The endocannabinoid system and the stress response

The endocannabinoid system and the stress response

The more we look at the endocannabinoid system, the more we are fascinated by its important role in health and disease. Essentially, the endocannabinoid system is a signaling system that cells in our body can use to communicate.

The Endocannabinoid System (SEC)

Communication between cells, tissues and systems is crucial for all multicellular organisms.

The more complex and developed organisms are, the more important they are cellular communication. The basic configuration required for cellular communication or signaling is similar to that of other communications. We need to know the message we want to send (a signal molecule) and who we want to send it to (with the right receivers or antennas). Cells normally communicate via chemical signals. These are different types of molecules (cannabinoids are one of many) that are produced by an emitting cell and released into the extracellular space. There they can float or circulate like neighboring mail to neighboring cells.

Not all cells can "hear" a certain message. The cell must have the appropriate receiver to detect a particular signal. When a signaling molecule comes into contact with its receptor, a reaction occurs that triggers a change within the cell. Signal molecules are often referred to as ligands, a generic term for molecules that bind specifically to other molecules (such as receptors). A signaling molecule and a receptor recognize each other thanks to a unique 3D molecular structure. Basically, a receptor binds to a molecule if its structure matches the attachment point of the receptor, similar to how a key fits into a keyhole. If it fits, the doors open, nothing else happens. When a signaling molecule and a receptor coincide, a reaction cascade takes place later, which ultimately leads to a change in the cell, for example to a change in the expression of a gene or even to the induction of a new process, such as cell division, apoptosis, etc. This type of communication not only enables the cells to react to changes in the extracellular environment, to adapt and thrive to these changes, but also to exchange signals between cells, tissues, organs and throughout the body. These basic principles of intracellular communication are important because they are also of fundamental importance for understanding the endocannabinoid system.

The role of the endocannabinoid system is very complex. It affects most systems in our body and cannabinoid receptors manifest (at different levels) in most cell types. Therefore, explaining its specific function is not an easy task, since it regulates the biochemistry of most of the 37 trillion cells that are estimated to exist in our body. Various studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system acts as an SOS mechanism that is activated when our body is out of balance for any reason. For example, it is activated when we suffer physical injury, when we encounter pathological microbes and when we feel emotional pain or are stressed out.

We now understand that SEC serves as a general protective mechanism based on cellular Level begins and spreads to tissues, organs and the body to promote our general well-being. SEC is activated when cellular homeostasis is not balanced. It's like the first line of defense that occurs and activates all the other mechanisms required to restore homeostasis as quickly as possible.

What is stress and how much is too much?

< p>Life in today's modern society poses many challenges to our endocannabinoid system, and this can lead to an end to endocannabinoid and other systems. When we look at a day, get up, prepare the children for school, prepare for work, in a hurry traffic, hard and stressful work, industrial relations, polluted environment, insufficient food, water, air etc. It is obvious that ours SEC faces more challenges in a single day than in a month or several hundred years ago. If our endocannabinoid system is constantly questioned over a long period of time, this important SOS mechanism can lead to malfunctions. Malfunctions can occur by not producing endocannabinoids when we need them, or by producing endocannabinoids when we don't need them. This is usually one of the first stages in the development of a chronic disease, the first domino token that falls into a complex domino structure and leads to the symptoms and development of the disease. Most experts agree that many, if not all chronic diseases have an element of stress in their development, which is why stress is actually seen as an epidemic of the 21st century.

The fight or flight response was already always part of our physiology and has served mankind very well during most of its historical development. This age-old combat or flight mechanism helped us stay safe by allowing us to gain energy when we had to defend ourselves or escape a dangerous situation. It also serves in many ways as an SOS protection mechanism, similar to the SEC.

When our mind is experiencing a stressful situation, it transmits that stress to our pituitary gland so that it releases hormones to the adrenal glands, which in turn Release more hormones to communicate with other cells and organs in the body. This fight or flight reaction activates the sympathetic nervous system, inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system and mobilizes the energies required to overcome these stress factors. This is known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). When stress is perceived, the adrenal gland produces (among other things) hydrocortisone, which is known as the stress hormone. Increased hydrocortisone production leads to increased availability of glucose, since it is an energy-mobilizing hormone that makes fighting or fleeing easier. However, hydrocortisone also suppresses the very demanding metabolic processes of the immune system and increases the availability of glucose.

Our body reacts with flight or fight reactions even in everyday situations, and this continued or repeated stress is something that our body not properly accepted. We estimate an astonishing increase in chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia and fatigue, to name a few that have been associated with prolonged exposure to uncontrolled stress.

Are we facing the problem?

In a healthy body, the stress response system resolves itself, but we are often unaware of the warning signs that we are chronically stressed. Symptoms can range from fatigue for a few days after recovery from an illness to debilitating fatigue that we feel daily and that doesn't just go away with rest, recurring infections, headaches, and digestive problems.

What does the SEC have? to do with it (HPA-SEC interconnection)?

