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The Endo-What? - A Look into the Endocannabinoid System

I recently was discussing the benefits of cannabidiol with a pal, and she quite literally said "The endo what???!" And I took the opportunity to explain the system in the human body that SO many humans do not even know exists. Can you imagine WHY this part of our bodies was never brought to light? I could take a guess or two, but that is a discussion for another day. Anywho... just like the nervous system, the endocannabinoid system is quite crucial to our well-being and how our entire bodies react to... well... everything.

The discovery of receptors in the brain that respond pharmacologically to cannabis—and the subsequent identification of endogenous cannabinoid compounds in our own bodies that bind to these receptors—has significantly advanced our understanding of human biology, health, and disease.

It is an established scientific fact that cannabinoids and other components of cannabis can modulate many physiological systems in the human brain and body. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the marijuana plant. Of these marijuana molecules, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been studied most extensively. In addition to cannabinoids produced by the plant, there are endogenous cannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2AG) that occur naturally in the mammalian(meaning any and every mammal) brain and body, as well as synthetic cannabinoids created by pharmaceutical researchers.

Extensive preclinical research—much of it sponsored by the U.S. government—indicates that CBD has potent anti-tumoral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. CBD directly activates serotonin receptors, causing an anti-anxiety effect, as well. Well would ya look at that! Just look at it!

It is outrageous how these cannabinoids provide SO much benefit, yet our endocannabinoid system took a back seat to science and biology content we were exposed to for so many years in school systems and college courses.

In recent years, scientists associated with the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) have elucidated a number of molecular pathways through which CBD exerts a therapeutic impact. For example, a preclinical study by Dr. Sean McAllister and his colleagues at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco report on how CBD destroys breast cancer cells by down-regulating a gene called ID-1, which is implicated in several types of aggressive cancer. Silencing the ID-1 gene is, thus, is a potential strategy for cancer treatment.

“Cannabidiol offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat aggressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy,” says McAllister.