Author: Smart Canabis

How Does Cannabis Work with the Endocannabinoid System?

Understanding the endocannabinoid system is the key to unlocking its effects. A Toluca Lake cannabis dispensary sheds some light in this post.

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The Entourage Effect: The Cannabis Plant’s “Secret Power?”

While we often think about cannabis as if it were a single organism, the truth is it’s one of the most astonishingly complex entities in the natural world. Rather than containing a single “active ingredient,” cannabis contains hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds still. And while each of them acts independently from each other, many researchers believe that they often combine forces to elicit especially profound medicinal and psychotropic effects on our bodies. The common name for this synergy is the “Entourage Effect.”

For decades now, the Entourage Effect has been more or less accepted as an established facet of the cannabis plant. But while there’s strong clinical evidence that it works in some regards, some new and competing findings seem to indicate that it’s not as widespread as once believed.

What’s the straight dope on the Entourage Effect? Strap yourself in for a deep dive into the realm of cannabis compounds!

The Entourage Effect: Cannabinoids, The Cannabis Plant’s “Heavy Lifters”

the entourage effect cannabinoids

In terms of their effects on the human body, cannabinoids are without doubt the most significant of the natural chemicals found in cannabis. Thus far, researchers have isolated roughly 150 of them. They include two you’ve probably heard of—THC and CBD—and they interact with the body through a network called The Endocannabinoid System, which in turn controls some of the body’s most important regulatory functions. 

What are some of those effects? THC is responsible for the plant’s distinctive euphoric “high,” as well as several other medically useful effects. CBD doesn’t impart an intoxicating psychoactivity, though some users report a mild “buzzy” effect. In recent years, its come under study for a large number of potential benefits, including the ability to reduce anxiety, several types of pain, and certain types of seizures, among others.

It’s well-established that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact for beneficial effects. For one thing, CBD helps counteract some of the negative side effects of THC, including paranoia and foggy-headedness. And a study demonstrated that cannabis containing THC and CBD functioned much better in reducing cancer-related pain than THC alone.

And that says nothing about cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and many others still. Many researchers believe they play a part in modulating and optimizing the effects of THC and CBD, but thus far there haven’t been a lot of clinical studies to back these assertions up. You can expect that to change soon as studies on such “minor” cannabinoids near completion.

The Entourage Effect: Terpenes, Fragrant Plant Compounds

the entourage effect terpenes

Terpenes are another hugely important player in the world of the cannabis plant. A family of fragrant oils, they give different strains their characteristic flavors and aromas. There are believed to be over 200 terpenes in cannabis; in addition to lending their enticing odors, they can elicit anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects, anti-inflammatory responses, and many other useful physiological actions.

In recent years, many cannabis researchers have theorized that terpenes are involved in an entourage effect with cannabinoids too. While it’s known that terpenes can interact with the Endocannabinoid System, it’s unclear whether or not this actually contributes to the Entourage Effect.

One study published in 2011 suggests that the terpene alpha-pinene interacts with THC, helping to counteract the cannabinoid’s negative impact on short-term memory. But the exact mechanics of these interactions aren’t yet clear. Further clouding the picture, a recent study found the opposite. In this report, five common terpenes—including alpha-pinene—all failed to elicit an entourage effect by binding to the receptors in the Endocannabinoid System. Yet another study—this one conducted on a rodent model—showed that three other terpenes did in fact activate these receptors.

Still, a growing body of evidence supports the conclusion that—at least when it comes to interactions among cannabinoids, the entourage effect is both real and medically useful.  As is so often the case in the world of cannabis, a more definitive answer as to the interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids will require more research.

What with all these lingering questions, one thing is certain: That in the years to come, a lot of attention is going to be focused on unlocking the mysteries of the Entourage Effect. We’re hopeful that once it’s fully understood, it will help clinicians formulate highly personalized cannabis-based treatments and take our knowledge of plant medicines into an exciting new realm.

