Last week, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta grabbed headlines for coming out in support of the validity of the medical use of marijuana, something he had opposed in the past. What changed his mind? Science.
Here’s what he — and those studying the chemistry of marijuana — now understand.
Marijuana makes chemical contact with human bodies through cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds in marijuana (cannabis). The human body also creates cannabinoids. The body creates cannabinoids on-demand, such as when they are produced to serve as neuroprotectants when the brain’s nerve cells begin to fire too much, as in the case of stress, seizures or an impact to the brain. Our bodies also have cannabinoid receptors. Together, the cannabinoids and their receptors make up the human cannabinoid system.
Just as there was a time when we didn’t know we had immune systems or hormonal systems, until 1988 we didn’t know that we had cannabinoid systems.
The human body produces and utilizes its own cannabinoids, but the body can also utilize cannabinoids from external sources. One source of exogenous cannabinoids is marijuana, or to use marijuana’s botanical name, cannabis. Because these cannabinoids are plant-based, they would be considered phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids from marijuana fit nicely into human cannabinoid receptors. Thus, the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant can be utilized by the human cannabinoid system.
– Read the entire article at Salon Magazine.