Cannabinoids are amazing. They do amazing things, but, we know little about them considering how powerful they are.
We’re well aware that finding honest answers to questions surrounding the benefits of cannabinoids is a tricky business. So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with the building blocks of knowledge that will help you navigate the complex issue of how cannabinoids work, what they do and why your body loves them so much. As you’d expect, we like getting into science.
Before we jump into the Endocannabinoid System, lets explain a little bit about Homeostasis.
What is Homeostasis
The gravity of the importance surrounding the Endocannabinoid System cannot be fully explained without an understanding of what ‘Homeostasis’ is.
Homeostasis is the process of self-regulation within the body. Where biological systems maintain internal equilibrium to ensure, without being too dramatic, you don’t die.
The body, like the world around us, is an extremely delicate and complicated ecosystem of chemicals, fluids, processes, and signals that keeps us functioning as we do. Homeostasis is simply the creation of internal equilibrium in the face of an external imbalance; like how a spacesuit can protect a smokanaught from the harsh void of space, the body fights to resist outside influences and restore the perfect conditions it needs.
If Homeostasis is successful then life continues; otherwise, things start to get uncomfortable.
If our internal balance is disrupted beyond the point of no return, then the body cannot function and it will break beyond repair. There are many things which can cause an imbalance such as temperature, diet, lifestyle and countless more examples we simply don’t have the time for.
Right now, as you are reading this your body is producing hormones, chemicals and cells, lighting up signals to produce regulation responses and making sure the environment our body lives in, is safe.
If the cells are the sailors, then the Endocannabinoid System is the captain. It looks around for imbalance and sets the millions of bodily functions to hold that ship away from the asteroids.
An Example of How this works
The most common example of Homeostasis is how the body regulates its internal temperature.
Ideally, our body likes to have a core temperature of 37 degrees. Even a degree warmer or colder could have a catastrophic impact and will signify that something is very, very wrong.
The body’s temperature control is operated by the Hypothalamus region of the brain, which is constantly sampling the temperature of the bloodstream, blood sugar levels, breathing rate and metabolic activity.
Just say you’re out in space where the temperature is well below freezing. Your body’s thermostat will notice the external environment has changed, and your body is slowly getting colder. So, our clever meat suit lights the warning beacons which trigger an involuntary response to twitch your muscles in an attempt to increase the body temperature. We know this as shivering. It will draw the blood from the least important parts of the body, into the core where it is able to keep the temperature stable.
The opposite: the core temperature is too high, and you’ll start to sweat, the blood will flow closer to your skin and give your face a nice red glow.
As you are very aware, if your body continues to be too hot or cold, the body will simply stop working. It will cause sickness, disease and death.
This is one very simple example of self-regulation. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the immense complexity of the immune system, the regulation of your brain and mood, and how our body deals with sugar, cellular suicide or even cell production. Infinite layers, upon infinite layers of bodily beurocracy.
An unbalanced body is often the driver of millions of people’s sickness.
How to ensure Healthy Homeostasis
A healthy body requires some work. The body can look after itself fairly well, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that all of our vital systems have the best opportunity to work. You can’t use on an old space suit and think it won’t leak at some point; you’ve got to maintain it every day.
Our lifestyles are often a driver of imbalance and cause chronic sickness or disease.
So how can we achieve optimal homeostasis? Here are just a few lifestyle changes that will help:
- Healthy Balanced Diet
- A Supported Endocannabinoid System
- Healthy Levels of Hydration
- Healthy Sleeping Pattern
- Reduction of Stress.
All of these things can make sure that your Endocannabinoid System is sufficiently healthy to do it’s job properly.
The Endocannabinoid System
A little heavy on the space metaphor, but the Endocannabinoid System is a constellation of receptors which are spread in your body like stars, moons and planets of the universe. Each of these receptors uses chemical compounds, we call Cannabinoids (and one terpene that we know of), to keep the body functioning as it should.
The ECS is a part of the body’s surveillance unit that sees a change in the body’s balance and works via signals to restore the imbalance. The body responds by synthesising signal beacons in the form of Endocannabinoids which attach to the receptors and support the ECS as it lights up and brings the machine into action (to rebalance the body).
In recent years, studies have found that many of us are cannabinoid decificent – whether that be from an inability to produce enough Endocannabinoids, inefficient receptors, an abundance of enzymes that break down the cannabinoids or a lack of them in our diet.
There are infinitely complicated reasons why your ECS may not be firing properly, which explains why CBD does different things for everybody. You see, Cannabinoids do not really do anything – they just support your body to function properly.
It is possible to support your ECS will a supplement of plant-derived Phytocannabinoids, which are found in olives, and flax seeds but more so in Hemp and Cannabis.
CB1 & CB2
This is where we get into confusing territory, but the two kinds of receptors are important. Each has a different role within the body, is found within different organs and accepts different cannabinoids.
The CB1 receptors are often found within, and work alongside, the central nervous system. This is your brain, nerves, parts of your immune system, reproductive system and sensation and spinal cord.
CB2 is a little less interesting but just as important. They are found within the peripheral nervous system, digestive system, cells and specialised immune system cells. Therefore, you’ll see those in the gut, arms, legs, skin, pancreas and liver.
Cannabinoids operate differently with each receptor – for instance, CBD is an antagonist (turn off) with CB1 receptors and agonist (turns on) with CBD2.
Beyond this, it gets extremely sciency so have a read for yourself: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219532/