Excerpted from Weed: A Connoisseur’s Guide to Cannabis
Since it is a relatively recent scientific discovery, many traditional medical professionals are still unaware of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its crucial role in establishing balance within our bodies. Present in all humans as well as animals, plants, and fungi (essentially anything that has a cellular structure with an envelope-enclosed nucleus), the endocannabinoid system is a full-body signaling network that includes receptor sites CB1 and CB2, configured to respond to cannabinoids. These receptors are in the brain, organs, connective tissues, bones, glands, and immune cells and the ultimate goal of their activation is so the body can achieve homeostasis—that is, maintain stability—to prevent disease. A properly balanced endocannabinoid system is incredibly vital to our health; its balance affects inflammation, pain, appetite and mood. In fact, fully understanding the endocannabinoid system could unlock the therapeutic potential to treat almost all diseases. Cannabinoids are present at our earliest stages of development: they play a part in fertility and are in breast milk, and they continue to take part in many essential roles of survival (regulating stress, anxiety and appetite and preserving neurons to slow the progression of disease) throughout the course of life. By communicating and coordinating between different cell types, the ECS regulates our physiology and moods.
“How well we can apply our understanding of the ECS will have a great impact on medicine and our health, as we continue to navigate an ever increasingly chaotic and stressful world,” says Jahan Marcu, editor and chief of The American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine. “Since the dawn of time, the ECS has helped humans adapt and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and the hope of the modern, scientific understanding of the ECS continues to sharpen our ability to