Our bodies are made up of many unique physiological systems whose sole purpose is to maintain the internal balance known as homeostasis in the body. We know that the pancreas releases insulin to balance glucose levels in the blood and between cells. The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormones that regulate important bodily functions related to metabolism, body temperature and more. In short, our bodies are constantly working to maintain balance in response to our external environment.
During research into how THC causes its well-known 'high' effect, scientists discovered that we have another regulatory physiological system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), whose role is to maintain homeostasis in the messages that pass between cells. Further research has shown that disease, inflammation and injury trigger the ECS to act in an effort to restore our internal environment to homeostasis. This system has been found to be protective and essential to life. What if we could target this system to prevent disease and maintain health?
The ECS is the most widely distributed receptor system in the body. It consists of three main components: the cannabinoid receptors; the compounds known as endocannabinoids; and the enzymes that make and break down endocannabinoids.
Endogenous cannabinoids, often referred to as our "body's cannabis", are synthesised from healthy dietary fats on an as-needed basis. Cannabinoid receptors are located on cell membranes in the brain and in certain parts of the body, namely areas of the brain that control pain, memory, mood, motor control, nausea and appetite, as well as the gut, immune system and peripheral nervous system. Endogenous cannabinoids are released when there is a trigger that causes an imbalance, such as injury or disease, and act as a 'key' to bind to the receptor and 'lock in' on our cells. Once the receptor is activated, a chemical reaction occurs in the cell that tells the cell to change its message.
The function of the ECS depends on many factors, including genetics, age, stress levels, diet and overall health. If variants in the genes encoding the ECS occur, they may lead to certain disorders such as ADHD and PTSD. in addition, chronic illness, chronic stress and/or chronic sleep deprivation may lead to endogenous cannabinoid depletion. these disruptions in the normal function of the ECS can interfere with its ability to regulate cellular imbalances and achieve homeostasis in the body.
In 2004, neuroscientist and research scientist Ethan Russo published Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) in Neuro Endocrinology Letters: can this concept explain the therapeutic role of CBD in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant disorders?Russo's theory suggests that certain individuals with the listed disorders respond to treatment based on CBD use because they suffer from endogenous cannabinoid deficiency.
Subsequent studies have shown that endogenous cannabinoid deficiency plays a role in autoimmune disorders, epilepsy, complex localized pain syndromes, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, nausea, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, menstrual symptoms, neonatal dysplasia, and other difficult-to-treat conditions.
The industrial hemp plant produces more than 100 phytocannabinoids, including the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds mimic endogenous cannabinoids by interacting with the ECS and restoring homeostasis in the body. There are many ways to get your ECS working properly, avoiding deficiencies and maintaining balance in your body, rather than waiting until disease appears before treating it.
It is well known that a healthy and balanced diet is essential for emotional and physical health. Our bodies rely on our diet to produce the right amount of endogenous cannabinoids to function optimally. Cannabinoids are synthesised from fatty acids in our diet and require a specific balance of omega-6 and omega-3 to produce the right amount of cannabinoids.
For maximum bioavailability, the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in food is between 5:1 and 1:1, with the lower being better for people with chronic diseases. Western diets are often composed of a 20:1 ratio, largely due to the excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable oils in many packaged foods. The high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet leads to a reduction in endogenous cannabinoids and thus an inability to maintain homeostasis in the body.
Another factor that promotes ECS health is aerobic exercise. Animal studies report that voluntary rotation increases cannabinoid receptors in the brain and increases the sensitivity of the receptors to endogenous cannabinoids. Human studies have shown that exercise such as running, cycling and hiking can enhance endocannabinoid levels in the blood. In fact, endocannabinoids may be the cause of the phenomenon known as "runner's high".
Probiotics can also benefit ECS. Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic found in fermented foods such as yoghurt and sauerkraut, induces the expression of cannabinoid receptors in the intestine, thereby promoting homeostasis in the gut.
Yoga and meditation trigger the 'relaxation response', a physiological phenomenon that allows a person to consciously engage in behaviours that promote physical and mental well-being. Although no studies have been conducted to date, most experts suspect that these stress management modalities can enhance the ECS and thus promote internal balance.
Finally, what is the ability of CBD to prevent disease? The phytocannabinoid CBD is known to be very safe and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. In the case of endogenous cannabinoid deficiency, CBD is used as a compound to correct the problem and thus eliminate the symptoms of the condition. Regular use of CBD reduces chronic inflammation and the accumulation of free radicals, both of which are thought to be the root cause of many diseases, including autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders.
CBD is associated with lower fasting insulin levels and lower insulin resistance, suggesting that it may prevent the development of diabetes. Earlier this year, German scientists found that long-term administration of low doses of CBD reversed age-related cognitive decline in aged mice.
In addition, studies have demonstrated that in states where medical marijuana is legal in the United States, there has been a significant reduction in the use of prescription drugs, which has led to a reduction in opioid-related deaths by about a quarter.
Many CBD users report that using CBD promotes quality sleep, reduces anxiety and depression, and decreases pain and inflammation, thereby improving overall health and allowing them to remain active in their lives. Although the exact dose used for preventive indications has not been studied, including a low intermittent dose of CBD will enhance ECS without causing adverse effects. A healthy diet (including the right balance of fatty acids), aerobic exercise and stress management will help your ECS to keep your body in balance.
Take care of your endocannabinoid system and it will take care of you.