Cannabis sativa has long been used for medicinal purposes. To improve safety and efficacy, compounds from C. sativa were purified or synthesized and named under an umbrella group as cannabinoids. Currently, several cannabinoids may be prescribed in Canada for a variety of indications such as nausea and pain. More recently, an increasing number of reports suggest other salutary effects associated with endogenous cannabinoid signaling including cardioprotection.
The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids is therefore extended; however, evidence is limited and mechanisms remain unclear. In addition, the use of cannabinoids clinically has been hindered due to pronounced psychoactive side effects. This review provides an overview on the endocannabinoid system, including known physiological roles, and conditions in which cannabinoid receptor signaling has been implicated.