Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis
The Endocannabinoid System – Dr. David Bearman
There are a group of researchers around the world, that are very interested in the endocannabinoid system, interested in how that works, how it functions. Elger is one of those people. He and another PHD named Nichol wrote an article that appeared in Scientific America which I believe is entitled The Brains on Marijuana. We have discovered, we meaning scientists not me, at least two endocannabinoids, two different 21 carbon molecules that have receptor sites that can be stimulated by Cannabis. And Cannabis of course, has 66, at least 66 cannabinoids and those are 21 carbon molecules that may have different side chain and every time you have a different side chain you have a different substance.
The endocannabinoid system was first characterized by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam who is an Israeli scientist. He isolated THC in 1964. He really is the grand ole man in terms of both research and clinical application of tincture of cannabis. In Israel they use Cannabis for treating PTSD, and has been used elsewhere, in Croatia its used to treat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
He also developed a synthetic molecule, Dextro Cannabinal, which he tested to see if it had neuron sparing effects. There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that Cannabis is useful in retarding the progress of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. What Mechoulam was looking at was whether or not this Dextro Cannabinol would diminish brain damage from strokes or traumatic brain injury. And while the studies he has done so far have shown that it does, it is not at the .05 levels, so those changes might be due to chance. He has discovered or there have been discovered two naturally occurring Cannabinoids in human beings. One is called Anandamide and the other is called 2AG (shorthand for it).
Mechoulam has postulated, he has guessed, that there may be as many as four, five or six more Cannabinoids in the human body that we are unaware of. We also know that there are at least two different kinds of receptors. One is called the CB1 receptors, which are located largely in the central nervous system and the other are the CB2 receptors which are located largely in the gut.
Now, having those receptors in the gut is interesting because a study done by Dr Jefferey Hergenrather, in which Dr Todd Mikuriya and myself assisted him to a small extent, on Crohns patients found that Krones patients who sought recommendations from physicians for the medical use of marijuana, that the cannabis allowed them to decrease their dose of steroids or eliminate their steroids, to decrease other medications specific to Krones disease, they had less abdominal pain, they had fewer watery stools, less frequency of bowel movements in other words, their quality of life was substantially improved.
And what I think happened there is the problems with Krone disease in part are caused by excessively vigorous peristalsis, contractions of the smooth muscle of the GI tract, and the CB2 receptors when they are stimulated by cannabinoids, whether the cannabinoids come from inside the human body manufactured by us or whether they come from a pill made by a pharmaceutical company such as Marinol (Dronabinol) or whether they come from marijuana, you have this retrograde inhibition. It slows down the speed of neurotransmission.
The bigger the peristaltic contraction is not as great, it is not as aggressive, as you will. The stool, the digesting food stays in the GI tract longer, the large bowel is their to de-water it so you will have fewer stools, better formed stools, you are going to have less vigorous contractions, so you are not going to decrease the blood supply to the muscles, you are going to have less pain.
It is important as we start to look at this that we understand that things don’t work by magic. We have neurotransmitters, we have receptor sites, we are really at the dawn of understanding the neurochemistry regarding the endo cannabinoid system. I think we have really exciting things that we are going to see in the future.