The Endocannabinoid System
endocannabinoid system definition from the medical dictionary :
A family of short-lived phospholipid-derived agonists that activate receptors in the brain, liver, muscle, intestine and adipose tissue. The system has roles in regulating energy balance and obesity.
Any chemical produced by the body that stimulates receptors for Cannabis sativa in the central nervous system.
Here are some amazing facts about the endocannabinoid system:
The endocannabinoid system was discovered by Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher, in the mid-1990’s. He is the same doctor who also identified THC as the primary ingredient in cannabis during the early 60’s. It’s no surprise that he comes from Israel, one of the most progressive nations today for cannabis legalization and research. In fact, Israel is known for having advanced medical cannabis programs unparalleled by any other country in the world.
Even though governments have been fully aware of the existence of the endocannabinoid system and its relation to cannabis, they’ve imposed severe limitations on cannabis research as well as legal access to the plant. Back in 2014, the US government was responsible for putting 700,000 in jail just for cannabis, despite being aware of the health benefits of the plant and its impact on the endocannabinoid system.
Consuming cannabis is the best way to address an endocannabinoid deficiency. However, there have been attempts to stimulate the endocannabinoid system using synthetic forms of cannabinoids, such as Marinol, a pharmaceutical drug. There are patients who have benefited from Marinol although in others it produces unwanted side effects including a feeling of getting high, nausea, stomach pain, confusion, anxiety, and mood disorders.
Consuming too much cannabis may interfere with how the endocannabinoid system. After all, it’s all about achieving a sense of balance; too much or too little cannabinoids can have different unwanted effects. Due to the biphasic nature of cannabinoids, this means that if you take cannabis to help with anxiety it can be beneficial but taking too much can make it worse. Additionally, heavy cannabis users can also experience an increased tolerance even in a short amount of time, which translates to having to consume more cannabis to achieve the desird effects.
If you’ve only heard about the endocannabinoid system now, or just in the last few years, this is because medical schools have chosen not to discuss it. But with more states legalizing cannabis use, proper education about cannabis is now becoming more available. There are schools that have curriculums designed specifically to discuss cannabis, and the first medical cannabis textbook already exists.
Many animals also have an endocannabinoid system, except some insects. This is also the reason why there have been several successful studies of cannabis and its impact on animal health.
Since the endocannabinoid system is at a cellular level, it isn’t visible to the human eye. The cannabinoid receptors are protein-based and are located on the surface of the cells found throughout the body.
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system in different ways. Some cannabinoids are antagonists, which also means that they activate various CB receptors. Other cannabinoids act as antagonists, which deactivates these receptors. When the endocannabinoid system has a deficiency, a balanced intake of cannabinoids will be effective in supplementing the system to restore it back to health.