Dr. Ethan Russo, neurologist, medical scientist, and former senior medical advisor at GW Pharma discusses CBD as homeostatic regulator and the endocannabinoid system in conversation with Cannabis Conversations (Project CBD).
Dr.Russo is the medical research director at Phytecs, a biotechnology company with a research focus on the endocannabinoid system. Which explains his focus on the homeostasis created by Cannabinoids.
Their aim is to target the endocannabinoid system directly to target any existing deficiencies within the body and subsequent diseases. They are also looking for non-drug herbal approaches.
If you want to make yourself familiar with the benefits of cannabinoids (produces NO INTOXICATION, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory etc.) check out this post.
So first things first, in case you are not familiar with what the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is, here we go:
Cannabinoids = from plants
Endocannabinoids = produced by mammals in their bodies
The ECS It is the body’s own cannabinoid system. Meaning, every mammal has their own receptor system for endocannabinoids and cannabinoids within their bodies as well as creates endocannabinoids within their body. Cannabinoids from plants can bind to those receptors within our bodies. Cannabinoids find receptors in the nervous and immune system.
-There are more receptors in our human brain for cannabinoids than for all other neurotransmitters together.-
So Dr. Russo states that cannabidiol is an endocannabinoid modulator and therefore a homeostatic regulator. This is the reason cannabinoids work for so many diseases which affect different parts of our bodies.
Homeostasis = state of balance and health
Bi-directional effect of CBD = CBD acts as buffer, balances either excess or deficiency in system
What he means by that is that the bi-directional effect of CBD, which always works to create a balance no matter if there is currently a deficiency or an excess, always works toward creating a homeostasis (balance and health).
CBD regulates neurotransmitter functions, it simply does so as a consequence of the imbalance.
CBD needs to be seen as a universal tool, it is not able to only fix one certain issue within our body but every issue that has arisen from an imbalance.
CBD is a regulator for any given issue within the body. Not just a specific one, which makes it incredibly versatile.
“The endocannabinoid system one of its main roles in the brain is to regulate neurotransmitter function and again, if there’s too much of one kind of neurotransmitter it will bring it down, if there’s too little it will bring it up.”
CBD can be seen as a tool within the body that does not target one specific ailment within the system but rather aims to act as a buffer tool and balance out any imbalance which creates problems in our bodies.
2. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency
This discovery has led Dr.Russo to the clinical endocannabinoid deficiency theory.
He has found out that diseases such as migraine, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia all have a characteristics in common: they all have disproportionate levels of pain although tissues look ok. Moreover, these diseases tend to occur in the same people, someone who already suffers from migranes is more likely to suffer from IBS later in life. And studies show people suffering from those diseases have endocannabinoid deficiencies.
3. Food and Cannabinoid receptors
There are food ingredients which act on cannabinoid receptors, for instance caryophellene. He makes an important point regarding already existing examples of components of common foods which impact the endocannabinoid system.
Dr. Russo states the following regarding black pepper:
“The advantage of an agent that would act on CB2 receptors would be reducing inflammation, reducing pain, but without psychoactive side effects. Now as it turns out this caryophellene is very selective there. It’s a very safe agent. This, for example, is in black pepper. It’s called GRAS by the government – not that kind of grass – rather GRAS, Generally Recognized As Safe as a food additive. So this is something with the government’s seal of approval. It’s in our diet. But more of this would certainly have a positive influence on health, particularly for people with arthritis or other kinds of chronic pain. And again, without any liability in terms of having unwanted side effects.”
4. The Entourage Effect
Another aspect mentioned by Dr.Russo is the importance of the phyto-synergy of the ingredients.
Caryophellene in black pepper is an important example of how we can deal with CBD as food. Particularly in the debate whether CBD belongs to the pharma industry or the food and beverage market.
CBD tends to get isolated through extraction these days.
Yet, Dr.Russo stresses the importance of the entourage effect and the effect the whole plant mixture has in comparison to isolated CBD molecules.
The transcript of the full interview can be found here.
Happy hemping everyone!