Named for the plant that inspired its discovery, the endocannabinoid system’s importance is only just becoming understood by the medical community. It is through this system that the naturally occurring cannabinoids from Cannabis interact with our bodies and trigger beneficial effects. With the potential to positively affect the way our body’s work, it is essential that we recognize how to maintain a healthy endocannabinoid system.

Throughout the 19th century extractions of the Cannabis plant were widely used for a number of medicinal purposes. Fearing the abuse of Cannabis’s psychoactive properties, the US federal government prohibited the cannabis plant in 1937. This prevented the plant from being used recreationally, medicinally and in research, which stalled the progress of our understanding of the endocannabinoid system, and the possible therapeutic properties the Cannabis plant can provide.

In the early 1990’s Lisa Matsuda and her team at the National Institute of Mental Health first identified a THC-sensitive receptor in the brains of rats. Following this, scientists have laboured to learn as much as they can about the endocannabinoid system, our naturally occurring cannabinoids, and the ways Cannabis can alter the balance, publishing over 20,000 scientific studies referencing cannabinoids in the last two decades.

Researchers have worked to further understand how it may be used therapeutically to decrease pain, fight cancer, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and promote health. Research suggests that the endocannabinoid system helps regulate the body’s immune and central nervous systems, and ensures they are running correctly.

One theory about how the endocannabinoid system relates to our overall health is “endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome” which speculates that for some people, the body does not generate enough endocannabinoids. This concept further speculates that deficiency could be the root cause of many autoimmune disorders, including migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

Significant research must still be done to better understand the impact of the endocannabinoid system on our overall health, and how supplementing our natural endocannabinoid production with plant-based cannabinoids may play a significant therapeutic role in our health.

Finding ways to control the endocannabinoid system’s activity opens pathways to treat an amazingly diverse range of chronic diseases and disorders. This includes conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and even cancer.