Cannabinoids

Cannabis or marijuana, is a widely used recreational drug.

Marijuana binds to receptors in the gratification of the brain, the hippocampus.

This produces a type of euphoria. which may lead to abuse. It can also lead to cognitive and motor impairment.
Cannabinoids are the compounds formed by the marijuana plant’s cells.  Delta Tetrahydocannabinol being the most active one.

The amount of cannabinoid in a plant determines the potency of the plant or herb.

Cannabinoids are fat-soluble compounds, which allows them the ability to pass through the blood-brain-barrier.

This is the attribute of the compound that allows it to reach the brain where it can bind with cannabinoid receptors CB 1.

Cannabinoid receptors are found predominantly in the hippocampus.

Cannabinoid receptors are involved in sleep, eating and the perception of pleasure and satisfaction.

Anandamide is an endogenously produced cannabinoid.

The highest level of anandamide is in the hippocampus. It is synthesized and stored by neurons and released when a wave of depolarization reaches them. 

Although the role of anandamide remains unknown, it does exhibit  properties similar to Delta Tetrahydocannabinol.

Binding of cannabinoid receptors in the hippcampus inhibits GABA release.

A cannabinoid-induced decrease in the glutamate release could be used to treat epilepsy or other GABA linked diseases.

There is a frenzy of investigators working on endogenous cannabinoids to bind to these receptors.

As an example, recently a synthetic cannabinoid, dubbed HU-210, was given to patients and is now thought to relieve depression and reduce activity. All while stimulating neuro genesis.

Cannabinoid agonists are thus a group of compounds under intense scrutiny for tomorrow's miracle cures.

Cannabinoids are a diverse group of molecules with similar interactions. This diversity in structure and function is due to there being a universe of molecules, a finite universe of molecules or 'chemical library'.

A library made made up of all the compounds synthesized by all the world's plants. This does not include those invented by scientists and laboratories.

It is important to realize that each plant has its own unique library. Multiple versions of the same compound. Some only active in the presence of specific conditions, some not active at all. And some whose role seems to be to in stimulating activity of other compounds.

Within each plant there are multiple 'volumes' of the same compound. That is, molecules that share the same basic structure but have slight modifications at specific locations. This may provide a different spatial orientation, which affects binding and may produce opposite effects.

I coined the term, 'natural library' to explain this arrangement.

Throughout the plant world, Nature displays a remarkable redundancy in its libraries. The similarity between various volumes does not extend to their binding abilities.

Cannabinoid compounds are not grouped together because of their physcial similarity, they are grouped together because they bind or activate cannabinoid receptors within the brain. They have differing structures but similar functions.

These compounds include the endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in the body and the phytocannabinoids, which are found in cannabis. The main phytocannabinoid is ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound of cannabis.

Endocannabinoids are strong sleep-inducing lipids. They seem to particularly improve rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep

And now we have synthetic cannabinoids.

More in this category: Receptor Binding »