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA or HTPA axis) is a very complex set of direct influences and feedback interactions between the three components: hypothalamus, Pituitary and adrenal glands. Even the adrenal glands themselves are more than just hydrocortisone producers because they produce over 50 different hormones (adrenaline, aldosterone, DHEA, testosterone, progesterone and others). The SEC is closely linked to our responses to stress in many ways, from perceiving a situation and biochemical reactions to dosing our responses and behaviors in extreme situations. In fact, the SEC is involved in stress perception, neurotransmitter production, hormone production on the HPA axis and hydrocortisone production, the functions of feedback loops and practically all aspects of stress reactions.

From what we have been able to decipher so far the SEC is an essential and integral part of stress perception. In a sense, it is an interface between stimulus input and responses at the synaptic and behavioral levels. The SEC helps us define the meaning of the situation, determine the meaning of the threat and adapt the correct behavioral responses that are essential for the long-term viability of the organism, homeostasis and resistance to stress.

If If we look at the brain regions that are involved in stress processing, we see that these regions also have a high density of cannabinoid receptors. We know that in addition to the hypothalamus and pituitary, the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus also respond to stress and affect our responses and behavior to deal with it. It is also known that all of these regions have a high density of cannabinoid receptors. Even anatomically, we see a large connection between the two systems. Since the brain regions involved in stress processing are also well equipped with the SEC machinery and we know that cannabinoids modulate synaptic transmission, it is obvious that the neuronal response after exercise can be modulated by suitable SEC responses. At neuronal synapses, cannabinoids act as retroactive messengers that bind to presynaptic receptors, which in turn mediate the suppression of neurotransmitter release and lead to a short or long-term temporary reduction in synaptic transmission. . In a sense, this means that cannabinoids reduce the volume of "brain noise" (reduce the number of messages that travel from one neuron to another). We all know from our own experience that if we have too many stress factors during the day and do not deal with them, we have this feeling of noise in our brain, which we often cannot eliminate when it comes to resting at night.

< p>Many elements of the SEC are involved in stress reactions, from receptors to endocannabinoids to their precursors and the enzymes involved. So we can see the SEC as a moderator between the outside and the inside. It works through many different mechanisms, which leads to the strengthening or suppression of neurons in the brain regions that are related to fear, fear and stress. Essentially, the SEC works as a brake mechanism that refines our reactions. The SEC is generally quiet and applies the brakes when there is too much activity.

How can this knowledge help us deal with stress?

When we find that our bodies When there are no challenges, it's time to act.

Essen
The first step is to feed the SEC and see if that is enough. The foods we eat, the supplements we take, and the various foods and drinks consumed over time affect the endocannabinoid level and the cannabinoid receptors that the human body can produce. The lifestyle choices we make can either nurture and fuel the SEC, or disrupt it. We know that omega-3 fatty acids are precursors to endocannabinoid production. Therefore, a constant supply of omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for a healthy SEC. If our body has to produce endocannabinoids and does not have the necessary basic components, our cells cannot produce endocannabinoids regardless of the amount of stimuli present. The SOS system is therefore essentially switched off. Aristotle said that health comes from the gut, including the SEC. Our microbiome is in communication and interaction with the SEC and communication is two-way. A healthy microbiome is essential in many ways for a properly functioning SEC. On the one hand, a large part of the endocannabinoids is produced in the intestine, and on the other hand the brain-intestine connection, in which many of the neuronal activities take place thanks to messenger molecules that are sent by useful microbes in our intestines or not. In general, it is important that we have a beneficial and healthy microbial population in our gut and other parts of the body for our SEC to function properly. Some foods, such as B. extra virgin olive oil, contain phenolic compounds and other bioactive compounds that can stimulate the increased expression of cannabinoid receptors. Therefore, a varied vegetable-based diet will be a good initiative to take care of the SEC.

Phytocannabinoids
If the selection of foods and lifestyles doesn't help properly it's time to consider phytocannabinoids. Cannabidiol or CBD is the phytocannabinoid that has been best studied to prevent and control stress. Many research articles have examined the effects of CBD on anxiety, depression, stress and other mood disorders. The common denominator of these studies is that CBD provides relief from these symptoms through many different mechanisms. In order to underline the data from research laboratories, the results of CBD users worldwide show very similar results.

CBD can be used as a preventive measure because it acts as a protective molecule and protects the cells from the effects of stress. Regulates and adjusts the HPA axis, thereby helping our biochemistry to function properly even in situations of persistent or unpredictable stress. CBD has been shown to protect the adrenal glands, thyroid and brain in unpredictable periods of stress, which we all suffered from.

However, when we already have a variety of stress-related symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disorders, immune problems, digestive problems and others suffer, CBD can also provide relief. To some extent, CBD can replace the effects that our own endocannabinoids should have. It regulates the amount of hydrocortisone and neurotransmitters that we produce and can give us the necessary distance to avoid stressful situations. Using CBD as part of the fatigue and fatigue recovery strategy has proven to be very efficient. Helps with neurogenesis of brain regions damaged by persistent or unpredictable stress, provides cardiovascular protection and modulation of the entire HPA axis. The body can regenerate itself if we can lower the volume to that of the surrounding world, rest, digest and restore balance. And cannabinoids can significantly support this endeavor.

In the words of Dr. Mecoulam: "Cannabinoids in plants are an unsupervised pharmacological treasure" also prove to be very suitable for combating stress, the epidemic of the 21st century.

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