Due to its many significant potential benefits, Cannabis and its constituents have been at the forefront of one of the most exciting scientific developments in recent years. Research on the effects of cannabinoids led scientists to the discovery of a previously unknown biochemical communication system in the human body, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system has been shown to play a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experiences. Endocannabinoid receptors in the brain respond pharmacologically to Cannabis constituents. The discovery of endogenous cannabinoid compounds in humans that bind to these receptors led to the investigation of Cannabis compounds for their role as an emerging strategy in the modulation of a variety of conditions.
Two primary endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1 in 1990 and CB2 in 1993. These receptors are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues of the immune system. Evidence suggests that endocannabinoids may function as both neuromodulators and immunomodulators in the immune system.
Generally speaking, CB1 signaling mediates neuromodulatory activities, and CB2 signaling mostly mediates immunomodulatory activities. Thus, cannabinoid signaling has been shown to be involved in multiple physiologic and homeostatic systems as well as in pathophysiologic mechanisms.
RESEARCH SUPPORT FOR INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS AND CHRONIC PAIN
The use of Cannabis for pain dates back thousands of years and more recently, significant research has evaluated the benefit of CBD and other cannabinoids for supporting those with various types of inflammation. Cannabinoids show promise as a new class of inflammation-modulating agents, via their action on cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids modulate the inflammatory response via multiple pathways, including suppression of overactive immune cells, suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines at inflammatory sites, and enhanced T cell activity. Many significant medical conditions are a result of, or characterized by, chronic inflammation. Researchers are constantly exploring new agents to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain. Emerging cannabinoid research is showing promise for supporting individuals with chronic pain of various origins.
RESEARCH SUPPORT FOR MOOD CONDITIONS
In humans, the stress response initiates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation, changes in central nervous system activity, neuroimmune alternations, as well as other physiological changes. While the acute stress response is essential to survival, chronic, untreated stress can contribute to a variety of other serious conditions.
Stress and anxiety can go hand-in-hand, with the terms often used interchangeably. They are, however, quite different. Stress, unlike anxiety, is the response to a threat or the pressures of daily life. Anxiety is a possible adverse reaction to stress, typically manifesting as fear or apprehension, and can present with physical symptoms such as racing heart, pain, shortness of breath, and/or dizziness. Generally, stress subsides after the stressor is removed, while anxiety symptoms can persist for six months or longer.
The endocannabinoid system serves to constrain HPA axis activity during times of stress. The involvement of signaling molecules (cytokines and chemokines) in the endocannabinoid-mediated stress response are of importance when considering therapeutic strategies. Animal studies have investigated endocannabinoid signaling under conditions of repeated stress and have demonstrated that disrupted signaling may be associated with decreased ability to adapt to chronic stress. In animals, CBD has been shown, via mediation of the endocannabinoid system, to promote adaptation to stress and its physiological effects.
RESEARCH SUPPORT FOR NEUROLOGICAL CONDITIONS
Over 400,000 people in the United States suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS), with approximately 200 new cases diagnosed each week. Diagnosis usually occurs between the ages of 20 – 40, but MS also affects children and the aged. MS is a chronic, progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary, but may include impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, numbness, nerve pain, muscle spasticity, blurred vision, and severe fatigue. Recent research on cannabidiol shows it to be neuroprotective in those with MS and other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury. It is thought to exert this effect by regulating inflammation in the nerves and muscles with pain due to spinal cord injury.