The Endocannabinoid System
We all know that there are effects that can be experienced from using cannabis and maybe you have heard of the potential benefits cannabis can have on the human body. But many of us want to know more. In what ways does cannabis actually affect my body? Well, let’s break it down from the beginning. In the 1960s a scientist named Raphael Mechoulam isolated two of the main active components of cannabis: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). He discovered that these organic compounds have the incredible ability of connecting molecularly with certain receptors housed in many cells within our body.
For a visual of the endocannabinoid system, you can think of it as a plug and outlet or even a lock and key. Cannabinoids have sometimes even been dubbed “the key to a molecular padlock”. I’ll explain why...By connecting the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are naturally present within our own endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids act as chemical messengers. Mechoulam and his team wondered why there was a specific receptor in our bodies for this type of molecule. They continued research and in 1992, a naturally secreted cannabinoid called anandamide was found within our own bodies. Subsequently, another similar molecule called 2AG was also discovered within our bodies.
Let’s chat about Anandamide. It forms part of a wider system of intercellular communication in our bodies. This is known as the endocannabinoid system and it is closely associated to our bodies’ self-regulating processes such as the temperature of our body, heart rate, and even pH. Did you know that human life actually requires a tightly controlled PH level?
The endocannabinoid system is involved in many different aspects of our daily lives including pain control, appetite, motor coordination and neuroprotection (which is serving to protect neurons from injury or degeneration). The endocannabinoid system helps maintain the complex balance between different biological functions. This natural balance within the body is known as homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system has an effect on every aspect of how our bodies work - meaning that it is a key modulator of homeostasis. When someone uses cannabis, they are keying into these natural mechanisms and entering a state of balance.
THC and CBD are just two of over 100 cannabinoids within cannabis. The discovery of this array of cannabinoids has opened up a new field of research of the processes that regulate our organism. We know that some cannabinoids have therapeutic applications which make them very useful in the treatment of pain, emotion, nausea, seizures, cancer, HIV and a limitless number of other human ailments and discomforts.
Cannabis has been a part of human life for thousands of years and has tremendous properties beyond its mere recreational use. Cannabis has proven to play a key role for our understanding of the endocannabinoid system with which our bodies are already naturally equipped. The unique relationship that cannabis has with the chemistry of our body makes it very special.
xx Mama Bee