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The Endocannabinoid System

by Jack Moseley

Cannabis, and the discovery of the endocannabinoid system has been at the center of one of the most exciting and underreported developments in modern science.

A growing body of scientific literature suggests the endocannabinoid system (eCS) - a biochemical communication system in the human body--participates in the regulation of many internal processes (6). Modulating the eCS has shown therapeutic potential across health and disease ranging from inflammatory, neurodegenerative, gastrointestinal, liver, cardiovascular disorders, pain, and obesity (67). Excitingly, the eCS exists in the skin, sometimes referred to as the cutaneous endocannabinoid system (567) and exerts strong protective function towards epidermal homeostasis.

The Endocannabinoid System refers to endocannabinoids, the enzymes that regulate their production and degradation, and their receptors. Endocannabinoids are naturally occuring “messengers” and their corresponding receptors are expressed throughout the central, and the peripheral nervous system (123). Collectively, the eCS is involved in regulating many physiological and cognitive processes that contribute to a balance of the body's internal functions (2).

Cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC act on the eCS in the same ways as the body’s own endocannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2AG) (123). Some research suggests the eCS can be activated by going for a run, with the release of endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and endorphins collectively triggering a “runner's high”. Observing this system has helped scientists understand the therapeutic properties of hemp and endogenous compounds alike.

Although the complexity of the eCS is still being understood, cannabinoids have been shown to bind to receptor sites throughout the brain and body, eliciting different responses depending on which receptors they bind to (12). The most widely studied receptor interactions are between cannabinoids such as CBD and THC and their primary receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors (123). These receptors are differentiated by their signaling mechanisms, their affinity to certain cannabinoids, as well as by their distribution throughout tissue in the body (123).

So why should we be putting CBD on our skin? The cutaneous endocannabinoid system is profoundly involved in the balance of our skin's natural processes (567). The eCS is shown to regulate the production of new cells and turnover of old ones, and this process is key to to more radiant, moisturized skin (57)! Although there are still some controversies in the field, it is also widely recognized that the eCS exerts protective functions across a number of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases (7). Given that many skin problems occur from simple inflammation, and exposure to environmental pollutants, topical CBD can be an effective aid to problematic skin.

All things considered, we strongly encourage our consumers to do their own research. Not all CBD is created equal and cannabinoids affect each person differently and most of that is due to how to the body processes these compounds. If you are using CBD for the first time and especially in skincare you may not notice immediate results. Restoring balance to the skin’s ongoing processes can take time, and patience.

Citations

  1. Svíženská, I., Dubovy, P., & Sulcová, A. (2008). Cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2), their distribution, ligands and functional involvement in nervous system structures - A short review. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior,501-511. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305708001743?via=ihub.
  2. Howlett, A. C., Barth, F., Bonner, T. I., Cabral, G., Casellas, P., Devane, W. A., . . . Pertwee, R. G. (2002). International Union of Pharmacology. XXVII. Classification of Cannabinoid Receptor. Pharmacological Reviews,54(2), 161-202. Retrieved from http://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org/content/54/2/161.long
  3. Pertwee, R. G. (2007). The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. British Journal of Pharmacology,125(2), 199-215. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219532/.
  4. Tanasescu, R., & Constantinescu, C. (2010). Cannabinoids and the Immune system: An overview [Abstract]. Immunobiology,215(8). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20153077.
  5. Aung-Din, R. (2016). Direct Effects Cannabinoid Therapy: Medical Cannabis Without Psychoactive & Systemic Effects. Drug Development & Delivery,16(5). Retrieved from https://drug-dev.com/therapeutic-focus-direct-effects-cannabinoid-therapy-medical-cannabis-without-psychoactive-systemic-effects/.
  6. Bíró, T., Tóth, B. I., Haskó, G., Paus, R., & Pacher, P. (2009). The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: Novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci.,30(8), 411-420. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757311/.
  7. Tóth, B. I., Dobrosi, N., Dajnoki, A., Czifra, G., Oláh, A., Szöllosi, A. G., . . . Bíró, T. (2011). Endocannabinoids Modulate Human Epidermal Keratinocyte Proliferation and Survival via the SEquential Engagement of Cannabinoid Receptor-1 and Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid-1. Journal of Investigative Dermatology,131, 1095-1104. Retrieved from https://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)35276-3/fulltext.