What Is the Cannabinoid Receptor System?
The cannabinoid receptor system, otherwise known as the endocannabinoid system or ECS, is a complex network of receptors distributed throughout the body that react with cannabinoids to regulate a whole host of bodily functions.
Not only do they help maintain the immune system, but they also play a role in such diverse operations as anxiety control, appetite, cognitive ability, glucose metabolism and insulin intake, memory, motor functions, nausea and sensory responses. Clearly, the ECS is a sophisticated system that is absolutely vital to the upkeep and health of our bodies and minds.
Cannabinoids and Their Effects
There are more than 500 natural compounds inside the cannabis plant, popularly known as marijuana; of these, at least 85 are cannabinoids. There are a wide variety of different cannabinoids with varying effects – some are psychoactive, some are not.
The two which claim most of the headlines in the cannabinoid world are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The former is associated with the psychoactive effects of the plant, causing users to feel the “high”. The latter does not contain any psychoactive properties and works to regulate other cannabinoids like THC, as well as having a number of medicinal purposes.
These cannabinoids bind with receptors in the human body, which suggests that there is a naturally occurring cannabinoid within our makeup as well. In 1992, scientists discovered the presence of anandamide, an internal cannabinoid that is produced by the ECS. Therefore, when we ingest cannabinoids, we are actually supplementing already existing levels of the substance within our bodies.
Receptors – Where They Are and What They Do
To date, researchers have pinpointed two specific kinds of receptors: CB1 and CB2. The two types have differing properties and are distributed throughout the body in different regions – and, similar to a fingerprint, are never identical in two distinct individuals. CB1 receptors are widespread throughout the brain, connective tissues, glands and the central nervous system, as well as being present to a lesser degree in the immune system. They have a strong affinity for THC and are largely responsible for mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids.
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are more generally found in the immune system and its attendant organs, including the tonsils, the thymus gland and the spleen, as well as the gastrointestinal system. They do appear throughout the cerebral network, although not to the same extent as CB1 receptors and they deal with different aspects of the cannabinoids than their CB1 counterparts. It is CB2 receptors which are largely responsible for facilitating the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids.
More Research Needed
While scientists are only aware of the presence of CB1 and CB2 receptors at the moment, it is strongly suspected that other types of receptors exist as well. Up until this point, a dearth of research on the subject means that our understanding of the ECS and how specific cannabinoid molecules interact with specific receptors is limited. In order to make further strides in the management of pain relief and related areas, we must fully comprehend how the ECS works.
At Medipure Pharmaceuticals Inc., we’re committed to putting this underexplored area of medical science under the microscope. By investigating the relationship between certain cannabinoids and their corresponding receptors at the molecular level, we’re confident that we can develop and deliver a new generation of proprietary prescription medication which can limit pain, reduce anxiety and alleviate a variety of other common conditions.
To find out more about our ethos, our developments and our current trials, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team below:
Boris Weiss, CEO
Dr. Nihar R. Pandey, CSO