Just in case you were wondering, our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the reason why cannabis can treat a host of medical conditions and symptoms. It is the ECS that makes cannabis a miracle plant.
But first things first: what is the ECS and what are its functions?
The ECS is a biological system that is made up of endocannabinoids, or endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters, which bind to cannabinoid receptors. The ECS also has cannabinoid receptor proteins that are present throughout the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
The ECS plays a significant role in homeostasis and regulates a variety of cognitive and physiological processes, including appetite, mood, fertility, temperature, memory, pain perception, inflammation, bone growth, gastrointestinal motility, stress management, and others.
Now, to better understand the ECS, here are some more amazing facts about it:
1. The ECS was discovered by researchers in the late 1980s when they were studying how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with the body. THC is a psychoactive chemical component found in cannabis.
2. Almost all animals have an endocannabinoid system. Insects are an example of animals that don’t.
3. Another amazing discovery was made in the 1990s: two endogenous compounds that bind with the ECS. They are AG-2 and anandamide. Both compounds are THC-like cannabinoids that are produced by our own body.
The receptors that comprise the ECS are the most prevalent neurotransmitters found throughout the brain, as well as in the bones, skin, and other organs.
4. Not having enough endocannabinoids in the body can be connected to a number of ailments, such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. And when the ECS is not healthy, things can go wrong in the body that give rise to different ailments.
Cannabis works effectively because it has cannabinoids and these cannabinoids can help bolster the ECS.
5. Despite knowing about the ECS and how beneficial cannabis is, governments are still prohibiting research on the drug and are still restricting legal access to it.
The U.S., for instance, has locked up 700,000 people in 2014 for marijuana-related offenses.
6. Big pharmaceutical companies are permitted to get through the ECS in other ways, such as creating medications that mimic cannabinoids. The only problem with synthetic cannabis is that they are often ineffective and may even bring harmful and sometimes fatal results.
7. People have been using marijuana for thousands of year and there is no record of a single fatal overdose directly connected to it. There are also some estimates that the ECS first developed about 500 million years ago.
8. A lot of medical schools still overlook the ECS. The good thing is that this is beginning to change now, thanks to the first science-based medical cannabis textbook: “Medical Cannabis: What Clinicians Need to Know and Why,” by Gregory L. Smith, MD, MPH.