What happens when the endocannabinoid system becomes imbalanced?
You've probably heard the saying “You can have all the wealth in the world, but if you have no health you have nothing”. Health and maintaining a balanced body are things we don't tend to think about until we are sick. With that in mind, we've put together 3 signs to help you identify and prevent illnesses before they turn into ailments.
The endocannabinoid system
Your endocannabinoid system is part of your body's regulatory system and is as important and prominent as your nervous system or digestive system. This complex system was first identified in the 90s. While we are still trying to understand the precise functions of the endocannabinoid system, we know that it regulates a whole host of functions, including
- the sleep
- liver function
- the function of the reproductive system
- stress levels
- the function of the skin and nerves
These functions all contribute to the stability of the internal environment of your body. For example, if you have pain due to an injury or a fever, it disturbs homeostasis (sense of balance) of your body, your endocannabinoid system intervenes to help your body return to its ideal operating environment. Until your body regains its balance, all of your body's systems compensate for each other, leaving some more vulnerable than others.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
In order to identify that your body is out of balance and that your endocannabinoid system is functioning over time, we need to explain what exactly makes up the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is made up of three main components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
It's no surprise that the endocannabinoid system is made up of endocannabinoids, which your body produces as you need it, and which help keep internal functions running smoothly. Researchers have identified two key endocannabinoids so far: anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the endocannabinoid system has to act in one way or another. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, which are usually found in the central nervous system.
- CB2 receptors, which are usually found in immune cells.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they have performed their intended function. Two main enzymes are responsible for this decomposition:
- fatty acid amide hydrolase,
- monoacylglyceric acid lipase
What happens when the endocannabinoid system becomes imbalanced?
The emitters that fire in your body can fluctuate in quantity, which means that the receptors available in your body would also fluctuate by increasing or decreasing their quantity. When this happens, it can limit your body's natural ability to find balance, which can lead to several potential problems:
In the modern world, we think of “stress” as a negative thing, but for our ancestors, in the face of danger, the stress response helped them react quickly to threats and stay alive.
When exposed to stress, the body lowers levels of anandamide, which triggers feelings of restlessness and anxiety. At the same time, your body increases the levels of 2-AG, which alleviates your pain perception and activates memory, to help you escape the situation and avoid danger in the future.
2) Poor sleep or insomnia:
While scientists have yet to fully understand how the endocannabinoid system affects sleep, what we do know is that the endocannabinoid system influences many parts of the brain and body that are vital for a good night's sleep. Experiments have shown that increasing the amounts of CB1 (the receptor that absorbs anandamide and THC) helps to regulate sleep structure as well as an increase in REM sleep. Additionally, increasing anandamide or THC in the brain has been shown to increase levels of adenosine (another naturally occurring brain chemical), which plays a role in promoting sleep and suppressing excitement. If you have an endocannabinoid deficiency or imbalance, this is likely to lead to poor sleep or even insomnia.
3) Illness or impairment:
Our endocannabinoid systems can become imbalanced for many reasons that are beyond our control. New research suggests that some diseases and conditions are caused by an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system. Research is just beginning to find associations with cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, arthritis, and schizophrenia, to name but a few. some.
Scientists are still working out which diseases are caused by imbalances in the endocannabinoid system, and which diseases cause an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system. Common sense tells us it's probably a bit of both in most cases. Either way, many diseases indicate that your endocannabinoid system may be impaired as well.
The Endocannabinoid System: Crucial for Homeostasis
Homeostasis is your body's natural state of balance, it is essential for our health and survival, so when the endocannabinoid system is not functioning properly it can cause a lot of problems. When something is working outside of its “job,” your body activates the endocannabinoid system to help correct it.
Your body activates the endocannabinoid system with precision so that it influences only what it needs. For example, if your reproductive hormones are out of order, it will work to regulate them without affecting your digestion or your immune system.
Then once the endocannabinoids have done their job and put things back in balance, the enzymes break them down and prevent them from going too far and upending the balance in the opposite direction.
How can cannabis help the endocannabinoid system?
But what if the endocannabinoid system fails to balance? This is where cannabis can help. Cannabis will flood the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids that bind to the receptor that would naturally bind to endocannabinoids in the body, if the body made them and worked properly.
In the brain, cannabinoids and endocannabinoids work as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters interact with a large number of different receptors and therefore have a wide variety of effects.
One cannabinoid that has recently received a lot of attention from scientists is cannabidiol (CBD). It has no intoxicating properties, so its benefits are not as great as those of THC. One of the known functions of CBD in the brain is to prevent the fatty acid amide hydrolase enzyme from breaking down anandamide, so that anandamide can have a greater impact. This is why researchers believe that CBD can help treat anxiety disorders. It neutralizes the enzyme which is said to destroy anandamide, giving the anandamide more time to counteract the overreaction of anxiety.
Support your endocannabinoid system
If you want your endocannabinoid system to function optimally, a healthy and balanced lifestyle is essential. A good diet, well balanced in fat, protein, carbohydrates and sugars, combined with exercise, is a great place to start. However, there are influences on the internal environment that we are not always in control of, and when it goes wrong it can lead to things like chronic disease and inflammation which can cause lasting health problems and lead to deterioration. quality of life.
In one case, researchers found links with the endocannabinoid system and rheumatoid arthritis. A 2014 study found that humans with rheumatoid arthritis had high levels of CB2 receptors in their joint tissues. Researchers have also shown that activating these receptors leads to decreased inflammation joints and bone deterioration. Certain constituents of cannabis may target CB2, although more research is needed.
The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the health of our body and in our daily functioning. Finding good, healthy habits that can support our endocannabinoid system in its constant search for balance is one of the best measures to help prevent disease or potential illness. If you have any questions about how cannabis could help you or your loved ones, don't hesitate to make an appointment with one of our doctors today!