Fair warning people, I’m about to use some big words here. But don’t worry, I’ll do my best to make this as simple as possible!
One of the ingredients we use in MindGain is Maca root. Maca root, a type of ginseng found in the mountains of Peru, boasts a number of restorative qualities. The ginseng family is known for increasing energy and improving circulation, and is commonly used in those with fatigue problems. Sounding good so far? Wait until I get to the specifics! In this case, I’m going to be discussing the relationship between Maca root and the endocannabinoid system.
Wait… the endocanna-what?
I know, I know. Let me break it down first!
The endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system is a located in the central nervous system (CNS), the immune system, and limbic system. Does the word endocannabinoid remind you of something? If it reminds you of cannabis, that’s because this system was discovered while the effects of marijuana on the body were being studied!
This system has many functions including cognition, mood balance, memory, anti-inflammation, and pain reduction. Endocannabinoids are a family of ligands, meaning that they act as a chemical messenger within the body. These messengers all play a role in heart rate, sleep, appetite, mood, and fear.
Getting slightly more specific, the endocannabinoid system contains two receptors, CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are prominent in certain regions of the brain associated with certain behaviours. You’ll find an abundance of CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus and the amygdala. Why does that matter? Well, the hypothalamus is involved in metabolism and appetite, and the amygdala is involved in memory, fear, and emotional responses. See the connection there?
CB2 receptors are actually found in the peripheral nervous system as well as the immune system. These guys are involved in inflammation, and are the main reason why the endocannabinoid system carries its anti-inflammatory function.
MOVING ON – what does this have to do with Maca root?
Getting to the main point of all of this science talk, Maca contains chemical compounds called macamides. Macamides are interesting little structures as they are functionally quite similar to endocannabinoids, meaning that they carry very similar neuroprotective qualities. What makes Maca so special, however, is its inhibitory effects on a fatty acid within the body called fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).
I know I’m using a lot of big words here, but stay with me for a minute. I’ll tell you why this is relevant.
So, let’s assume by now we have established that endocannabinoids are quite beneficial for cognitive function. But what if these therapeutic compounds had an inhibitor? An antagonist of sorts? They do, and they’re called FAAH’s.
FAAH ‘s need to be properly modulated within the body. Too much of them can lead to brain damage, and too little can have the same effect. This is why you won’t see FAAH inhibitors on the market, as its hard to create a pharmaceutical that won’t inhibit this fatty acid too much to the point where its effects become toxic.
So, in search of a natural method to bring about proper balance of FAAH, researchers discovered somewhat of a breakthrough with macamides. Macamides demonstrated a PARTIAL inhibition of FAAH, protecting from adverse effects of its complete and total inhibition. When FAAH is inhibited, to an extent, it can have anti-inflammatory effects while also increasing therapeutic effects of the endocannabinoid system.
MORAL OF THE STORY
We include Maca root in our MindGain nootropic because of its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. On top of that, compounds in Maca are similar to beneficial cannabinoids and can enhance the effects of the endocannabinoid system, which is related to cognition, mood balance, and memory!
Might be time to replace your morning cup of coffee with a refreshing dose of MindGain, if you ask me. 😉
By: Shannon Potts
Cherry, Kendra (2019) Very Well Health, Identifying a Neurotransmitter, retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neurotransmitter-2795394
Leaf Science (2017) The Endocannabinoid System, A Beginners Guide, retrieved from https://www.leafscience.com/2017/03/17/the-endocannabinoid-system-a-beginners-guide/
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Alasmari M, Bӧhlke M, Kelley C, Maher T, Pino-Figueroa A. Inhibition of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) by Macamides. Mol Neurobiol. 2019 Mar;56(3):1770-1781. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1115-8.