The CB2 receptor in cancer and mental health: A two-part series in Project CBD

My latest two columns for Project CBD both deal with recent research into the CB2 receptor, one of two primary cannabinoid receptors in the body (the other being CB1, of course). While CB1 is primarily expressed in the central nervous system (brain) and is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis -- as well as the "all-natural" runner's high, which is mediated by the endocannabinoid system; anandamide, an endogenous CB1 ligand in the body, is also called the "bliss molecule" for this reason -- CB2 is expressed in immune cells, the peripheral nervous system, and other tissues. (Any molecule that interacts with CB1 and/or CB2 is generally referred to as a "cannabinoid.") 

Both CB1 and CB2 play a central role in moderating a wide variety of physiological processes in the body, but CB2 is the less-studied of the two, and it may have an even broader reach. In addition to its more widely known roles in immune function and inflammation, recent research has revealed that CB2 activity also has important implications for both cancer and a number of mental health conditions. My 3/29 column focuses on recent studies of CB2's role in cancer, while my 4/5 column looks at CB2 and mental health. Enjoy!