On the 9th of March, Raphael Mechoulam, widely known as the ‘father of cannabis research’ sadly passed away at the age of 92.
In this article, we will pay our respects by commemorating who he was and some of his greatest achievements.
Who Was Raphael Mechoulam?
Born in Bulgaria on the 5th of November, 1930, Raphael Mechoulam was a professor and chemist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
His particular areas of interest were the study of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, and developing medicines that target specific parts of the ECS.
My laboratory has worked on the chemistry, pharmacology and clinical effects of natural products (including cannabis) for over 50 years. We have isolated numerous cannabinoids, including the active constituent of cannabis, delta9-THC, and elucidated its structure. We have also identified endogenous cannabinoids in the pig brain. These fatty acid derivatives, named anandamide and 2-AG, are the agonists of a major new biological system called the endocannabinoid system. Most of my current research focuses on the numerous anandamide-like compounds in the mammalian body, many of which are involved in basic biological reactions, such as bone formation, vasodilation, head trauma, addiction, etc. We have also developed novel cannabinoids and anandamide-like compounds which are being developed as drugs by pharma companies.
He is known as ‘the father of cannabis research' as the vast majority of knowledge that we have about the therapeutic potential of cannabis is thanks to his work.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
For those of you who don't know, the ECS is an advanced biological system that plays a major role in maintaining the normal function of the body.
Present in both humans and animals, the ECS consists of a range of enzymes, receptors, and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced in the body). It influences a wide range of aspects such as pain, mood, appetite, the immune system, sleep, and more.
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, found in the cannabis plant, have similar molecular structures to the endocannabinoids. Because of this, they can act on or influence cannabinoid receptors in the body.
Some Of His Greatest Achievements
Arguably, Dr. Mechoulam's greatest achievement of all would be the amount of suffering reduced thanks to his work, particularly for those with Epilepsy.
But there will almost certainly be many more medical conditions that will be alleviated thanks to his research in the years to come.
On top of what we've already outlined, some (but not all) of his other notable achievements include:
- Being the president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society
- Winning the Israel Prize for Exact Sciences
- Being the chairman of the board of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines
- Winning the Rothschild Prize in Chemical and Physical Sciences
- Isolating and synthesizing a wide range of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
It's people like Dr. Mechoulam, who worked tirelessly to use his expertise for the good, that change the world for the better.
RIP, and thank you for your vast contributions to humanity.