Endocannabinoid Regulation of Neuroendocrine Systems.

“The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that is critical for sustaining life through its homeostatic control and integrative regulation of the autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine systems. Neuroendocrine function in mammals is mediated mainly through the control of pituitary hormone secretion by diverse neuroendocrine cell groups in the hypothalamus.

Cannabinoid receptors are expressed throughout the hypothalamus, and endocannabinoids have been found to exert pronounced regulatory effects on neuroendocrine function via modulation of the outputs of several neuroendocrine systems.

Here, we review the physiological regulation of neuroendocrine function by endocannabinoids, focusing on the role of endocannabinoids in the neuroendocrine regulation of the stress response, food intake, fluid homeostasis, and reproductive function.

Cannabis sativa (marijuana) has a long history of recreational and/or medicinal use dating back to ancient times. It was used as an analgesic, anesthetic, and antianxiety herb as early as 2600 B.C.

The hedonic, anxiolytic, and mood-elevating properties of cannabis have also been cited in ancient records from different cultures. However, it was not until 1964 that the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, was isolated and its chemical structure determined (Gaoni & Mechoulam, 1964).”

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