Cannabinoids affect the body through the endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors located in cells and distributed in different organs of the body.

Basically, the endocannabinoid system is composed of 2 receptors: CB1 and CB2. However, scientists have recently discovered that the GPR55 receptor could be considered a third receptor, which is believed to be very important for different physiological functions. 

What is the GPR55 receptor?

In recent years, scientists have regularly focused on studying the endocannabinoid system for its important role in health. First, it was thought to be simply composed of CB1 and CB2 receptors, but recent studies indicate that this system is more complex than this and those other receptors are involved.

Although it was discovered in 1999, it wasn’t until a few years later, in 2007, that a study was conducted to determine its link to cannabinoids. This study confirmed that GPR55, a G protein-coupled receptor, binds to certain cannabinoids and that different physiological processes are activated as a result of this interaction.

So , with this third receptor, the same thing will happen as with the well-known CB1 and CB2 receptors. Not only do they act with the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant (the phytocannabinoids, such as THC or CBD), but also with the organism itself (the endocannabinoids), as anandamide.

The functions of the GPR55 receptor

The effect of cannabinoids on the body affects various important functions such as appetite regulation and homeostasis (the balance of body functions). As explained in another article, it is not necessary to consume cannabinoids from the cannabis plant because the body itself produces some cannabinoids that can act on the endocannabinoid system and thus regulate certain functions. In fact, the GPR55 receptor is believed to play a very important role in maintaining metabolic balance through the regulation of appetite, gastrointestinal motility, and insulin secretion.

Another scientific study carried out to deepen our knowledge of the link between these receptors and cannabinoids, ensures that GPR55, through its effect on these molecules, will increase calcium concentrations in cells. GPR55 receptors are believed to be present in high concentrations in the spinal ganglia, a group of nodules located in the nerves of the spinal column. When different cannabinoids such as Δ-9-THC, or anandamide, activate these receptors, they will trigger a process to increase intracellular calcium in these neurons.

The therapeutic potential of this receptor is clearly greater than was imagined when it was first discovered. A study in mice showed that THC, the main cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, was more effective with the GPR55 receptor than with the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. This, therefore, opens up a series of questions and possibilities at the therapeutic level that deserves to be explored.

The GPR55 receptor : CBD therapeutic potential in epilepsy

CBD has demonstrated its beneficial properties in the treatment of various diseases and its effectiveness in a very severe type of epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome. Cannabidiol became famous thanks to the famous case of the young American girl Charlotte Fiji, who suffered from this disease. From that point on, some seed banks focused on the development of new cannabis varieties with high levels of CBD, completely transforming the market.

Until recently, the benefits of CBD were thought to depend solely on CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, the evidence for this new third receptor casts doubt on this theory, as it could play a major role in many of the effects of cannabis, including seizure prevention. 

One study has attempted to understand the exact mechanisms by which the CBD may be able to prevent seizures. They found that cannabidiol restored brain inhibition by blocking the activity of GPR55 receptors in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls long-term memory and movement.

On the other hand, the fact that CBD blocks the GPR55 signal may also be important in stopping the proliferation of cancer cells. Several studies highlight the importance of this receptor in cancer development, which is why it is so important to continue research on its link with cannabinoids.

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