Everything with a backbone has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endo- prefix means we produce cannabinoids — also found in the cannabis plant — in our bodies. According to a highly technical Wikipedia entry, our ECS governs appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.
Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam, who has been studying cannabis since the early 1960s, discovered the ECS (and its interplay with compounds in the cannabis plant) in 1992. He found that we have endocannabinoids and receptors for them in our brains and throughout our bodies. Many of these compounds in cannabis (cannabinoids), do all sorts of things besides get you high.
By 1993, it was so clear that cannabis held serious medical benefits, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services applied for a received Patent No. 6,630,507, covering the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids — chemical compounds found within the plant species cannabis sativa — to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, such as cirrhosis.12
Treating chronic disease
Today, CBD is the most well-known of the cannabinoids, and it is being used to treat a variety of diseases, including:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic pain
And many others. Research on the medical applications of cannabis is ongoing in places like Israel. Complicating this is the fact that in the U.S., cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and other substances that have no medicinal value, so it’s hard for researchers to even get cannabis to study. Even scientists at the Salk Institute can’t get the cannabis they need to study the efficacy of cannabis in fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many accounts of CBD stopping the near-constant seizures in young children afflicted with Dravet Syndrome. For families of these children, who have tried everything, including pharmaceuticals with toxic and sometimes deadly side effects, cannabis is a miraculous godsend. And it’s not just epilepsy. Even though clinical trials have been hard to come by, there’s evidence that CBD has efficacy in fighting tumors, PTSD, and other conditions, according to MedScape.
CBD seems to have such a wide-ranging potential as a therapeutic agent, and Harvard-trained neuroscientist Nick Jikomes explains why in a post at Leafly: “A key part of the answer lies in CBD’s promiscuous pharmacology—its ability to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body, including not only cannabinoid receptors but a host of others.” Jikomes’ post concludes:
Understanding CBD’s neurological effects is a complicated business, because of the wide variety of receptors with which it interacts. But that complexity may be the key to its promise as a therapeutic agent. Motivational disorders like addiction and anxiety are themselves highly complex; they arise from incompletely understood causes that span multiple receptor systems and neural networks in the brain. CBD’s complex, multi-target effects may therefore be crucial to its potential for aiding the treatment of such disorders. Over the coming years, researchers will continue to further understand this complexity and uncover the full scope of CBD’s therapeutic potential.
What does this have to do with vaping? If you or a family member has epilepsy, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, addiction, diseases related to inflammation, or other conditions, CBD may be a useful medicine for you. If taking medicine orally is too slow, or otherwise cumbersome, vaping might be a practical alternative.
While we don’t know much yet about how the chemicals in vape juice might affect the body, you have to educate yourself, weigh the negatives against the benefits you might receive from CBD, and make your own determination.
The photo above, “New Kayfun Nano Kit and Copper Reservoir Mid Cap !” is copyright (c) 2014 by Curtis Keester and made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.