Two Steps forward, One Step Back: the Retrograde Signaling of the Endocannabinoid System

Over the years, many things that were once thought to have been understood as settled science have come back to surprise us.  For instance, it was a simple truth that the earth was the center of the universe and all the celestial bodies revolved around it.  Yet, in the 16th century Copernicus postulated that the sun was in the center and that it was the earth that was actually moving.

Another example of this was within our knowledge of how information is transmitted from one cell to the next.  It was understood that cells communicated by sending signaling molecules such as neurotransmitters from one cell to the next and that communication happened in only one single direction.  In this case, they were not entirely wrong, but they were missing a key element.

With the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the 1990’s new research began on the way our cells communicate with our body.  However, the real breakthrough came in 2001 when a series of research papers were published revealing that the ECS enables cells to communicate backward!

This was very shocking because it immediately raised questions regarding the purpose of such a development within the human body.  It was later discovered that this ‘backward communication’ or retrograde signaling is part of a mechanism of resilience in the brain designed to respond to serious injuries or misfiring electrical activity like seizures.

This finding was the first indication that the ECS was in effect, a defense mechanism protecting the brain and body against things like inflammation, epilepsy, neurodegeneration and stroke much like the immune system is protective against bacteria and viruses.  Further research has revealed that endocannabnoids (made within the body) and phytocannabinoids (which come from the cannabis plant) like CBD, CBG and CBN are integral in our cells ability to fine tune the message resulting in optimum functioning of both brain and body.

It is truly amazing how our bodies work.  Research on the endocannabinoid system has only just begun and has been increasing among many institutes of higher learning.  As we continue to understand how and why the ECS works, we are able to use this information to create products designed to help in specific areas of concern.  Who knows what we may find as we continue to better understand how important the ECS is to the everyday functioning of our life.