Our Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis Sativa

It’s no secret to people who know me that I support the use of cannabis. The benefits, contrary to popular belief, truly outweigh any detriments of its use. How do I know this? By experimenting on myself of course!

I began using cannabis when I was quite young as a means to distract me from the troubles of being a teenager and growing up in a strict religious background. I used it to calm my mind and help me relax, and I abused it during party times with my friends.

The abused portion is typically the way we see it broadcasted socially. And it’s not viewed a helpful, medical substance when it’s used that way. But realistically, a party is the typical setting where most of us have been introduced to it. Little have we known how much it’s been helping to save our system.

The human body is comprised of a little known system called the Endocannabinoid. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, and his team of scientists, first discovered this system in the 1990s and have since done extensive research to how this affects our physiology.1 The Endocannabinoid system consists of a series of receptors that are configured only to accept cannabinoids.

What are cannabinoids? Specifically, they are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in our body’s cells which repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. But they’re not isolated to the brain. Cannabinoid receptors are also found in both male and female reproductive organs, as well as our immune system!

Ligands for these receptor proteins include endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by animals), phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis sativa as well as other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids(manufactured artificially).

So why is this important? Humans have hundreds of cannabinoid receptors, two of which have been discovered and extensively researched by Dr. Mechoulam. Our endocannabinoid system naturally produces these receptors similarly to how we produce narcotic-like endorphins.

The two main receptors discovered and researched are cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2).  CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and reproductive organs. Their most important effect is to modulate and moderate the perception of pain. CB1 receptors are linked to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in Cannabis Sativa.

CB2 receptors are found in our immune system with the highest concentration being in the spleen and evidence of receptors in the nerve bundles of our basal ganglia. When connected to Cannabidiol (CBD) our CB2 receptors work on our body as an anti-inflammatory agent.

So now that we know what these neurotransmitters do, what is their function in helping our endocannabinoid system?

Dr. Ethan B. Russo, a neurologist and researcher at Phytecs, explored the concept of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) affecting the pathophysiology of migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional conditions alleviated by cannabis use.2 His research suggested that cannabinoids can block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms that promote pain in headache, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and muscle spasms.3 Subsequent research 4 5 has confirmed that underlying endocannabinoid deficiencies indeed play a role in the above studied conditions, as well as a number of other medical conditions.

Endocannabinoid deficiency is mainly caused by a lack of signaling within the system. If you have any of the above mentioned conditions, maybe your system doesn’t have enough endocannabinoids being synthesized? Our bodies makes two main endocannabinoids called anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG)6 7.
AEA and 2-AG are released and activate cannabinoid receptors. But CECD could mean a deficiency in necessary cannabinoid receptors or too many enzymes breaking them down. These receptors are key to signaling the breakdown of our endocannabinoids and without proper signaling, in any system, our physiology suffers.
Many of us with medical conditions are suffering for long periods of time with little relief from our Western medicine practices. It takes a great deal of trial and error to find what works and what doesn’t and the effect is generally taxing on our physiology and mentally fatiguing.
Consuming phytocannabinoids can significantly decrease the stress on our endocannabinoid system. So what does that mean to us? It means less inflammation, improved immune system function, and a decrease of signals to pain receptors. That’s huge! Cannabis sativa has over 130 phytocannabinoids, the most abundant source in the world.
So why is this plant illegal considering its dramatic benefits? Why indeed? Martin A Lee, author of Smoke Signals, explores the social history of marijuana and it is a must read. In Chapter 9, Mellow Mayhem, section Healing Without the High, he discusses the discovery of cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. It’s heart-wrenching how far Big Pharma went and continues to go in order to keep this simple plant controlled. In the meantime, the population’s health suffers.

This is where we can help. Correcting endocannabinoid deficiency just may be an important piece of the puzzle in your healing journey. Juice them, use transdermal applications, eat the leaves! There are many options and smoking is quite often the least effective. Phytocannabinoids are crucial to healing this deficiency and can be found in a number of plants. If you’re not comfortable using cannabis we can help find a source best suited for you.
If you’re curious about Cannabis and want to know more, please see the references below and visit with me (Cheyanna) or Jinlen at Gambei! We’re happy to discuss our knowledge from a medical perspective.

 

Cheers! Gambei!

-cheyanna
 

1. https://kalytera.co/dr-raphael-mechoulam/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24977967

3. https://www.projectcbd.org/article/dr-ethan-russo-cbd-clinical-endocannabinoid-deficiency

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931553/

5. http://www.nel.edu/archive_issues/o/35_3/35_3_Smith_198-201.pdf

6. http://reset.me/story/beginners-guide-to-the-endocannabinoid-system/

7. http://www.theimpactnetwork.org/endocannabinoid-deficiency/