If you thought the last blog on CBD and THC blew your mind, hold on to your hats (and be sure to read it if you haven't to help here) because we're just getting started!
Research is changing what we understand as scientific fact at dramatic rates and we "common folk" don't always get the update. In fact, many medical professionals aren't fully up to speed either. For example, what I learned today while exploring more on CBD.
Most of us can at least recall that we learned about our body's 11 main systems (yeah, more time under the thinking cap) at some point in school: circulatory, digestive, endocrine, integumentary (skin, nails, hair), lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary.
But, how many of us are aware of the fact that there is a 12th system, the endocannabinoid system (ECS)? Yeah, pause here for a moment....you'll need it.
The ECS was discovered in the 1990s by a Dr. L.A. Matsuda while exploring how THC effects the body. What he discovered was a cannabinoid receptor (CB-1) network in both the central nervous system (spine and brain) and peripheral nervous system (the system outside of the brain and spinal cord which includes the immune system).
Since then, other receptors (CB-2) have been located in numerous other systems like the immune system, as well as the digestive tract and throughout many of our organs.
A receptor works like a lock and key. The lock is the receptor, the key is a chemical compound that fits the lock, in this case the keys are called endocannabinoids.
Within our bodies we have receptors for all kinds of chemicals we make - 2 you've probably heard of are serotonin and dopamine.
The chemicals fit into their specific receptors to turn things on and off. Just like a house key won't fit the car and the car key won't unlock a storage unit, each specific chemical matches to a specific receptor and they stimulate everything from hunger to how our DNA responds to toxins.
What makes this new system so fascinating is that if we have receptors for cannabinoids, we must then make our own cannabinoid-like chemcials (we do) that plug into those receptors!
Stay with me here because what scientists also learned was that our cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) play a key role in how our 11 other systems function by fine-tuning them to ensure our bodies stay in balance (homeostasis).
In fact, cannabinoids impact everything from appetite, inflammation, memory, mood, pain and reproduction to sleep and the research is just beginning.
These internal chemicals (endocannabinoids) modulate the regulation of homeostasis (balance) across all our major body systems to ensure they collaborate/communicate. Basically, they help all of our individual systems stay balanced and, in doing so, help our bodies respond at their best in protecting us, for example, against colds, the flu and other disease.
Let me state this again: this single system helps to regulate and balance all of the other major systems of the body. (Take the "aha moment" here if you need it).
Why haven't we heard more about this until recently (today)? Because despite being used for millennia by healers and early doctors, interest and use of hemp/CBD waned with the onset of opioid use.
While traditional medicine accounted for the effects of cannabis on the body (it's role in the intercommunication among our self-regulating processes such as temperature control, pain control, appetite), etc., this knowledge has gotten lost in a sea of modern medicine...until recently.
In fact, a 2013 study revealed only 13% of medical schools were including the ECS in their curriculum.
As interest in, and laws about, CBD continue to evolve, more of us are becoming aware of the role cannabinoids play in our overall health and well-being.
How does all this translate to everyday living? Well, the ECS can be knocked out of balance by things like a diet high in sugar and unhealthy fats which can leave us hungry and cascade into the other systems.
The ECS also gets tossed into a tizzy during times of stress when it's overstimulated and causes imbalances among the other 11 systems.
So, what can any of us do to keep our ECS running smoothly?
Balance intake of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids by adding fish oil, flax and hemp oil/seeds into a regular healthy diet as they turned into endocannabinoids (the keys seeking our CB-1 and CB-2 receptors/locks)
Reduce intake of sugar and unhealthy fats
Exercise regularly as it releases endocannabinoids that help to regulate all our systems
Add naturally occurring CBD oil as part of a healthy lifestyle since it enhances the body's ability to produce endocannabinoids in the ECS
Share factual information about CBD with others, including medical professionals
Research in this field continues to surprise scientists who are discovering that ECS receptors are prevalent in all animals and that endocannabiniod receptors in humans are more prevalent than those for serotonin and dopamine.
One day, scientists hope to be able to re-balance/restore the ECS system to support our body's natural ability to address cancer, neurodegenerative disease, arthritis and promote good health.
There is also research exploring "ECS deficiency syndrome" as a potential root cause for migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and more. Only time will tell.
What we do know is that natural cannabinoids (like those found in a high quality CBD oil) have been shown to provide therapeutic effects and have been used for thousands of years for everything from headaches, arthritis, depression and nausea to epilepsy (and more).
Have questions about what you just read? Good! You should. Feel free to drop a line to AlongNourishedPath@gmail.com and follow this blog because we're just getting started!
Image: Anandamide (a endocannabinoid found in the human body). Source: PubChem.
I'm Mary Ann. I am a storyteller using skills, interests, education and experience to help others. Together, we'll explore your story and write a new ending for your journey along the nourished path.