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Cannabis Kings June Blog 3

The Endocannabinoid System – The Body’s Information Superhighway Leave a comment

The endocannabinoid system is one of the most important and ingrained systems in the animal kingdom. Is it present in all animals, except insects, and governs the function of every other system in the body. But what is it exactly? How did we discover it? How does it work?

In this article we’d like to help answer those questions for you.

The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System

Contrary to what you might expect, the endocannabinoid system was not discovered before cannabinoids or the receptors. It was discovered much later than that. 20-25 years later to be exact. What came first was the isolation and discovery of Delta-9 THC in 1969 in Israel, followed by the discovery of endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 between 1988,1990, and finally the system as a whole was identified in 1993. This subsequently led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system as being a dominant regulatory system present throughout the body.

How dominant is it?

It governs everything. The system is present in every system and cell in the body, right down to the synaptic level and within every cell’s mitochondria. According to Dr. Rachel Knox, an expert on this system as well as a TED speaker, any disease that can be diagnosed including allergies, cancers, cognitive dysfunctions, organ issues, skin issues and even personality disorders can be traced directly to dysfunctions of the endocannabinoid system. The discovery of this system and the ongoing work to decode it could lead to breakthrough therapies for a multitude of dysfunctions and diseases in the near future – something the legal cannabis market will likely play a large role in facilitating.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors

Within the endocannabinoid system, there have been two different kinds of receptors, each with their own specialised functions – the CB1, and CB2 receptors. CB1 the main receptor that controls the central nervous system and homeostasis. CB2 modulates the peripheral nervous system, inflammatory response, immune responses and pain responses.

CB1 Brief Overview

CB1 receptors are what allow us to get high from THC, and are the primary flow valves that control our cognition and central nervous system. Their function can be enhanced and/or stimulated by taking DHA supplements because endocannabinoids are a fat-based lipid molecule. THC is a CB1 agonist, meaning it acts on the CB1 receptor, widening or contracting it, causing effects on the central nervous system as well as enabling the psychoactive properties of THC. But THC’s interactions with CB1 aren’t just psychoactive in nature. THC is currently being studied to have positive effects, in individual specific measured doses, to help control gut based diseases such as crohn’s and celiac disease. The proper function and preservation of CB1 receptors is also vital to sustain long term general and cognitive health as well as help prevent neuro-degenerative disease. THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis plants are currently being studied for their neuro-protective properties in terms of how they interact with CB1, and how they can slow or even prevent some diseases from progressing – thanks to CB1’s modulation of the central nervous system.

CB2 Overview

CB2 is the receptor responsible for the effects of CBD and it’s soothing properties. It is theorised that as animals became more and more biologically complex at some point a mutation of CB1, over countless generations, evolved to take on more specialized functions such as immune regulation, inflammation regulation, and pain regulation. In that process, eventually that mutated CB1 became its own dedicated receptor – CB2. Because of this inflammatory regulation role, CBD can fit this receptor and help modulate inflammation throughout the body – most notably in the digestive tract and vital organs.

Studies are currently underway to determine if CB2 dysfunction may be a factor in inflammatory brain diseases such as epilepsy, which could prove to be the source of CBD’s positive effects on the treatments of seizures and severe neurological disorders in both adults and children. Because THC doesn’t need to be present in CB2 based treatments, this could eventually lead to clinical prescriptions of CBD based treatments that could be used over a wide variety of conditions in multiple age categories. Much more research is needed, but ongoing studies are yielding promising results in both adults and children for both epileptic disorders and other neurological illnesses such Parkinson’s disease and others.

The Possible Future of Cannabis Medicine

More research is needed, but so far the results over the last 25 years have been quite promising for clinically prescribed cannabis to have a future role in disease treatment prevention – maybe even to change its status from drug to that of an essential nutrient. There is sufficient evidence to support that cannabis has been a medicine in multiple cultures across time all around the world as far back as 1st century China, maybe even sooner. Cannabis prohibition didn’t enter the picture in western culture until the late 1920s to early 1930s. Before then, cannabis tinctures, cannabis oils, cannabis topicals, edibles, and joints were not only widely used but accepted as valid medicines to treat a staggering array of ailments.

Today, we’re slowly moving back to the glory days of legal cannabis medicines on the back of mounting clinical evidence for what we’ve seemed to understand via observations of cause/effect since antiquity. It is unlikely that we will regress back into the dark ages of cannabis fear campaigns, but the progress will remain slow as public perceptions on any subject tend to shift slowly generation by generation, not year by year.

Summing up

The endocannabinoid system is a fascinating one with almost unlimited potential for study and discovery. We are only beginning to scratch the surface on what secrets the system and CB receptors have in store for us, not to mention the discoveries that await us in terms of how the cannabis plant can help modulate them.

As time goes on, we will undoubtedly see new applications in cannabis based medicine and refinements on how we could potentially use different cannabis strains as legitimate medicines for specific conditions.

We hope you’re as excited as we are about the future of cannabis medicine!

Don’t forget to come by our online shop to have a look at our product selection and use the knowledge you’ve just gained to help you pick out the best products to fit your needs.

Happy shopping!


EPISODE #54 The Endocannabinoid System with Dr. Rachel Knox, Endocannabinologist & Certified Cannab

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Katchan V, David P, Shoenfeld Y. Cannabinoids and autoimmune diseases: A systematic review. Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Jun;15(6):513-28. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.02.008. Epub 2016 Feb 11. PMID: 26876387. Cannabinoids and autoimmune diseases: A systematic review

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