(NaturalNews) You may have noticed the flurry of new dietary supplements containing cannabinoids (CBDs) -- active chemical constituents of the cannabis plant. People everywhere are discovering the power of CBDs to reduce pain, enhance mood, relax the nerves and even help prevent chronic disease.
But what most people don't know -- thanks to the systematic suppression of indigenous knowledge about plant-based medicine -- is that CBDs have a long and rich history of medicinal use around the world. The history is fascinating, and it shows why the present-day system of monopoly medicine has worked so diligently to criminalize the cannabis plant and imprison its supporters. The following text is contributed by Natural News researchers:
5,000 years of medicinal use
Cannabis was used as a medicine well before the Christian era, especially in Asia and India (1). The introduction of cannabis to Western medicine took place during the 19th century and reached its peak during the last decade of that century, manifesting itself in the widespread use of cannabis extracts and tinctures. In the first decades of the 20th century, however, the medical use of cannabis declined, mostly due to difficulties to obtain consistent results from batches of plant material.
As early as 5,000 years ago, cannabis was found to have positive effects on the central nervous system. It showed consistent results in pain relief, stimulation of appetite and calming of nerves. Evidence for the medical use of cannabis goes back to Emperor Chen Nung, the father of Chinese agriculture and a discoverer of medicinal plants. Chen is believed to be the author of the oldest known Chinese pharmacy guide, in which he writes about cannabis' medicinal uses to treat rheumatism, menstrual fatigue, constipation, malaria, and even absentmindedness.
Powerful medicinal alkaloids
During the 19th century, medicinal cannabis was widely used. At the time it was recognized that preparations of cannabis that were being distributed through pharmacies was varied; as the active ingredient was not yet known, quality control was almost impossible, which is part of the reason why use of cannabis plants fell out of practice.
One practical explanation for this was that the cannabis cultivated in places like China, India and Morocco might take as long as one year to reach Western markets. And since storage conditions were less than optimal in sailing vessels of the day, quality of the plant constituents degraded during storage.
During the Victorian Era, many alkaloids were extracted from plants for their unique properties. Plant chemists were successful because alkaloids they sought were water soluble organic bases that formed crystalline solids when combined with certain acids. Among the compounds isolated in the 19th century were quinine, cocaine and morphine; these represented significant advances in plant chemistry.
The molecules on the cannabis plant, though, were almost completely insoluble in water. The chemical nature of cannabinoids prevented early plant chemists during the Victorian period from creating efficient extracts of these polar compounds. The active ingredient, delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinilol (or Delta-9-THC), was not isolated and summarily identified until 1964 (5).
Cannabinoid receptors discovered in the human body
In the 1990s, researchers made discoveries essential for the establishment of the cannabinoid research field. By the end of the decade scientists had discovered two distinct cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), isolated endogenous cannabinoids (Anandamide and 2-Arachidonylglycerol), synthesized a cadre of ligands, and generated cannabinoid receptor knockout mice (i.e., CB1 KO) (Gerard et al., 1990; Matsuda et al., 1990; Zimmer et al., 1999).
Efforts to identify and clone the CB1 receptor demonstrate that it is one of the most abundant proteins in the brain. Thus, cannabinoid receptors became an attractive target for drug development. The availability of synthetic THC and novel analogs has allowed researchers to begin characterizing the role of this neuronal G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). The complex physiological mechanisms involving cannabinoid receptors and their ligands in mammals is referred to as the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (4).
According to History of Cannabis as a Medicine: A Review:
The identification of the chemical structure of cannabis components and the possibility of obtaining its pure constituents were related to a significant increase in scientific interest in such plant, since 1965. This interest was renewed in the 1990's with the description of cannabinoid receptors and the identification of an endogenous cannabinoid system in the brain. A new and more consistent cycle of the use of cannabis derivatives as medication begins, since treatment effectiveness and safety started to be scientifically proven.
Cannabinoids effective against brain aging and Alzheimer's
That said, cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors on cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. In fact, the human brain contains an extensive network of special receptor sites that modulate nervous system function only when activated by the appropriate cannabinoid compounds, many of which are found in abundance in the marijuana plant. And emerging research continues to uncover the unique role these cannabinoids play in protecting brain function, which in turn helps deter the aging process and even reverse the damaging effects of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and cognitive abnormality (2).
Notes the Cannabis International Foundation:
Cannabis provides highly digestible globular protein, which is balanced for all of the Essential Amino Acids. Cannabis provides the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. Critically, cannabis is the only known source of the Essential Cannabinoid Acids. It is clear that all 7 billion individuals would benefit from access to cannabis as a unique functional food.
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