Cannabinoid Science – A Path Towards Optimum Health
Anna Hunt, Staff
The Cannabis plant contains over 60 cannabinoids, which are carbon-containing terpenophenolic compounds concentrated in the viscous resin of the glandular trichomes on the cannabis plant bud. There are psychoactive cannabinoids, such as Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while others, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have no psychoactive effects while offering profound healing properties.
The human body responds to the cannabis plant because its also has its own natural cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids – which help establish and maintain human health.
The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps 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. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and damage caused by the injury. (source)
After the discovery of the body’s natural cannabinoids, researchers and scientists have started putting more time into exploring the affect that cannabinoids from the cannabis plant have on the treatment of human ailments. The following are 6 best-known cannabinoids and how they are believed to affect the human body:
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol – THC
THC is the most well-known cannabinoid and the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis. THC has been used in the treatment of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting. It is also used to stimulate the appetite and increase food intake in AIDS and cancer patients. THC has also been tested on brain cancer cells and has been found to inhibit the growth of brain tumors. Furthermore, THC has shown pain-reducing, anti-tremor and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cannabidiol – CBD
CBDs hold the most promise for the use of cannabis in the treatment of serious medical conditions. CBDs have been tested in the treatment of cancer cells and are found to significantly inhibit cancer cell growth. They also assist in the uptake of other cancer drugs, increasing their effectiveness. Other research has also identified CBD to have anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties, and others believe CBD has anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic and neuro-protective properties. CBDs are also known to alleviate some of the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabinol – CBN
CBN is a mildy-psychoactive cannabinoid known as the sleep-inducing part of the cannabis plant. It increases the drowsy and dizzy effects of THC. High-CBN strains are being used as sedatives and sleep-aids for those suffering from insomnia. Some studies have been exploring the potential use of CBNs in the treatment of osteoporosis.
Cannabichromene – CBC
CBCs are being evaluated for their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Research has shown that CBC’s anti-inflammatory activity is superior to those of anti-inflammatory drugs. CBCs have also been identified to have a significant anti-depressant effect, contributing to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis. Finally, CBCs may also increase the viability of developing brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. Lack of growth in the hippocampus part of the brain during old age is believed to contribute to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and depression.
Cannabigerol – CBG
CBG has been somewhat understudied but research has shown that CBGs have a profound effect on the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Thus they work with other cannabinoids to provide overall synergy and balance. CBGs have been found to have an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effect, as well as reduce pain and ease inflammation. CGBs are also known to increase the fluid drainage from the eye and reduce the amount of pressure when treating glaucoma. Industrial hemp strains have been found to have the highest levels of CBG when compared to other cannabis sativa strains.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin – THCV
THCV can be most commonly found in the cannabis varieties indigenous to central Africa. THCV is being researched as a treatment for metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. Research has shown that THCV helps produce fat loss and results in an increased sensitivity response to insulin.
Mounting research continues to establish a strong case for the miraculous healing capabilities of cannabinoids. Our support of cannabis plant cultivation and continued scientific research will lead to more availability of various cannabis strains specifically designed to have high doses of certain cannabinoids and thus serve as safe medication for horrific ailments.
The use of medical marijuana and cannabis-derived medicines in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, depression, etc., will continue to grow. Cannabis may yet become one of the most useful natural remedies to some of the most crippling diseases of mankind.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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