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Cannabinoids in Medicine

Cannabinoids exert widespread effects across multiple systems in the body, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS acts to regulate homeostasis in the brain, gut, liver, heart, skin, urinary tract and bone. The ECS includes endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), cannabinoid receptors and enzymes responsible for synthesizing and degrading endocannabinoids. The two most studied endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).

Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the central nervous system and in peripheral tissues, including the immune system, reproductive and gastrointestinal systems, heart, lung, bladder and even cancer cells. Cannabinoid receptors include Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2).

There is an increasing body of evidence supporting the strong medical potential of phytocannabinoids. Examples include (but are not limited to) THC and CBD for pain relief, as well as CBD to increase survival in animal models of cancer. Most, if not all, phytocannabinoids act on more receptors than just CB1 and CB2, e.g., transient receptor potential (TRP) channels and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs). This makes the study of these compounds complex but the potential to treat a range of disease indications high.