The reasons that cannabis benefits so many different ailments boils down to the fact that a class of chemicals produced in the cannabis plant – known as cannabinoids – mimic chemicals in the human body called endocannabinoids – or the cannabinoids within.
The Endocannabinoid System
These endocannabinoids along with a series of enzymes and receptors throughout the body make up the Endocannabinoid system or the ECS, which serves as a primary biological harm reduction system tasked with bringing the body back into balance or homeostasis whenever it is challenged by stress, infection, injury or lifestyle.
It regulates, modulates or plays role in every major biological function of the human body including but not limited to:
- pain control
- immune function
- newborn suckling
- appetite reward
- temperature regulation
- inflammation regulation
The ECS is critical to human survival. At the most basic level it controls how we eat, sleep, relax, forget and protect ourselves.
Cannabinoids Boost the Endocannabinoid System
When it is no longer able to regulate itself, cannabinoids and other chemicals from the cannabis plant, when properly used, may help stimulate the ECS in a safe, therapeutic and non-toxic way.
The country’s foremost expert in cannabis science, and my mentor, is neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo. He explains in the document I am providing for you, that the ECS has a network of chemicals that when coupled together result in what is known as an “entourage effect” or a boosting effect that provides an enhancement for the management of pain, inflammation or other problem (Russo 2015).
The same is true for cannabis. The major and minor chemical components of the plant are vastly more therapeutic together than when isolated and together have fewer side-effects (John M. Mcpartland 2001).
It is for this reason that whole-plant cannabis is almost always a more effective medicinal agent than a single isolated product such as CBD-only products or the synthetic THC drug, Marinol® (Russo 2001).
Most pharmaceutical drugs are designed to address a primary problem and bring comfort. Cannabis is much more dynamic, stimulating the ECS to address many problems at once in multiple biological layers, not only bringing comfort but restoration in many cases. And, its safety profile is superior to any modern pharmaceutical medicine – including aspirin. We have more scientific data about cannabis than 95% of all FDA approved drugs (Carter 2014).
It is time that we bring science to the forefront of our cannabis policy and dissolve the cloud of shame, secrecy, and fear around the use of this potentially SAFE and legitimate medicine.
Mary Lynn Mathre with Patient’s Out of Time explains how important the endocannabinoid system is to the body, how it works and how medical marijuana helps our body stay in balance.
For an excellent overview of the Endocannabinoid System, read Ethan Russo’s “Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System“.
For more detailed information on the ECS read the separate essays of the same title “Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System” by Dustin Sulak, DO at http://www.norml.org and Dr. Ethan Russo, MD at http://www.phytecs.com.