One of the most important health benefits of cannabinoids is their anti-inflammatory property. In this, they are strong modulators of the inflammatory cytokine cascade. Numerous disease states arise out of chronic inflammation; such as, depression, dementias including Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, viral infection, HIV, brain injury, etc.
Inflammatory cytokines can be activated by oxidative stress and disease states. Cannabinoids, being immunomodulators interrupt the cytokine inflammatory cascade so that local inflammation does not result in tissue pathology. Thus we are spared morbid or terminal illnesses.4
If our own endocannabinoid system can maintain metabolic homeostasis and even cure seri- ous disease, why are we plagued by illness? We know that the body produces only small amounts of anandamide and 2-AG; enough to maintain the body but not enough to overcome chronic stress, illness, injury, or malnutrition. Cannabis is the only plant we know of that produces phyto-cannabinoids that mimic our own endocannabinoids. One of the great benefits of this mimetic medicine is that cannabinoids are essentially natural to our biology and do no harm to our tissues and systems.
It is well known that most diseases of aging are inflammatory in origin, thus making cannabis the best anti-aging supplement we could take to avoid arthritis, dementia, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. This is our key to good health and long life.
Since it is such an important attribute, as well as being independent of the cannabinoid receptor system, let’s look a little deeper into the ability of cannabinoids to inhibit the inflammatory cytokine cascade. Inflammation is good for us, a little here, a little there; it brings T-cells and macrophages to infection sites. This is good. However, chronic inflammation can cause serious illness and death. How do phytocannabinoids rescue us from dreaded infirmities? When the call comes in to the immune system to send troops, the first thing to happen is that the immune system signals glial cells to produce cytokines. Once this cat is out of the bag, the process can go one of two ways.
A) Killer cells clean up the infection and all is well.
B) Cytokines can stimulate more cytokine production and cause many more cytokine receptors to awaken. Unchecked, this becomes a cytokine storm showing symptoms of swelling, redness, fatigue, and nausea; even death.
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