11 Facts about your Endocannabinoid System

How is it that one plant – cannabis – can treat so many different illnesses?

It’s a great question and luckily there is a great answer based on scientific research.

The answer lies in our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Most people have yet to hear about the ECS, but as the world comes to better understand this crucial system, we continue to unlock the secrets of cannabis as medicine while understanding more about human health in general.

Here are some quick facts to get you up to speed – some of them might shock you!

#1) The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the late 1980s when researchers were studying how THC interacted with the body. For reasons we’ll get into, the ECS would soon be considered more significant than all other neuroscience discoveries combined.

#2) In the early 1990s another amazing discovery was made when researchers found two endogenous compounds that bind just like THC with the ECS. These THC-like cannabinoids, produced by our own bodies, are respectively called anandamide and AG-2.

#3) It eventually became clear that the receptors which comprised the ECS were the most prevalent neurotransmitters throughout the brain and also found in the organs, bones, and skin.

#4) Scientists have learned that the ECS plays a direct role in homeostasis, which means that it regulates every metabolic process in the body to keep things running as they should.

As Dr. Sunil Aggarwal pointed out during the Cannabis Health Summit, the ECS plays a role in processes such as:

Mood regulation
Pain perception
Muscle tone and movement
Extinction of traumatic memory
Protection of nerves and brain tissue
Bone growth
Tumor regulation
Baby breast-feeding reward
Stress management
Eye pressure
Gastrointestinal motility
Seizure activity
And many others

#5) When we don’t have enough endocannabinoids in our body, we call this clinical endocannabinoid deficiency – which medical researchers are connecting to a number of ailments including previously untreatable illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia or migraines. When the ECS isn’t healthy, any number of things can go wrong. The cannabinoids in cannabis can helps us bolster the ECS, which is why the herb is so effective for so many different ailments.

#6) In addition to endogenous and plant-based cannabinoids, attempts have been made to stimulate the ECS with synthetic cannabinoids such as Marinol, which is the synthetic version of THC. While some patients continue to benefit from this FDA-approved drug, the side effects can be very unpleasant for others.

#7) Despite knowledge of the ECS and its relationship with cannabis, governments have maintained severe restrictions on the study and legal access of this plant.

In 2014 alone the U.S. government locked up 700,000 people for cannabis all the while knowing the importance of this plant acting on the ECS.

#8) Pharmaceutical companies meanwhile are permitted to attempt cracking the ECS in other ways, creating chemical concoctions with often times ineffective, harsh or even fatal results.

For example, between 1999 and 2014 the number of opioid prescriptions quadrupled. The number of opioid-related deaths also quadrupled during that time span according to the CDC.

#9) People have been using cannabis for over 10,000 years (without a single fatal overdose ever being recorded), and some estimates have the ECS first developing at about 500 million years ago!

#10) Many medicals school continue to overlook the ECS, however this is starting to change now that we have the first science-based medical cannabis textbook.

#11) Almost every animal, with the exception of insects, has an endocannabinoid system.

Learn more at: LearnGreenFlower.com

MMJ States see reduction in Pharmaceutical Deaths

Insys Therapeutics, the Arizona-based pharmaceutical company that became the biggest financial supporter of the campaign against marijuana legalization in that state, makes an oral spray that delivers the opioid painkiller fentanyl and plans to market another one that contains dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC. Insys says it gave $500,000 to the main group opposing Arizona’s legalization initiative because the measure “fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” But one needn’t be terribly cynical to surmise that Insys also worries about the impact that legalization might have on its bottom line since marijuana could compete with its products.

A new study suggests Insys has good reason to worry. In an article published by the American Journal of Public Health, Columbia University epidemiologist June Kim and her colleagues report that fatally injured drivers are less likely to test positive for opioids in states that allow medical use of marijuana. That finding, together with the results of earlier studies, indicates that making marijuana legally available to patients saves lives by reducing their consumption of more dangerous medications.

Kim et al. collected data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 1999 through 2013, focusing on 18 states that drug-tested at least 80% of drivers who died in crashes. They found that drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 were half as likely to test positive for opioids in states that had implemented medical marijuana laws (MMLs) as in states that had not.

