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The Endacannabinoid System
The Endacannabinoid System (ECS) was first discovered in the 90’s while a team of scientists led by Raphael Mechoulam were studying the effects of THC on the human body. During this study, they happened to discover a remarkable and complex network of receptors expressed in the cells of both the central and peripheral nervous system. This network, known as the endocannabinoid system, has shown to have an effect on how a person feels, moves, and reacts, making the discovery of its existence truly groundbreaking.
Cannabinoid receptors are located on the surface of cells. These receptors essentially “listen” to the conditions outside of the cell, and transmit information about those conditions back to the inside of the cell, allowing an appropriate cellular response to be performed. While there are many cannabinoid receptors, the two major ones are known as CB1 and CB2:
CB1 receptors primarily reside on the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, but they’re also found in other places like the spleen, endocrine gland, parts of the reproductive system, both the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts, as well as in white blood cells. Because of the abundance of CB1 receptors in the brain, cannabinoids can influence certain brain functions, such as memory, pain, and motor control.
CB2 receptors are mainly found in white blood cells but are also found within the gastrointestinal system, immune system, tonsils, thymus gland, and with the highest density located in the spleen. CB2 receptors appear to be responsible for reducing inflammation. Because CB2 receptors are found in these areas, CBD has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for Crohn’s Disease. A study conducted in 2009 also found that CB2 receptors have the potential to treat other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, AIDS, and even MS.
When our bodies don’t produce enough endocannabinoids, we have what is called an endocannabinoid deficiency. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency can result in various health conditions such as migraines, IBS, fibromyalgia, and more.
This is why cannabis can be an effective option to treat an array of illnesses. However, its true capacity for healing currently remains severely understudied. Much more research is needed to understand the medical health benefits of cannabis, but as CBD Oil and cannabis become more mainstream, further studies may be right around the corner.