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How cannabis works

Cannabis has a clear and obvious effect on the human body. How does it work? Where in the body do these effects come from? Over the last decade, scientists have learned a lot about how cannabis makes you feel that “high” you’re looking for and how you experience the rest of the affects.


So how does the cannabinoids from cannabis have an effect on us? The body produces a group of cannabis-like chemicals called endogenous cannabidnoids (endocannabinoids). When brought together, they regulate many bodily functions, ranging from sleep, blood pressure, immune response, and bone growth, among others. When the different endocannabinoids work together in a proper way, they help to keep us balanced and healthy. Scientists have discovered that an unbalance in endocannabinoid activity is involved in many medical conditions.


Endocannabinoids exert their own biological effects by binding to the cannabinoid receptors, which act like levers or switches to change bodily functions such as your pain responses or appetite. It is now known that cannabinoid receptors can now be found in most parts of the brain, as well as in the immune system and a variety of other organs as well. Endocannabinoids and their receptors together are called the endocannabinoid system. This system can even be found in very primitive organisms, which indicates that it might have a very fundamental and important role in basic physiology.

Plant cannabinoids and endocannabinoids

Some of the plant-derived cannabinoids bind to the endocannabinoid receptors, and can therefore include responses that are normally regulated by the endocannabinoids. The wide distribution area of these cannabinoid receptors in the human body, seems to explain many of the effects users experience when they consume cannabis.

Cannabinoids also have effects that are completely independent, without binding to the receptors. For example, some cannabinoids are known to be potent anti-oxidants. Others do not bind directly to the receptors, but they can influence the way other cannabinoids bind.

Cannabinoid receptors are mainly found in the nervous system and immune system, which makes it easy to understand why the use of cannabis may have an effect on medical conditions. It all depends on whether and where the immune system or nervous system is involved. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy for scientists to translate these effects in order to development a viable medicine for some disease or ailment.


A recreational cannabis user unbalances his body, and enjoys the effects as a pleasurable experience but that is not the only way to look at it. Under a medical condition, the body is already out of balance, the use of cannabinoids may restore balance again. If you look at it in this way, the difference between recreational and medical use becomes quite clear.