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It is well known scientifically that we have a biochemical system in our body that plays a role in regulating our physiology, mood and other body functions. This biochemical system is called the Endocannabinoid System. The first part of this word, Endo" means it originates within our body. Also discovered were receptors for the cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body. They are located in the brain, internal organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells. The main task of this system is to maintain what is called homeostasis, or optimal balance of the body in spite of the external influences. This system was discovered in the mid-1990s y an Israeli researcher Dr. Ralph Mechoulam. He also identified THC as the main active ingredient in cannabis in the early 1960s. Israel has remained one of the most progressive nations for cannabis research. It has one of the most advanced medical cannabis programs in the world.
Dr. Mechoulam also discovered two receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, and also in the connective tissues, gonads, glands and organs; the CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system, gastrointestinal tract and the peripheral nervous system. The cannabinoid receptors are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each for a different function. On a day-to-day aspect, the endocannabinoids help to regulate sleep, appetite, digestion, hunger, mood, motor control, immune function, reproduction and fertility, pleasure and reward, pain, memory and temperature regulation. Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are thought to be caused from the endocannabinoid system being out of regulation.
Our body naturally makes endocannabinoids that stimulate the cannabinoid receptors. Phytocannabinoids made by plants can also stimulate the cannabinoid receptors in our body. The most well known phytocannabinoid is THC. This is the most psychcoactive one, but there are others such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol. It is felt that the cannabis plant may contain over one hundred different cannabinoids, which all work synergistically to produce better medical effects and less side effects than when separated and taken alone.
Research indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) has potent anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant and neuroprotective properties. It has also been reported by researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco that CBD destroys breast cancer cells and that it offer hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat agressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy. The study showed that the best results were obtained when the CBD was combined along with the THC. Other studies have also shown the advantage of the therapeutic effects when combining CBD and THC. This combination has shown good results when treating peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, arthritis and other neurodegenerative ailments. GW Pharmaceuticals in Britian has shown that CBD is most effective as an analgesic when administered in combination with the whole plant THC. These findings show that what has been but together by nature, works better than when the components are separated.
Research has found that THC is specifically keyed to the CB1 receptors. It's most important effect is to modulate and moderate the perception of pain. This is what allows someone to take less pain medication when using cannabis. Also of importance is that there are no CB1 receptors in the part of the brain that regulate heart rate or breathing. This means you can not overdose on cannabis as there is no lethal dosage, unlike narcotic pain medications. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system and work as an anti inflammatory agent. Cannabidiol (CBD) when taken with THC, down regulates the psycoactivity of the THC. Once again, the natural combination of the two is much superior than each alone.
The research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This is also why first-time users of cannabis don't feel an initial effect, but by their second to third time they have used cannabis they have built more cannabanoid receptors and more readily respond.
There is a hypothesis that many medical conditions may result from an endocannabinoid deficiency.
The one thing that remains clear is that a functional cannabinoid system is essential for health.