The cannabis plant produces over 480 known chemical compounds, including the cannabinoids and the approximately 80 terpenes that have yet to be detected in any other plant. The discovery of cannabinoid receptors on cell membranes by Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., led him to the inescapable conclusion that they could not possibly have evolved to receive molecules from a single species of plant, but must instead be activated by something internal. This realization stimulated his team’s relentless search for and ultimate groundbreaking discovery of our own cannabis molecules: the endocannabinoids. The prefix endo- is short for endogenous, in this instance meaning produced by the human body itself.
A gateway after all?
Cannabinoid receptors and the mechanisms for producing the body’s own cannabis comprise an entirely new body system known as the endocannabinoid (EC) system. This system is as important to homeostasis and normal cellular functioning as our neuromuscular, endocrine, cardiovascular, or any other body system. It is a potential “gateway” (to re-purpose a worn-out cannaphobic reference) to transforming health care as an industry and the health of humans as a species.
This is true because the EC system holds the amazing ability to modulate numerous physiological and pathophysiological, or disease, processes. These processes include pain perception, cardiovascular and liver functions, inflammation, neoplastic activity (tumor growth), and many more. All cells of all 210 cell types in the human body are to some extent modulated or affected by the EC system. In addition to modulation, work is in progress to minimize the psychotropic side effects of cannabis. This is being achieved by utilizing phytocannabinoids with little or no psychotropic effects, such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabidiol (CBD). While both CBG and CBC are known to stimulate the growth of bone cells and to slow that of bacteria and cancer cells, CBG additionally combats insomnia, glaucoma, and irritable bowel syndrome.
CBD: Cannabis Beats Drugs
CBD has been the subject of the most thorough and ongoing investigations and has emerged as the most promising of all the cannabinoids. It has been found to exert many positive effects that make it highly attractive as a therapeutic agent for pain, inflammation, diabetes, seizures, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. Most important (and most threatening to the drug manufacturers of Big Pharma), it achieves all this without the slightest detectable trace of toxicity—in starkly glaring contrast to pharmaceutical drugs, all of which are to some extent poisonous, with some being directly lethal. These recent developments suggest that phytocannabinoids may have the capacity to deliver a far wider range of physical benefits than we now know or have ever even suspected. The embracing of medical cannabis and especially CBD by the medical profession, politicians, government operatives, and society in general is therefore more than merely a good idea. It is a moral and ethical imperative because of the cannabinoids’ astonishing degree of therapeutic effectiveness combined with the absence of toxicity and life-ruining addiction potential. CBD has been clinically tested and proven safe for treating psychosis, anxiety, and movement disorders, while a cannabis-extract spray containing equal parts CBD and THC has shown promise in treating the intractable pain of multiple sclerosis.
Through the continuing education of those of low information and maintenance of the steady, inexorable push for commonsense legal reform, the future of medical cannabis will continue to shine brilliantly. If the cognoscenti of cannabis, those who know, understand, and appreciate the multivarious aspects of the plant—I call them the cannascenti—can keep their collective foot on the accelerator, the transformation of health care is at hand.