Today, everywhere you turn someone is promoting or talking about cannabis. Being born in 1968, I appreciate the stigma associated with the cannabis plant. Let’s try to separate science from stigma. Like many plants different parts have different phytonutrients causing different reactions in the body. THC, the “psychotropic” aspect of cannabis, is contained in the flower or bud. CBD, the other phytonutrient of interest, is cultivated from the stalk and seed of the cannabis plant. The stalk and seed are also referred to as “hemp.” Extracts of the hemp plant’s use for medicinal effects unrelated to its psychoactive properties have been recognized since the third millennium B.C., when Chinese texts described its usefulness in the relief of pain and cramps. In ancient India, the anxiety-relieving effects have been recorded for more than three thousand years.
In the 1990s, scientists discovered endocannabinoid molecules produced by the human body. It appears the main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain bodily homeostasis.
The endo prefix translates to “within” meaning these receptors are made by our bodies without the use of cannabis. Research initially suggested endocannabinoid receptors were only present in the brain and nerves, but scientists later found that the receptors are present throughout the body, including our skin, immune cells, bone, fat tissue, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, heart, blood vessels, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. In the 1970s, fewer than 20 research studies were conducted on therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. Currently more than six thousand studies per year are being conducted.
The endocannabinoid system is an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. A simple Google search will demonstrate the U.S. Government has a patent on cannabinoids and is researching them as a powerful antioxidant with neuroprotective properties.
This makes one wonder if science will overcome the stigma. Only time will tell.