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The Endocannabinoid System

In order to fully understand the benefits that medical marijuana can offer, one must first understand the way that it interacts with the body. The endogenous cannabinoid system is quite possibly the most vital physiologic system in the network of establishing and sustaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors exist throughout the body, from the brain to the connective tissue and immune cells. The cannabinoid system’s role changes depending on its location but is always acting for one goal: homeostasis, also known as the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

Homeostasis exists at every level of biological life, at every turn controlled completely by the endocannabinoid system. For example, the process of autography (cell self-appropriation for self-digestion and recycling) is a type of homeostasis that prolongs the life of normal cells (through enabling them to strike a balance between synthesis, degradation and recycling of cellular products), but is also lethal to malignant tumor cells, forcing them into programmed cellular suicide. This cancer cell death, in turn, creates more homeostasis and increases survival of the whole organism.

Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can also be utilized for communication between varying cell types at the intersections of each system. In the event of an injury, for instance, the primary role of cannabinoids is to stem the release of both activators and sensitizers from injured tissue and preventing excessive firing of the nerve cells. This also calms the nearby immune cells and stops the release of pro-inflammatory substances.

Due to its interaction with almost every organ and cell in the body, the endocannabinoid system can truly be described as a link between the body and the brain. The knowledge that comes via understanding this system can show how states of mind can have an impact on bodily health.

Alongside homeostasis, cannabinoids have been shown to influence personal relationship with the surrounding environment; the administration of cannabinoids alters human behavior towards a more creative, generous and humorous manner. Through the manipulation of neuronal plasticity, learning and neurogenesis, they can directly impact an individual’s ability to increase their thought patterns beyond past situations which in turn continues to stimulate health.

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