Traditional plants that affect the endocannabinoid system and its medicinal potential

Traditional plants that affect the endocannabinoid system and its medicinal potential

Herbal medicines have been an integral part of human survival and remain an essential and revered good for health and well-being.

Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 80% of the population in developing countries depend on traditional herbal medicines. The use of the cannabis plant in medicine, in religious ceremonies and in leisure time goes back 5,000 years. Although the plant is currently controversial, scientists have worked to gain technical knowledge of the plant's biochemical and medicinal properties.

The Endocannabinoid System (SEC)

Between the 1930s and 1960s Years of shocking chemical compounds known as cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabicromeno (CBC) and cannabidivarin (CBDV)) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) . Between 1988 and 1992, another breakthrough was made in identifying cannabinoid receptors in mammals known as CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoids bind to these receptors, which then trigger a physical reaction. Once cannabinoid receptors were discovered, it was important to determine whether mammalian tissues also produce receptor activation substances or whether these receptors are only targeted by synthetic and plant cannabinoids.


1992 discovered the first cannabinoid produced by mammals, arachidonoylethanolamide, and called it anandamide for "Ananda", the Sanskrit word for "happiness". Anandamide is synthesized in areas of the brain that are used for memory, motivation, higher thinking processes and movement control. It also plays an important role in pain, appetite, fertility and cancer cell relief. The cannabinoid protein receptors CB1 and CB2 form, together with the cannabinoids produced in mammals, the so-called endocannabinoid system (ECS).

These results lead to a better classification of the types of cannabinoids that interact with ECS Understand the types of responses induced by activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors. There are over 100 different cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids are produced outside the body of mammals by plants or synthetically produced by chemicals. Exogenous cannabinoids include phytocannabinoids that come from plants and contain the compounds THC and CBD, popularly known. Endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids, are produced by the body in a self-regulating manner and include anandamide and other N-acylethanolamines (NAE).

Cannabinoids interact with the two protein receptors CB1 and CB2. These receptors are present throughout the human body. CB1 receptors are most strongly expressed in the central nervous system, but they are also expressed throughout the body. The CB1 receptor induces the psychoactive reactions of cannabinoids, the best known of which is THC. CB2 receptors are found in the nervous, immune and gastrointestinal systems. Both receptors are also found in organs, glands, muscle cells, fat cells and immune cells and are more numerous than any other receptor system. Researchers believe there may be a third cannabinoid receptor.

As ECS involves and affects the body in a potentially therapeutic manner, researchers have investigated how key aspects of the system are used to treat a variety of pathological diseases and conditions can. Some of the diseases and conditions in focus range from mood and anxiety disorders, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's, seizures, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity / Metabolic syndrome, glaucoma, reproductive disorders and osteoporosis.

An obstacle to the development of cannabinoid drugs has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of synthetic or plant compounds that trigger the CB1 receptor. However, this problem does not occur when the treatment is combined with a CB1 receptor antagonist that activates the "off switch" on the CB1 receptor. Another possible technique to avoid the psychological aspect of ECS is to improve the metabolism of endocannabinoids since they are already produced by the human body.

ECS-related plants

With an increasing focus on the use of ECS for medicinal purposes, researchers have studied various plants related to ECS. Many of these plants have been used traditionally and include cocoa (Theobroma cacao), black pepper (Piper nigrum), hops (Humulus lupulus), Helichrysum (Helichrysum umbraculigerum), electric daisy / tooth grass (Acmella oleracea) and conical flowers (Echinacea spp.) And liver (Radula marginata and perrottetii). These plants have been used as traditional medicines, remain a great resource for much of the world population and may have potential for advanced medical applications.

Chocolate was valued as a mood enhancer, antioxidant, stimulant and aphrodisiac and was pre-2000-4000 Years in Mesoamerica. Cocoa can be grown in tropical regions around the equator and 70% of the world's cocoa beans come from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Cocoa contains anandamide and other NAEs that bind directly to cannabinoid receptors. However, their effects appear to be limited as these compounds do not survive the digestive system and are generally present in small amounts in chocolate products. Cocoa also contains a fatty acid that indirectly affects ECS by preventing the breakdown of anandamide, which is naturally produced in the brain.

This indirect mechanism of increasing anandamide levels has a relative effect on the body and can contribute to the hedonic properties of chocolate. Everyone is clearly and strongly attracted to cocoa, which contributes to a chocolate industry of $ 83.2 billion.

Beta-caryophylls: black pepper, hops, helichrysum, and lots of plants
< Black pepper, hops, helichrysum, oregano, cinnamon, carrot, basil, cloves, lavender and rosemary contain a terpene called beta-caryophyllene, which is one of the most common components of plants. Terpenes are an abundant and diverse class of organic compounds that are produced by many plants. They often have a strong smell, are responsible for spices and can be used as crop protection.

Terpene-beta-caryophyllene binds selectively to the CB2 receptor and is also found in cannabis. A 2012 study showed that beta-caryophyllene can be particularly useful for kidney dysfunction and kidney inflammation. Beta-caryophyllene is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. USA As a food additive and is used in the cosmetics industry. Although this terpene is found in a variety of plants, black pepper, hops and helichrysum are the plants that have received the most attention and are the focus of this text.

Black pepper comes from today's Kerala, India , and its use goes back 2000 years. Pepper is traditionally used in various cultures for its medicinal properties, such as B. antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic and antifungal. Black pepper is widely grown in India and other parts of the tropical region, with Vietnam being the world's largest pepper producer and 39% of the world's crop.

The beta-caryophyllene in pepper reduces inflammation, aids digestion and soothes Arthritis. Pepper also contains the fatty acid guineensin, which prevents the absorption of endocannabinoids and effectively supports their use to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. For much of history, pepper was considered a luxury item that only the rich could afford, which led to the Dutch term "expensive pepper" to mean that it was of exceptional value.

