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How Cannabis Works in the Body – The Miracle Plant

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how cannabis works, you’ve come to the right place. 

We’re going to give you an accessible overview of cannabis — its history and how it helps us to cope with pain, anxiety, inflammation, and more.

And don’t worry: If you’re anything like me and got bad grades in science, we’ll keep it simple (we’ll only use two big words)! 

A Brief History of Cannabis

Cannabis is a hardy, sun-loving plant which grows almost everywhere in the world, and various cultures have used it for both medicinal and non-medicinal purposes for centuries. 

There is some evidence that it was used medicinally as early as 400 A.D.

Before the arrival of steam-powered ships, cannabis plants were a source of hemp for sails and rope. And prior to the Industrial Revolution, hemp was a major source of clothes and paper.      

From the 1850s to the 1930s, cannabis was popular throughout Europe and the US, and various products were promoted for their pain-relieving qualities.

But the Federal Controlled Substances Act (1970) made the entire plant illegal in the US, with other countries like Canada following suit. (Source

Of course, it was mainly the plant’s ability to intoxicate the user when ingested that became the focus of the US government.

Driven underground, cannabis came to be closely associated with the “stoner culture,” so many of its practical and medicinal uses were more or less forgotten by mainstream society.

But lucky for us, attitudes are changing, and cannabis is once again gaining the respect it deserves. 

How does cannabis work in the body?

The body is a complex network of receptors and activators.

To understand how cannabis works in the body, you’ll need to know about the system in the body that it works with: the endocannabinoid (en-do-can-ab-in-oid) system.

Phytocannabinoids (fi-toe-can-ab-in-oids) are natural compounds found in the cannabis plant which work together with the endocannabinoid system to regulate our bodies’ systems related to basic functions like eating, sleeping, and relaxing. 

The endocannabinoid system was really only “discovered” in the latter part of the 20th Century; it is highly complex and remains mysterious in many ways.

But scientists believe that deficiencies in this system are at least partly to blame for illnesses including migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, MS, Parkinson’s, motion sickness, and various mental health disorders. (Source)

How cannabis works after its ingested into our bodies

Endocannabinoid Receptors and Transmitters

To understand how cannabis works, you should first understand that the endocannabinoid system is made up of receptors located in cells throughout the body, including: 

  • The nervous system 
  • Internal organs 
  • Glands 
  • Connective tissues  

Transmitters are specialized molecules generated by the body in response to disease and injury. 

The transmitters travel to these receptor sites, which in turn activate the brain and nervous system, telling them to follow with the appropriate response. 

This entire process is a complex communication system which helps us to essentially detect harm and keep us healthy.  

With the help of the endocannabinoid system, our brains, nervous systems, and organs are constantly playing key roles in restoring equilibrium. 


Understanding how cannabis works also depends on getting a clear picture of the substances in the plant itself. 

Phytocannabinoids (fi-toe-can-ab-in-oids) are natural compounds found in the cannabis plant which work together with the endocannabinoid system to regulate our bodies’ systems related to basic functions like eating, sleeping, and relaxing.

Phytocannabinoids act as transmitter molecules, and essentially mimic the endocannabinoids we produce in our bodies. 

They travel to receptor sites and bind with receptors. Like endocannabinoids, they are messengers that tell our bodies it is time to take action. 

Cannabis Helps the Body Heal   

Endocannabinoids break down after they have delivered their message, but researchers believe that phytocannabinoids stay active for longer. 

This suggests that phytocannabinoids might super-charge the body’s natural defence systems, keeping it on high alert in the fight against disease and pain. 

Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids work as signals which “tell” the body to initiate the healing process. 

This might mean telling the body to release antibodies, start cell regeneration, reduce inflammation, and so on. 

Phytocannabinoids appear to reinforce the endocannabinoids produced by our bodies, and to supplement those endocannabinoids in the event they are not doing their job.

Keep Learning About Cannabis and CBD 

At Lune Wellness, we emphasize there has not been enough clinical testing of medicinal cannabis – researchers have only scratched the surface in their deeper understanding of why it does what it does. 

But research has been ongoing for over 100 years, so we know enough to understand that it’s generally safe.

We hope this information helps you understand how cannabis works — follow our blog to discover more details about the benefits of medicinal cannabis. 

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