Endogenous Cannabinoid SignalingVarious drugs of abuse have effects on our brains because they resemble the neurotransmitters that ourbrains produce. For example Endorphines and Enkephalins resemble exogenous morphine or heroin,Endogenous Anandamide resembles marijuana, acethylcholine resembles nicotine andcocaine/amphetamines resemble dopamine, etc.The endogenous cannabinoid signaling (ECS) is a complex endogenous signaling system comprised ofCannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), Endocannabinoid ligands, and proteins that are involved withendocannabinoid synthesis.To learn more:http://www.rtbot.net/play.php?id=B6QWT-WP09oAt present, there are two known types of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2, with mountingevidence of more.CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain, to be specific in the basal ganglia and in the limbicsystem, including the hippocampus. They are also found in the cerebellum and in both male and femalereproductive systems. CB1 receptors are absent in the medulla oblongata, the part of the brain stemresponsible for respiratory and cardiovascular functions. Thus, there is not a risk of respiratory orcardiovascular failure as there is with many other drugs. CB1 receptors appear to be responsible for theeuphoric and anticonvulsive effects of cannabis.
CB2 receptors are almost exclusively found in the immune system, with the greatest density in thespleen. While found only in the peripheral nervous system, a report does indicate that CB2 is expressedby a subpopulation of microglia in the human cerebellum.CB2 receptors appear to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and possibly other therapeutic effectsof cannabisAnandamide was discovered in 1992 and is our endogenous cannabinoid. It is synthesized in the bodyfrom N-arachidonoyl phosphatidylethanolamine by multiple pathways.Endogenous anandamide is present at very low levels and has a very short half-life due to the action ofthe enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) which converts anandamide into ethanolamine andarachidonic acid. Inhibitors of FAAH lead to elevated anandamide levels and are being pursued for therapeutic use.Fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) activity has been linked with arousability and aversive-memoriesextinction.Paradoxically, Anandamide may help memory by helping us forget. The brains ability to weakenunimportant memories and experiences enables it to function more efficiently. Just as long termpotentiation (LTP) is important for remembering, long term depression (LTD) is important for forgetting.For this reason FAAH inhibitors are looked at in PTSD.Learn more:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309545/
CannabidiolCannabidiol is a component of marijuana that does not activate cannabinoid receptors, but inhibits thedegradation of the endo cannabinoid anandamide by inhibiting FAAH. A study published May 20th, 2012in Translational Psychiatry demonstrates that Canabidiol alleviates psychotic symptoms in schizophreniajust like the antipsychotic medication, without causing adverse effects:http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v2/n3/full/tp201215a.htmlThis is but one of the potential applications of Cannabidiol, but there are many more:In neurodegenerative disordersCannabidiol acts as an anti‐inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, antiemetic, anxiolytic andantipsychotic agent, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation,epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, respectively. Theneuroprotective potential of CBD, based on the combination of its anti‐inflammatory and antioxidantproperties, is of particular interest and is presently under intense preclinical research in numerousneurodegenerative disorders.