Understanding the Benefits of the Cannabinoid Receptor System
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Understanding the Benefits of the Cannabinoid Receptor System

Cannabinoid receptor systems are found within the brains and immune systems of mammals as well as various birds, fish, and even reptiles. Although scientists are still attempting to understand the vast majority of cannabinoid receptors what they have discovered are the effects and benefits of two very specific receptors entitled CB1 and CB2.

Some recent scientific developments in the marijuana community have revealed how marijuana or THC more specifically, affects the brain and the receptors within it.  Since 1986 Billy Martin published a review stating that marijuana’s effects may be caused by either membrane effects or produced by a receptor system.  A membrane based mechanism made sense as this would explain the comparison of how marijuana has an effect on the body much similar to the effects caused by various forms of anesthesia.  This also meant that marijuana chemicals may possibly lodge themselves into the body’s fatty cells.  However, the technology to prove that marijuana effects were actually produced by the receptor system did not exist in 1986 and were not developed until the 1990’s.

Since then though experts and scientists alike have experimented with THC on rats in order to further understand how THC may affect humans.  In 1990 Miles Herkenham and his team of experts mapped out all of the cannabinoid receptors within various mammals as well as mankind.  What they found was that the receptors were most dense within the basal ganglia, hippocampus, and cerebellum which also indicate that receptors may have much to do with cognition and movement.  These receptors were also found to be consistent within the brains of birds, fish, and even reptiles.  During the study of discovering and understanding cannabinoid receptors experts identified two specific types of cannabinoid receptors entitled CB1 and CB2 as well as they have confirmed an overwhelming amount of evidence that pinpoints to many more receptors.

CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain, more specifically, the hippocampus, basal ganglia, limbic system, and the cerebellum.  CB1 receptors are also found in both male and female reproductive systems.  Experts have discovered that CB1 receptors are absent within the medulla oblongata which is part of the brain stem that is responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular functions.  This fact has helped medical marijuana doctors to realize that there is no risk for respiratory or cardiovascular failure when smoking marijuana unlike many other drugs.  CB1 receptors are also primarily responsible for the euphoric sensations delivered from cannabis.    

CB2 receptors are almost primarily found within the immune system with a significant number of them existing within the spleen.  Scientists have also indicated that CB2 receptors are made up by a subpopulation of microglia in the human cerebellum.  CB2 receptors have been found to be primarily responsible for the anti-inflammatory and therapeutic effects caused by cannabis which also indicate more evidence to the medicinal benefits of cannabis and marijuana.     

Sources:

Discovery of the Cannabinoid Receptor System.” By Drug Science

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