Endocannabinoids, the brain, the bowel, and the body

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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.

Writing, timing, riding, fighting

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Though this blog has been seriously lacking in content over the past six months or so, I’m going to be posting many more writings here, published both personally and professionally. Recently I started writing for a publication called Hybrid.Life, which I would highly recommend for anyone interested in herbal and holisitic living. I’ll be writing about everything from sustainability, environmentalism, and activism, to spirituality, gardening, healthy living, and cannabis, of course.  So I’ll be reposting articles that have been published on Hybrid.Life, and will also be posting more personal writings, poetry, and photography in between.

This year, I’ve been getting more and more passionate about marijuana policy reform, as my life was greatly impacted by a possession of marijuana charge I received while travelling into Bellaire, Michigan back in April. Though I was fortunate not to serve any jail time, and haven’t denied my responsibility for making a bad decision (considering present drug laws), I am still going to be paying for this so called crime for about a year or so. However, this experience has focused my attention on the injustice of marijuana prohibition and has clearly exemplified the ineffectiveness of our Draconian legal system.

As I said, I feel somewhat lucky for the way that my legal situation played out. Even though I was ordered to do forty hours of community service, and have to spend the next year on probation (while randomly drug testing four times a month), and I’ve been ordered to pay more than a thousand dollars in court costs and fees, many who are charged with possession in our state lose out considerably. If my skin were a different color, or if I had a larger amount of marijuana, a large sum of cash, or some valuable items with me when I was arrested, I probably would have been jailed, may have been severely mistreated, or had my possessions seized by the police, which is a popular method of fundraising for law enforcement these days.

Now if I were black man, I think it’s pretty safe to say that my chances of being jailed for possession would have been much higher. Most of us are well aware of the countless recent incidences of police brutality perpetrated on blacks, most of which have involved minor threats or violations that have escalated into severe beatings or murders perpetrated by various officers in several places all over the country. Needless to say, with these things on my mind, I was relieved to be white and thankful that I was able to escape a confrontation with the police alive.

It may seem like I’m exaggerating a bit here, but it’s hard not to think this way when there are many more arrests for marijuana possession than for violent crimes in our country these days. And in the state of Michigan, blacks are about four times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites, despite very similar overall usage percentages. This is a disturbing trend, especially at a time in our country where black folks seem to be getting targeted by police more and more, and are even losing their lives in their encounters with the cops. Moreover, I now know how it feels to be profiled, as I believe my encounter with the State Police in Antrim County, Michigan was initiated due to the fact that I was bearded and long-haired, while heading to an Anniversary party at a popular brewery where many “hippie” types were congregated, obviously drinking, probably smoking pot, and listening to live music.

Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when I took a very small amount of medical marijuana (which I was using as medicine after hernia surgery), on a trip up north. And even though I wish it had never happened, I have learned a lot and have been inspired by the experience. I am now working as hard as I can to help raise awareness of the benefits of cannabis and the injustice of prohibition. I’m helping to collect signatures with MILegalize for a petition to put a ballot initiative for legalization of marijuana in Michigan next year, and am writing to state and federal lawmakers to encourage their support of decriminalization…and I’m telling you all of this because I hope you will too.

When I was charged with possession, I had a legitimate medical purpose for using cannabis, which neither the police nor the judge had any concern about. I didn’t (and still don’t, in fact I never will) have a medical marijuana card to allow me to use it medicinally. I don’t feel it should be necessary, don’t really want to be “officially labeled” a marijuana user, and at the moment, I don’t really have a condition that necessitates it. Although I could technically get a card for back pain that suffer sometimes, due to scoliosis, I’ve also been ordered by the court not to use medical marijuana anyways.

Personally, I don’t feel that I need a reason, an excuse, or even a medical condition to justify the use of cannabis. The fact of the matter is that it’s a useful and enjoyable healing herb. It should be more readily available to everyone for medicinal use, and for recreational use for adults if they should so choose. It’s safer than alcohol, more effective for pain relief than most prescription drugs, and more and more, science is finding that there are few, if any, drawbacks or possible long term detrimental effects, even with regular usage!

I believe the time has come. Prohibition is a massive failure; our jails and prisons are over populated with non-violent offenders, families are being financially drained, emotionally strained, and sometimes even completely destroyed by misguided laws and overly aggressive courts, demanding large fees and often harsh sentencings…all for what? Because of a misunderstood, unduly maligned and demonized plant? Enough is enough…it’s time to legalaize it!!

How Long?

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When is our complicity and the burden of responsibility enough to warrant direct action, even requiring class war and revolution, a fight for Love’s victory? Oh Lord, how long Lord?

Where are we taking this?

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There is nothing so freeing, yet so restrictive, as being your own boss, managing a small business, and striving for entrepreneurial excellence.  Then, there’s the balance of maintaining family life, holding true to one’s convictions, vision, and life goals.  Simply aiming for the ideal can only take one so far. Being present in every situation is of the utmost importance, yet vigilance may be hard to come by in times such as these. Still, we mustn’t squander the privilege of this opportune moment.

hopeful

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I hold a hope in my heart for our city, our state, even our world, as sad a shape it seems to be in. Above all, I hope for our children.

struggle

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Feeling very weak today, and more afraid than concerned, to say it…having learned, or rather, having been conditioned to deny the heart, and all that matters; the expectations placed on a man, leave little room for free expression, loving, and reflection.

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We are so fragmented, beyond broken by seperations and divisions…the schisms that create the chasm set between us and our creator. We create and recreate, as we rebirth the whole earth endeavors for the redemption of all things.