The endocannabinoid system and the brain


A Project CBD, we often write about how cannabinoids and the broader endocannabinoid system help maintain homeostasis in the body and affect the physical health in a myriad of ways. But this vast system of cellular receptors, ligands (compounds that bind to these receptors), and enzymes also influence mental health, cognition, emotion, and other processes settled directly in the brain.

Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) is perhaps the most abundant G protein-coupled receptor in the entire central nervous system.1,2 The wider family of GPCRs includes approximately 750 different receivers,3 nearly 150 of which are targeted by pharmaceuticals that account for more than a third of all drugs approved in the United States and Europe.4

CB1 is present at very high levels in several brain regions, including the cerebellum and hippocampus,5 and distributed at lower levels more generally6 – where it helps to modulate the release of neurotransmitters,7 among other functions. Key CB1 agonists, which activate the receptor to produce a variety of cellular responses, include the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG and the phytocannabinoid THC.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for cannabis as well as various foods and activities that enhance the endocannabinoid system (ECS), can have a pronounced positive impact on brain function. While there is still much more to learn, recently published work suggests a growing range of beneficial effects.


Speech dysfunction, sometimes called stuttering, affects about 5% of children. It is successfully managed or eliminated in most patients through standardized treatments, including speech therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques. For some, however, the condition is more stubborn. A case study published in the journal Research into cannabis and cannabinoids8 in late July tells the story of a 20-year-old man with treatment-resistant stuttering who finally found relief through cannabis.

The authors from the Medical University of Warsaw (Poland) and the Faculty of Medicine in Hanover (Germany) report that, along with fluency in speech, the patient experienced improvements in mood, attention , concentration, sleep and self-confidence, as well as reducing anxiety and social stress. . No adverse side effects were reported and the effectiveness did not decrease over time.


Cannabinoids can also successfully treat neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, according to a review published by a team of Brazilian researchers in July at Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy.9,10 Based on an analysis of 15 previous studies with original clinical data, the authors conclude that the administration of THC, CBD, and the synthetic cannabinoid drugs dronabinol and nabilone generally resulted in favorable outcomes for patients in moderate to advanced stages of dementia.

In particular, the treatments appeared to aid in agitation, aggressive behavior, sleep, and sexual disinhibition. “Many pharmacological details have yet to be determined, such as dosage, duration of treatment, and concentrations of active compounds (e.g. CBD/THC proportion) in commercial preparations of medical cannabinoids, ”the authors write.


Here is another condition that can help cannabis, which we hope will not be experienced again soon: social isolation by blocking during a pandemic. A team of researchers based at the University of Padua, in northern Italy, near where COVID-19 made his first scary stand, he has proposed in a new one paper for the magazine Frontiers in psychiatry11 that behaviors known to improve endocannabinoid tone could help people comply with public health emergency measures such as blocking, while minimizing adverse psychophysical impacts.

Based on existing knowledge of the relationship between the effects of social isolation on animals and the function of the endocannabinoid system, the authors suggest that ECS-favor “lifestyle interventions” such as probiotics, CBD, meditation and exercise could make individuals less likely to have negative thoughts and fear and aggressive behaviors during stressful times such as blockage or quarantine. These healing modalities also dampen other biological reactions that can lead to health complications.

Social interaction and motivation in mice

A couple of studies published in August suggest they increased ECS the activity is also linked to improved social interaction and motivation, at least in mice. In the first study, published inside Research into cannabis and cannabinoids,12 researchers in Italy fed mice with an extract of “non-psychotropic”,THC, CBD-containing cannabis (basically hemp) for two weeks, to see what kind of behavioral effect it had. Although the researchers did not notice any effect on motility or anxiety, they observed increased social interaction.

In a second to study published in Journal of Neurosciences,13 researchers based at universities in New Mexico, Minnesota and Maryland used a monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) inhibitor to increase endocannabinoid levels 2-AG in mice and measured the effect on target search. They found this chronic MAGL the treatment “facilitates goal-seeking,” a result that “supports cannabinoid-based therapies for the treatment of motivational disorders.”

So much for the lazy stoner.

Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics such as environmental health, neuroscience and pharmacology.

Copyright, project CBD. Cannot reprint without permission.


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