signals to neighboring cells. This process is called “signal transduction.”
The primary cannabinoid receptors are identified as Cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1) and Cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2).
These receptors can accept the following types of cannabinoids:
Endocannabinoids: Endogenous-fatty-acid cannabinoids naturally produced in the body (e.g., anandamide and 2-AG)
Concentrated in the resin of flowers and leaves in plants such as Cannabis Sativa L (e.g., THC and CBD)
Manufactured by artificial means in a laboratory.
Science has shown that CB1 is not only detected in the brain, but also in many other organs, connective tissues, gonads, and glands; however, CB1 receptors are not found in the medulla oblongata, the part of the brain stem responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory functions. CB1 receptors are known to play a role in coordination, spatial orientation, sensory perceptions, cognitive function, and motivation. Another important function of CB1 receptors is the reduction of excessive or inadequate signaling of neurotransmitters in the brain. The activation of CB1 via cannabinoid therapy can help to regulate the hyperactivity and hypoactivity of the neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin and dopamine) *.
CB2 receptors are associated with the immune system and are found outside the brain including the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, and bones. Evidence has shown the beneficial therapeutic strategy of using CBD to reduce the impact of inflammatory and neuro-inflammatory diseases. Studies now show that CB2 also plays a role in the signal processing in the brain, whereas until recently, it was unknown that CB2 had any role relating to nerve cells or bundles. *
There is a third receptor called the transient receptor potential vanilloid-type one (TRPV1). Unlike the primary receptors CB1 CB2, TRPV1 detects and regulates body temperature. It is responsible for the sensations of external heat and pain and is subject to desensitization. If the pathway is continuously stimulated, it will eventually slow down or even stop. This raises the therapeutic possibilities for agents to effectively treat certain neuropathic pain with Cannabinoid therapy. *