All About the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) - Smokin Gun Apothecary
All About the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

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The SGA blog provides educational focus regarding cannabis products, the history of marijuana, marijuana laws, and campaigns on the prohibition of drugs… Lighting the Way™

August 8, 2019

All About the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Does anyone else question why marijuana isn’t more accepted? Cannabis grows naturally in the wild. What if humans had a naturally occurring system made to receive cannabis? Guess what? We do. The Endocannabinoid System is a newly discovered system made to receive cannabis. After joining GoFIRE on a panel discussion on the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and discovered the tip of an iceberg. Research is still new but what we know is astonishing.

First, take a peak at the history of ECS.

History of ECS

tall started with Dr. Rafael Mechoulam, also known as the Godfather OG of cannabis research. Born in 1930, Dr. Mechoulam dedicated his life to medicinal chemistry. Born in 1930, Dr. Mechoulam dedicated his life to medicinal chemistry. Through his life’s dedication, Dr. Mechoulam mapped out all of THC properties and discovered that humans produce cannabinoids. Due to this discovery, we now know that human have receptors all over our body for cannabinoids. In fact, we knew little of the Endocannabinoid System until the last twenty years. Research is finding interesting uses behind the system – making it essential to life.

Endo means inner, so it’s literally the inner cannabinoid system. Humans have receptors all over the body including major organs and brain. CB1 receptors are found in the brain whereas CB2 receptors are found in our bodies. Evidence points to a new and unknown receptor called CB3. What is the purpose of ECS? The Endocannabinoid System is responsible for balancing our bodies. The ECS regulates hormones, mood and contributes to the overall health of the human race.

The Panelists

Dr. Ben Cowin

Dr. Benjamin Cowim (DC, MS, ATC, CAFS) leads the team at Action Spine and Sports Medicine. He is a national expert in peak performance for competitive athletes and active executives. In short, he helps the very best get more out of their bodies to drive peak performance from the playing field to the board room. He brings over 20 years of experience in sports chiropractic, dry needling, neuro-musulosketeal rehabilitation, concussion recovery and nutrition. He has worked with dozens of elite executives and nearly 1,000 professional athletes.

Dr. Sarah Cohen

Dr. Sarah Cohen, M.D. is an Integrative Medicine physician dedicated to the best practices in health care. Dr. Cohen has traveled the earth to study botanical medicine in various continents. She completed a hospital-based Internal Medicine training with the Thomas Jefferson University Health System in Philadelphia, PA, and a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. Dr. Sarah Cohen is well positioned to integrate a wide spectrum of clinical insights and observes that it is at the meeting lace between time-honored healing wisdom and modern science where medicine is most marvelous and effective.

Katherine Golden, RN

Katherine Golden, RN, is an accomplished professional with extensive experience combining nursing best practices with education on cannabis and it’s use within the medical community to drive increases in patient quality of life. Analytical by nature, she utilizes strong communication skills to conduct in-depth patient need’s analysis, identifying areas of concern and implementing plans of care in line with organization and patient considerations. Katherine Golden is continually recognized for the ability to deliver exceptional levels of care while interacting with a wide range of individual

Kathrine found herself emerged in cannabis after finding out about her brother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis. Being the researcher and medical professional in the family, she took the intiative to find alternative means to extending and improving the quality of life for her family. Her search for relief lead her to cannabis. After discovering all the information and benefits of cannabis, she felt angry that all this wealth of knowledge is withheld. Luckily, her brother’s cancer is in remission. Doctors are hearlding it as a miracle.

The Discussion

Kick Off Meeting

What does ECS aid in?

Katherine Golden, RN – When you study cannabis, you quickly learn that there are two sides of the coin. For some, cannabis holds the answer to many issues. Whereas for others, cannabis can have adverse effects. Cannabis plant medicine is completely based upon the individual.

Cannabis and ECS aid in:

