The Endocannabinoid System: Our Body’s Unique System for Maintaining Health

Some scientists and researchers believe that the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the human body is one of the most important finds in recent medical history. That is saying a great deal, especially since there have been thousands of other medical breakthroughs in our time. It’s also very interesting because the endocannabinoid system was named after cannabis sativa, the marijuana plant.
Why is this system so important? The researchers who are involved in the study of this incredible network of receptors say that it has a hand in influencing many of our bodily systems such as, the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and our metabolism. They also tell us that they see great potential in the treatment of insomnia, nausea, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, obesity and other ailments through the modulation of the activity of the endocannabinoid system.
Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher, discovered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s. He was also the scientist who identified THC as marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient. Dr. Mechoulam discovered two endocannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). These receptors (in the nervous system and brain) are uniquely designed for accepting and distributing cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. It was also observed that the human body can produce endocannabinoids very much like the body produces its own endorphins, which cause a euphoric effect. Endocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids that we produce ourselves, inside our own bodies, and cannabinoids come from outside the body and are an important pain relieving and medicinal components in marijuana.
The receptors have different functions. When ingesting marijuana, CB1 receptors are responsible for our perception of being “high” and for the feeling of pain. When the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) reaches the CB1 receptor, the pain is diminished greatly and the “high” is experienced. CB2, on the other hand, is compatible with other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol), which can reduce anxiety and spasms along with reducing the number of epileptic seizures a patient might have. When CBD plugs into the CB2 receptor it also works as an anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic medication among other benefits.
Most of the research on the endocannabinoid system has shown that it is indeed a very important and necessary physiological system that works in conjunction with our own endocannabinoids and with outside cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. The system’s receptors then disseminate all of the cannabinoids’ and marijuana’s healing aspects throughout the body. Research on the endocannabinoid system is ongoing in Israel and several other countries. When our government decides to take marijuana off of the dangerous drug list then more research will take place here. Until then, know that your body has an incredible system that is constantly working to keep you healthy.

What Exactly is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis?

An interesting condition known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome has been popping up around the country. It involves nausea and cyclical vomiting and doctors rarely know how to diagnosis the cause of the symptoms because this phenomenon is so new to the medical world.

When someone comes into the emergency room complaining about throwing up for several hours each day, the physicians immediately begin quizzing the patient about their eating and lifestyle habits. The medical professional knows from years of medical school that nausea and cyclical vomiting could be any of a number of maladies including food poisoning, stomach flu, intolerance to certain foods or even gall stones, among a host of other things. Yet even though the ailment is sitting right there in front of them doctors are seldom able to pinpoint the correct name for it: Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, or CHS.

That vomiting disorder with the funny name that sounds so much like cannabis and so often slips through the cracks of medical expertise has been unrecognizable and untreatable until now. (By the way, CHS was named after the cannabinoids in marijuana because even though researchers aren’t quite sure why this syndrome is caused by pot, they are very sure that it is). Nausea and cyclical vomiting in people with CHS is always accompanied by very hot showers or baths to alleviate the pain and the vomiting. The hot water helped ease symptoms but only temporarily. Some patients had to go back to the hospital more than ten times with still no diagnosis. Patients underwent tests of all kinds that came back with negative results. When the patients stayed in the hospital for several days, however, for dehydration due to vomiting, their symptoms went away and they felt much better.

Soon, some pretty smart doctors saw a pattern in all the patients’ behavior: Nausea, vomiting, hot showers and…marijuana. When someone thought of asking if the patient smoked marijuana that became the Bingo moment. All the patients with CHS had marijuana in common with each other. They all had long-term use of cannabis in common with each other. “No predisposing factor is known except the length of the exposure to cannabinoids, with an average of around 10 years with daily usage,” explains Omri Braver, an internal medicine physician at the Soroka Medical Center and Faculty of Health Sciences in Beer Sheva, Israel who has treated several cases. “There might be some other factors—but they haven’t been described yet.”

Medical experts agree that long-term chronic use (or overuse) of marijuana, especially on a daily basis, increases your chances of becoming a CHS sufferer. They simply don’t know at this time who is more prone to it than others, but the upside of all this vicious, violent vomiting is that as soon as you stop smoking marijuana your symptoms will go away. So, if you have imbibed the herb everyday for a great many years and you start to become nauseous unexpectedly, CHS may be the name for it. Set your herb aside for a day or two and you may feel a lot better.