The highs and lows, Cannabis and the human body
By Aura Lakshmi
Many organisations across the world are beginning to recognise the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Indeed, in the USA, the plant is being legalised in a number of states and it is also used as a pharmaceutical medicine in countries across the world.
However while scientific studies in the past have highlighted the beneficial medicinal properties of the plant, there is still quite a bit of confusion as to how and why it works.
Well many animals including humans have what is known as the endocannabinoid system. This system is made up of a series of receptors that specifically target cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
These receptors are located throughout the nervous systems and in the mammalian brain.
They are primarily made up of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors. Collectively, these receptors control appetite, memory, pain and mood.
CB1 and CB2 are the two main receptors that were found, with the former located primarily in peripheral organs and tissues and is one of the main receptors for THC.
CB1 receptors are the most abundant in the mammalian brain and are made up of CB1A and CB1B.
CB2 and another receptor known as 2-AG are found in the immune system and also help to regulate appetite as well as pain.
Both genetic and pharmacological techniques have been used to study the endocannabinoid system.
CB2 is also thought to work as an anti-inflammatory agent. Other receptors found in the endocannabinoid system are CBG, which binds to both CB1 and CB2. It is known to be an antagonist to CB1, which means that it can block the psychoactive effects of THC, found in cannabis.
This has resulted in the manufacturing of CBD-rich medicines that can retain the pharmacological benefits of cannabis but blocks the THC, which means that people do not get high from it.
When THC breaks down and decomposes, it produces a substance called CBN (cannabichromene) which is non-psychoactive and is known as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. It also makes users sleepy.
Ajulemic acid is a component of THC that was found to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects but does not contain any psychoactive properties.
Endocannabinoids are crucial to bioregulation. Their main role is in sending signals to the cells.
They also play a major role in helping to reduce inflammation, regulate insulin-sensitivity and the metabolism.
While it is a very newly discovered system, many questions have been left unanswered.
On the other hand, the discovery has led to a number of new studies and scientific research.
Some of these have been successful in demonstrating that cannabis-based substances are known to help treat many chronic and neurological diseases.
For example, a paper published in the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health said that the endocannabinoid system holds the key to treating a number of common health ailments such as cancer, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, mood and anxiety disorders,neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to name but a few.
However, the research paper also stated that one of the biggest obstacles to developing suitable, cannabis-based medicine was the controversy over the psychoactive effects of the drug.
Whilst this has been problematic in the past, emerging research and the manufacturing of non-psychoactive CBD-based drugs has gone a long way in helping to resolve that issue.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.