Cannabinoid receptors are very important for our body functions but they are still a mistery for the science. Lot of people know about medicinal properties of the cannabis but not how it works in the body. The answer is in fact in these receptors.They are a class of G protein-coupled cell membrane receptors that belong to the endocannabinoid system. It is a system that regulates different physiological functions but also homeostasis.
The ECS helps perform functions such as immune response, appetite, sleep, pain etc. Anyhow, when we have a “cannabinoid deficiency” our bodies start to lose their balance and not to work in the right way. This is where supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids, (like those in the cannabis) comes into play.
Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of molecules: endocannabinoids (which are produced by our body) phytocannabinoids (which come from plants like cannabis) and synthetic cannabinoids.
We know at the moment two subtypes of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. They are in different parts of the whole body and not only in humans but also in mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles, even if they are stronger in mammals. They can impact differently the body functions depending on the areas they are.
They are mainly in the brain (central nervous system or “CNS”), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. Regarding the brain, these receptors are present in the following regions: the olfactory bulb, cortical regions (like the amygdala). But also multiple parts of basal ganglia, thalamic and hypothalamic nuclei, cerebellar cortex, and brainstem nuclei.
One of the main functions of the CB1 receptors is to maintain homeostasis of the cells throughout the body, but they’re also important for the treatment of certain diseases like: anxiety, pain, and inflammation.
CB2 receptors are mostly throughout the immune system. These receptors perform various functions regarding it. The main are: regulating immune suppression, induction of apoptosis (death of cells), and cell migration.
Scientists discovered another cannabinoid receptor in the hippocampus, as well as two possible others in different regions of the brain. For now these are only theories that we hope the future studies will confirm.
Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
Photo by Shahadat Shemul on Unsplash