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How our Endocannabinoid system works to help balance the body


What is “homeostasis” in the body and why does it matter?

Homeostasis refers to the body actively maintaining balance internally. What we know is that if the body is not functioning properly it can lead to health problems of all kinds ranging from mild pain to Alzheimer’s or even cancer. The body’s ability to adjust to changes and maintain ‘homeostasis’ directly affects our state of health. So obviously it is really important for overall wellness.

What is the endocannbinoid system and how does it link with homeostasis?

Although the endocannbinoid system (ECS) is a relatively new concept in medicine compared to many others (it was discovered less than 30 years ago), increasing research is being done around the world by scientists to find out exactly how it works and how important it is. One of the things we do know is that our ECS helps our bodies to maintain the all important ‘homeostasis’, therefore helping us maintain wellness.

In simple terms the ECS is a molecular system in our bodies responsible for balancing many processes in the body such as immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more.

When was the ECS discovered and by whom?

The endocannabinoid system ECS, named after the plant that led to its discovery,  is perhaps the most important physiological system involved in maintaining human health. It is made up of endocannabinoids, that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and proteins that are found throughout the body. The cannabinoid system performs different tasks around the body but the goal is always homeostasis. In fact, almost every physiological process is affected by the endocannabinoid system on some level. This means it can be used to treat many diseases.

In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the godfather of CBD research, first identified and isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the first time. He also successfully isolated cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that does not get you ‘high’ and is generally associated with antioxidant and neuroprotectant properties. 

“The endocannabinoid system is very important. Almost all illnesses we have are linked to it in some way or another. And that is very strange.” Dr Raphael Mechoulam. 

With a huge amount of research going on around the world now about the ECS – it is believed by many that endocannbinoids also serve a “protective role” in many medical conditions. Diseases and problems like pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome related diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome. It is now thought that all of these could possibly be treated in part by CBD related products which directly affect the endocannbinoid system.

Dr Peter Grinspoon, who teaches medicine at Harvard Medical School, wrote in 2019 in the Harvard Medical Journal: “Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.