A boost for your Endocannabinoid System: Cannabis and Acupuncture

acupuncture cannabis

For many years, Chinese medicine has integrated the use of both acupuncture and cannabis. What is becoming more and more evident to modern day scientists is that, when used synergistically together, they offer one of the most effective ways of improving the human health.  Interestingly, it appears that it is not just acupuncture that kindles the endocannabinoid system (ECS), but cannabis does that as well.

What is an endocannabinoid system? 

In spite of the important role this stem plays, until lately it remained a mysterious part of the human body’s functions. The ECS comprises of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors occur mostly in the brain of almost all mammals while CB2 is present in the body tissues, organs and throughout the central nervous system.

Basically, the ECS is known to regulate everything from immune system responses, pain sensations and inflammation to appetite, mood, memory, as well as overall metabolism.

Marijuana has long been part and parcel of Chinese medicine

Cannabis is referred to as “ma” in Chinese, which simply translates to “help, cannabis, and numbness.” Most likely, this definition comes about because marijuana has been since time in memorial for the preparation of analgesics for extreme procedures, such as surgeries.

Here are some references to marijuana use and acupuncture in China through the ages:

  • Approximately 2,737 BCE: It is believed that Red Emperor Shen Nung introduced cannabis plant along with several others for medicinal purposes. He is viewed as the “patron” of al apothecaries and herbalists.
  • Approximately 2698-2205 BCE: Supposedly Yellow Emperor Huang Ti introduced acupuncture needles, and wrote the Chinese Canon of Medicine (Nei Ching). The manuscript outlined the use of marijuana and other plants for medical purposes.
  • 1 AD: This is the oldest record on herbal pharmacopeia (record of pharmaceutical drugs and their application). “Pen Ts’ao Ching” outlined several uses of marijuana in Chinese medicine.
  • 140-208 AD: Hua Tuo remarkably becomes the very first medical expert to use cannabis together with acupuncture to anesthetize or numb patients during surgery.
  • 700 AD: According to a report published the Journal of Experimental Botany in 2008, researchers associated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences established what could be the oldest hoard or stash of cannabis “grown for psychoactive purposes”, in a far-flung area in China. The hoard was inside a tomb of a gentleman who came out to be a shaman.


Using cannabis and acupuncture together

The practice of acupuncture entails the use of needles just beneath the skin to balance or even out the flow of energy, or “chi”, along key points in the body known as Meridians. The points (just below the skin surface) where acupuncture needles are inserted are meant to clear one’s “chi”, which is believed to be the source of imbalance, pain, and diseases.

Like marijuana, acupuncture appears to kindle the body in various ways, working to heal, optimize, and heal major systems of the body, including, the endocannabinoid system.

The science being acupuncture explains that the analgesic, pain-alleviating effects of inserting needles just beneath the human skin in key points, basically, does something other than making the patient look like a porcupine. Actually, the proper insertion of these needles in conventional Chinese acupuncture triggers the production of “endogenous opioids”, or those elements, which operate like opioids in the human body. Interestingly, when these are released via the placement of tiny needles, pain and inflammation ease a bit.

Impact of this on the future research

The implication of these findings is that acupuncture practice truly kindles the functioning of key regulatory systems in the human body, or possibly what the Chinese meant by “chi”.

As acupuncture starts to help the damaged body areas to function better, it also stirs up the endocannabinoid system with an aim of regulating the body and controlling pain. And so, in the future, it is highly likely that research will study not only at how acupuncture stirs up the ECS but also how medical cannabis itself can help to maintain such stimulations or triggers, even between treatments, to restore damaged systems to optimal health.

Combined therapy

Acupuncture boasts of numerous success stories of assisting patients to lose weight, regain health and free themselves from addictions. Likewise, marijuana is popularly used to boost the effectiveness of various types of holistic healing. Using it together with acupuncture might be the ideal combination to improving your health.


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