Say “High” to the Endocannabinoid System
Who’s Got the Herb?
Cannabis. It's now available recreationally as well as for medical use. But what good can come from it other than getting high or making a lot of money from growing and selling it? Let's take a step back away from the recent news reports.
World Herb History 101
Did you know that the use of the cannabis plant has been documented for over 3000 years? Peoples of Chinese, Indian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman cultures have utilized the cannabis Sativa (hemp) plant for purposes ranging from ointments to bandages, fighting depression to ritual rites. Cannabis’ seeds were even used along with saffron and mint in beer to aid with amenorrhea (fertility) in women. How is it that one plant can deliver so many purposes? (R. Mechoulam)
Let's talk about the endocannabinoid system. What is it? The endocannabinoid system, or EC, is a natural physiological component of human development much like one’s immune system, endocrine system (hormones), and cardiovascular system, to name a few. While the EC isn’t a system of structural design, say for example like the cardiovascular or digestive systems, the EC DOES have direct interaction and influence with ALL of our body’s physiological systems, much like the immune system, through the presence of receptors found on organs throughout the body. These receptors are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. (Pacher, Batkai, Kunos)
The primary differentiation between CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors is their receptor locations. CB1 receptors are found most abundantly in the brain where CB2 receptors are found primarily within the cells of the immune and hematopoietic (blood) systems. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the portion of the brain known as the hippocampus. Much like endorphins that are released and give the sensation of a “runner’s high,” endocannabinoids are released to mitigate variables from factors such as environmental, stress/anxiety, ingestion/ digestion, and physical activity. These compounds are regulated based on the level of external stimulus as well as dosage tolerance. Enter the influence of cannabis and in particular, it’s 100+ known cannabinoids. (Pacher, Batkai, Kunos)
Let’s clear the air here. While we ALL automatically associate cannabis with the euphoria of getting high due to its magical ingredient, THC, cannabis is more than a reefer’s best friend. Cannabis is also the best friend of the cancer patient, the veteran coping with PTSD, the non- profit executive working tirelessly to bring about a foundation to help bring sustainable education for low-income households, as well as countless other individuals amid their pursuits in life. Among the 100+ known cannabinoids to belong to cannabis, THC is the ONLY compound that elicits a psychoactive response. Interestingly, THC propagates the sensation of being “high” only after it has been decarboxylated from THCA (tetrahyrdocannabinolic acid),
which in its whole compound structure, has superfood medicinal properties not too dissimilar to foods like kale, blueberries, and mushrooms. (Green Entrepreneur)
So what’s the take away here? Cannabis is not only valuable for the ability to alter one’s mind but indeed has untold medicinal properties that have yet to be discovered. We are constantly learning how this incredible plant and its interactions within the endocannabinoid system create medicinal applications that can mitigate the effects of cancer as well as promote clarity of thought. Fascinatingly, the endocannabinoid system generates an increase in potency by 42% in the presence of both singing and dancing. Perhaps Bob Marley was onto more than simply the elevated mental state generated by THC after all. (Dr. Ruth Ross)