CannabisCannabis: The Ancient Medicinal Plant

April 28, 2019by Meg
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The cannabis, or the hemp plant, has been used for thousands of years as medicine. Evidence of its use can be dated back to the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsiculture in 2900 B.C., or to the Egyptian era as observed in the hieroglyphics embedded within the stone records of the Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 B.C.), Eber’s Papyrus (1600 B.C.), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 B.C.E), and the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 B.C.).

 

The Eber’s Papyrus is the oldest known complete medical textbook in existence.

 

 

May 14, 1607 marks the first permanent English settlement which would later become the land known as United States of America. This Colony of Virginia was established as James Fort. Twelve years later, the colony declared that all settlers were lawfully required to grow hemp (cannabis). Mandatory hemp cultivation laws continued to expand throughout the New World. In Virginia, refusing to comply with these laws would result in jail-time between the years of 1763 and 1769. Even George Washington, the first president of the United States, was known to grow hemp at his plantation in Mount Vernon. He had and a strong interest in the plants medicinal properties. His diary recordings indicate that he grew marijuana with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. This is the psychoactive (mind-altering) component of the cannabis plant. It is a delta 9 (Δ-9-THC) molecule that causes users to feel a sensational “high”.

 

By the 1840s, marijuana had become a mainstream medicine thereby entering the US Pharmacopeia by the 1850s. It was used to treat medical conditions such as neuralgia, tetanus, typhus, cholera, rabies, dysentery, alcoholism, opiate addiction, anthrax, leprosy, incontinence, gout, asthma, bronchitis, convulsive disorders, depression, tonsillitis, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding, among others. The US Pharmaceutical Farms were growing 60,000 pounds of cannabis annually by 1918 leading to the sale of medicines made from marijuana extracts in the 1930s. New Mexico was the first state to adopt a law recognizing the medical value of marijuana in 1978 and received an approval from the FDA for conditions such as nausea.

 

In 1992, scientists studying the cannabis plant  made a remarkable discovery. What was unveiled was a cannabis-type system that naturally occurs inside the human body. It was coined the “Endocannabinoid System”, or ECS. This system contains receptors in the nervous system; the Central Nervous System (consisting of the brain and spinal cord) and the Peripheral Nervous System (that outside of the brain and spinal column). Both endocannabinoids (those made by the body) and cannabinoids (the active constituents of cannabis) bond to receptor site of the ECS.

 

The Endocannabinoid System is responsible for homeostasis which is essential to our health and survival. This system keeps the body’s internal environment stable, such as body temperature, hormone levels, heart beat, energy levels, detoxification, appetite, digestion, immune function, mood, sleep, memory, pain, pleasure, and inflammation. Scientists believe that an endocannabinoid deficiency could be the underlying cause of many known conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, chronic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Parkinson’s, to name a few.

 

The two Endocannabinoid System receptor sites are labeled CB1 and CB2. Various constituents of the cannabis plant stimulate the ECS by influencing both CB1 and CB2 receptor sites.

 

Cannabis products containing THC, also known as delta 9 (Δ-9-THC) , or tetrahydrocannabinol, attach to the CB1 receptor sites located in the central nervous system. These receptor sites are located throughout the brain, glands, gonads, connective tissues, and central nervous system. CB1 receptor sites regulate:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Appetite
  • Memory
  • Nausea
  • Happiness
  • Pleasure, Joy, Delight
  • Fertility

 

Factually, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty arachidonic acid derivative called anandamide, is made in the human body. This molecule also attaches to the CB1 receptor site like THC. Unfortunately our bodies produce an enzyme, called FAAH, that destroys anandamide. CBD inhibits this enzyme destruction which allows for more anandamide to be available for CB1 molecular attachment resulting in:

 

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased memory impairment

 

Cannabidiol, or CBD, affects the CB2 receptor sites in the Peripheral Nervous System (the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord) as well. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the:

 

  • Digestive tract
  • Immune system

 

Keeping the CB2 receptor sites engaged can greatly influence one’s overall physical and mental health. Serotonin, which is a chemical responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness, is derived in the gut and more than 70% of the immune system is located in the intestines.

 

Activating the CB2 receptor sites has also been clinically shown to reduce inflammation. Due to this anti-inflammatory nature, CB2 receptors have a therapeutic potential to treat conditions that arise from hyper-inflammation such as:

 

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • ALS
  • AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Drug addiction

 

Incorporating cannabis products, free of GMOs and pesticides, can optimally stimulate both CB1 and CB2 receptor sites. When both sites are activated, a synergistic effect occurs within the body allowing for a complete stimulation of the Endocannabinoid System. This synergy results in homeostasis, or “balance” within the body.

 

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15586450

Deitch, Robert (2003). Hemp – American History Revisited. New York City: Algora Publishing

  1. M. Herdon.Apr., 1963 Hemp in Colonial Virginia, Agricultural History Vol. 37, No. 2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_politicians_who_have_acknowledged_cannabis_use

https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000026

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369778

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426493

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209363/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/cannabinoid-receptor

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14977366

http://www.nel.edu/userfiles/articlesnew/NEL251204R02.pdf?route=pdf_/25_12/NEL251204R02_Russo_.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18404144