An amazing system within us......
Like the plant producing their own phytocannabinoids, we produce our own cannabinoids. We have what's called the Endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Despite doctors not being trained in the ECS it plays a critical role, below is a diagram of the functions within the body it helps regulate.
The ECS might be one of the most important systems for maintaining health and wellness and avoiding major diseases.
The ECS helps regulate a large array of other body functions to keep them in balance or what is also known as homeostasis.
As with any other system in the body, we don't know something is wrong until we develop symptoms. Recent research has shown that many diseases or symptoms related to a dysfunctional ECS or our bodies being low in cannabinoids.
Problems like ;
A study taking biopsies from children's brains who were suffering refractory epilepsy found that 60% of those tested had a 60% reduction in cannabinoids present.
So how does cannabis help?
When the ECS isn't functioning quite right and we are not producing cannabinoids ourselves we can supplement by consuming the phytocannbinoids from the plant like CBD, THC and the many other minor cannabinoids and terpenes to help restore balance and relieve the symptoms.
So how does the phytocannabinoids interact with our ECS?
Back in the 1980's a scientist named Raphael Mechoulam wanted to know why cannabis made us "high". He found out by isolating what is now named tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short. So next quest was to find out how this compound made us high? This was then the discovery of the ECS in the early 90's.
The ECS produces receptors (CB1, CB2 and CB3) these receptors are found all over the body, within our nervous system, major organs, connective tissues, glands, gut, immune cells, bone marrow and our brain. This is why cannabis is known to help so many different symptoms and diseases.
Phytocannabinoids interact with these receptors like a lock and key, they so when our bodies are not producing cannabinoids, cannabis can take its place.
So how does cannabis help reduce seizures?
As mentioned already, our bodies produce our own cannabinoids called 2-AG and Anandamide.
CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain and central nervous system. Anandamide and the phytocannabinoid THC from the cannabis plant, both bind and lock with the CB1 receptor.
Our brain works by sending signals from one neuron to another through neurotransmitters which are made up of chemicals called Serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are released and bind to receptors which are between neurons.
On the wall of a neuron sits the CB1 receptor, think of it as a lock. The key to unlocking that receptor is Anandamine, which allows communication between neurons and keeps itself in balance. We know seizures are caused by neurons firing out to many signals and confusing the brain. If our ECS is not functioning correctly and not producing enough anandamine, this could be the cause to the seizures.
Adding an array of cannabinoids including THC fills the gap of anandamine and brings back balance, thus reduction of seizures.
CBD binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, but not as well as THC. CB2 recpetors are also found in the brain, but also all over the body.
This is why we advocate the use of whole plant oils and not CBD isolates as THC plays an important role as does the minor cannabinoids and terpenes.
Sources : The CBD Bible - Dr Dani Gordon MD
Presentation by Dr Bonni Goldstein