The Endocannabinoid System: It's a Thing

Think back to science class. Specifically, think about all that you learned about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and marijuana treatment. Doesn’t take too long, does it? That’s because you probably learned about as much as I did: nothing. And I went to medical school!

Okay, so that’s not completely true. In medical school, they teach about cannabis as a drug of abuse. They also teach that it’s federally classified as a Schedule 1 drug and that “we need more research” on the benefits. It’s clear to me now that what we all learned in school, from way back to grade school in many cases, needs to be discarded. It truly bears no relationship to reality.

Cannabis Research

In my opinion, “we need more research” is a cop-out. There have been thousands of studies on the plant, its side effects, dosing, compounds, and most importantly, its safety. The fact is, it’s somewhat difficult to conduct research with cannabis. However, I would argue that this isn’t due to its federal classification, but due to the complexity of the research that would need to be conducted.

Effective research on cannabis is similar to doing research on different tomato plants. You’d have to study the effect on different body systems depending on the type of tomato, the way it’s processed, how it’s cooked (or not cooked), and how it’s consumed. Ketchup is useful, tasty, and goes great on hotdogs, but it’s night and day to a fresh tomato picked off the vine. The same is true for cannabis.

Israel, for example, has one of the world’s largest cannabis labs on earth. In their studies, they’ve found that one strain processed into one batch of tincture works to prevent seizures in one individual, while the same brand as a different batch or strain doesn’t. The 113 cannabinoids (CBs) and 400 other compounds within the plant need to line up perfectly, in just the right proportions, to have the same effect.

The Endocannabinoid System

Most medical providers didn’t learn about the endocannabinoid system in medical school. We only discovered it in the 1980s, around the same time that we discovered cannabinoid receptors. In fact, all humans and complex animals have an endocannabinoid system Endocannabinoid System Brain Receptorsthat works to maintain homeostasis. The ECS affects memory, digestion, motor function, immunity, inflammation, appetite, pain, blood pressure, bone growth, and the protection of nerve and brain tissues, just to name a few.

When THC binds to CB-1 receptors in your brain, you begin to feel the psychoactive effects or feel “high.” Because there are very few CB-1 receptors in your brain, an overdose of cannabis won’t cause breathing problems or death, as an overdose of other medications would. CB-2 receptors live in your immune system. Together, the ECS is constantly working behind the scenes to maintain balance in your body.

Now, that’s a lot of scientific jargon that may not make a lot of sense to you. Maybe it does. But if you need it broken down further, check out this Zion Medicinal educational video about the endocannabinoid system.

What Does This Mean for Western Medicine?

Western-trained medical providers have been taught that one medicine does one thing and treats one illness or symptom. Do we throw away cannabis as a viable treatment option because we don’t have years and years of research behind it?

Lucky for us, the public has made this decision for us with a resounding “Hell no!” As medical providers, we need to take a step back and see that the way we’ve been taught to treat patients has played a role in them wanting to take matters into their own hands. We’ve been pushing pills and procedures on patients for generations. This has led patients to start experimenting with alternative treatments. Through that experimentation, they’ve experienced firsthand that the endocannabinoid system exists. They’ve seen that cannabis can and does work to treat many illnesses and health concerns. They’ve gone around the medical community and taken their health and treatment into their own hands. It’s time for us to get on board.

Most importantly, remember to forget every preconceived notion you have about Medical Cannabis treatment. Find a qualified medical provider (QMP) and follow their recommendations closely to find your just-right dose. Everybody’s endocannabinoid system and genetic makeup is different and requires specific dosing and delivery for a beneficial experience.

So here we are. Welcome. Medical Cannabis is legal in Utah and this is what you should know according to Tim Pickett.

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By Tim Pickett
Founder of
Published September 18, 2020

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