History of Cannabinoids & Opioids
Lets look at the similarities and differences.
Humans have used drugs that have been derived from plants for many thousands of years to decrease and cope with pain.
In 1964 THC was discovered at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. In the year 1973, scientists discovered the first opiate receptors in the human brain.
Humans have used opiates for pain since the time of Ancient Greece.
Opioid receptors are distributed widely in the brain and can be found in the digestive tract and spinal cord. Opium is found in the seedpod of poppy plants.
In 1975 scientists discovered that the human brain had what are known as “endogenous opiates”, commonly known today as “endorphins”.
American researcher Allyn Howlett and her graduate student William Devane discovered the first cannabinoid receptors in the brain in 1988.
They named them cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1).
In 1992 researchers in Israel found an endogenous cannabinoid and proceeded to name it N-arachidonoyl ethanolamine or anandamide.
In 1993 scientists found cannabinoid receptors in the immune system (CB2), and subsequently discovered a second endocannabinoid called 2-arachidonoyl glycerol.
So far there have been five endocannabinoids discovered, although as far as medicinal value, the first two found, anandamide and 2-AG appear to have the most importance.
Scientists have since realized that CB1 receptors are found mostly on neurons in the spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nervous system. This very reason explains the role of cannabinoids in pain modulation, memory processing, and motor control.
CB2 receptors are located mainly in immune cells such as the spleen and tonsils.
An amazingly extraordinary fact is that in the human body there are more receptors for cannabinoids than for any other substance.
In the middle area of the human brain there are systems that are critical to keep humans alive, such as heartbeat and breathing.
Cannabinoid receptors are almost completely missing in this area of the brain, whereas opioids have a profound affect on the midbrain.
This explains why cannabis is so safe and does not cause overdoses and deaths like opioid-based medicines so commonly do.