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The Endocannabinoid System

Turns out, alongside our respiratory, digestive, and nervous system, we have an endocannabinoid system perfectly designed to process cannabinoids, the primary ingredients in cannabis. That’s because our bodies produce cannabinoids naturally, all on their own. In fact, the word “endocannabinoid” is short for endogenous cannabinoid, meaning cannabinoid originating from within the organism. It only has the “cannabinoid” part because it wasn’t until studying the effects of cannabis on the body that scientists discovered its existence in the first place. Now that we know it’s there and have spent some time learning about it, we’re realizing it’s pretty key. The editor of 'Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System' posted in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health says it beautifully:

Our body's built-in cannabis receptors

“The endogenous cannabinoid system is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. With its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease.”

So discovering the ability to interact with this system, as cannabis does remarkably well, is an incredible advance in the field of wellness. We begin to understand why cannabis’ use has been so prolific, world-wide, for centuries. It can improve the quality of life in ways that synthetic compounds can only hope to emulate. 
Currently, there are two types of cannabinoid receptors receiving the lion’s share of attention in research circles, CB1 and CB2. While found throughout the body, CB1 receptors are most closely associated with the brain and central nervous system, and therefore involved learning, memory, hunger, decision-making, emotions, sensory and motor responsiveness, and maintaining equilibrium. CB2 is mostly found outside the central nervous system and associated with immune function.

Cannabinoids fit into CB1 and CB2 receptors with impressive lock-and-key precision. In doing so, they can have either inhibitory or stimulatory-type effects. For example, pain, anxiety, and muscle spasticity can be inhibited, whereas appetite and a general sense of wellbeing can be stimulated.
We expect a rapidly growing body of research will be conducted to drill down into the specific effects of specific cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system. That’s to say nothing of their effects outside the endocannabinoid system, or the effects of a myriad of other cannabis constituents. The medical field has only begun to understand the benefits and implications of cannabis on the human body and psyche.


1. 'Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System', posted in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medical cannabis. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your cannabis use. The information and materials provided to you by PharmaCann should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you. There may be health risks associated with the consumption of medical cannabis, consult your physician. ©2019 PharmaCann. All rights reserved.   

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