Although ordinary pepper Easily accessible nowadays, its medicinal properties are still highly valued and needed in traditional environments.

Like pepper, hops contain beta-caryophyllene, which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. The first evidence of hops was found in Egypt 2000 years ago. Hops were first cultivated in Germany between the 700s and 1000s and gained popularity as a component of beer due to their antibacterial properties, which fight the least wanted microorganisms and thus improve the taste. In addition, beer was less likely to spoil with hops than the alternative herb mix of dandelion, burdock root, calendula, ivy and other plants.

Hops prefer a temperate climate and the USA and Germany are currently the largest producers. Some hops have been cultivated to contain high levels of CBD from CBD. CBD has a low binding affinity for cannabinoid receptors, but delays the reuptake of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and adenosine. In addition, CBD activates serotonin receptors that trigger anxiolytic effects, activate receptors that mediate pain perception, and may have anti-cancer effects.

Traditionally, hops have been used as sleeping pills and to combat anxiety, often in the form of tea or Tincture, and is known as an antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Possible pharmaceutical applications for hops include the expansion of its traditionally known medicinal properties and its use as a phytoestrogen, for combating cancer or for treating diabetes symptoms.

The yellow-flowered plant Helichrysum also contains the beta-caryophyllene terpene. The name Helichrysum comes from the Greek, Helios for sun and Chrysos for gold, which represent the bright yellow flowers of this genus. Helichrysum species are widespread and grow in Eurasia, Africa and Australia. The plant has been used as a mood stabilizer, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and to heal wounds, infections and psoriasis. The plant contains cannabigerol (CBG), a precursor of the active cannabinoids in cannabis, THC, CBD and cannabichromene (CBC).

Alkylamides: Toothwort and Echinacea

Alkylamides are compounds that are structural are similar to endocannabinoids that are already produced by mammals. Alkylamides are the plant's main isolates, the electric daisy, also called tooth grass, and effectively activate the CB2 receptor.

Tooth grass is a small flowering plant native to Brazil, which grows in a variety of temperate environments and for their medical applications is known. Its flowers and leaves have a pungent taste that creates a tingling or numb feeling. The herb of the teeth is also cultivated as a decorative.

The entire plant can be used for medicinal purposes and contains antibacterial, antimalarial and antifungal agents. It has been used in various treatments and applications, including toothache, fever, musculoskeletal pain, joint stiffness, inflammation, flu, cough, tuberculosis, skin diseases, anesthetics, digestive problems and as an anti-wrinkle agent in beauty care.

Alkylamides also come in plants of the genus Echinacea. Echinacea (cone flower) herbal remedies are popularly used these days, but their usage history is relatively short. The use of Echinacea dates back to the 18th century, when Indians in North America used the plant against wounds, burns, insect bites, toothache, sore throat, pain and cramps.

More recently, the extracts have been used in herbal medicines for upper respiratory infections, indigestion, ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, chronic pain and urinary tract infections. The alkylamides in Echinacea can activate the CB2 receptor and improve the transport and breakdown of endocannabinoids. As such, it has been suggested that echinacea cannabimimetics are useful as anti-inflammatory and immunomodulators.

The lesser-known liver plant is related to ECS in several ways. The New Zealand Maori have used liver for centuries to treat liver defects and digestive problems. The liverwort also grows in Japan and Costa Rica, although it is difficult to cultivate and grows slowly. Moss has also been used to treat problems with bronchitis, inflammation, and the gallbladder and bladder. The liver contains cannabigerol (CBG), perrottetinenic acid, bibenzyl and perrotetin (PET), all related to ECS. In particular, PET is similar in structure and activity to THC in the mammalian brain because it activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, the effect of PET is less than that of THC. Compared to THC, PET has a more anti-inflammatory effect than psychoactive and is therefore more attractive for medical purposes than for recreational purposes.

Current medicines based on cannabinoids

Cannabinoids and similar substances related to ECS are becoming modern medical applications, and the potential of herbal medicine is growing. There are currently three cannabinoid-based drugs on the market that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency or European national authorities and the United States Food and Drug Administration. Marinol / Syndros (with synthetic THC, Unimed Pharmaceuticals) and Nabilone / Cesamet (with a synthetic cannabinoid, similar to THC, Valeant Pharmaceuticals) are used to treat nausea and vomiting in the treatment of cancer drugs or loss of appetite for HIV. / AIDS. Nabilon is also used in Canada to treat pain. Epidiolex (containing CBD) is used to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.

The company that manufactured Epidiolex, Greenwhich Biosciences, also developed Sativex (with THC and CBD), which is currently approved only across Europe and is used to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis for potential use in schizophrenia and others. neurological conditions. Abbott Laboratories, Indevus Pharmaceuticals, Pharmos, Cayman Chemical and Sanofi-Aventis are investigating various cannabinoid-related drugs for neuroprotection, cancer, neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis, anti-inflammatory, chronic pain, memory, and weight loss.

The development of these drugs can make it difficult to protect certain herbal compounds with patents. However, it may be possible to obtain a protective patent for a drug that also includes more patentable drug technology.

Cannabinoid-related drugs are promising for a variety of uses, and scientists, pharmaceutical companies, naturopaths, and phytotherapists are too At home were interested in their potential. Such herbal medicines provide tools for accessing and using ECS ​​to improve health and well-being. Its use will only grow if researchers deepen their understanding of plant biochemical compounds and their effects. ECS-related herbal medicines can be integrated into the simple, traditional, kitchen-sized and advanced design industry and have their place and impact on human health.

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