Cannabis is effective for so many conditions because it interacts with a physiological system called the Endocannabinoid System
(ECS) — a network of receptors that acts like a dimmer switch to all other activity in the body. This means when there is too much or too little activity going on somewhere, the ECS kicks in and brings it back into equilibrium. Our bodies are filled with ECS receptors that fits both for our own natural chemicals called endocannabinoids and also for the ones coming from plants such as cannabis.
If our ECS is weakened and not functioning properly, introducing plant cannabinoids into our system gives it a helping hand to get on with the job of keeping our system functioning optimally. So if we are in balance, we are less likely to develop disease.
1. Reducing Chronic Inflammation Lessens Our Chances of Getting Age Related Illnesses
One of the compounds in cannabis, CBD, has been shown by scientists to reduce chronic inflammation
in the body. Studies show that chronic, systemic inflammation is potentially the root of many of the illnesses associated with ageing, including everything from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and MS, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, heart disease, and even cancer.
CBD decreases the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body as well as reduces the amount of the fatty acid amidohydrolase — the enzyme that breaks down the body’s own anti-inflammatory endocannabinoid Anandamide. So taking CBD equals less chronic inflammation in the body and better longterm health.
2. A Powerful Antioxidant
Life in the modern age puts our bodies under oxidative stress as we are constantly bombarded by free radicals that can, when out of balance, interfere with cell components and ultimately lead to many conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and heart disease, amongst others.
CBD, along with other plant compounds within cannabis, is a powerful antioxidant, so much so that it has even been patented
by the US government.
3. A Healthy Endocannabinoid System Means a Healthy You
A theory has been developed by Dr. Ethan Russo suggesting that many hard to explain illnesses like IBS, fibromyalgia, and migraines could be explained by a deficient ECS
. He says, “If you don’t have enough endocannabinoids you have pain where there shouldn’t be pain. You would be sick, meaning nauseated. You would have a lowered seizure threshold. And just a whole litany of other problems.”
4. CBD Reduces Chronic Anxiety
5. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Scientists believe Cannabis regulates blood sugar levels. According to one study
published in the American Journal of Medicine
, “current marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting insulin levels and 17% lower HOMA-IR (insulin resistance).” More research is currently underway to see if cannabis can be used to treat diabetes, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it could help to prevent it.
At any one time an average person will find some cancer cells in their body. THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high, increases the manufacturing of Ceramide
(a metabolite that encourages the death of cancer cells), leaving the healthy ones intact.
CBD has also been shown to be anti-proliferative
, so it could prevent cancer cells from spreading. It also strengthens the immune system, thus helping to fight cancer cells off.
So it is possible that both cannabinoids could potentially nip cancer cells in the bud before they get to form into something malignant.
It’s no secret that there are a plethora of success stories when it comes to cannabis and cancer, but these are never taken seriously nor acknowledged as fact within the scientific realms.
7. Youthful Skin
Cannabis based beauty products are huge right now due to their powerful antioxidant and inflammatory properties combined with purported anti-ageing powers.
The stimulation of endocannabinoid receptors through topical use of cannabis creams could explain their ability to heal and smooth damaged skin. Plus cannabis plants are packed full of the essential fatty acid Omega 3, which helps to keep skin hydrated and protected from sun damage.
8. Protect Your Joints
A three year Canadian study
funded by the Arthritis Society has shown that cannabinoids don’t just dampen pain, but can actually repair damaged joints. And let’s not forget those Omega 3s. Found in abundance in hemp oil, they make the perfect lubricant to keep us well-oiled and mobilized.
So taking cannabis could be as much about protecting our joints as reducing the pain and inflammation once the damage is done.
9. Strengthen Those Bones
annabis contains 200 aromatic molecule varieties called terpenes that may manifest in a particular example of the cannabis, one of them is called delta 3 carene (also called alpha-carene or simply carene), which is apparently awesome for promoting good health and even possibly repairing broken bones.
Delta 3 carene can apparently provide significant qualities to combat systemic inflammation, repair diseased and damaged bones. Strains of cannabis rich in the delta 3 carene have also been found to benefit those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s disease. This terpene is found most commonly in strains of cannabis, which is good news for cannabis smokers, especially those who grow their own and do their research on which strains are the best.
Research has shown that terpenes such as delta 3 carene can be beneficial. A 1989 study entitled “Comparative Study of Different Essential Oils of Bupleurum Gibraltaricum Lamarck” that was published in the journal Europe PMC investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of delta 3 carene and concluded “the essential oil of the Cázulas Mountains population was most active against acute inflammation owing to its high delta 3-carene content.”
A 2007 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research tested 89 natural compounds for their ability to maintain bone repair, deal with bone disease, and promote overall healthy bones with some promising results.
In 2009, one study from Scotland conducted on mice hypothesized that since endocannabinoids are produced in the bones, administering cannabinoids could help to regulate your bone metabolism. These means that bones would re-generate their tissues by replacing old cells with new ones, a vital function that keeps bones healthy and strong.
Another study, found that THC activates the body’s CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The CB2 receptor assists in the formation of bones and helps to prevent age-related bone atrophy. So, it makes sense, doesn’t it?
That’s not all, a 2015 study found that using CBD could help heal fractured bones, it was a study conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Israel, and published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
These studies were animal studies, it’s also important to mention the other side of the coin. For example a more recent study from 2017 used human participants and examined the relationship between cannabis use and bone mass density, no association was found there.
10. Reduce Hardcore Prescription Meds
In the U.S. approximately 12 million people currently take opioid based prescription medicines, with prescription painkiller related deaths rising steadily. Many people find taking cannabinoids alongside their prescription painkillers an effective means to gradually wean themselves off their medication, which can only have health benefits in the long term.
11. Protect Your Brain
There’s so much we don’t know about those 3lbs of jelly-like tissue between our ears. But what we do know is that the ECS is integrally linked to the process of neurogenesis in which new neurons are generated and integrated into the developed brain.
Dr Gary Wenk, PhD
, a professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, recommends consuming small amounts of cannabis daily to protect against brain inflammation and restore neurogenesis. He’s coined the catchy phrase “a puff is enough” because, as he says, “it appears as though only a single puff each day is necessary to produce significant benefit.”
Dr. Wenk’s suggestion is all fine and good if you happen to live in a part of the world where consuming cannabis is legal (although the jury’s out on whether smoking is the best form of ingestion), but for most people, this isn’t the case. So then what? Luckily the non psychoactive cannabinoid CBD is also found in industrial hemp which, due to having next to no traces of THC, is legal in most countries and has been shown by scientists to also have neuroprotective potential
It all makes for a pretty convincing case that regular, low level cannabis consumption could prevent many of the diseases that threaten our health as we get older. And who knows, one day we may indeed just take it like any other health boosting supplement or vitamin.