Learning how cannabis works

The ECS regulates everything from pain, reproduction and sleep to mood and focus.

For centuries, the cannabis plant has been used for medicinal benefits and recreational enjoyment. Unfortunately, the plant became associated with negative connotations that were largely government and big business propaganda. People with legitimate medical conditions were denied a natural, safe and effective treatment. Research into the potential of this holistic plant was entirely halted. Only recently has the stigma lessened. As more and more states legalize both recreational and medicinal marijuana, the industry continues to grow very rapidly. My interest in the cannabis plant led me to do some research. I wanted to understand how it works. While I knew that smoking weed could produce a high effect, I didn’t know why. I also had no clue how the plant could provide health benefits. I learned that the cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for the psychoactive effects, while cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive. Both provide curative potential. The cannabis plant also provides more than 150 terpenes. Terpenes are found in a wide variety of plants, including limes, lemons and lavender, and are the reason for the distinctive flavor and aroma. Different cannabinoid and terpene profiles influence the distinctive experience. It is believed that these compounds work better together than on their own. The body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS is a network of enzymes, receptors and natural cannabinoids that handle homeostasis. The ECS regulates everything from pain, reproduction and sleep to mood and focus. Cannabis cannabinoids interact with the ECS by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and central nervous system. CB2 receptors are associated with peripheral tissues, especially those related to the immune system. By binding to these receptors, cannabinoids create a diverse range of effects.


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