5 Things You Need to Know About the Endocannabinoid System

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The body’s endocannabinoid system has been studied since the 1990s, ever since it was first discovered by Dr. L.A. Matsuda. At that time, Dr. Matsuda was studying the effects made on the body by the chemical compound THC– also known as the compound that creates the stimulating and intoxicating effects that the cannabis plant (also known as marijuana) is known for. What Dr. Matsuda and her team discovered was a complicated web of cannabinoid receptors in both the central as well as the peripheral nervous system. Although research into this amazing network is still in its infancy, what we do know is that the endocannabinoid system is helpful in refining our body’s critical functions. It has a profound effect on regulation of sleep, pain, inflammation, mood, and memory. In other words, the endocannabinoid system works to promote your body’s state of homeostasis and helps to make sure that the body’s major systems are correctly communicating with one another. Here are 5 things that you need to know about the endocannabinoid system:

1.Every animal on Earth has an endocannabinoid system

Human beings are not the only animals that possess an endocannabinoid system. In fact, all vertebrates and invertebrates have one. Even primitive animals, such as a sea squirt that evolved over six hundred million years ago, have been known to contain an endocannabinoid system. Another interesting fact is that the endocannabinoid system has more receptors than all of the other neuromodulatory receptors in the body combined! This includes the receptors in the brain that regulate dopamine and serotonin. 

2. The endocannabinoid system plays a large part in various diseases

The endocannabinoid system helps to bring the body to a place of balance and homeostasis. Because of this, cannabis researchers and medical scientists have been finding evidence that the endocannabinoid system changes in response to various critical illnesses. Illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, Cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis have shown differences in how the endocannabinoid system reacts. What this has suggested to researchers is that the endocannabinoid system plays an important part in restoring the body’s state of balance and synergy while bolstering overall wellness.

3. Endocannabinoid System Disease may actually be the cause of your illness

If the endocannabinoid system is working as it’s supposed to, your body and all of its systems and connections will be in the ideal state of homeostasis. However, when the endocannabinoid system is functioning improperly, such as when it is damaged in some way, the body’s systems are likewise not functioning properly. Medical cannabis scientists have found evidence that suggests that under these conditions people can experience a range of medical problems such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel system, and migraines. The idea that the endocannabinoid system can be the root of many disorders and imbalances is known as the Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Hypothesis. The theory states that the supplementation of the body with natural, whole-molecule cannabis medicine will correct the deficiency and restore synergy and homeostasis to a person’s overall health

4. The endocannabinoid system is the reason that medical cannabis works

Cannabis has historically been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments before it was prohibited in the previous century. It has been used to treat issues such as pain, anxiety, depression, seizures, and inflammation. While these traditional healers may not have known about the endocannabinoid system by name, they understood that effectiveness of the cannabis plant and their early curiosity set the groundwork into modern scientific research and analysis in cannabis (marijuana) as medicine. 

5. Your doctor may not know much about the endocannabinoid system

While most medical professionals know a great deal about medicine and how to treat various illnesses, they aren’t taught much about the endocannabinoid system. This can be quite frustrating when you attempt to bring it up to them as you attempt to research whether medical cannabis is right for you. While things are beginning to change as the conversation about medical cannabis becomes more mainstream, it is essential that patients arrive at appointments equipped with a general understanding of the endocannabinoid system when speaking with their doctor. As always, please speak with a qualified medical cannabis practitioner before beginning any new medical protocol. This will ensure that the correct strains, dosing, and methods of ingestion are being used in order to maximize the therapeutic value of the endocannabinoid system.

Further reading:

https://norml.org/library/item/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18404144

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5288380/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24440992

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25855725

http://media.wix.com/ugd/b72a4e_e88348b93436e74dea366be39a6b47e2.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoid_system