The Endocannabinoid system
Endo means within and Cannabinoid refers to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.
The Endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body's organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind.
We have 2 types of Cannabinoid receptors. CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain, although they are also both present in the male and female reproductive organs.
Current research shows that THC is specifically keyed to the CB1 site. Therefore it is responsible for the feeling of intoxication that is the most familiar aspect of cannabis. From a therapeutic standpoint, it’s most important effect is to modulate and moderate the perception of pain. For example, touching a finger to a hot stove sends an electrical impulse that goes from the finger to the brain. The brain replies, “ouch, hot” and the finger is pulled away.
THC moderates pain; this doesn’t mean we leave our finger on the stove, but that the intensity of the painful feeling is reduced when THC is present in the CB1 site. This mechanism of action is why THC-rich medicines are so prized by people with intense pain issues.
Cannabis and narcotics are also co-agonists, which means that each of them magnifies the effect of the other. This allows people to take lower doses and still have it be effective.
Additionally, CB1 receptors are not present in the part of the brain that regulates heart rate and respiration, so unlike narcotics, there is no lethal dosage threshold for THC, allowing someone to consume, as much is needed for its palliative effects.
CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system with the highest concentration located in the spleen.
There is some evidence that the receptors might also be in the micro parts of the brain’s basal ganglia, or nerve bundles.
The CB2 receptors are keyed to CBD and works as an anti-inflammatory agent. The immune-boosting functions of CB2 are far less understood as research into CBD is just really beginning. It’s only been about five years since CBD re-emerged in the medical cannabis scene. The benefits of CBD-rich medicine, with its anti-spasmodic qualities, is one the most exciting and promising areas of cannabis medical research currently happening. One of the other effects of CBD is that it moderates the effects of THC. It actually knocks THC off the CB1 receptor, so if someone is experiencing THC intoxication, a strong dose of CBD can counteract those effects. The future of CBD-rich medicines is almost limitless. We have barely scratched the surface of planet cannabis.