As cannabis research continues to progress, we are learning more and more about the human body’s endocannabinoid system. Put simply, this is a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters. It plays a key role in regulating functions like appetite, pain, anxiety, stress, sleep, emotion, and more.
Interestingly, this bodily system is activated by the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The interaction between marijuana’s naturally-occurring cannabinoids and your body’s endocannabinoid system is what produces the various effects you feel after consuming cannabis.
As it turns out, the human body also makes its own chemicals that act a lot like cannabinoids. And sometimes, people can produce incredibly high levels of these natural chemicals.
When this happens, it gives them an almost supernatural ability to deal with pain, stress, and anxiety. After some extensive medical testing, researchers have recently found that this is exactly what’s happening with a woman in Scotland.
The Woman Who Feels No Pain
Jo Cameron is a 72 year old woman who lives in the highlands of Scotland. Six years ago, she underwent hand surgery, which is known for having a particularly painful recovery period.
But to the amazement of her doctors, Cameron never requested painkillers. Additionally, her pain scores from the operation and throughout her recovery were consistently zero out of ten.
Not surprisingly, this caught the attention of her doctors. They scoured her medical records and saw other similar incidences. For example, she survived a car crash but sustained multiple broken bones. As with her hand surgery, Cameron reported zero pain. The same goes for a hip surgery she had later.
Ultimately, her doctors ran intensive tests. They discovered that Cameron has a rare genetic mutation that makes it so her body does not break down a bodily-produced cannabinoid called anandamide.
Often known as the “bliss molecule,” anandamide produces many of the same feelings and sensations as consuming marijuana. In particular, it is known for producing feelings of positivity and happiness.
Because Cameron’s body does not naturally break down this molecule, she has an overabundance of it in her brain. As a result, she feels no pain. Additionally, she also reports feeling no anxiety and says she is generally in a very good, happy mood.
But that’s not all. Her doctors also found some unexpected results of having that much anandamide in her system.
“What Jo tells us is that the endocannabinoids have a major role in pain as well as for relieving anxiety,” Cameron’s doctor Devjit Srivastava told NBC News Mach. “And more interestingly from a surgical perspective, an accelerated wound healing.”
Implications for Cannabis
In many ways, Cameron’s story has big implications for our understanding of both the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids themselves.
For starters, she serves as a strong example of the physical impact cannabinoids have on the human body. It also suggests that similar benefits can come from taking in cannabinoids from substances like marijuana.
And underlying all of it, Cameron’s condition shows some of the links between emotional and physical pain, as well as some of the ways that cannabinoids might be used to manipulate and treat various types of pain.