Research in cancer has been able to produce groundbreaking treatments. There are cancer types now that are easily treated. A few decades ago these cancers were very difficult to treat or even considered terminal. This is a true testament to the advancement in medicine and medical research.
Science and technology have also allowed for our greater understanding of our body’s complex functions. Now a relatively new body system has been documented to contain also anti-cancer characteristics. The endocannabinoid system is still relatively unknown to the general public. Its unique role in the physiology of the human body could give researchers new options in the fight against cancer.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a receptor system in the body that controls a variety of different body functions. Those functions include mood, appetite, sleep, immune response to name a few. It is still in relative infancy as it has only been a few decades since its discovery.
However, since its discovery it has been spotlighted for its anti-cancer characteristics. Immense data has been published on its role in anti-tumor growth and tumorigenesis. This has led the ECS (Endocannabinoid System) to become a new target for cancer treatments.
There are still many secrets to be revealed by truly understanding all the functions of the endocannabinoid system. However, deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system have been documented to result in a variety of different syndromes. In some previous posts I wrote on some research in deficiencies (known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency) can lead to difficult to treat syndromes such as Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Migrains.
You can read more about those in the below posts
Endocannabinoids & Exocannabinoids (CBD, THC)
As a part of the endocannabinoid system your body contains transmitters that essentially allow your bodies organs and central nervous system to communicate. The naturally produced transmitters within your endocannabinoid system are called Endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids bind within receptors in your body.
However, there are plant or synthetic cannabinoids (exocannabinoids) that can bind into the receptors of their endocannabinoid counterparts. Two particular exocannabinoids that are well researched are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound which is attributed with having intoxicating effects. However CBD is non psychoactive and does not produce any intoxicating effects. CBD (cannabidiol) is also the plant based cannabinoid that shows the most health producing benefits.
Individuals have reported to have seen beneficial success to relieve a variety of different symptoms utilizing CBD because of its ability to support balance within the endocannabinoid system.
Could The Endocannabinoid System Unlock Potential Cancer Treatment?
Gaining further understanding of the endocannabinoid system may potentially unlock or enhance existing cancer treatments. There has been clinical trials performed in several countries from 2009 – 2018 that details some of the results. You can see the details of the endocannabinoid system clinical trials in a table here.
There has been a lot of research performed since the initial discovery of the endocannabinoid system. Much of the data has been shown overwhelming evidence that the ECS and its counterparts is an attractive anti-cancer target. However, multiple strategies have not yet been clinically tested to fully reveal its full potential.
There are still potential ethical and legal issues. It is true that overall perception of the usefulness of cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) has changed in recent years. It is still illegal in the United States (some individual states may be different). The farm bill of 2018 legalized hemp at the federal level.
The 2018 Farm Bill opened the doors for hemp production within the United States (with restrictions). Hemp is part of the cannabis family and has high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. The rich levels of CBD make Hemp ideal for its medicinal production of CBD Oil.
Although the hemp is legal at the federal level there is still a lot of confusion with legality of hemp and CBD. Most of which is due to a lack of understanding. However, with the volume of people speaking out on its benefits (including researchers and physicians), there is optimism to remove the stigma and taboo. This will unlock the doors to fully explore the true potential of the endocannabinoid system.