Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

These endocannabinoids along with a series of enzymes and receptors throughout the body make up the Endocannabinoid system or the ECS, which serves as a primary biological harm reduction system tasked with bringing the body back into balance or homeostasis whenever it is challenged by stress, infection, injury or lifestyle.

It regulates, modulates or plays role in every major biological function of the human body including but not limited to:

  • pain control
  • mood
  • immune function
  • newborn suckling
  • appetite reward
  • temperature regulation
  • memory
  • inflammation regulation
  • neuroprotection

(Marzo 1998)

The ECS is critical to human survival.  At the most basic level it controls how we eat, sleep, relax, forget and protect ourselves.

Cannabinoids Boost the Endocannabinoid System

When it is no longer able to regulate itself, cannabinoids and other chemicals from the cannabis plant, when properly used, may help stimulate the ECS in a safe, therapeutic and non-toxic way.

The country’s foremost expert in cannabis science, is neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo. He explains that the ECS has a network of chemicals that when coupled together result in what is known as an “entourage effect” or a boosting effect that provides an enhancement for the management of pain, inflammation or other problem (Russo 2015).

The same is true for cannabis.  The major and minor chemical components of the plant are vastly more therapeutic together than when isolated and together have fewer side-effects (John M. Mcpartland 2001).

It is for this reason that whole-plant cannabis is almost always a more effective medicinal agent than a single isolated product such as CBD-only products or the synthetic THC drug, Marinol® (Russo 2001).

Most pharmaceutical drugs are designed to address a primary problem and bring comfort.  Cannabis is much more dynamic, stimulating the ECS to address many problems at once in multiple biological layers, not only bringing comfort but restoration in many cases. And, its safety profile is superior to any modern pharmaceutical medicine – including aspirin. We have more scientific data about cannabis than 95% of all FDA approved drugs (Carter 2014).

It is time that we bring science to the forefront of our cannabis policy and dissolve the cloud of shame, secrecy, and fear around the use of this potentially SAFE and legitimate medicine.

Mary Lynn Mathre with Patient’s Out of Time explains how important the endocannabinoid system is to the body, how it works and how medical marijuana helps our body stay in balance.

For an excellent overview of the Endocannabinoid System, read Ethan Russo’s “Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System“.

For more detailed information on the ECS read the separate essays of the same title “Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System by Dustin Sulak, DO at http://www.norml.org and Dr. Ethan Russo, MD at http://www.phytecs.com.

Terpenoids: What Are They & What Do They Do?

If you already know what terpenoids are, you should congratulate yourself because most people have no idea what terpenoids are or why they are so beneficial. Terpenoids are found in the oils of plants, and are responsible for the aromas and tastes we associate with all of our favorite plants. Ever wonder why a pine tree smells the way it does? That’s because pine trees are full of α-Pinene, and that’s where their wonderful aroma comes from!

“Terpenoids share a precursor with phytocannabinoids, and are all flavor and fragrance components common to human diets that have been designated Generally Recognized as Safe by the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies.”

Now that you know what terpenoids are, let’s look at some of the synergistic terpenoids found in cannabis.

Synergistic Terpenoids

α-Pinene  C10H16

α-Pinene is one of the most important terpenoids out there because of how it reacts with other chemicals. Ever been hiking through some pine trees or evergreens and taken in a big breath of fresh air? Notice how it seemed to open up your lungs? That’s α-Pinene! Found commonly in conifer trees and orange trees, α-Pinene is known for its pungent odor.

Humulene C15H24

Known for giving beers their “hoppy” smell, humulene is a sesquiterpene that is found in hops, Vietnamese coriander and cannabis sativa cultivars. This particular terpenoid has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

D-Limonene C10H16

As you may or may not have guessed, D-limonene is terpenoid that can be found in lemons and other citrus plants. Primarily used as a health supplement, D-limonene was also historically used in food and perfumes. Today, it has become popular for use in citrus-based cleaners.

ß-Myrcene C10H16

This terpenoid is one of the most important terpenoids. Because ß-Myrcene is a monoterpene, it commonly is the base for the formation of other terpenoids. Found in mango, hops, bay leaves, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and many other plants, ß-Myrcene has been linked to many benefits and been used for thousands of years. Please do your own research to uncover all of those benefits.

ß-Caryophyllene  C15H24

This terpenoid is found in plants famous for their spicy odor including: Thai basil, black pepper and cloves.

Linalool C10H18O

One of my favorite terpenoids, Linalool is best known for the floral and wonderful odor of the lavender plant. However, linalool is also found in other plants including citrus, laurels, birch, coriander and rosewood. Please do your own research to learn about all the benefits of linalool, sometimes referred to as licareol or linalyl alcohol.