The Endocannabinoid System

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In 1964 the discovery of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) marked the beginning of an ongoing quest, to understand the pharmacological system responsible for its physiological effects.

The first breakthrough came during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the characterization of CB1 and CB2 receptors, part of what was now termed the endocannabinoid system. This led to a strong increase in interest amongst the scientific community and the number of publications and studies have been increasing exponentially.

Today it is understood that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in many physiological processes throughout the body. In contrast to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant such as CBD and THC, endocannabinoids are produced within the body. Anandamide and 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether are currently thought to be the two main endocannabinoids and they have been found to be involved in regulating nerve synapses, immune cell function, metabolism, skin cell regulation, as well as interacting with the cardiovascular system.

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CB1 receptors present

1. brain

2. gastrointestinal tract

3. lungs

4. muscles

5. reproductive organs

6. vascular system

CB2 receptors present

1. bones

2. skin

3. spleen

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CB1 + CB2 receptors present

1. bone marrow

2. immune system

3. liver

4. pancreas


Other compounds produced by the body, including 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether, Virodhamine and N-arachidonoyl-dopamine have been found to also interact with the cannabinoid receptors and more are being discovered.

Current research indicates that there may be many more endocannabinoid receptors besides CB1 and CB2. Orphan receptors such as GPR55, GPR119, GPR18 and GPR30 are thought to interact with the endocannabinoids and in the future may be reclassified to officially belong to the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids have also shown to interact with the PPAR, TRPV and TRPA receptor families, which may play a significant role in the physiological changes caused by endocannabinoids.

Analytical and pharmacological studies have led to the identification of more than 60 active molecules in various strains of cannabis. Different strains of cannabis contain different profiles of these compounds and much remains to be known about their individual pharmacological actions. The compounds derived from the cannabis plant may also interact with systems and receptors outside the endocannabinoid system, which could lead to the development of new medications in currently unforeseeable areas.

The attitudes and opinions of doctors, medical scientists and social scientists from around the world have changed regarding the use of cannabis-derived medications. UTT BioPharma’s ultimate goal is to facilitate research into the endocannabinoid system and cannabis-derived compounds. The treatment for many disorders may arise from discoveries in this field, holding the potential to benefit patient communities around the globe.

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