Medical Cannabis and the War Against Baffling, Chronic Health Conditions

For far too long, a host of chronic, seemingly incurable health conditions has plagued humanity. Lupus, arthritis, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, osteoporosis, asthma and allergies, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), celiac disease and stroke have been accepted as the inescapable price of being alive by our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and by their parents and grandparents before them. Medical cannabis products may soon, and in many cases already will, provide relief from (if not put an end to) that legacy of nagging medical miseries.

May actually plays host to a huge number of health awareness campaigns, including:

Added to this are special awareness weeks and days like Mental Health Awareness Week, National Neuropathy Awareness Week and World Hand Hygiene Day, which has taken on special significance nowadays due to COVID-19. There could be several others we’re missing out on, but May is packed full of health awareness days, and it’s difficult to keep a track of them all!

However, what’s interesting is that cannabis can potentially be useful in the treatment of all of these conditions. Here’s why …

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS). How THC moves along the ECS. Synaptic signaling.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Synaptic signaling of THC across the presynapse and postsynapse.

The Endocannabinoid System: The Major Medical Cannabis Breakthrough of the 20th Century

Czech analytic chemist Dr. Lumír Ondřej Hanuš and American researcher Dr. William Devane discovered the key to unlock the healing potential of the cannabis plant in 1992 while working together at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The two scientists were the first to describe the structure of anandamide, which makes up an integral part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of nerve receptors that acts as a molecular signaling network, stimulating chemical responses to regulate biological functions and stabilize imbalances within the human body.

The discovery of how the ECS cellular messaging network operates cleared up much of the mystery of why so much anecdotal evidence exists of medical marijuana providing effective relief for a wide range of persistent and recurring health conditions.

The cannabis plant’s psychoactive components, molecules such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are classified as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids produce their effects by binding to the endocannabinoid system’s two main receptor types (the CB1 and CB2) and signaling for action.

The ECS’s CB1 receptors are concentrated in the central nervous system.

The ECS’s CB2 receptors are situated in the peripheral nervous system, including immune cells.

Beyond reaching throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, cannabinoid receptors are the brain’s most abundant type of neurotransmitter receptor. The concentration and range of its activation cells accounts for why the endocannabinoid system is the primary molecular network for maintaining homeostasis within the human organism.

Cannabinoid Guide - Psychoactive & Non-Psychoactive THC, THCV, CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN

Homeostasis to the Rescue

RxList defines homeostasis as “a healthy state that is maintained by the constant adjustment of biochemical and physiological pathways.” Blood pressure, for instance, is maintained through the homeostatic coordination and precise adjustments in the hormonal, neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems.

The role of cannabinoids in stimulating the endocannabinoid system to establish homeostasis accounts for why people use cannabis to treat autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease.

Understanding the function of the ECS is to understand the success of medical cannabis products in providing relief from chronic fatigue, asthma and allergic reactions.

Even the lingering damage of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and stroke can be made more bearable by using medically guided cannabis treatments to make an ally of the endocannabinoid system’s partnership with homeostasis, and to dampen the inflammation associated with such conditions.

Our Next Article: Medical Cannabis for Several Specific Conditions

We hope that the above makes for a good, general grounding as to why medical cannabis is potentially (and in some cases, definitely) useful for so many different conditions. As it’s an awareness month for several chronic health problems this month, we thought it best to go through each condition separately in our next post, so keep an eye out for it!

Written by
Allan MacDonell
Allan MacDonell

Allan MacDonell’s work has been featured in publications ranging from Dazed and Confused UK to the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the author of Prisoner of X, Punk Elegies and Now That I Am Gone, and was a founding editorial director at online outlets including Buzznet, TakePart and Kindland. MacDonell views teaming with Leafwell as an opportunity to encourage the emerging role of legal cannabis as a highly effective medical treatment.

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