Until very recently, the Endocannabinoid system was something of a medical mystery. A mystery which unraveled itself when scientists in Israel discovered its true potential in 1992. A bigger mystery however, was its exclusion in medical textbooks all across the world. Imagine not learning about the circulatory system or the endocrine system while you learned about all other systems in your body.

This was the equivalent of finding out that cartographers discovered a whole new continent and never told anyone about it. Imagine if you just found out about Africa. The origin of the word “Europe” shows that Europeans are essentially descendants of Mother Africa. The word Europe etymologically derives from the name of an African princess called Europa who visited the descendants of Mother Africa that migrated to and were living on that continent.

Africa is considered the most tropical continent in the world. 300 days of sun!! Africa is cut almost equally in two by the Equator, so that most of Africa lies within the tropical region, bounded on the north by the Tropic of Cancer and on the south by the Tropic of Capricorn. Because of the bulge formed by western Africa, the greater part of Africa’s territory lies north of the Equator. 

An interesting parallel between Africa and Cannabis is the word “mother”. Cannabis ultimately comes from a mother plant that is grown specifically to take cuttings from to make clones. Mother plants are generally considered to be special plants with unique characteristics that gardeners want to reproduce. Africa is known as the motherland. The origin of the word “Europe” shows that Europeans are essentially descendants of Mother Africa. The word Europe etymologically derives from the name of an African princess called Europa who visited the descendants of Mother Africa that migrated to and were living on that continent. 

Africa is considered by most paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent. During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago.

Compare cannabis and the history of cannabis and its usage by humans dates back to at least the third millennium BC in written history, and possibly further back by archaeological evidence. For millennia, the plant has been valued for its use for fiber and rope, as food and medicine, and for its psychoactive properties for religious and recreational use.

An interesting parallel happens to be between the Endocannabinoid system and Africa. Both have been overlooked throughout time.

So why is the endocannabinoid overlooked or neglected?

We now know It could help certain cells regulate better. One of the things they’ve discovered that’s incredible about the Endocannabinoid system is that it helps our body maintain balance. When our bodies are in a state of disease or a state of stress, they become imbalanced.

We know the endogenous cannabinoid system named for the plant that led to its discovery is one of the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. With its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease.

The plant itself has yet to be discovered as we move forward research will begin to reveal why we have this mysterious system and how best we can maintain it moving forward. A key lie within CBD that stimulates the endocannabinoid system, it helps to promote homeostasis in the body, reducing the sensation of pain and inhibiting inflammation. Research into the possible uses of CBD and other cannabis compounds is a growing area of study, meaning the list of potential benefits is likely to grow.

The endocannabinoid system is powerful and nearly ubiquitous in the nervous system. The cannabinoid receptors dispersed throughout many brain regions are responsible for the regulation of numerous aspects of neuronal activity, and account for the bewildering variety of behavioral and psychological effects caused by THC.

Depending on the nervous system regions and maladies involved, either stimulating or inhibiting the endocannabinoid system could have beneficial effects. A great deal of attention is being given to incorporating non psychotropic cannabinoids into medicinal preparations, although in most cases the actual effects of these agents on the nervous system are unknown. For some purposes, drugs that are restricted to act on peripheral cannabinoid receptors, and are prevented from entering the central nervous system, could be effective.

Finally, therapeutic strategies aimed at developing regionally selective targeting of endocannabinoid system components, perhaps in combination with agents that affect conventional neurotransmitter systems, or non psychotropic cannabinoids, offer promise for future advances.

We can only assume that the effects of prohibition has deeply impacted what we are just beginning to learn about this completely new system within our bodies.

Lindsay Gayman BScN
Medical Cannabis Educator