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Understanding the Role of Endocannabinoids in the Immune System

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In this Article:

The immune system functions as a critical guardian in the human body, fighting toxic substances, bacteria, and cell alterations that could cause illness.

The endocannabinoid system regulates and controls the most critical body functions. Those functions include learning and memory, emotional processing, pain regulation, and inflammatory also immunological responses.

The question is, “What is the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and the immune system?”

This article will help you understand more about these two systems.

 

What to Know About Endocannabinoids and the Immune System

What Is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in central nervous system development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to internal and external invaders. The ECS is made up of:

  • cannabinoid receptors
  • endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids)
  • the enzymes involved in endocannabinoid production and breakdown

 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the ECS is a massive network of chemical signals and cellular receptors in our brains and bodies. The “cannabinoid” receptors in the brain, known as CB1 receptors, outnumber numerous other receptor types. They function to regulate the levels and activity of other neurotransmitters. They manage and control everything by providing rapid feedback and increasing or decreasing the activity of whichever system needs to be regulated.

 

Does My Body Naturally Produce Endocannabinoids?

Yes, our bodies naturally produce molecules called endocannabinoids to stimulate cellular receptors. These endocannabinoids are structurally similar to chemicals found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis plants have been utilized medicinally by humans for thousands of years.

CB1 is the most abundant cannabinoid receptor. According to a review published in 2015, it is well established that CB1 antagonists are effective in treating metabolic syndrome and obesity. These receptors also mediate most of the psychotropic effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9THC), cannabis’ main psychoactive component.

Another cannabinoid receptor mainly found in our immunological organs is the CB2 receptor. These receptors play an important role in immunological regulation. Furthermore, in inflammatory bowel disease, they have a function in controlling intestinal inflammation and contraction. CB2 receptors are desirable drug research targets since they do not produce the euphoria associated with cannabis, a side-effect that CB1 receptor stimulation has.

 

How Can Endocannabinoids Help the Immune System?

Anti-inflammation Effects

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Many ECS components are known to be significant regulators of the immune system and immunological response.

The endocannabinoid system regulates mature immune cell trafficking and effector cell activities. It is found that endocannabinoids have a crucial regulatory role in the function of intestinal neutrophils. Endocannabinoids were generated and carried into the intestinal lumen, which counteracted the pro-inflammatory effects of the neutrophil chemoattractant eicosanoid hepoxilin A3.

Furthermore, CB2 receptors facilitate the anti-inflammatory effects. They recently discovered that CB2 deficiency increases acute neutrophil migration to sites of inflammation.

 

Hunger and Fine-Tuning Weight-Loss Medications

Rimonabant is an anorectic anti-obesity medication licensed in Europe in 2006 but was withdrawn from the global market in 2008 due to substantial psychological adverse effects.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, rimonabant is an exciting example of the ECS’s central role in various essential functions. ECS was assumed to influence hunger. Among other things, cannabis causes “the munchies.” Thus, blocking the CB1 receptor should result in weight loss.

Rimonabant did cause weight loss because it blocked the CB1 receptors.

One explanation for the drug’s withdrawal is that the ECS regulates mood, and some people using it have suicidal tendencies. However, Harvard Health Publishing believes that if we better understand the structure of the ECS, we can develop a weight-loss medicine. And hopefully, this medicine acts on the cannabinoid receptors that promote weight loss while not affecting the receptors that control mood.

 

Treatments for Immune-Related Diseases

The involvement of the endocannabinoid system in bacterial pathogen-induced immunity has been established. Also, certain CB2 genotypes have been identified to correlate with susceptibility to some viral illnesses. After much research, the results showed that the anti-inflammatory effect and the influence on the specific pathogen could positively impact a cannabinoid-based treatment in infectious disorders.

Additionally, some of the established data reported how the ECS affects immune-related activities, aiding in treating autoimmune diseases. The clinical effects of cannabinoid-based therapy were investigated in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Evidence suggests that cannabis may play a role in treating autoimmune disorders. The observation in one study showed that cannabidiol medication could accelerate illness progression.

Furthermore, the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the etiology of this disease was described in patients with immune-related diseases.

 

What Can We Expect From Endocannabinoid Research in the Development of Medication?

The ECS was initially studied to understand cannabinoids better. Still, modern research has expanded into a considerably more broad-based investigation. We expect this system can lead to the exploration of new medical discoveries.

The critical role of the ECS system in immunity makes it a candidate for pharmacological intervention in situations of immune-related disorders. However, because the endocannabinoid system is widely expressed in the body and is intensely engaged in the operation of the nervous system as well as other functional systems, it is critical to examine all adverse effects of treatment.

 

It is a lot to think about! We get it. Regen Labs has options for you if you have questions about the Endocannabinoid System and the Immune System. All Regen Labs products support the body’s natural systems for a healthy brain, skin, muscle, and sexual health. 

Regen Labs products contain research-proven ingredients to boost the body’s natural ability to be healthy without toxins or synthetic chemicals. 

Let’s talk! If you have questions, we would love to connect. Contact us at [email protected]

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