“Among 21-to-40-year-old deceased drivers, crashing in states with an operational MML was associated with lower odds of testing positive for opioids than crashing in MML states before these laws were operational,” the researchers write. “Although we found a significant association only among drivers aged 21 to 40 years, the age specificity of this finding coheres with what we know about MMLs: a minimum age requirement restricts access to medical marijuana for most patients younger than 21 years, and most surveyed medical marijuana patients are younger than 45 years.”

The fact that a driver tested positive for opioids does not necessarily mean the painkillers he took contributed to the crash, so it is not safe to draw any conclusions about medical marijuana’s impact on traffic safety from this study. But the FARS data are an indirect way of measuring the extent of opioid consumption in a given state. Kim et al. note that “severe or chronic pain is among the most common indications cited by medical marijuana patients.” It therefore, makes sense that opioid use would decline (or rise less) in states that recognize cannabis as a medicine.

via: Forbes

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MMJ vs Arthritis

In the United States, about one in ten people live with some form of arthritis. Its damage to these 30 million sufferers makes this disease the number one cause of disability.

Those who think the treatment of arthritis, especially the rheumatoid variety, with cannabis is new age medicine should think again. As far back as 2,000 B.C., four thousand years ago, the Chinese called cannabis a treatment that “undoes rheumatism.”

During the 19th century, cannabis tinctures were common on pharmacy shelves throughout North America and administered as a pain killer (aspirin didn’t become common until the early part of the 20th century).

There are two cannabinoids found in marijuana that have especially profound efficacy for those with arthritis: CBD and THC. CBD, or cannabidiol, is responsible for immune system modulation, meaning it is helpful for an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol — and byproducts of its metabolism — has been found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing). THC is also known to reduce the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany severe diseases, especially those that affect one’s mobility.

The efficacy of cannabis for a wide variety of autoimmune and neurological conditions is the core focus of the medical marijuana movement. However, the sheer number of arthritis sufferers makes the development of new drugs or therapies targeted at this specific condition of special interest to a variety of companies. One example is Cannabis Technologies, a company based in Vancouver that is in the process of developing a new cannabinoid-based therapy that will directly treat arthritis.

Cannabis is especially useful for helping arthritis patients wean themselves off serious pharmaceutical drugs that, in the long term, may cause more problems than they solve. For patients who must continue with pharmaceutical treatments, marijuana often eases the negative side effects of these drugs.

More: MassRoots

MMJ vs Sleep Disorders

The more scientists find out about cannabis, the more the claims of some advocates are validated. It’s no secret that cannabis research has been stifled due to its illegality. Despite a lack of conclusive evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment for sleep disorders, many people swear that cannabis helps them sleep better than anything else.

Currently, cannabis can be prescribed to treat sleep disorders in 7 different states. Sleep disorders can describe one or more of the following:

  • Insomnia – persistent, sometimes chronic inability to fall or stay asleep
  • Sleep Apnea – disruption of breathing during sleep
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – tingling or burning sensation in the legs
  • Narcolepsy – overwhelming daytime drowsiness, sometimes to the point of irresistible bouts of sleep that can occur anywhere  
  • Parasomnia – abnormal or unusual behavior of the nervous system during sleep including sleepwalking, talking during sleep, grinding teeth, night terrors, head banging, etc.

Studies have shown that cannabis can help treat sleep disorders. Here are the ways:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep
  • Help experience fewer times waking up at night
  • Help people suffering with PTSD to have fewer nightmares
  • Can increase stage 3 sleep

Currently, doctors do not recommend medical marijuana for treating narcolepsy. Even though some strains that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) can help increase alertness, cannabis can cause narcoleptic symptoms to worsen in some cases.

When we sleep, our bodies cycle through four main stages – NREM (non-REM) Stages 1, 2, 3 and REM sleep. Stages NREM 1 and NREM 2 are considered light sleep, while NREM Stage 3 is considered deep sleep. The cycle that comes after is called REM (rapid eye movement). REM sleep is the stage in which mammals dream the most, but the stage in which we seem to understand the least.

The good news is, research shows that THC increases deep sleep stages. The bad news could be that research shows THC decreases REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. If you are a heavy cannabis user, this is probably the reason you don’t remember most of your dreams.

More: The Marijuana Times

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