A Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
By Jamie Corroon, ND, MPH & Jake Felice, ND
Interest in the medical use of phytocannabinoids from Cannabis Sativa L. (Cannabis) has reached an all-time high. State-regulated medical cannabis (i.e., marijuana) programs, which emerged in 1996 in California, have spread to thirty-three states and the District of Columbia as of Summer 2019.
In addition, 11 states, and the District of Columbia, have legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults, with more states likely to follow.
These regulatory changes have been driven, in part, by a growing evidence base for the therapeutic use of phytocannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound found in hemp and marijuana (both Cannabis Sativa).
Heightened scientific attention has been directed towards the mechanisms by which delta-9-tetrahydrocannabiniol (delta-9-THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and other phytocannabinoids exert their physiological effects. These exogenous, plant-derived ligands interact with endogenously produced proteins, receptors, enzymes and endogenous ligands, in one of the most evolutionarily preserved biological systems known to the life sciences: the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system, better known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
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