The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the late 1960’s was nothing short of revolutionary in the field of health and medicine. Purely by chance, the stories say, researchers discovered a subtle, signaling system within the body that maintains a “homogenous” state–or harmony–between all of the various biochemical actions in the body. Human bodies make endocannabinoids that click into receptor sites on and within every cell membrane, to “down-regulate” any bodily system’s activity and restore or maintain balance.
For example, the immune system is down-regulated by the endocannabinoid system to stop attacking its own tissues… as happens in the case of autoimmune conditions. Neurotransmitters that agitate and cause anxious feelings can be down-regulated to assist the mind to a calmer state. Over stimulated nerve centers–the source of pain and seizures–can be down-regulated to slow/stop the 0ver-firing and result in relief. These are just a few examples. The list covers every biochemical action in the body–that’s how pervasive the endocannabinoid system is.
It didn’t take long for researchers and doctors to extrapolate toward a theory that the ECS was the first place to break down in any type of disease. Nor did it take long for them to ask the question, “How do we assess the state of a person’s endocannabinoid system?” So far, it’s still a question, but science is on the track of finding what to measure in the blood to concretely track ECS health…we’ll stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, what we do know: If health is failing or a disease is diagnosed, the endocannabinoid system stopped working a while ago. In other words, unless you are healthy and feeling energetic and vital, your endocannabinoid needs support–and might have been needing it for awhile. And, while nature has gifted us with phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant to work as effectively as our endogenous cannabinoids (the ones our bodys make) do, it seems like a good idea to me to support my body’s ability to restore its production of endocannabinoids.
What is clear through the studies done so far is that endocannabinoids are delicate, and their production in the body is affected by these things:
- Sleep. If your sleep is troubled, inconsistent, or just plan lacking, your body won’t make endocannabinoids.
- Blood sugar spikes. If you eat processed, high-carbohydrate foods, it will cause a blood sugar spike that destroys endocannabinoids.
- Environmental toxins. BPA’s from plastic, fluorocarbons from Teflon, off-gassing from synthetic materials and dry cleaning, synthetic pesticides and food additives… all of them destroy endocannabinoids. The more environmental toxins in your day-to-day, the fewer endocannabinoids you have.
- Stress When the body is pumped full of adrenalin and cortisol–as it is during stressful times–the body is in “fight or flight” mode and shuts down activities like building endocannabinoids.
- Allergens. Food sensitivities. Pollen. Whether it causes respiratory distress, digestive upset, rashes, kidney stones, headaches, etc..any allergic reaction shuts down the process of building endocannabinoids.
The path to restoration of your body’s ability to maintain its own balance and homeostasis, then, is as simple as creating a solution to the bullet points that apply to nurture your ECS. No matter far down the path of an ailing endocannabinoid system you’ve come, it’s only one decision to take a turn onto the path of restoration…followed another decision and another with each step you take to reclaim vitality. See how that is?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate for medical cannabis. In my own life, and the lives of many people who have told me personally, it’s a healing miracle. I am so grateful and appreciative to have it as a resource. And still, wouldn’t it be delightful to know my own endocannabinoids are plentiful and engaged as well?
May all of us find our way into the harmony that is our body’s nature. Home.
Questions or comments? I’d love to read them in the comments section below.