Discover the latest views on medical cannabis from Dr. Jake Felice in this radio interview with Barbara Southworth. Join Dr. Jake and Barbara Southworth as they discuss all things cannabis. Click here to listen. Enjoy
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.
Dr. Jake Felice is an accomplished naturopathic physician with extensive experience with cannabinoid therapeutics and medical cannabis consultations. As a national cannabis brand ambassador he has provided scientific, medical, public relations, product development, and compliance based advice for companies in emerging and existing cannabis markets. He has consulted for major cannabis companies including Willie Nelson’s brand, Cannabis Basics, Medical Marijuana 411, Seattle Central College, and The Academy of Cannabis Science. Additionally, he provides ongoing industry training for cannabis professionals in Washington State which are required by law for professionals to obtain medical marijuana consultant certification through the Washington State Department of Health.
I recently received this question via email and thought I would post my reply here. I wish that I had more time to devote to this and to the quality of my answer, but thought that a quick post might helpful to some of the readers of this blog.
I have a quick question for you regarding CBDs and the adrenals. As a novice to this MMJ world, are we robbing Peter to pay Paul with giving people more energy with CBDs, but not fixing the underlying issues? I just think of coffee bringing people up, but really draining them in the long haul. Thoughts?
This is a good question. I think there may be some concern with THC strains but not CBD. The endocannabiniod system is a harm reduction system in our bodies, and it’s activation leads to protection across multiple body systems. In general, CBD enhances the body’s innate protective response via the endocannabinoid system (eCB). I therefore think of CBD as adaptogenic in the best sense of the word. I do not see it causing “depletion”. In fact, there is a current hypothesis in vogue describing cannabinoid acids including CBD acids as “dietary essentials”, especially during times of stress. A part of the way CBD works biochemically is similar to how omega-3’s protect – via PPAR signalling, similar to DHA and EPA.
CBD has no known adverse effects and it has been studied very extensively. It does have a biphasic effect with an optimal dose below and above which it is not as effective. This effect deals with efficacy though, and not potential harm.
Running, biking and hiking increase our bodies own eCB molecules, which are now largely believed to be responsible for runner’s high to a much larger degree than endorphins. Wheel running in mice increases cannabinoid receptors as well as sensitivity to cannabinoids. A part of the way CBD works biochemically is similar to how omega-3’s protect – via PPAR signalling similar to DHA and EPA.
Ethan Russo has proposed that fibromyalgia, migraine, and IBS could represent a clinnical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome. Ester Fride has speculated that infant “failure to thrive” syndrome in newborns may be due to eCB insufficiency. Paolo Sarchielli has described eCB system failure as a basis of chronic migraine. Mathew Hill posits that deficient eCB signalling contributes to depressive illnesses. Enhancing eCB with medical cannabis may help with these conditions, as well as the reason cannabis has been found to be effective for those with MS, epilepsy, and chronic pain.
Thank you for your question. Best, –Jake Felice, ND, LMP
Could cannabis be helpful in the treatment of autism? We know that the endocannabinoid system can be used to help various neurological and psychological disorder. A new study shows promise for the treatment of autism in humans. In an animal model of autism the endocannabinoid system was significantly impaired. Researchers wrote that this raises “the possibility that alterations in endocannabinoid signalling may contribute to autism pathophysiology.” Fascinating!
Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University Medical School, USA.
Földy C, et al. Neuron 2013;78(3):498-509.