Originally published on Hybrid.Life here: http://hybrid.life/endocannabinoids-the-brain-the-bowel-and-the-body/
The endocannabinoid system, or endogenous cannabinoid system, has been found to aid in the regulation of the body’s other systems, including the central nervous, digestive, and immune systems. Our bodies actually produce cannabinoids and also have receptors in various places all throughout for receiving and utilizing these important compounds to help facilitate certain bodily functions and regulatory processes. Basically, they help maintain and regulate the body’s most important regulatory systems, helping the body achieve a state of homeostasis. According to the research cited by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “In humans this system also controls energy homeostasis and mainly influences the function of the food intake centers of the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract activity. The endocannabinoid system regulates not only the central and peripheral mechanisms of food intake, but also lipids synthesis and turnover in the liver and adipose tissue as well as glucose metabolism in muscle cells.” Our bodies rely on this regulatory system to help achieve a balanced state of health and vitality.
Essentially, for every basic function of the human body, the endocannabinoid system plays an important part in controlling and regulating transmissions between the brain, the stomach, and the rest of the body. This is pretty crucial to our survival and well-being, as humans obviously must obtain, ingest, and metabolize food in order to continue living. But what we also need is high-quality, nutritious plant-based food, free from toxins, high in vitamins and minerals, and also a balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. The perfect source of these fatty acids (EFAs) are hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, which contains the optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs. Although it has very low levels of THC in it (so it won’t affect a person cognitively, as with marijuana), as most people know, hemp is derived from the same plant as marijuana, cannabis sativa.
It is interesting that a compound found naturally in the human body, which is crucial to the regulatory network of the body’s vital systems, is so closely related to a plant that is both an essential food source and a miraculous, healing medicine. Not to mention, hemp is also very useful for fiber, paper products, building materials, and fuel, just to name a few of its many other uses! I also find it intriguing that, not only are cannabinoids produced within the body and are necessary for our health, but research has also shown that there is an “exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans” related to the “runner’s high” phenomenon we experience when engaging in vigorous exercise. I believe this all points to a deeper purpose for cannabis, as it relates to our biological and evolutionary development as a species, and our symbiotic relationship with plants, other animals, and the whole entirety of our planet.
Another large part of what the endocannabinoid system helps us with is related to pleasure, pain, learning, and understanding. In another NIH source of research literature it is stated that “Endocannabinoids have been implicated in a variety of physiological functions. The areas of central activities include pain reduction, motor regulation, learning/memory, and reward. Finally, the role of the endocannabinoid system in appetite stimulation in the adult organism, and perhaps more importantly, its critical involvement in milk ingestion and survival of the newborn, may not only further our understanding of the physiology of food intake and growth, but may also find therapeutic applications in wasting disease and infant’s ‘failure to thrive’.” This could hold tremendous significance for our understanding of how the mind and body work together to intuitively survive, self correct and heal itself. A better understanding of the endocannabinoid system can help us discover even more nutritional and medicinal uses for hemp and marijuana, and further develop cures and therapies for everything from autism and cancer to depression and even eating disorders.