Guest Column:  The Endocannabinoid System

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC

In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University in Israel discovered the plant-based cannabinoid of THC, which is the main psycho-active component in cannabis.  Dr. Mechoulam called this system our global protection system.  The ECS is made up of ananamide, phytocannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN etc., approximately 100 phtyocannabinoids that are produced within the Cannabis plants that mimics the body’s own endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid receptors.

The CB1 receptors are located within the central nervous system, the GI system, liver, lung, kidneys and reproductive system,  In general, the highest density of these receptors are located in regions of the brain.  There are no receptors in the brain stem, so this is the reason that there is no risk of cessation of breathing of interference in heart rate from over-consumption.

Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist and researcher of NY discovered that an endocannabinoid deficiency could create a medical illness that could lead to disorders such as migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and other treatment resistant disorders.  This is equivalent to recent findings in psychiatry for patients that are treatment resistant to medications yet respond to electro-convulsive therapy.  Our bodies need to maintain homeostasis, and we are all different, with responses to different treatment modalities.  This is new and exciting research that opens up so much promise as we continue to explore the way our bodies are built and the complexity of the processes within our bodies.

Poor life style choices can lead to poor stressful condition that do negatively impact our endocannabinoid system, as does every other system of our bodies. That is why it is essential to maintain a healthy life style through good diet, using proper supplements such as Omega 3 fats and probiotics, exercise, socializing, good sleep habits, and the medicinal benefits of plant-based foods and cannabis is just the beginning.  More and more is being uncovered, and yet still much has been unexplored. This is where a major part of neurobiology research needs to continue in years to come, helping us to understand the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and the complex relationship between each system.  If you would like to learn more please join us at, and sign up for our latest articles and newsletters.