Our clinical understanding of all the possible therapeutic applications of hemp sourced cannabidiol is limited because of its close relationship to cannabis and its prohibition for close to a hundred years. The government’s persecution of all those who were involved in the illegal production and trade has been a limiting factor on the amount of research that is currently available.
Medical societies and governments world-wide have come to accept the fact that the Schedule 1, highly dangerous rating of cannabis during prohibition was wrong and there are, in fact, hundreds of medicinal benefits to cannabis use.
The Cannabis Act in Canada and the Farm Bill in the US have greatly increased the availability of funding to further study cannabinoids. In actual fact, we have known about the medical benefits for almost 5,000 years and modern science is only now catching up. For instance, science has recently discovered that cannabis promotes well being and homeostasis through its effect on something called the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
What is The Endocannabinoid System?
The Endocannabinoid System was first identified by researchers at the University of Jerusalem in 1992. All animals including vertebrates and invertebrates have an Endocannabinoid System, also known by the abbreviation ECS. The ECS is responsible for communication signals between the body’s cells, organs, central nervous system and even the brain. Its main function, according to recent research, is to help preserve homeostasis between the different systems of the body.
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are similar in structure to cannabinoids. The body produces them as needed to maintain balance in the face of destabilizing forces, whether from the exterior or interior.
The endocannabinoid molecules bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the body to activate the processes of creating balance in the body. There are two types of receptors, one which is mostly located in the central nervous system and the other mostly in immune cells. Once the endocannabinoids are finished their function, enzymes break them down for elimination.
The Endocannabinoid System Has Far-Reaching Effects
The ECS is complex and much more research needs to be done. So far, researchers have discovered that the effects of the ECS are far-reaching, playing a role in:
- chronic pain
- immune system
- motor control
- learning and memory
- cardiovascular health
- building muscle
- bone health
- liver function
- skin and nerve health
How Cannabis Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD interact with the ECS differently. THC can bind directly with either of the two types of receptors, while CBD appears to inhibit the break-down of naturally produced endocannabinoids. More research needs to be done however; it is also possible that there are, as yet, undiscovered receptors that CBD binds to.
Bright Future for Research
This is an exciting time for research into the health effects of cannabis. With many of the taboos and restrictions regarding cannabis being lifted, and more funding available, we can expect to see more and more discoveries rolling out over the next few years.