Do you know that the human body has a natural repair kit known as the endocannabinoid system? In fact, the endocannabinoid system plays an even bigger role in human health than the immune system. It is made up of a complex network of neurotransmitter receptors that are embedded throughout the human mind and body (in organs, glands, connective tissue, immune cells and the brain). Cannabis research is responsible for the discovery of this critically important biological system. Medicine may be completely revolutionized by more scientific research on hemp and her sister marijuana.
Hemp and marijuana are two varieties of cannabis that are rich in cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Until the 1980s, the scientific community knew very little about how these cannabinoids affected the mind and body. They were entirely unaware that the human body produces its own cannabinoids. Ground breaking research performed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) uncovered natural cannabinoids in animals and humans and unveiled the versatile benefits of cannabinoids. Ironically, these discoveries were made while the NIDA was studying cannabis in an effort to discredit the medicinal benefits of hemp’s sister marijuana.
With the hope of proving that the negative effects of marijuana outweighed the potential benefits, the NIDA subsidized many studies of cannabis in the 1980s. Instead of proving the NIDA’s hypothesis, the scientists that they funded made the first big breakthrough in uncovering the body’s endocannabinoid system.
These receptors are concentrated in areas of the brain that are responsible for mental and physiological processes such as the cerebellum (motor coordination), the basal ganglia (movement), the hypothalamus (appetite), cerebral cortex (higher cognition), the hippocampus (memory), and the amygdala (emotions).
Scientific interest in hemp and marijuana began to spread in the scientific community as more scientists learned about these initial studies. By the end of the 1990s, scientists around the world were studying cannabis. The scientific community established that human and animal bodies have a diverse network of cannabinoid receptors extending from the brain to pathways throughout the entire body. It was named the endocannabinoid system. They learned that this system plays an essential role in human health and development.The endocannabinoid system’s primary function is to maintain the body’s homeostasis. Click To Tweet
According to biologist Robert Melamede, the endocannabinoid system is “the master modulator, which is constantly multitasking, adjusting and readjusting the complex network of molecular thermostats that control our physiological tempo.” Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are the central players that help this system to accomplish its “multidimensional biochemical balancing act known as homeostasis” (The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System). The unique role that the endocannabinoid system plays is a major breakthrough in understanding both health and healing. The versatile healing benefits of hemp—from treating psychological disorders to physical ailments—is better understood as we increase our knowledge of the way the endocannabinoid system works.
To this day, scientists are continuing to learn more about the endocannabinoid system because of hemp and marijuana research. As Robert E. Lee observes in his article, “Cannabis is a unique, natural medicine that taps into how we work biologically on a very deep level. Thanks to this plant, scientists have been able to decipher the primordial language that nerves and brain cells use to communicate.” With powerful implications for nearly every area of medical science, greater understanding of cannabinoids and the receptors that respond to them may revolutionize medicine and the way illnesses are treated.