When I first began my foray into the vast research opportunity of medical cannabis, I had no idea where the trail would lead–only that my interest was sparked by the relief from pain I was finding with hemp Cannabidiol aka CBD. Looking first to better understand the concept of the “entourage effect” created by using the whole cannabis plant, I was both surprised and delighted to discover that research into cannabis lead into a major medical discovery: the Endocannabinoid System in the body of all mammals.
Israeli scientists discovered the ECS while tracking down how THC and CBD interact with a body’s bio-chemistry…only to realize that every cell–both inside and out–have cannabinoid receptor sites. Every tissue, every organ, every system in the body is regulated by a signaling system triggered by these receptor sites being joined by either an endocannabinoid (molecules originating in the body) or an exo-cannabinoid (molecules originating outside the body like cannabinoids that are in cannabis). The Endocannabinoid System, then, is a system regulating homeostasis in everything from the hormonal system to the nervous system, the immune system and back again, and our bodies actually make molecules that function identically to CBD and THC to effect that balance.
In other words, an integral aspect of sustaining a healthy body eco-system is sustaining a healthy ECS. For example, scientists noted that the onset of seizures in young children often followed the cessation of breast feeding–as long as the baby was supported by endocannabinoids from the mother’s milk, the baby was healthy. Remove the endocannabinoids offered by breastmilk, and the children developed seizures… that exo-cannabinoids like CBD would resolve. From these facts, scientists started delving into the ECS to understand what sustains a healthy ECS, what causes an ECS to stop producing endocannabinoids, and how can a dysfunctional ECS be diagnosed. These are huge questions, and the research continues…
What we do know now, for certain, is that the cannabinoids in cannabis function in our bodies to support a healthy ECS. For children with seizure disorders, for people with chronic neuropathic pain or head injuries, for people with autoimmune conditions like Krohn’s and MS, for people who experience anxiety and/or PTSD…the right blend of cannabinoids from cannabis is an amazing solution.
So far, there are more cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant than there is adequate research to describe their actions in the body. THC is, perhaps the most well known, and it is the only one that has a psycho-active effect. CBD is the rising star with increasing evidence of it’s efficacy as a non convulsant, anti-spasmotic, neuroprotector, anti-inflammatory, immune system modulator, and on and on. Other cannabinoids include: THCv, THCa, CBDv, CBDa, CBG, CBGa, CBN, CBC, and more are being identified with continued research. The “entourage effect” suggests that all of the cannabinoids–regardless of whether we have named them or developed a list of attributes–work together, enhancing each other. So, for example, while CBD may be the star in the formula, all cannabinoids are supporting actors that make that star shine.
We’ve only touched the tip of this topic, and it is already amazing to consider, right? And, there’s more. Much more. Stay tuned….