Cannabis 101

What’s the Endocannabinoid System?

Human beings, like all other animals with a backbone, have an internal regulation
system that helps the body stay sound. This endocannabinoid system, or ECS
for short, keeps our biochemistry in balance and stimulates pleasure—in
essence, it contributes to leading a healthy, happy life (Moskowitz, 2017: 24).

The Endocannabinoid System

Although it was only discovered as recently as the 1990s (De Petrocellis, Cascio
& Di Marzo 2004), the ECS plays a major role in functions involving our central
nervous system and peripheral nervous system (Pacher, Bátkai & Kunos, 2006),
the latter of which relays information from our brain and spine to the rest of the
body.

Thanks to continued research, we now know that the ECS comprises three
cornerstones:

  • the cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2
  • the molecules that activate these receptors and lend their name to
    the system, endocannabinoids
  • metabolic enzymes, which produce and break down the
    endocannabinoids (Nagarkatti, Pandey, Rieder, Hegde &
    Nagarkatti, 2009)

The ECS and cannabis are often mentioned in the same breath because their
study is historically tied. In fact, researching cannabis led to the detection of the
ECS. For millennia, people have been consuming Cannabis sativa as medicine
and for recreation, but only three decades ago, when exploring the effects of
cannabis’s psychoactive component, did a team of scientists find that vertebrates
have specific receptors responding to the plant’s chemical compounds (De
Petrocellis, Cascio & Di Marzo, 2004). The most commonly cited compounds are
the psychoactive component (-)-Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-
psychoactive component cannabidiol (CBD).

An understanding of the ECS works like a master key, providing the power to
unlock cannabis’s therapeutic promise (Di Marzo, Bifulco & De Petrocellis, 2004;
Ligresti, Petrosino & Di Marzo, 2009) for a broad spectrum of health issues.

These include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Nausea
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Pain & inflammation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • Ribavirin-induced anorexia
  • Weight loss

The list goes on. Further research and knowledge are still needed. In the
meantime, Tikva is backed by science that is blazing a trail to uncover more
about the ECS, its impact on various bodily functions, and its receptiveness to
cannabis.

 

References 

De Petrocellis, L., Cascio, M.G., & Di Marzo, V. (2004). The endocannabinoid
system: A general view and latest additions. British Journal of Pharmacology.
141(5), 765-774. doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjp.0705666

Di Marzo, V., Bifulco, M., & De Petrocellis, L. (2004). The endocannabinoid
system and its therapeutic exploitation. Nature Reviews, 3, 771-784.
doi.org/10.1038/nrd1495

Ligresti, A., Petrosino, S., & Di Marzo, V. (2009). From endocannabinoid profiling
to ‘endocannabinoid therapeutics.’ Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, 13, 321-
331. doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.04.615

Moskowitz, M. (2017). Medical cannabis: A guide for patients, practitioners, and
caregivers. Virginia Beach: Köehler Books.

Nagarkatti, P., Pandey. R, Rieder, S., Hegde, V., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009).
Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry,
1(7), 1333-1349. doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93

Pacher, P., Bátkai, S. & Kunos, G. (2006). The endocannabinoid system as an
emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacological Reviews, 58(3), 389-462.
doi.org/10.1124/pr.58.3.2