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Endocannabinoids could help fight gastrointestinal infection

The endocannabinoid system is a complex signalling system comprised of cells, that plays a role in regulating and controlling your mood, sleep, appetite, immune system, memory and reproduction. Researchers at University of Texas South Western have recently investigated [1] whether the endocannabinoid system plays a role in improving ones susceptibility to gastrointestinal infections.

The study used mice that were genetically modified to produce more of a specific cannabinoid known as endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) in their intestines. The mice were then infected with a bacteria that attacks the colon and causes inflammation. Compared to the control group of unmodified mice, who exhibited severe symptoms, the genetically modified mice only showed very mild signs of distress. On examination of the colons, the modified mice had significantly lower counts of the bacteria and got over their infections days faster than their unmodified counterparts.

These findings could help to understand the effects of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system on conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. Studies have previously shown that cannabis consumption can decrease inflammation from this condition, however this research shows that the bacterial component of these conditions might play a role in its interaction with cannabis.

1. Ellermann, M., Pacheco, A. R., Jimenez, A. G., Russell, R. M., Cuesta, S., Kumar, A., … Sperandio, V. (2020). Endocannabinoids Inhibit the Induction of Virulence in Enteric Pathogens. Cell.

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