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Endogenous Cannabinoids and the Role of the Endocannabinoid System | Curatio

Let’s face it. The stresses of life can at times be overwhelming. If you’ve ever wondered how your body copes with it all and keeps you in balance from day to day, you can thank the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s constantly on the watch and working for you from within. 

The ECS is a complex combination of cell receptors, endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids (ECBs) that bind to them, along with enzymes and compounds that regulate them. The ECS manages critical functions in the human body, such as appetite, sleep, memory, mood, nerve regulation, bone remodeling, reproduction and fertility. It is involved in energy production and lipid metabolism. When you add it all up, the basic role of the ECS is to help you cope. It maintains homeostasis by regulating your metabolism.

Endogenous Cannabinoids

ECBs have molecular structures that resemble cannabinoids in plants. The two best-known ECBs are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG), which scientists discovered in the 1990s. The human body produces ECBs in amounts as needed. However, normal levels are difficult to ascertain. These compounds signal the ECS to act by binding to cell receptors. This process is halted when specific enzymes degrade the ECBs. This means ECB receptors can be turned on and off, as necessary.

CB1 and CB2

There are two main receptors in the ECS, referred to as CB1 and CB2. They exist to interact with endogenous, rather than exogenous cannabinoids. But whichever the source, these cannabinoids compete for the same receptors, though their effects are not necessarily the same. CB1 receptors — located primarily within brain cells, adipose tissue and visceral organs — are the most common receptor type. CB2 receptors are located primarily in the peripheral nervous system and immune system.   

The ECS is abundant within the body. In evolutionary terms, it is an ancient system with an internal influence that is profound and widespread. But scientists did not discover the existence of ECB receptors and ECBs until the 1990’s. Other researchers had first identified plant cannabinoids which compete for the same receptors and can mimic many actions of ECBs. The result is that we know much less about the full role of the ECS compared to other human systems. At first, scientists thought it existed only in the brain and nerves, but recent research has revealed it is present throughout the body.

Effects in the Body

The ECS controls energy balance by regulating food intake mechanisms within the brain. These higher centers govern appetite and satiety. The ECS also acts peripherally, in the pancreas, liver, skeletal muscle and fat cells, affecting lipid synthesis and glucose metabolism. Not surprisingly, the ECS has attracted the attention of researchers trying to develop safe and effective drugs to treat chronic diseases. Controlling weight with drugs has proved to be an especially elusive goal. Efforts to target the CB1 receptor with drug therapy has resulted in adverse effects, including nausea, anxiety and serious depression.  

Endocannabinoid Deficiency

The actions of the ECS involve and overlap with other systems in the body. It’s difficult to study them separately or treat them separately without causing unintended effects, as scientists have discovered. Metabolic processes and homeostasis are complex, with many players involved. Though we know that the ECS is a vital component, we have yet to fully comprehend its role.

Plant-based cannabinoids have become an active area of research for their therapeutic potential, once scientists concluded ECB deficiency may be involved in chronic diseases. Cannabidiol (CBD) in hemp is an especially attractive cannabinoid for medication because it is well-tolerated and not psychoactive. In addition, hemp-derived CBD is also legal to use in the U.S., whether in oral or topical form. But with the explosion of cannabinoid products in the commercial market, the challenge for consumers is to find effective, science-based remedies at a good value.


Lexa W. Lee is a former family physician, research fellow in immunology, lecturer and medical journalist. She also writes about consumer health issues.



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Characteristics of Key Phytocannabinoids in Hemp | Curatio

by Lexa W. Lee

The Properties and Benefits of Key Phytocannabinoids in Hemp

We all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which keeps our bodies functioning normally. It helps us maintain homeostasis in a constantly changing environment. The ECS consists of messenger compounds called endocannabinoids, along with their receptors. Among these are CB1, CB2, and TPRV. Since the cannabinoids in hemp can also bind with these receptors with similar effects, they have attracted widespread interest as potential treatments for anxiety, sleep, pain and inflammation.

Endocannabinoids and Their Receptors

CB1 receptors are more concentrated in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found predominantly in the immune system and gastrointestinal system. Endocannabinoids can start or stop a given activity, such as the production, uptake or breakdown of an enzyme. They can affect a receptor directly by binding with it, or interact with it indirectly. The number and concentration of receptors is unique to each individual which explains why each of us reacts differently to cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids in plants — called phytocannabinoids — also combine with cannabinoid receptors in humans. The phytocannabinoids CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and CBDV are possible therapies for human conditions related to the insufficient production or imbalance of endocannabinoids.


