The Human Endocannabinoid System

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Our bodies have an endogenous series of receptors designed to synthesize and utilize cannabinoids called the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).  The ECS, not discovered until the 1990’s, is an exciting scientific and medical discovery.  Because research is still in infancy, we are only beginning to learn what this important endogenous system does.

The ECS is a network of receptors that control some of our most vital life functions, including our immune system, memory, appetite, sleep pattern, mood and pain sensation.  The receptors that we are certain make up the endocannabinoid system are CB (cannabinoid) 1 and 2, TRPV (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid) 1 and 2, and some GPR (G coupled protein receptor).  These receptors are spread throughout our entire body, but seem to be mostly concentrated in our brains, central nervous systems, bones, and other organs.

Cannabinoid ligands agonize and antagonize the ECS receptors.  The human body naturally produces two endogenous cannabinoid ligands, anandamide (AEA) and 2-archidon0ylglycerol (2-AG).  Ligands are compounds that stimulate receptors.  A healthy endocannabinoid system creates homeostasis in the human body.  Inversely, if your endocannabinoid system is out of whack, you will have health problems.

Wikipedia does a good job of explaining the details (click this link to read their explanation).

There is a debate raging within the medical cannabis community:

CBD-only concentrates versus Whole Plant Extractions

CBD-only concentrates are attractive to many who do not understand the biochemistry of the cannabis plant.  They hear “CBD stops seizures and it can’t get you high”, so sounds like the perfect drug.  However, this idea is flawed.

While cannabidiol (CBD) does have impressive medicinal value with no psychoactive effects, it is not effective as a ‘stand-alone’ treatment.  In order to unlock cannabidiol’s full medical potential, it must be allowed to work in synergy with the other cannabinoids, terpenoid, and flavonoids found within the cannabis plant.  This is being proven in states like Colorado and Washington, where doctors and scientists can legally research  cannabis.

For the above reasons, Whole Plant Extraction is imperative to utilizing cannabis’ medical value.  We can’t emphasize enough that we should not fear tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  However, we must respect it.  THC is the only psychoactive chemical in cannabis, but it is still psychoactive.  It is non-toxic, but can induce impairment and addiction if administered in unmeasured and untested quantities.  Luckily, THC is non-psychoactive in its natural botanical state as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).  Also, advances in extraction techniques have taught us to harness THCA’s medicinal value without activating its psychoactive properties.

In addition to THC and CBD, there are many other cannabinoids that have medical value.  Please examine the chart on the right to get a quick overview of these other cannabinoids and what they can do.

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Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD)

We recently learned that a host of common medical conditions are linked to endocannabinoid deficiency.  The condition is known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).  Scientists have found that deficiencies of AEA and 2-AG are consistent with people who suffer from migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

What this means is that if your body isn’t producing enough cannabinoids, you will probably suffer from severe headaches, neuropathic pain and stomach problems.  People who suffer from the above mentioned conditions who use cannabis already know that cannabis treats nearly all of the associated symptoms. People who suffer from endocannabinoid deficiencies who don’t use cannabis just have to suffer or use less effective and more toxic medications.

Before I learned about cannabis’ medicinal properties, I’d hear recreational marijuana users say, “weed makes my IBS better” or “smoking pot is the only thing that fixes a migraine”.  I’ve had dozen of clients who suffer from Crohn’s disease swear that cannabis was a miracle remedy.  I would respond with an obligatory “that’s really awesome!  I’m glad that I’m helping you!”, all the while thinking to myself, “Whatever, man. Why don’t you just say you like smoking pot and own it instead of justifying it with pretend medical problem?”

Well, it turns out that they were right about cannabis helping them and I’m just a jerk.  In order to atone for my cynicism, we’re developing cannabis based dietary supplements to treat clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.  The nutraceuticals will treat the pain and inflammation associated with anandamide deficiency.  This includes migraines, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.  We will have both psychoactive and non-psychoactive formulas for different state laws and age groups.

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