Speak to anyone who takes CBD oil on a regular basis and you will often hear how they experience increased wellbeing. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a “state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”, wellbeing can often feel out of our grasp. So why does CBD oil in particular seem to encourage sensations of wellness?
Turns out, CBD oil appears to bring about balance in our bodies and minds by encouraging something called homeostasis - the physiological tendency to move towards equilibrium.
Throughout millions of years of evolution, the human body has developed its own internal setting that allows us to be healthy and happy. Due to internal and external fluctuations, constant adjustments are required to maintain biological balance. This is known as homeostatic regulation. Therefore homeostasis can be thought of as a dynamic equilibrium rather than a constant, unchanging state.
Homeostasis is present throughout all systems in the body. However, by using the example of our endocrine system (which controls the production of hormones), we can understand how there is a kind of feedback loop in maintaining homeostasis.
Hormones regulate cell activity and are released when there is some kind of stimulus. This either increases or decreases the amount of hormones secreted. This self-adjusting mechanism is called feedback regulation, which can be negative when reducing the original stimulus or positive when the opposite occurs.
This constant adjusting is not confined to the production of our hormones. Every one of our biological systems - urinary, reproductive, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, neurological - are constantly going through second by second changes in order to maintain balance.
Take for instance the optimal balance between two key neurotransmitters: the calming gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and the excitatory, glutamate. Glutamate is an extremely important neurotransmitter sending messages between brain cells. When in balance, glutamate plays a key role in learning and memory, however, too much glutamate can lead to excitotoxicity and cell death.
GABA modulates excitatory pathways in the brain, basically keeping its counterpart glutamate from causing havoc. An example of how dangerous an imbalance between GABA and glutamate can be, is seen in cases of traumatic brain injury, where too much glutamate and too little GABA causes brain damage. Excess glutamate is also a contributing factor in damage caused to brain cells in neurodegenerative diseases.
What happens when homeostasis is disrupted?
Human beings aren’t hermetically sealed into perfect environments. The reality is we are constantly bombarded with pollutants and toxins in our over-contaminated worlds, as well as the ones we choose to ingest such as sugar and alcohol. Then there’s the skyrocketing stress levels experienced by most of us in the 21st century, leading to a cascade of negative effects across all our biological systems.
Consequently, the task of maintaining internal balance has never been more difficult. This could explain why we seem to be struggling with greater levels of diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, and mental health disorders.
The Endocannabinoid System - The Key To Maintaining Homeostasis
But what if I told you our bodies had a master homeostatic regulator, helping to maintain balance across all the systems in our bodies?
It’s called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and was discovered at the beginning of the 1990s when scientists were trying to understand the effects of cannabis on the body. They discovered a vast network of receptors in our brains (CB1 and CB2), central nervous and immune systems that are activated by cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids.
The ECS has been likened to a dimmer switch, turning activity in our cells up or down in order to bring about homeostasis. This particularly applies to neurotransmitter regulation. Stress, excess alcohol, and poor diet as thought to weaken the ECS, with endocannabinoid deficiency being linked to many modern day malaises such as fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS.
But what can we do if our ECS becomes depleted and balance lost?
Just as we take nutritional supplements to support our immune system and hormonal balance, diet plays a crucial role in looking after our endocannabinoid health. Research suggests eating plenty of green vegetables and healthy fats (plus cutting out junk food, caffeine and alcohol) may encourage the production of endocannabinoids. Many people supplement their diet with CBD oil, which may also help promote health endocannabinoid functioning. One should always be mindful of choosing a quality, organic CBD oil such as our whole plant Spirit of Hemp CBD + CBDA oils infused with extra terpenes.
If you have any questions about which CBD oils are right for you, please don't hesitate to contact our customer support team who are always on hand to give their advice.