Cannabidiol (CBD) — along with THC — are the two best known and well-studied phytocannabinoids. CBD, the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp, is not psychoactive. It has antibacterial activity and can reduce pain and inflammation. It also shows promise as an anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and antipsychotic. CBD effects CB1 and CB2 indirectly instead of actually binding with them. Its greater interaction with CB2 means it has more influence on immunity and the gastrointestinal system rather than the central nervous system which has more CB1.


Cannabinol (CBN), a mildly psychoactive phytocannabinoid, produces sedative-like effects, but it is not intoxicating like THC. CBN forms when THC in plants is exposed to oxygen, light and heat. Because its chemical composition resembles THC, CBN also binds to CB1 and CB2. CBN may be effective in treating pain and inflammation, glaucoma and skin problems. It may also improve bone health. Higher CBN concentrations may help reduce anxiety. Curatio uses a patented oxidation process to convert the 3% THC content in its hemp to the CBN cannabinoid in a 1:1 conversion.

Additional research on CBN found:

  • 1976 — sedative effects, particularly when paired with THC,
  • 2002 — may be effective in reducing pain,
  • 2004 — may help delay progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
  • 2008 — showed antibacterial potential and
  • 2012 — may help induce appetite.

Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the more abundant cannabinoids in hemp after CBD. It is non-intoxicating, binding, weakly to CB1 and interacts more with CB2. It is involved in pain perception — apparently by boosting levels of endocannabinoids like anandamide. CBC also appears to inhibit the uptake of anandamide allowing it to remain longer in the bloodstream.

Additional research studies on CBC have found:

  • 2010 — antidepressant effects,
  • 2010 — anti-inflammatory properties with optimal results when taken with THC,
  • 2011 — pain relieving effects,
  • 2012 — reduces gastrointestinal motility, applicable to inflammatory bowel disease,
  • 2013 — shows potential for use in neurodegenerative disorders and
  • 2016 — may be useful in acne and other skin conditions.

Cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is a chemical precursor for other cannabinoids including THC, CBC, CBN and CBD. Conversion typically takes place 6–8 weeks in the flowering cycle. CBG is present only in trace amounts in most strains of hemp. So, some plants are specifically cultivated to generate higher yields.

Since CBG is not psychoactive and inhibits CB1, it counters the “high” produced by THC. CBG is believed to boost anandamide — an endocannabinoid that increases dopamine levels — thereby regulating functions such as mood, sleep and appetite. CBG has potential as an anti-anxiety agent and muscle relaxant. As a CB1 antagonist, it may also block serotonin receptors which can ease depression. CBG has also demonstrated antibacterial activity. Curatio products contain 3% CBG.

Additional research on CBG has found it:

  • 1990 — lowers intraocular pressure, making it a possible glaucoma treatment,
  • 2015 — shows potential for treating bladder dysfunction and
  • 2016 — potentially is effective for inducing appetite.

Among the lesser-known phytocannabinoids is cannabidivarin (CBDV) which occurs in higher levels in hemp that also contains higher levels of CBD. It is non-psychoactive with a composition that resembles CBD. It appears to reduce nausea and seizure activity.

With the expanding market for CBD products and investigation into their medical effects, new strains of hemp are being developed for different phytocannabinoid profiles, as in Curatio’s hemp. Working with a team of scientists, Curatio has developed a product with a unique cannabinoid content and processing methods that  enhance the way CBD acts.

Full-Spectrum CBD vs Broad-Spectrum CBD

“Full-spectrum CBD” refers to a preparation that includes all the cannabinoids in the  plant. Curatios hemp contains a proprietary ratio of CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG and CBDV, along with flavonoids,  terpenes and triglycerides that work synergistically for greater potency. You may have heard of broad-spectrum CBD oil which is also THC-free. However, the process of removing the THC stripsmost of the other secondary cannabinoids. The final product has a secondary cannabinoid content that does not exceed 2 percent, compared to Curatio which exceeds 15 percent. This includes 3% CBN, 3% CBG, and 9%CBC which Curatio includes as a non-psychoactive alternative to THC which, by law, cannot exceed 0.3 percent.

Lexa W. Lee is a former family physician, research fellow in immunology, lecturer and medical journalist. She also writes about consumer health issues.