What if you were told our bodies were built to break down and absorb cannabis?
Experts recently presented details on the endocannabinoid system to the Maryland General Assembly’s House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup. In her presentation on October 13, 2021, Dr. Patricia Frye showed legislators that our body’s endocannabinoid system is made for just that. A 300,000-year-old neuromodulating system made up of receptors, ligands, and hydrolyzing enzymes, our endocannabinoid system modulates our immune system and almost every other neurotransmitter system in our bodies. To put it simply, our endocannabinoid system is present and active in our bodies all the time–not just if you use cannabis.
The endocannabinoid system is complex, and experts haven’t fully determined exactly how it works or all of its functions and potential benefits, Dr. Frye said in her presentation. However, we do know that it controls a host of bodily functions, like appetite and digestion, chronic pain, metabolism, inflammation, learning, sleep, stress, and mood, among others. Today, experts believe that the main function of the endocannabinoid system is to promote and maintain homeostasis, which is our body’s ability to control its internal environment (like how your white blood cells fight off a cold).
So how does cannabis–and, more specifically, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)–interact with our endocannabinoid system?
Dr. Frye says that THC is one of the more prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis (there are about 120 that we currently know of!) and is the compound famously known to give you that “high” feeling that cannabis is famous for. Once in your body, whether by smoking, vaping, ingesting, etc., THC interacts with your endocannabinoid system by binding to receptors, and binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors, affecting both your body and mind. THC has been clinically proven to provide many benefits, ranging from alleviating pain and restoring sleep to stabilizing and elevating mood.
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Previous Workgroup Recaps:
Cannabis Workgroup: Important Takeaways & National Perspective
Cannabis Workgroup: Issues & Timing