  1. Motor Coordination
    • THC does impact our motor skills, however tolerance plays a huge role. The more tolerant the user, the more THC is required to impair motor skills.
    • Impairing our motor skills allows us to relax and unwind fully.
  2. Neuro-Protection
    • Studies find that CBD increases blood flow to the brain. Getting oxygen to the brain is crucial in order for stroke patients to recover. When patients don’t receive enough oxygen after experiencing a stroke, they lose motor coordination usually  to one half of the body.
    • THC and CBD are great antioxidants  (necessary after any brain injury).
    • CBD is an excellent agent for decreasing inflammation allowing more oxygen to get to the brain and aid in recovery.
  3. Nerves Cell Development and Muscle Weakness
    • This is a great support for those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
  4. Reduce Anxiety and Improve Mood
    • Marijuana administered at low doses work best for managing anxiety.
    • Ever experience the adverse effect – paranoia? Too much THC will actually cause anxiety.
      • Science continues to find supporting evidence that a 1:1 ratio at 2.5mg of THC and 2.5mg of CBD is the magic formula for managing anxiety and elevating mood.
  5. Pain Management
    • Cannabis is shown to attach to the pain receptors in our brain to help alleviate the sensation of pain.
    • The euphoria felt after administering THC helps distract the individual from experiencing any heighten sense of pain. Cannabis creates a mental retreat.
  6. Short Term Memory
  7. Reproduction
    • The ECS is responsible for making babies suckle. Without it, we’d lose quite literally die.
    • Women are using cannabis to provide menstruation relief from cramps, water weight, mood and general discomfort.
    • Women are also using cannabis to provide relief from menopause.
      • Topicals such as creams and patches are the most common forms used.
  8. Increase Appetite
    • THC combines with our receptors in our brain and produces a chemical reaction that increases our appetite.
      • Ideal for those undergoing chemo or have eating disorders.

Remember, cannabis a very personal plant medicine. Katherine recommends to always keep a journal. Record your reactions to each individual strain, record how you chose to consume and any effects you experience. Keeping a journal will ensure that you fully understand more about your relationship with cannabis.

ECS and Pregnancy

  1. Studies show cannabis use during pregnancy is linked to low birth weights and preterm delivery. However, in other countries such as Jamaica, there’s no correlation between cannabis and birth weight.
    • This interesting find leads us to question, how much does environment and genetics play in determining the outcome?
    • Dr. Sarah Cohen understands that some have a genetic disposition to cannabis. The answers we seek may reside in the environment.
  2. The ECS assists with embryo development, for it’s part of creating the nervous system.
    • As mentioned before, it’s because of the ECS that newborns know to suckle during feeding.

Cannabis is Cannabis

Dr. Ben Cowin’s research finds some interesting properties to cannabis than previously thought.

  1. Cannabis is cannabis. Sativa is sativa. There’s no real supporting evidence that sativa will hype you and indica will calm your nerves.
    • Your reaction depends upon you (that genetics thing again – darn it)
  2. The difference between plants resides in the terpene profile. Some cannabis does stimulate and others do calm. In order to understand which strain will do what, you have to look at the terpene profile. Fortunately for us, our growers do all the work for us. Wonder what terpenes are in your strain? Look at the packaging.
  3. Our bodies heal ourselves and cannabis plays a key role in aiding our bodies to heal. Oh, and did you know that the ECS also balances our hormonal production?


Dr. Ben Cowin –

  1. CB1 receptors are found in the brain. CB2 receptors are found all over our body and organs. However, there’s a CB3 receptor known as the Ghost Receptor (for nothing is known yet about this receptor)
    • Official name – CBR55
    • THC and CBD don’t bind to this receptor indicating that it’s made for a completely different cannabinoid.
      • We’re left with more questions than answer. We know there’s a new receptor that binds to a different cannabinoid to serve for a different function. How exciting!
  2. Receptors play off one another.
    • Going back to the 1:1 formula for THC and CBD – 1:1 of THC : CBD offers the most therapeutic benefits. The two play off each other to reduce cravings and reduce addiction. THC and CBD are one of our biggest hopes to combat the current opioid epidemic.

Parting Thoughts

David Goodbourn

Katherine Golden

  1. Always talk to your doctor.
    • There are cannabis doctors that will talk to your primary care physician on your behalf.
      • These cannabis doctors are able to communicate to the physician level to earn respect. Having these conversations will ensure that your cannabis and treatment plan stay in harmony.
        • Did you know there are over 40,000 cannabis doctors in Colorado alone?
  2. Don’t stop what you’re doing!
    • Cannabis is an aid. Keep the conversation going between you and your doctors. Keep your options open.

Dr. Ben Cowin

  1. Cannabis is meant to be helpful in the very same sense as we use supplements to assist our bodies.
  2. When in doubt, leave it out.
    • Don’t risk your job or career for cannabis.
      • Here at the Smokin Gun, we recommend you continue to educate yourselves on cannabis. The more we learn and understand the plant’s highest potential, the more progress we make towards federal legalization. The empowered user is the educated one.
  3. Your ultimately responsible for your usage.
    • Stay informed!

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