A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
- October 15, 2018
How do you get high? This is a question that, for the most part, people can answer perfectly. A drug flows into your system, gives the reward center of your brain a little nudge, and stimulates the release of a magic chemical called dopamine. As a result, you will feel overly happy, energetic, or psychotic (depending on the type of mind-altering drug you have ingested). However, did you know that marijuana shares a particularly unique bond with the human body? In fact, certain chemical components in our body are programmed to interact with chemicals from the plant. Let’s take a closer look at the special, critical portion of the brain that instinctively interacts with weed and keeps us balanced.
A Little Discovery for Science
About 26 years ago, in a college in Israel, a Czech analytical chemist named Lumír Hanuš discovered the first endocannabinoid, which he and his partner (American pharmacologist William Devane) named anandamide (Sanskrit for “joy” or “bliss”). This groundbreaking discovery proved that our brains produce sets of cannabinoids that directly link to other receptors in the brain and body. Afterward, Mr. Hanuš’ studies opened the floodgates for advanced studies on the endocannabinoid system and its interactions with marijuana.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Simply put, the endocannabinoid system is a vital part of the human brain that regulates homeostasis (perfect balance) to ensure our bodies perform at the highest quality and at maximum strength (our private Goldilocks Zone of perfection). Given the fact that this system is so important, you will not be surprised to hear that all vertebrates in the animal kingdom have one.
How does the system keep us fit and happy? Here are the three important factors in the endocannabinoid system:
- Cannabinoid receptors: These transmitters are situated on the surfaces of cells and relay messages about changes in external conditions. The two most important cannabinoid receptors are CB1 (the most abundant version that directly reacts with marijuana) and CB2 (situated outside the nervous system)
- Endocannabinoids: These fascinating cannabinoids are produced by the human body and are constructed from fat molecules (made as needed). These little chemicals are designed to latch onto cannabinoid receptors. Anandamide and 2-AG are the two important endocannabinoids.
- Metabolic enzymes: Like tiny terminators, these chemicals are designed to seek and destroy endocannabinoids which have outlived their usefulness. The two strongest enzymes are FAAH (destroyer of anandamide) and MAGI (destroyer of 2-AG).
Connection with Marijuana
Scientists confirmed the only reason plant cannabinoids can provide alleviation or induce psychoactive behavior is because we have endocannabinoid systems. Naturally produced endocannabinoids like anandamide are programmed to induce a reaction in the CB1 receptors, while THC (the mind-altering agent in marijuana) induces a “high” because it interacts with the same region. The only reason a high does not last long is that (like other cannabinoids) THC reacts in a unique manner (unlike our naturally produced chemicals) and cannot be destroyed by our metabolic enzymes.
Always remember that marijuana does not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance abuse disorder or addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.
The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your drug addiction and substance abuse troubles today.