What is the Endocannabinoid System?

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is a key homeostatic regulator in the body, playing a role in almost every physiological system in the body. For a long period of time it was overlooked as a possible therapeutic target, particularly because there was not much known about the implications of the system. However, with the incredible success stories reported from the use of cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), many medical scientists are shifting their focus onto the endocannabinoid system.

More conclusive evidence is coming to light supporting the theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency posited by Dr. Ethan Russo. Given the large number of symptom that are linked to endocannabinoid abnormalities, it is an area which will undoubtedly be explored further in the future.

Apart from cannabis derived compounds, it has recently come to light that many of the natural compounds interact with the system. CBD and CBDA are still considered the key compounds seeing that they're the ones that have shown the most efficacy, and their therapeutic evidence and value is growing daily. Research on CBD and CBDA is accumulating fast, and a vast number of pharmacological targets have already been revealed. The precise mechanism of action for both of these compounds still remains a mystery, but their pharmacological characteristics provide interesting clues as to how they work.

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Cannabidiol: How does it work?

The pharmacological action of CBD is very interesting, as it directly has very little action at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, it is able to block the actions of compounds which activate these receptors, such as THC. This property of CBD is important as it can suppress that psychoactivity of THC.

The enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is the enzyme responsible for the intracellular degradation of anandamide, and CBD has been shown to inhibit this enzyme. This way, CBD restores the anandamide levels by stopping its breakdown, thus potentially restoring clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.

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Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA): the precursor with an important role

CBDA is the acidic precursor of CBD. The conversion conventionally happens from a heat activated reaction, leading to the removal of the carboxyl group on CBD. As CBDA’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system is pretty limited, it is often overlooked as a therapeutic compound. This suggests that it may have promising properties for the treatment of many symptoms. CBDA has little affinity with the other receptors of the endocannabinoid system but is showing promising results.


cannabis plant

Molecules of synergic action

Many anecdotes have shown that CBD and CBDA work best in combination. Combinatory actions of compounds are required as symptoms are often caused by the misregulation of multiple physiological systems in the body. CBD and CBDA have incredible therapeutic properties, particularly as they complement each other’s activity.

Very recent data has revealed that acidic cannabinoids (such as CBDA) can help the uptake and metabolism of CBD or other phytocannabinoids. Moreover, administering CBDA with CBD decreases the amount of CBD required to achieve the same level of efficacy.

cannabis female
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