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What Are Cannabinoid Receptors & What Do They Do?


What Are Cannabinoid Receptors & What Do They Do?

Recently, marijuana has become a key topic of discussion for scientists, physicians, and politicians because of the medicinal value it is showing to have. Thirty-three states have a legal medical marijuana program in place and others have added it to their ballots to be voted on in the upcoming election. With the public opinion shifting away from the negative stigma attached to marijuana and the laws becoming more lenient, there has been an increase in research done on how marijuana actually interacts with the human body and its systems. 

One of the biggest breakthroughs for the medical application of marijuana was the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and its role in maintaining homeostasis. Many debilitating conditions and their symptoms can be managed with marijauna products and as of 2016 Floridians who have a qualifying condition can obtain relief with a physician’s approval.

The conditions that qualify you for a medical marijuana recommendations in Florida are:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.

If you are curious about medical marijuana and its effects, you can take the pre-qualifying survey offered by DocMJ to start the process. One of their many qualified and compassionate Florida Marijuana Doctors are here to help you on your medical marijuana journey.

What is Homeostasis?

Homeostasis is the ability to maintain a stable internal state needed to survive that persists regardless of the environment outside. All living organisms, from plants to animals to people, have to regulate their internal environment constantly in order to process energy and ultimately survive. For example, the human body uses many different ways to control its ideal temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is too hot outside, your body will begin to sweat to help cool you off — too cold and it will begin to shiver to assist your body in heating up. These reactions are just a few examples of the many ways your body will react in order to reach homeostasis.However, these inevitable and automatic responses only occur as long as the systems are working together properly. 

What is the Endocannabinoid System? 

Researchers have described the endocannabinoid system as the most complicated signaling system in the human body, yet it was only discovered in the 1980s. The ECS is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids (lipid-based endogenous neurotransmitters) the receptors they bind to, and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids.

While the endocannabinoid system is still undergoing preliminary research, it is believed to be involved in regulating both physiological and cognitive processes. This includes, but is not limited to, fertility, pregnancy, pre- and postnatal development, appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory and more.

CB1 & CB2 Receptors

 In 1988, William Devane and Allyn Howlett discovered the first cannabinoid receptor in a rat’s brain which resulted in them discovering that there were more CB receptors in the brain than any other neurotransmitter receptor. The effects of endocannabinoids are mainly controlled by these two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2.

The CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, as well as in organs and tissues such as the spleen, endocrine gland, white blood cells, and parts of the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive tracts. These receptors are what the endocannabinoids anandamide and ligand bind to. The CB1 receptor is one of the most abundant G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the CNS and is found in particularly high levels in the neocortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia, cerebellum and brainstem

In the brain, these receptors are most abundant in the cerebellum, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and dorsal primary spinal cord regions. This could be why cannabinoids affect functioning for memory processing, motor control, and pain regulation.  Only activation of the CB1 receptor—not of the CB2 receptor— will result in the well-known psychotropic “high” effect.

CB2 receptors are found primarily on white blood cells in the tonsils and the spleen. They have become more popular in recent years and are being researched for their potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. 

Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are not only present in the gastrointestinal tract but they are active as well. They are also involved in gastric secretions, ion transport, and cell proliferation in the gut as well. CB1 and CB2 receptors also help maintain a person’s appetite. Endocannabinoids acting on the CB1 receptors promoted appetite and when unable to bind it decreased. For example, obesity causes the receptors to be upregulated throughout the body, including in the liver and adipose tissues, affecting a person’s desire for regular  food intake.

For example: Taking a dose of CBD sublingual oil (which will typically bind with the CB2 receptor) can inhibit your appetite, whereas a THC-rich strain can increase appetite because it binds more readily with the CB1 receptor. Which is why some people experience the “munchies” with certain marijuana products while others do not.

How Do CB1 &CB2 Receptors Work

The easiest way to imagine cannabinoids and the receptors is like a lock and key. When a person consumes marijuana products, the cannabinoids (keys) flood your body in search of receptors (locks). Once they find a match, the effects of the cannabinoids and the receptor “click” together and messages are sent throughout the rest of the body.

If you have a medical condition that is listed above and are interested in obtaining your legal Florida Medical Marijuana License, our team here at DocMJ is here to help you get the relief you deserve. By taking just a few minutes out of your day to be approved for a recommendation, the rest of your life may be changed for the better. Speak with a medical marijuana Patient Care Coordinator today at (888) 908.0143 or chat with us online at If you’re ready to get started today, complete our easy, online eligibility survey to find out instantly if you pre-qualify.