How were your grades in high school science? Were they like mine? Maybe not so great?
We’re talking in this blog about the mechanics of cannabis. We’ll give you an overview of how cannabis works in our bodies. It requires a bit of science but we’ll try to keep it simple (we’ll only use two big words) Read on!
First though, a bit of background.
A Quick History Lesson
Did you know that cannabis is a hardy, sun-loving plant that we would normally call a “weed”? It grows just about anywhere, in a variety of climates and soil conditions. It is believed to have originated in Central Asia millions of years ago. From there it eventually spread across the globe.
Over the centuries, cannabis has been grown and refined for non-medicinal purposes. For example, before the arrival of steam-powered ships, cannabis plants were a source of hemp for sails and rope. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was a major source for clothes and paper.
But Its medicinal purposes have also been valued for a long time. There’s evidence that pre-historic cultures in India, the Middle East, and Africa used cannabis for its healing properties. The ancient Greeks were well-aware of its medicinal benefits.,
From the 1850’s to the 1930’s, cannabis was a popular product in much of Europe and the US. Products readily available from reputable companies were promoted for their pain-relieving qualities. Unfortunately, the road forward to more wide-spread appreciation of medicinal cannabis was stymied by the politics of the day.
In addition to its practical and medicinal uses, the strong psychotropic effects of certain cannabis plants have been known since pre-historic times. It was this ability to intoxicate the user that became the focus of the US government. The story of how cannabis came to be vilified by the US government is interesting on many levels. The short story however, is that many countries, including Canada, followed the US lead. They enacted legislation making cannabis possession and consumption illegal. Driven underground, cannabis came to be closely associated with the “stoner culture”.
The good news of course, is that attitudes are changing. Cannabis as a medicinal and as a respectable recreational substance is making a comeback, particularly in Canada.
The Healing Power of Cannabis
At Lune Wellness, we emphasize there has not been enough clinical testing of medicinal cannabis. Finding the right product and the right dosing is very much a trial and error process if you are just starting out. Nevertheless, there is much we do know. This knowledge comes from research that began in the early 1900’s and continues to this day.
To understand how cannabis works, we have to understand the endocannabinoid (pronounced en-do-can-ab-in-oid) system. What we know about the endocannabinoid system is relatively recent, its basic structure having been mapped in the latter part of the 20th Century. Like the human body generally, the endocannabinoid system is highly complex. Much is not known about how it functions and there is much to learn. However, the basic components are as follows.
Receptors – receptors called endocannabinoids, are specialized protein molecules present in cell membranes. Cells, although individually microscopic in size, are the matter that give our bodies their physical form. As such, cells, and the receptors within the cells are located throughout our bodies, including our organs and nervous systems.
Transmitters– transmitters are also specialized molecules. They are generated by the body in response to disease and injury. The transmitters travel to the receptor sites that in turn activate the brain and nervous system to respond.
Response – the transmitters and receptors are a communication system. This system allows the body to internally identify any abnormalities within the body. Once abnormalities are identified, appropriate responses are triggered to restore our health. The brain, our nervous systems, and our organs play key roles in restoring equilibrium. It should also be noted that the endocannabinoid system does not appear to work independently of other body systems.
Phytocannabinoids (pronounced fi-toe-can-ab-in-oids) are transmitter molecules that are external to the body. They are in fact, molecules specific to cannabis plants. According to the research, phytocannabinoids act just like the endocannabinoids produced by our bodies. They travel to receptor sites and bind with the receptors. Like endocannabinoids, they are messengers that tell our bodies it is time to take action.
Endocannabinoids however, break down after they have delivered their message. There is speculation that endocannabinoid deficiency is responsible for development of some conditions. Phytocannabinoids on the other hand, according to the research, stay active as long as they are present in the body. Phytocannabinoids in effect, super-charge the body’s response system, keeping it on high alert in the fight against disease and pain.
A key point to understand is that neither endocannabinoids nor phytocannabinoids in themselves directly heal the body. Rather, they work as signals that “tell” the body to initiate the healing process, whether that be the release of antibodies, cell regeneration, inflammation reduction, an increase in metabolic rate, etc. Phytocannabinoids appear to reinforce the endocannabinoids produced by our bodies, and to supplement those endocannabinoids in the event they are not doing their job.
This is a very high-level description of what the research to date has brought us. In summary, the body is a complex network of receptors and activators working to keep us healthy and fight disease and chronic conditions and injury. Phytocannabinoids are external to the body and are extracted from the cannabis plant. As such, they are natural elements that have shown in the preliminary research, to greatly aid in the fight against a range of medical ailments and conditions.
Hopefully, that wasn’t too complicated. We hope the information helps you understand the “how” of cannabis. Feel free to send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In future blogs we will talk in more detail about medicinal cannabis. In the meantime, if you are new to medicinal cannabis, check out our quality products at www.lunewellness.ca.
If you would like more information on dosing what product might be best for you, please contact us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
The Staff at Lune Wellness