Endocannabinoid System, CBD and PEA
Rising popularity of CBD oil has been a matter of many a discussion in the past few years. It seems obvious that CBD does exert many positive effects and it seems there are absolutely no psychoactive side effects that THC comes with. On the other hand, it is also not completely clear where the effects come from.
We know that CBD works through the endocannabinoid system, but the more we are learning about the system and CBD’s mechanism of action, the more it is becoming clear that CBD mostly works indirectly, helping some other molecules, most of which are endogenous, to do their job.
One of those endogenous molecules is available as a supplement or a medical food in its purest form, thoroughly tested for more than half a century and very efficient, so it is no wonder that many health professionals are opting for it.
The mentioned molecule is PEA, short for palmitoylethanolamide, a fatty acid amide which looks like a perfect combination of natural, safe, efficient and scientifically proven solution for pain, inflammation an immune system problems.
It is emerging as the best option and a preferred choice of health professionals – both the ones with conventional education and alternative ones, thanks to the fact that it is both completely natural and thoroughly scientifically tested and proven beyond doubt.
Surprisingly, European health professionals are far more familiar with PEA than the US ones. This is very strange, knowing how dedicated and open US people are when it comes to efficient natural methods.
Let’s compare the two and see why the switch from CBD which is definitely efficient and very popular thanks to its effects as well as the controversy surrounding cannabis products.
There are many articles online talking about what CBD is efficient for including addition treatment, pain and inflammation, so we will delve into the mechanisms behind it and compare it with the mechanisms of PEA.
Most of the effects come indirectly. CBD has been discovered to have very low affinity to CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. We’ll talk about the indirect mechanism in a few minutes. Now, let’s see the receptors it does affect.
Direct effects of CBD
One of the receptors CBD affects is 5-HT1a. This receptors has effects on sleep, depression, appetite and anxiety.
It also affects TRPV-1 which is very important for pain and inflammation perception. It is also important for PEA, as you will see below.
CBD also inhibits FAAH enzyme which degrades both PEA and AEA (anandamide), helping them exert their benefits better.
Indirect effects of CBD
This is where majority of CBD’s effects come from. We’ve already said that it inhibits FAAH enzyme which degrades PEA and AEA. This may be also the mechanism behind CBD’s effects on pain, inflammation and the mentioned TRPV-1 receptor. Namely, by inhibiting FAAH, PEA and AEA are present in the body for longer. AEA affects CB1 and PEA TRPV-1.
Both PEA and AEA are endogenous – produced by the body naturally – so inhibiting the enzyme that destroys those means that their effects are increased. This may explain the indirect antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD.
We will talk more about this below in the section about PEA.
Side effects of CBD
Even though the scare surrounding cannabis is high, CBD has no recorded psychoactive effects, which does away with the biggest issue. However, this often mistakenly leads to claiming it has no side effects whatsoever. This is not entirely true.
First of all, CBD has been found to decrease the activity of both T and B cells in the immune system. This means that it can promote HIV progression, as well as tumor growth.
Similarly, CBD oil reduces the effects of cytochrome P450. This is an enzyme found in the liver and used by the body to metabolize vast majority of prescription drugs. This can increase the side effects of these drugs.
As you can see, the side effects aren’t hugely detrimental and they depend on your health condition, but they do exist.
Bear in mind that there is another molecule with the same acronym, so make sure you know this is PalmitoylEthanolAmide.
It is a fatty acid amide naturally produced in the body, completely safe, very effective and scientifically proven through more than 400 medical studies ranging from the 1950s to the present moment. Its benefits were also researched by the likes of Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi-Montalcini.
So, yes, PEA is real, well tested, thoroughly documented and highly effective. As well as completely legal anywhere in the world.
The studies showed that it is very efficient against pain and inflammation, as well as immune system issues. It also has no side effects, addiction issues, overdose level or negative interactions with drugs.
Here’s a bit about the mechanism.
Direct effects of PEA
PEA binds directly to PPAR-alpha receptor which is incredibly important for ketogenesis, metabolism processes in the liver, kidneys, intestines, heart and adrenal gland.
CB2 is one of the main reasons why PEA is very efficient against immune system issues. CB2 is found in hematopoietic cells, macrophages and B cells and it helps increase the number of blood cells, eliminate microbes and cancer cells and create antibodies.
GPR55 is another receptor which PEA binds to. It is a novel cannabinoid receptor found in bone cells, small intestine, as well as cerebellum in the brain.
Another novel cannabinoid receptor is GPR119 found in the GI tract. It is very important for regulating insulin secretion.
Lastly, there is the mentioned TRPV-1.
Indirect effects of PEA
PEA and AEA have similar pathways and they are degraded by FAAH enzyme. This means that the more PEA and AEA there is, the more effective they are, as FAAH can’t degrade them quickly enough.
Aside from this, AEA also affects CB1, the most prominent cannabinoid receptor in the body, very active in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
If you are not familiar with the actions of these receptors, their effects on neuropathic pain, inflammation, GI tract and more, you can learn a lot more in the three following articles on our blog:
Now, AEA is not available as a supplement or a medical food, but PEA is. Especially liposomal PEA makes a big difference in efficiency as it improves bioavailability of palmitoylethanolamide.
Now it makes more sense that PEA is the preferred choice of many health professionals. It directly affects many of the things that CBD helps with indirectly and even goes beyond those. Just like CBD, it is used for various kinds of pain and spasms, MS, Parkinson’s, but also many autoimmune diseases and inflammation disorders.
The hype around medical marijuana is one of the main reasons why CBD is so well known in the US, unlike PEA. It is further increased by the fact that many pharmaceutical companies try to deny the benefits of CBD, thus creating justified resistance. However, as PEA becomes more familiar, the whole issue may take a significantly more peaceful and efficient route.