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Harmonizing Heart Health: The Vital Role of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in Cardiac Wellness

Heart diseases, often called cardiovascular diseases (CVD), are a significant global cause of morbidity and mortality that top the list of how a person's life may end. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health organizations frequently report on the worldwide prevalence and impact of these diseases.

But for some reason, there are no reports from the WHO on the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) or how the (ECS) plays a vital role in numerous physiological processes. Beyond the brain, endocannabinoids function in various peripheral tissues, including our precious pumping heart. These molecules influence our heart rate, blood pressure, vasodilation, and more.

As such, the ECS's imbalance can contribute to disorders like neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, diabetes, cancers, inflammatory processes, and cardiovascular disorders. But, in this article, we're looking at what keeps pumping our blood, our strongest muscle, and one of the highest necessities - our heart. 

Five Key Endocannabinoids for Our Heart Health:

Anandamide (AEA):

This endocannabinoid acts on various receptors, including CB1 and vanilloid TRP. Its metabolism occurs rapidly through fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).

AEA can offer protection to the heart; let's learn more:

Vasodilation: AEA promotes the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels (vasodilation), leading to improved blood flow. This action is essential for maintaining cardiovascular health, as reduced blood flow can lead to heart conditions.

Anti-inflammatory Properties: Inflammation is a significant factor contributing to various heart diseases. AEA exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, which can counteract some inflammatory processes that damage cardiac tissue.

Reduced Cell Death in the Heart: Some studies suggest that AEA can reduce the death of heart cells (cardiomyocytes) under stressful conditions, such as during a heart attack. This action of AEA is critical for preserving heart function.

Interactions with Other Endocannabinoids: AEA is highly synergetic with endocannabinoids and related compounds, such as cannabinoids from the plant. For instance, the endocannabinoid Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) can enhance the effects of AEA. At the same time, the exogenous or plant cannabinoid CBD does the same thing, which pairs the ECS actions to far more than how THC 'looks and acts like' Anandamide or AEA. There's a big difference between plant cannabinoids and endocannabinoids, but the two can work together.

This knowledge means other compounds potentiate or enhance AEA's beneficial effects on the heart. 

Reduction of Stress and Anxiety: The endocannabinoid system, including AEA, plays a role in mood regulation. Stress and anxiety are known risk factors for heart disease. AEA could indirectly benefit heart health by helping to modulate stress and anxiety.

Regulation of Blood Pressure: AEA has been found to regulate blood pressure in research. Proper regulation ensures that the heart doesn't overwork itself, reducing the risk of hypertension.

Note: While there is promising evidence about the protective effects of AEA on the heart, more clinical research is required to fully understand these mechanisms and determine potential therapeutic applications. Always consult a healthcare professional before making decisions about heart health - especially when taking supplements sold over the counter. 

2-Arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG): 

Although underrated by bloggers and others, this endocannabinoid has a stronger binding affinity to CB1 and CB2 receptors than anandamide. Its metabolites 1-AG and 3-AG are also critical Endocannabinoids. 

Role in Cardiovascular Health: 2-AG has shown potential in the cardiovascular system by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors, which play roles in cardiovascular health. Activation of CB1 receptors generally leads to vasodilation, which can lower blood pressure. The role of CB2 receptors in cardiovascular health is the subject of ongoing research, but they have anti-inflammatory effects.

Potential Therapeutic Uses: 2-AG and its receptors might have therapeutic potential for hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular diseases. However, research is ongoing, and potential applications need more validation.

1-Arachidonoylglycerol (1-AG)

Role in Cardiovascular Health: The cardiovascular effects of 1-AG are less studied compared to 2-AG. Given its structural similarity to 2-AG, it may have some similar results, but this is speculative. We've got a lot to learn.

Potential Therapeutic Uses: As the exact roles and mechanisms of 1-AG in the cardiovascular system still need to be clarified, it's challenging to pinpoint possible therapeutic uses. However, we know both 1-AG and 3-AG have many of the capabilities of their parent endocannabinoid - 2-AG.

