The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological CBD system that you already have

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The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the mammalian central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system.

The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes including fertility, pregnancy, during pre- and postnatal development, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis.

The ECS is also involved in mediating some of the physiological and cognitive effects of voluntary physical exercise in humans and other animals, such as contributing to exercise-induced euphoria as well as modulating locomotor activity and motivational salience for rewards.

In humans, the plasma concentration of certain endocannabinoids (i.e., anandamide) have been found to rise during physical activity; since endocannabinoids can effectively penetrate the blood–brain barrier, it has been suggested that anandamide, along with other euphoriant neurochemicals, contributes to the development of exercise-induced euphoria in humans, a state colloquially referred to as a runner's high.

Two primary endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1, first cloned in 1990; and CB2, cloned in 1993.

CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues, and are the main molecular target of the endocannabinoid ligand (binding molecule), anandamide, as well as its mimetic phytocannabinoid, THC.

One other main endocannabinoid is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) which is active at both cannabinoid receptors, along with its own mimetic phytocannabinoid, CBD. 2-AG and CBD are involved in the regulation of appetite, immune system functions and pain management.

Functions of the endo cannabinoid system:

Memory

CBD's do not have the adverse affect on memory as THC does.
Mice treated with TetraHydroCannabidiol (THC) show suppression of long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, a process that is essential for the formation and storage of long-term memory.

These results concur with anecdotal evidence suggesting that smoking cannabis impairs short-term memory.

Consistent with this finding, mice without the CB1 receptor show enhanced memory and long-term potentiation indicating that the endocannabinoid system may play a pivotal role in the extinction of old memories. 

Role in hippocampal neurogenesis
In the adult brain, the endocannabinoid system facilitates the neurogenesis of hippocampal granule cells. In the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, multipotent neural progenitors (NP) give rise to daughter cells that, over the course of several weeks, mature into granule cells whose axons project to and synapse onto dendrites on the CA3 region. NPs in the hippocampus have been shown to possess fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and express CB1 and utilize 2-AG.

Induction of synaptic depression
The inhibitory effects of cannabinoid receptor stimulation on neurotransmitter release have caused this system to be connected to various forms of depressant plasticity. A recent study conducted with the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis found that the endurance of the depressant effects was mediated by two different signaling pathways based on the type of receptor activated. 2-AG was found to act on presynaptic CB1 receptors to mediate retrograde short-term depression (STD) following activation of L-type calcium currents, while anandamide was synthesized after mGluR5 activation and triggered autocrine signalling onto postsynapic TRPV1 receptors that induced long-term depression (LTD).

Similar post-synaptic receptor dependencies were found in the striatum, but here both effects relied on presynaptic CB1 receptors.[26] These findings provide the brain a direct mechanism to selectively inhibit neuronal excitability over variable time scales. By selectively internalizing different receptors, the brain may limit the production of specific endocannabinoids to favor a time scale in accordance with its needs.

Appetite
Evidence for the role of the endocannabinoid system in food-seeking behavior comes from a variety of cannabinoid studies. Emerging data suggests that THC acts via CB1 receptors in the hypothalamic nuclei to directly increase appetite.

It is thought that hypothalamic neurons tonically produce endocannabinoids that work to tightly regulate hunger. The amount of endocannabinoids produced is inversely correlated with the amount of leptin in the blood.

For example, mice without leptin not only become massively obese but express abnormally high levels of hypothalamic endocannabinoids as a compensatory mechanism. Similarly, when these mice were treated with an endocannabinoid inverse agonists, such as rimonabant, food intake was reduced.

Energy balance and metabolism
The endocannabinoid system has been shown to have a homeostatic role by controlling several metabolic functions, such as energy storage and nutrient transport. It acts on peripheral tissues such as adipocytes, hepatocytes, the gastrointestinal tract, the skeletal muscles and the endocrine pancreas. It has also been implied in modulating insulin sensitivity. Through all of this, the endocannabinoid system may play a role in clinical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, which may also give it a cardiovascular role.

Stress response
While the secretion of glucocorticoids in response to stressful stimuli is an adaptive response necessary for an organism to respond appropriately to a stressor, persistent secretion may be harmful. The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in the habituation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) to repeated exposure to restraint stress. Studies have demonstrated differential synthesis of anandamide and 2-AG during tonic stress. A decrease of anandamide was found along the axis that contributed to basal hypersecretion of corticosterone; in contrast, an increase of 2-AG was found in the amygdala after repeated stress, which was negatively correlated to magnitude of the corticosterone response. All effects were abolished by the CB1 antagonist AM251, supporting the conclusion that these effects were cannabinoid-receptor dependent.

These findings show that anandamide and 2-AG divergently regulate the HPA axis response to stress: while habituation of the stress-induced HPA axis via 2-AG prevents excessive secretion of glucocorticoids to non-threatening stimuli, the increase of basal corticosterone secretion resulting from decreased anandamide allows for a facilitated response of the HPA axis to novel stimuli.

