Endocannabinoids and the Endocrine System in Health and Disease

  • Cecilia J. HillardEmail author
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 231)


Some of the earliest reports of the effects of cannabis consumption on humans were related to endocrine system changes. In this review, the effects of cannabinoids and the role of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the regulation of the following endocrine systems are discussed: the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis, prolactin and oxytocin, thyroid hormone and growth hormone, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Preclinical and human study results are presented.


Corticosterone Gonadotropin Gonadotropin-releasing hormone Growth hormone HPA axis Oxytocin Prolactin Testosterone Thyroid hormone 





Adrenocorticotropic hormone




Basolateral amygdala


Type 1 cannabinoid receptor


Type 2 cannabinoid receptor


Central nervous system


Corticotropin-releasing hormone






Endocannabinoid signaling


Fatty acid amide hydrolase


Fetal growth restriction


Follicle-stimulating hormone


Gamma-aminobutyric acid


Growth hormone


Growth hormone-releasing hormone


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone


Glucocorticoid receptor










Luteinizing hormone


Monoacylglycerol lipase


Mineralocorticoid receptor






Phospholipase C


Periventricular nucleus


Supraoptic nucleus




Thyrotropin-releasing hormone


ß1 subtype of the thyroid hormone receptor


Thyroid-stimulating hormone


Ventral tegmental area



The author was supported during the writing of this review by NIH grant R01 DA26996 and the Research and Education Program, a component of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience Research Center and Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA

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