3-Arachidonoylglycerol (3-AG)

 As with 1-AG, the specific cardiovascular roles of 3-AG must be better characterized in research before we can put our finger on how this endocannabinoid will help us in research, but its potential therapeutic applications are promising.

Oleoylethanolamine (OEA):

Functions: Promotes satiety and regulates energy balance. 

Vasorelaxant effects: OEA Impacts mesenteric arteries via activation of TRPV1 receptors which are also part of the Endocannabinoid System. These endothelium-dependent mechanisms in blood vessels rely on the inner lining (called the endothelium) to work correctly. The endothelium helps control how much blood vessels widen or narrow, which affects blood flow, and interferes with intracellular calcium release.

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA): 

PEA works in two ways:

Indirectly: PEA is synergetic to other endocannabinoids, and having the ability boosts the effect of other beneficial compounds in our body, creating what's known as the 'entourage effect.' This action makes PEA a very valuable endocannabinoid to keep in balance. 

Relation with Anandamide:

Let's quickly go over a few Receptor types we're discussing in this article - and the many others within the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that interact with each other.

CB1 receptors: Mostly found in the brain, these receptors play roles in cognitive functions, motor control, and more. They're also in cardiac tissue, influencing physiological mechanisms like energy balance, directly affecting cardiac health. 

CB2 receptors: Predominantly found on immune cells, these receptors mediate immune modulation and inflammation and have several side jobs like the CB1 in helping other bodily systems. More recent research shows the Cannabinoid Receptors in our Mitochondria, which means they'd be in every cell - more to come on that as the studies unfold. 

TRPV1: A type of ionotropic receptor present widely in the cardiovascular system, contributing to processes like pain perception. TRPV1 is a protein found in Nerve cells, muscle cells, and inner lining cells of the blood vessels in the heart and blood system. Researchers also see it in Nerve fibers, muscle cells, inner lining cells of airways, glands below the mucous layer, and cells involved in inflammation in the breathing system.

The ECS's Role in Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD)

Heart Failure & Cardiomyopathy: CB2 receptors trigger inflammation in these conditions, and CB1 receptors amplify cardiac dysfunction and cell death. So many still don't believe in the effects of cannabinoids from the plant. If they were aware of what our body's cannabinoids do it might change their minds. 

We learn so much about Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Terpenes - but most of us do not know about the precious Endocannabinoid System and the necessity of balance within it or how interaction with the plant affects the ECS, which is our ultimate treasure as it is our body. 

Atherosclerosis: This inflammatory disease involves increased CB1 and CB2 receptor activity in macrophages, leading to vascular inflammation and plaque formation. Keeping our body in reasonable shape includes a healthy diet and exercise; endocannabinoids are created due to this, and it's a pivotal need; without them, it's easy to see our life could be in jeopardy.

In summary, the ECS, particularly its endocannabinoids and receptors, plays a crucial role in heart health. As we uncover more about this system, the potential to find new therapeutic avenues for managing cardiovascular disorders opens, and the door to a better life is right before us. 

Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Balance Control is critical.

If we only learn about plant Cannabinoids, we're getting far less than half the picture. Practicing ECS Balance Control means a person doesn't need or take Tolerance Breaks to THC; they don't need them. But, it involves far more than using a plant - one must learn how their body runs to give it what it needs. 

We've come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness; we know now that the Endocannabinoid System and the cannabinoids our body makes are instrumental to keeping our ticker tocking; all of us have that as a #1 concern as the heart is the #1 organ that leads to loss of life. 

Learning how Endocannabinoids and Cannabinoids interact is also essential for those who use pharmaceutical medications. As always, there's a warning on every educational blog about Endocannabinoids:

Warning: Although many exist, please do not 'go shopping' online for endocannabinoids. Supplements that affect a crucial bodily system should be used with oversight by a medical expert who is aware of the Endocannabinoid System. 

 -Mike Robinson, Owner of the Mind that created ECS Balance Control


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