The Endocannabinoid System and Mood Disorders | cannabisMD

The Endocannabinoid System and Mood Disorders

Mood disorders and the endocannabinoid system

Image Credit: Estrada Anton on Shutterstock

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are G protein-coupled receptors. The CB1 and CB2 are receptors for the active components in marijuana, which are CBD and THC. The ECS equally consists of what is called endogenous small lipid ligands, which are 2-Arachidonolylglycerol and Anandamide. Furthermore, the ECS contains the protein of endocannabinoid degradation and biosynthesis.

A school of thought believes that the ECS also serves as a pleiotropic and pro-homeostatic signaling system and that it is activated in a tissue- and time-specific manner during physiopathological conditions.

The activation of the ECS in the brain can modulate the secretion of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, as well as cytokines, which are produced from the glial cells. Consequently, ECS contributes a great deal to neuropsychiatric disorders, especially depression, anxiety and other affective disturbances.

It is also suggested that synthetic molecules inhibiting endocannabinoid degradation can benefit from the selectivity of endocannabinoid action, thereby leading to the activation of cannabinoid receptors and the activation is limited to those tissues where the endocannabinoid turnover is inhibited consequent of the disorder. As a result, the activation can occur without any of the potential side effects of direct activation of either CB1 or CB2.

The Uniqueness of The Endocannabinoid System

The ECS is involved in fine-tuning many of the essential physiological functions and also bring about balance in reproduction, appetite, mood, memory, inflammation, pain, sleep and the likes. Conclusively, it is called a conductor of an orchestra. It ensures that none of the sections of the body is overcome by the other. In a way, the ECS creates a symphony or agreement between the mind and body. Its function makes the ECS as important as the immune system.

The ECS is found in other animals apart from humans. It is found in all vertebrates and even in non-vertebrates, like sea-squirts, which means it had been around for up to 600 million years.

Additionally, the ECS is recorded as the most abundant of all neurotransmitter receptors available in the brain. In certain diseases, there is an increase in the activity of the endocannabinoid system. This is usually found in diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases. Such diseases usually lead to higher receptor expression and higher endocannabinoid level.

On the other hand, certain diseases can occur due to a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system. Such is the case in diseases like IBS, fibromyalgia and migraine. Such deficiencies can be corrected by administering cannabis plant compounds.

The therapeutic activity of the cannabis comes to pass via the endocannabinoid system. It brings balance to the body and also treats several ailments, like nausea, depression, pain, arthritis, headache and epilepsy; this is the factor responsible for its effect on the mood. Giving an individual just a small dose of cannabinoids can signal the production of more Endocannabinoids in the brain and also increases the number of cannabinoid receptor.

You can give your endocannabinoid system a boost without having to break the law. Some countries are friendly to the use of medical cannabis, while some other ones are not.

ECS and the Mood

There is an association between neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalance and mood disorder or depression. This line of thought only considers the chemical symptoms of depression rather than the cause. Depression is complex. Be that as it may, the endocannabinoid has a very strong effect on mood regulation. The main ingredients or ligands in the endocannabinoid system responsible for mood regulation are 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and Anandamide (AEA). These substances are involved in regulating the process of neurotransmission in the brain and central nervous system.

The two ligands mentioned earlier have interaction with the endocannabinoid system by binding with the two receptors in the ECS namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors can be found mainly in the brain and some other ones are found in places like the bone, muscle, heart, fat, liver, kidney and lung.

On the other hand, the CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system and sparsely distributed in certain parts of the body, like bone, muscle, gut, liver and nervous system.

The impact of the endocannabinoid system to the mood cannot be overemphasized. Cannabis, being the central ligand in the entire process binds of the receptors to increase 2-AG and AEA, which will regulate the mood and treat depression. Further research is still ongoing about this and the other possible effects that the endocannabinoid system can have on general health of the body.

Jonathan Neilly
Jonathan Neilly
Jonathan Neilly is registered with the British Psychological Society, breaking the taboo on mental health issues is one of the driving forces in his life. His background in biomedicine gives him additional understanding of the factors that work together to influence the human condition.

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