Cannabis for Pain Relief: How It Works & How to Get Results

As study after study shows, Americans are turning to cannabis for pain relief in record numbers. Not only can it effectively treat several types of pain, but it’s helping reduce our dependence on objectively harmful pharmaceuticals such as opioids.

It shouldn’t be a surprise as to why. As long ago as 2900 BCE, Chinese physicians were using cannabis to treat pain and inflammation, as well as many of the other conditions we depend on it for today. Today, a growing number of clinical studies only confirm what those ancient doctors already knew: That when it’s used properly, cannabis can be a game-changer in the treatment of pain, easing symptoms and boosting overall quality of life.

But many of us—including many doctors—don’t know how to use cannabis for pain relief. In this article, we’ll talk about the roots of pain, how cannabis helps treat it, and how to choose the best types of cannabis for different kinds of pain.

Cannabis for Pain Relief: Understanding The Causes of Pain

Cannabis for Pain Relief

Pain, much as we might dislike it, is a fact of life. For most of history, we understood it to be a symptom of an injury. But recently, that’s begun to change. that researchers have begun to shift their thinking on chronic pain, recognizing that it’s a serious disorder with several types. Here are the three major ones:

  • Nociceptive Pain: Resulting from a physical injury, this type of pain is often treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Neuropathic (or “Nerve”) Pain: This type of pain can also be caused by a physical injury, but it refers to injury to a nerve. It doesn’t typically respond to anti-inflammatories.
  • Central Pain: Sometimes called “mystery pain,” this occurs in the absence of a physical injury. One example is fibromyalgia, a difficult-to-diagnose condition.

Cannabis for Pain Relief: Using Cannabinoids to Manage Pain

While each of these types of pain is different, they’re all alike in that cannabis has the potential to treat them. And the principal way it does it is through a group of natural chemicals called “cannabinoids.” You’re probably familiar with the two most important ones: THC and CBD. THC, of course, is the one responsible for the cannabis plant’s euphoric “high.”

What’s important to know here is that THC and CBD work with the body in different ways to help reduce pain and swelling at injury sites. And every cannabis product we sell is labeled with a cannabinoid ratio, which tells you exactly how much THC, CBD, or both it contains. This is important when it comes to choosing which products will work best with each type of pain.

Speaking of which, let’s revisit that list of specific pain types again. 

  • Nociceptive Pain: Many clinicians recommend using a cannabis product that contains a roughly balanced 1:1 ratio between THC and CBD for nociceptive pain. Because each one works differently, you’ll get the maximum benefit of each one’s anti-inflammatory and other pain-fighting properties. And if you find THC distracting, the high proportion of CBD will help mitigate some of its psychoactivity.
  • Neuropathic (or “Nerve”) Pain: For this type of pain, high-THC products can provide relief through their euphoria. But CBD may actually be more useful here; though the results weren’t conclusive, one study found that CBD might be effective against neuropathic pain. And a groundbreaking study funded by the Dutch government aims to find definitive answers to the question.
  • Central Pain: While there are many unanswered questions about this puzzling type of pain, there are signs of hope. In one study on 26 fibromyalgia patients, every single subject found that cannabis improved their pain. Another recent study came to much the same conclusion. But doctors aren’t sure which cannabinoid ratio is best for central pain; some clinicians suggest trying a product with an equal ratio of THC of CBD to take advantage of both of these powerful pain-fighting compounds.

In Conclusion

Cannabis for Pain Relief

As you see, there are a number of ways cannabis can help with pain relief. But no matter which strain or product you use, we want to point out the importance of regulating your dosage. That’s because cannabis is biphasic, meaning that its effects change depending on its dosage. 

While it may sound strange, research indicates that the majority of us experience greater pain relief (and other medical benefits) from using less cannabis, not more. That’s why we always suggest you use the least amount of cannabis needed to achieve optimal results. It may require a little more trial and effort to find that amount, but once you do, you’ll experience gentler, more effective, and more sustainable results!
Do you have more questions about using cannabis for pain relief? Just reach out; we’re always here to help!

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