A good balance of essential fatty acids is crucial for body’s stability. When the intake of fatty acids, like omega 3 is not appropriate, many vital functions can be jeopardized, which contributes to the emergence of health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and even different types of cancer.
After discovering the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the late 1980s, much was learned about the role of this System in the mediation of substances such as omega 3 and its modulatory effects for the organism’s homeostasis. That is what we will talk about in this post. Please continue reading and learn about the synergy of this interaction!
How important is omega 3 to the body?
Essential fatty acids are fundamental for the homeostatic balance and for the structural composition of cell membranes, especially cells of the central nervous system. They are called ‘essential fatty acids’ because they are not produced in sufficient quantity by the organism itself. Therefore, it is necessary to intake them to supply this demand and maintain the balance of several physiological functions.
Diets rich in fish, nuts, red fruits and green leafy vegetables represent a rich primary source for the intake of omega 3. This consumption in Western diets is not often explored, unfortunately. It is no wonder that the global omega 3 supplement industry grows every year.
In 2002, the Simopoulos research – published in the scientific journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy – would already point out that the lack of primary intake of omega 3 contributes to chronic health conditions that increasingly afflict western countries, such as cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases and different types of cancer.
The discovery of the Endocannabinoid System by the Science helps us to understand and seek to mediate the health effects of omega 3. Endocannabinoids derived from omega 3 play a modulatory role in the ECS, preventing the development and progression of a series of chronic inflammatory processes.
How Cannabis Fatty Acids Interact with the ECS?
Although modern diets tend to replace omega 3 with other less important fatty acids, such as omega 6, the proportion of consumption considered ideal for health in relation to these two essential fatty acids remains at 3: 1 or 2: 1. The lower the proportion, the better. This is where products derived from Cannabis stand out, as they have the ideal proportion of fatty acids that the body needs, which interact with the SEC in two main ways.
The first way is of crucial importance. Endocannabinoids, which our own body produces, are derived products, that is, by-products of the omega 3. The second way in which fatty acids interact with the SEC specifically involves the CB1 receptor, which densely exists in the central nervous system. Let us understand better how these interactions take place.
Endocannabinoids derived from omega 3
Two of the three main types of omega 3 fatty acids involved in human physiology - eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - produce substances that bind to the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. Therefore, these derivatives of omega 3 are also considered endocannabinoid substances.
In a study published in 2019, Dutch researchers have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory potential of fatty acids and the impact of omega 3 derivatives on serum concentrations of endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG.
This explains the reason when our intake of omega 3 is far from the ideal proportion, several systems in the body - from the brain to the intestine – can lose their physiological balance, being in some cases decisive for the development and progression of certain diseases.
CB1 receptor and omega 3 deficiency
In the last decade, scientific researches showed that a diet rich in omega 3 has a beneficial effect on the functions of the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor, widely present in the Central Nervous System.
That is, while the omega 3 dietary deficiency would impair the proper functioning of the CB1 receptor, the intake of omega 3 would increase the sensitivity of this receptor, favoring the homeostasis of the organism, especially of the neurological functions. That is also why Cannabis-based products, as they contain the ideal proportion of essential fatty acids, have been so explored to modulate the Endocannabinoid System in the context of neuropsychiatric diseases.
It is for this reason also, that is the product of the Cannabis, contains the ideal ratio of essential fatty acids, have been less explored for the modular System, Endocanabinoide in the context of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Information and knowledge are the keys to act with assertiveness in the use of Cannabis-based products for therapeutic purposes, to fully exploit the potential of the more than 500 chemical compounds existing in this plant.
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DE BUS, Ian; WITKAMP, Renger; ZUILHOF, Han; ALBADA, Bauke; BALVERS, Michiel. The role of n-3 PUFA-derived fatty acid derivatives and their oxygenated metabolites in the modulation of inflammation. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat, v. 144, 2019.
LAFOURCADE, Mathieu; et. al. Nutritional omega-3 deficiency abolishes endocannabinoid-mediated neuronal functions. Nature Neuroscience, 2011.
SIMOPOULOS, Ap. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, v. 56, 2002.