The hype of Cannabidiol or CBD has been around, especially in North America, for quite some time. However, this craze is moving towards Asia where there’s a load of misunderstanding on the power of this medicinal substance. Before diving in what Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) truly are, let’s understand what Homeostasis and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) are, in order to know how CBD or THC works for you and your loved ones.
Photo : Rodney Smith
If you’ve looked Traditional Chinese or Indian Ayurveda Medicine, they often cultivate a comprehensive approach to your internal health and homeostasis. Their protocol usually addresses the balance between mind, body, emotions, and environment.
It is a State Of Balance to keep the body stable and constant to achieve a well-functioning internal environment. The main job of homeostasis is to give negative feedback when some variable triggers a counteracting response that throws the body out of balance, in order to come back to a certain set point.
Simply said, it’s a dynamic balance between opposites...a Yin & Yan.
In our immune system, we have Anti-inflammation & Inflammation.
In the oxidation system, we have Anti-Oxidation & Oxidation.
In the nervous system, we have Inhibition Gaba & Excitation Glutamate.
In the endocrine (hormone) system, we have Catabolic Break-Down tissue & Anabolic Build Up tissue.
For example, when blood sugar Glucose is too high, your body releases a hormone called Insulin. When the glucose is too low, your body releases Glucagon. In this case, Insulin and Glucagon are both Counter Responses from the negative feedback mechanism to keep the body balanced.
Your body needs both opposites to stay at a certain balance point in order to keep working. To dive in a little more, dynamic balance means we have a bunch of signaling molecules in each system.
Neurotransmitters run Nervous Systems
Hormones run Endocrine Systems
Cytokines run Immune Systems
When one signalling molecule is inflamed and not functioning, it causes a chain effect to other molecules which eventually affects the whole system until the body finds its own new state of balance. The most conventional way is to suppress the inflammation with pharmaceutical drugs to achieve the new state of balance temporarily. However, it hasn’t addressed the root cause nor helped the body heal, finding its way back to its natural state of balance.
In order to help your body to heal and get back to the natural state of balance, we need to work on the endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoid synthesis is an adaptive response to cellular stress, aimed at re-establishing cellular homeostasis. That means it’s a network of cellular receptors and it’s the most prevalent as well as largest receptor system in the body.
Your body naturally produces your own cannabinoid called N-arachidonylethanolamide (Anandamide, or AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2AG), and these compounds are like locks in keys, binding to the CBD receptors in the body, similar to cannabis compounds. They’re usually released during meditation and exercising or in a mother’s milk. This helps explain why you have that bliss feeling after running, meditating, or why babies feel calm during/after breastfeeding.
The Runner’s High is a good example. Since endocannabinoids effectively penetrate the blood–brain barrier, anandamide along with other delightful neurochemicals contribute to the development of Euphoria in you, usually referred to as a runner's high.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is made up of enzymes, and receptors throughout the body. It’s involved in a variety of physiological processes such as mood, appetite, pain-sensation, immune, memory, nervous system, and gastrointestinal function.
CB1 and CB2 are the known receptors and belong to Class A G-Protein-Coupled-Receptors (GPCR) group. CB1 receptors are primarily found and densest in the brain as well as the central nervous system (CNS), and to a lesser extent in other tissues. CB2 receptors are mostly found in peripheral organs, especially cells that are associated with the immune system. They respond to Endogenous which is cannabinoids that are made inside the body and Exogenous such as CBD and THC which are believed to influence these receptors.
CB1 receptors inform the cells about the presence or absence of what’s in their environment and convey information sent by other cells, ensuring appropriate responses to perceived environmental threats as well as processing of aversive memories. These are the receptors activated by THC and produce large amount of psychoactive related effect, or the “high” associated with cannabis.
CB2 receptors are involved in regulating the body's immune response and homeostasis. It may also be involved with CNS, where it is thought to play a critical role in controlling inflammation in the brain.
Since we naturally have enzymes called Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) that break down anandamide quickly when anandamide binds to CB1 receptors, the calming and bliss feelings don’t last. Cannabidiol (CBD) would be the one to inhibit activity of FAAH in order to elevate anandamide and 2-AG levels, and also helps to support the calming effect along with other benefits to our homeostasis for the long run. In the next articles, we’ll dive into the differences of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), and Cannabinol (CBN), as well as how they work with other receptors such as TRPV1 and 5-HT1A in order to reduce anxiety and physical pain.