Monday, October 02, 2017 by Isabelle Z.
You have probably heard by now that cannabinoids have a host of health benefits, with new studies regularly emerging that add to the body of evidence that they can help with inflammation, pain and even cancer. However, not everyone is convinced, and there are a lot of misconceptions about how these compounds work. Those who are skeptical of the benefits of cannabinoids might be surprised to learn that your body makes these compounds itself.
Inflammation that is left unchecked is linked to many chronic diseases, not the least of which are dementia, heart disease and depression. A diet that is full of anti-inflammatory foods is a great tool in the battle against inflammation and the chronic diseases it causes, which is why many people have been embracing the Mediterranean diet and its emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know that human bodies actually convert omega-3 fatty acids into endocannabinoids, which are like your own personal homemade cannabinoids? These are responsible for keeping that inflammation under control.
As a matter of fact, a new study out of the University of Illinois has found that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids both bind to the same two types of receptors in the body before circulating through the nervous and immune systems to bring about their effects on pain and inflammation. In other words, your body can get the same benefits from foods like eggs, nuts and fish that it does from marijuana.
Scientists have known since 1964 that marijuana’s most active compound is THC. That was when Israeli scientists managed to isolate the compound. After isolating it, they added a small dose of pure THC to some pieces of cake and had volunteers eat it. When they reacted with a range of emotions from talkativeness to lethargy to uncontrollable laughter and a control group who ate normal cake did not, it became clear that THC was a psychotropic cannabinoid.
Since then, scientists have discovered that THC essentially mimics the natural endocannabinoids produced by your body when you eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
The new study of human cells and animal tissue, which was led by Biochemistry Professor Aditi Das, highlighted the chain of chemical reactions responsible for converting the omega-3 fatty acids you get from foods into anti-inflammatory benefits that are similar to those of cannabinoids but without the psychotropic high
In addition to uncovering the enzyme pathway that converts endocannabinoids derived from omega-3s into anti-inflammatory molecules that then bind to the immune system’s cannabinoid receptors, they also found that the anti-inflammatory molecules known as omega-3 endocannabinoid epoxides can influence blood platelet aggregation and blood vessel dilation. They believe these molecules could be used to help treat cerebrovascular and neuroinflammatory diseases in the future.
Their findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Despite the growing amount of research on the topic, a lot of people are wary of medicinal marijuana and still don’t realize that the body was built to use cannabinoids, which are even present in breast milk.
The truth is that cannabinoids are being used by people not only to prevent chronic disease and diminish pain but also to relax their nerves and enhance their mood. They can be useful in fighting cancer because some types can promote cell death and halt cell growth and blood vessel development in tumors. A recent study found that cannabinoids like THC can even destroy leukemia cells.