The available data indicate that circulating endocannabinoids come from multiple organs and tissues, including brain, muscle, adipose tissue and circulating cells. There are hints that endocannabinoids are ‘placed’ into the circulation to accomplish a specific purpose, as in the regulation of energy intake following exercise.
–C.J. Hillard, Neuropsychopharmacology
The endocannabinoid system in human beings is as much a part of us as is the endorphin (natural opioid) system or the various humoral (hormone) systems, such as estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, the sugar maintenance schemes used by the liver and pancreas, and many others.
The cannabis plant has many components which are called “cannabinoids”; that is, they fill the receptor sites in the brain that we have evolved just to engage our natural “endocannabinoids” which are automatically made when needed. However, the endocannabinoids in the human brain are different from the ones inhaled or ingested from the cannabis plant, commonly called marijuana.
Thus, the difference between the plant-derived cannabinoids and the endocannabinoids is that they come from different sources—plants and…us, respectively; the similarity is that either way, our endocannabinoid receptors are activated.
It’s all chemistry, and the many effects that endocannabinoids switch on or off are mimicked by the plant-derived cannabinoids. Depending on which receptors, the effects of “external” cannabinoids (and the natural “internal” endocannabinoids) range from activation of wellbeing, hunger, and sleepiness to inhibition of pain, anxiety, eye pressure, nausea, and a depressed appetite.
The complexity of the endocannabinoid system is becoming better understood and new drivers of endocannabinoid signaling are emerging. Modulation of the activities of the system can be therapeutic in a number of diseases. Research into the endocannabinoid system has been paralleled by the development of agents that interact with cannabinoid receptors.
-M. Maccarrone et al., Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology
There have already been identified 66 cannabinoids identified among the over 400 different chemical compounds in the marijuana plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one that produces the high, but much research has been done in altering the dose to prevent intoxication while producing its positive effects. The other two main cannabinoids being used more and more as medicine are cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN). Unlike THC, CBD and CBN selectively activate only certain endocannabinoid receptors, making them good candidates for targeting specific problems as remedies.
Cannabis is the unique source of a set of at least 66 compounds now known as cannabinoids.
–R.G. Pertwee, British Journal of Pharmacology
CBN was the first cannabinoid isolated from marijuana in the 1930s. Much of the research at that time focused on the “high” obtained from smoking it; since that time, it has been discovered that the THC is the substance that causes the inebriation, that CBN has much lower potency than THC as a psychotropic agent, and that CBD lacks psychotropic activity altogether.
This only goes to show how complex the science is within the cannabinoid system. It also demonstrates that using individual cannabinoids can be useful when targeting specific benefits.
For CBN, such benefits include the following:
The emerging picture is rather complex, but still supports the belief that more important discoveries on human physiology, and new therapies, might come in the future from new knowledge in this field.
–A. Ligestri, Physiological Reviews
As research has demonstrated, the over 60 active cannabinoids that can impact one or both of two different endocannabinoid receptors make for a lot of possibilities. Thus, not only does research into CBN demonstrate benefits in and of itself, the future is promising to fine-tune many new and innovative uses when dosing and combining with other cannabinoids with CBN are introduced into deliverables, such as cannabinoid-infused cuisine.
The understanding of endocannabinoid functions that regulate fundamental developmental processes such as cell proliferation, migration, differentiation and survival during patterning of the CNS is just beginning to unfold.
–T. Harkany, Trends in Pharmacalogical Sciences
CBN is only one of over 60 cannabinoids (66 so far) from the plant, Cannabis sativa. Now that the benefits of individualized components can be incorporated selectively via cuisine and other deliverables, the benefits can be realized without the inebriating and possibly toxic effects of the THC and from 400 different chemicals, respectively. As research advances, finally catching cannabinoids up with the knowledge of other therapeutic substances, the modern deliverables (e.g., cuisine) will only get better in targeting exact conditions and ailments which can be improved or even eliminated. However, although a nascent industry, it has already achieved a sophistication in the cannabinoid herbal and ingestible markets.
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