Exploration, social behavior, and anxiety
These contrasting effects reveal the importance of the endocannabinoid system in regulating anxiety-dependent behavior. Results suggest that glutamatergic cannabinoid receptors are not only responsible for mediating aggression, but produce an anxiolytic-like function by inhibiting excessive arousal: excessive excitation produces anxiety that limited the mice from exploring both animate and inanimate objects. In contrast, GABAergic neurons appear to control an anxiogenic-like function by limiting inhibitory transmitter release. Taken together, these two sets of neurons appear to help regulate the organism's overall sense of arousal during novel situations.

Immune function
Evidence suggests that endocannabinoids may function as both neuromodulators and immunomodulators in the immune system. Here, they seem to serve an autoprotective role to ameliorate muscle spasms, inflammation, and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis and skeletal muscle spasms.

Functionally, the activation of cannabinoid receptors has been demonstrated to play a role in the activation of GTPases in macrophages, neutrophils, and BM cells. These receptors have also been implicated in the proper migration of B cells into the marginal zone (MZ) and the regulation of healthy IgM levels.

Some disorders seem to trigger an up regulation of cannabinoid receptors selectively in cells or tissues related to symptom relief and inhibition of disease progression, such as in that rodent neuropathic pain model, where receptors are increased in the spinal cord microglia, dorsal root ganglion, and thalamic neurons.

Multiple sclerosis
Historical records from ancient China and Greece suggest that preparations of Cannabis indica were commonly prescribed to ameliorate multiple sclerosis-like symptoms such as tremors and muscle pain. Modern research has confirmed these effects in a study on diseased mice, wherein both endogenous and exogenous agonists showed ameliorating effects on tremor and spasticity. It remains to be seen whether pharmaceutical preparations such as dronabinol have the same effects in humans.

Due to increasing use of medical Cannabis and rising incidence of multiple sclerosis patients who self-medicate with the drug, there has been much interest in exploiting the endocannabinoid system in the cerebellum to provide a legal and effective relief.

In mouse models of multiple sclerosis, there is a profound reduction and reorganization of CB1 receptors in the cerebellum.

Serial sections of cerebellar tissue subjected to immunohistochemistry revealed that this aberrant expression occurred during the relapse phase but returned to normal during the remitting phase of the disease.

Other studies suggest that CB1 agonists promote the survival of oligodendrocytes in vitro in the absence of growth and trophic factors; in addition, these agonist have been shown to promote mRNA expression of myelin lipid protein. (Kittler et al., 2000; Mollna-Holgado et al., 2002).

Taken together, these studies point to the exciting possibility that cannabinoid treatment may not only be able to attenuate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis but also improve oligodendrocyte function (reviewed in Pertwee, 2001; Mollna-Holgado et al., 2002). 2-AG stimulates proliferation of a microglial cell line by a CB2 receptor dependent mechanism, and the number of microglial cells is increased in multiple sclerosis.[59]

Autonomic nervous system
Peripheral expression of cannabinoid receptors led researchers to investigate the role of cannabinoids in the autonomic nervous system. Research found that the CB1 receptor is expressed presynaptically by motor neurons that innervate visceral organs. Cannabinoid-mediated inhibition of electric potentials results in a reduction in noradrenaline release from sympathetic nervous system nerves. Other studies have found similar effects in endocannabinoid regulation of intestinal motility, including the innervation of smooth muscles associated with the digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.

Analgesia
At the spinal cord, cannabinoids suppress noxious-stimulus-evoked responses of neurons in the dorsal horn, possibly by modulating descending noradrenaline input from the brainstem.

As many of these fibers are primarily GABAergic, cannabinoid stimulation in the spinal column results in disinhibition that should increase noradrenaline release and attenuation of noxious-stimuli-processing in the periphery and dorsal root ganglion.

The endocannabinoid most researched in pain is palmitoylethanolamide. Palmitoylethanolamide is a fatty amine related to anandamide, but saturated and although initially it was thought that palmitoylethanolamide would bind to the CB1 and the CB2 receptor, later it was found that the most important receptors are the PPAR-alpha receptor, the TRPV receptor and the GPR55 receptor. Palmitoylethanolamide has been evaluated for its analgesic actions in a great variety of pain indications and found to be safe and effective.

Basically there is a tremendous amount of data involved that demonstrate proof of concept for endocannabinoids and related fatty amines to be therapeutically useful analgesics and various functions such as thermoregulation, sleep, physical exercise and more!

Endocannabinoids in plants

The endocannabinoid system is by molecular phylogenetic distribution of apparently ancient lipids in the plant kingdom, indicative of biosynthetic plasticity and potential physiological roles of endocannabinoid-like lipids in plants, and detection of arachidonic acid (AA) indicates chemotaxonomic connections between monophyletic groups with common ancestor dates to around 500 million years ago (silurian; devonian).

The phylogenetic distribution of these lipids may be a consequence of interactions/adaptations to the surrounding conditions such as chemical plant-pollinator interactions, communication and defense mechanisms. The two novel EC-like molecules derived from the eicosatetraenoic acid juniperonic acid, an omega-3 structural isomer of AA, namely juniperoyl ethanolamide and 2-juniperoyl glycerol (1/2-AG) in gymnosperms, lycophytes and few monilophytes, show AA is an evolutionarily conserved signalling molecule that acts in plants in response to stress similar to that in animal systems.

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