In a remote part of Central Asia, researchers have discovered 789 grams of uniquely preserved cannabis buried 2700 years ago along with a light skinned, light haired, blue eyed cannabis shaman. This sample gives us the oldest proof that cannabis was used for the purposes of “getting high”, as the sample contained high levels of THC, and relatively low levels of CBD.
According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, the vegetative material was lightly pounded and was “cultivated for psychoactive purposes”, rather than as fiber, clothing, or as food. It was likely used for purposes of divination or spirituality.
The ancient cannabis stash came from plants that were THC dominant. Wild-type or hemp based cannabis strains would have yielded lower levels of THC and more of a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. About 100 seeds were also found, though unfortunately the genetic material in them was lost as researchers were unable to germinate the seeds.
Researchers only recently discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which in many ways resembles the internet of our body. Cells can use it as a kind of email since the ECS allows individual cells to send specific information to other cells in our body. This system helps cells coordinate our immune response for example, and enables the different systems of our body work together.
The endocannabinoid system helps our body organize itself, enabling cells to communicate better, creating and maintaining physiologic balance. It homeostatically regulates all body systems: (nervous, digestive, immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, reproductive).
The foundations of the modern endocannabinoid system developed 600 million years ago to help single cell organisms manage the increased demand for information processing required to help single cells evolve into more complex multi-cellular organisms. Cells needed a way to talk to each other to share information and organize themselves into more complex bodies in this early chaotic environment. Multicellular organisms developed the ECS to help manage the flow of information between and within different cells so that individual cells in newly evolving bodies could share resources, protect themselves from harm, and make to prevent damage to their molecular machinery.
The ECS for example became a central mediator for how the earliest complex organisms reduced harm from things such as a lack of oxygen to their biological systems. Also, the ECS developed biological coordination to help individual cells share nutrition and energy with and between other cells in these newly evolving bodies. In complex biological systems such as humans, this ECS coordination of information prevents disease, and maintains the flow of information between cells.
Chronic disease both causes and results from biological dysfunction in the body. Appropriate cannabis use reduces harm caused by stress, by physiologic imbalances in chronic disease, and particularly in conditions and symptoms that increase as we age. The broad therapeutic potential of using cannabis to help the body balance its own ECS is just beginning to be realized, and major universities and pharmaceutical companies around the world are aggressively engaging in cannabinoid research.
The ECS maintains health and balance not only between different cells, but also within each single cell. Inside single cells, the ECS helps control basic metabolic functions such as sugar metabolism. Between individual cells, the ECS also regulates communication between our immune systems and our nervous systems. For example, when an immune cell needs to alert brain or nerve cells, it can send a biochemical email that functions through the endocannabinoid system. However during disease, a breakdown in ECS communication can disrupt this information flow, resulting in disease or death of the organism.