Cannabis, or marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is known for its psychoactive properties and its illegal recreational use to get “high” or “stoned”. The main psychoactive chemical in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. This was isolated in 1964. Another important component, nonpsychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), was identified in 1963. All together, there are more than 60 pharmacologically active compounds called “cannabinoids”.
In the 1980s the endoCannabinoid system was discovered. It is a complex neurotransmitter or signalling system consisting of receptors, endogenous ligands and enzymes that exists throughout the central nervous system (including the brain) as well as the peripheral nervous system.
This endocannabinoid system has been found to express elevated signalling in various neurodegererative diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, allergic encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis. The purpose of this activation seems to be to reduce neuronal hyperactiviety and local inflammation which could cause damage as well as to reduce tremors and spasticity. Continue reading