CBD & Homeostasis: How to Bring Balance to Body & Mind
Remember the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”? Where a little blonde girl goes into the bears’ house, samples three bowls of porridge and eats the one that isn’t too hot or too cold?
She also wanted to take a nap, tried the three bears’ beds, and fell asleep in the one that wasn’t too soft or too hard—just all warm and cozy.
Goldilocks checked out the options and settled for the things that felt “just right”—smart girl.
This tale is the perfect metaphor to describe homeostasis, your body’s ability to keep your internal environment functioning “just right.”
Several studies suggest that CBD plays a key role in promoting homeostasis. So how does homeostasis work, and what does CBD have to do with it?
Let’s shed some light on this.
Table of Contents
Homeostasis & Balance
There’s a Goldilocks inside us—our mind is trained to find “just right” environment, jobs, friends, partners and so on and on, and on. This innate desire is what we call “balance.”
We’re constantly trying to bring balance into our life’s doozies. We want to achieve our goals, to move forward with our purpose, to feel better, all the while trying to keep all aspects of our lives working “just right.”
Achieving modern-day balance has become a buzzy trend in the so-called wellness world.
“Wellness” refers to a holistic, healthy way of living, characterized by physical, mental, social, and spiritual balance.
In our quest to achieve balance, we flock to wellness practices like juice cleanses, yoga, trendy diets, meditation, self-care, nootropics, adaptogens—you name it. We want perfect lives, perfect bodies, and perfect health.
The default state of the human body is health; paradoxically, there’s no such thing as perfect health. We’re mere mortals, we can’t engineer our genetic diseases away or become immune to all viruses.
However, we can still improve our day-to-day well-being and move closer to the longed-for state of optimal health by bringing balance into our bodies and minds.
And that’s what homeostasis is all about. Achieving homeostasis is achieving our biological balance.
How Does Your Body Maintains Homeostasis?
Physically, you’re constantly a new you. Your body and brain change a lot during your lifespan. This is possible through two biochemical reactions:
- Anabolism, when your body builds itself
- Catabolism, when your body breaks itself down
These pathways typically work together, and homeostasis must be maintained within the cells for their reactions to take place. To keep these complex reactions running properly, homeostasis is continuously monitoring your body’s internal variables.
The most important variables that homeostasis needs to keep in check include:
Your body must maintain a constant temperature or physiological optimum value to stay healthy. This value can fluctuate.
Fluctuations are normal as long as they don’t go out of whack. Thus, anything around 97.7 to 99.5 ºF (36.5 to 37.5 ºC) is considered a normal fluctuation or normal range for an adult body temperature.
The purpose of homeostasis is to keep all your body variables within their normal range.
Blood pressure also has normal range and your body must keep it that way. To do so, the brain signals the heart to speed up or slow down according to the blood pressure levels homeostasis is registering.
Your body must regulate glucose levels to stay healthy. When glucose levels become too high, the body releases insulin—a hormone that allows your body to use glucose for energy.
When glucose levels become too low, on the other hand, the body converts the glycogen in the blood to glucose.
Toxins in the blood can disrupt your body’s homeostasis. Thus, homeostasis signals the urinary system to ensure that it excretes the toxins.
The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline your body is. It ranges from 0 to 14 and 7 is the normal range.
The lungs control the pH content in the body. If pH levels become unbalanced, the lungs push more or less carbon dioxide out. This process can raise or lower pH levels in the body.
Biological systems maintain homeostasis through a mechanism of inputs and outputs, that inhibits or amplify the system depending on where and why is causing a certain event.
We know this mechanism by the term “feedback loops,” and these loops can be negative or positive.
I’ll break this down.
Positive & Negative Feedback Loops
Many variables and biological systems in the human body are under both negative and positive feedback loops; however, negative feedback loops are the more common response for homeostasis.
NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
Negative feedback loops are involved in homeostasis for:
- temperature regulation
- blood sugar regulation
- blood pressure
- thyroid regulation
These loops involve a response that inhibits the stimulus that’s causing a system to change its normal range.
A hot day? Homeostasis is here for you. If your body heats up, the process of homeostasis activates a negative feedback loop—vasodilation—to cool down.
Brain and skin work together to direct a higher flow of blood toward your skin to get you back to your normal temperature range as quickly as possible.
When something interferes with the negative feedback mechanisms, homeostasis will be thrown out of balance, and disease may arise.
Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, and endocrine disorders are examples of diseases that stem from homeostatic imbalance.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
Positive feedback is less common in biological processes. It involves a response that strengthen the stimulus to increase or accelerate a reaction. This way, the event happens as quickly and fast as possible.
Some examples of these loops:
- Coagulation where the blood cloth is sped up, so it stops blood loss.
- Childbirth, where hormones intensify uterine contractions to help the baby descend into the birth canal.
Homeostasis & the Hypothalamus
The hypothalamus is a tiny, almond-shaped gland located deep in your brain, also known as the “control center of the brain.” This is because, through the pituitary gland, it rules your endocrine system.
Its umbrella function is to maintain homeostasis within the body. Any slight change—too active or inactive, too much or too little—will trigger its signaling for hormones to the pituitary gland.
The hormones released stimulate the specific body parts involved in these undesirable changes to bring balance back.
To achieve homeostasis, this little gland helps release and inhibit hormones that manage brain and body connections. These hormones are key for body processes like:
The endocannabinoid system is present in the hypothalamus, experts have found endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors CB1 in this gland, which suggest that the ECS plays a key role in maintaining homeostasis throughout the body.
Homeostasis & the Endocannabinoid System
Despite living in the information age, the human body and many of its functions are still a wonder to us.
But, in the last three decades, the quest to understand the human mind seems to have been on a roll. We’ve seen progress in finding new methods and understanding more and more about the brain each day. Yaaas!
In this same fashion, one of the most groundbreaking discoveries in medical science has been the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—a powerful system that works as a signaling bridge between your mind and your body.
Through receptors, messengers, and enzymes, the ECS regulates all other systems within your body to ensure that all their processes are balanced and working “just right.”
If you never heard of this system before, then don’t feel bad. After all, the ECS slipped under the radar for most of the 20th century.
Experts didn’t know it even existed until the 1990s when scientists interested in the cannabis plant and how it affects the brain made this breakthrough finding.
They found that cannabis compounds synergistically interact with this system and named it in honor of this fascinating plant.
Cannabis produces over 400 chemicals the most prominent are called phytocannabinoids, exogenous cannabinoids or cannabinoids—CBD belongs to this class.
So, it’s only been 30 years since the ECS was discovered, which makes it the most understudied system in your body. Experts are still scrambling to figure out how it works.
As of today, they have identified three major players in the ECS:
CANNABINOID RECEPTORS CB1 AND CB2
Akin to radio antennas, they receive signals from the endocannabinoids to unleash a rich repertoire of cell responses.
Endocannabinoids are the cannabis-like substances that your body produces itself. They act as neurotransmitters binding to the cannabinoid receptors to mediate functions such as chill, eat, sleep, forget, and protect.
To date we’re familiar with two eCBs: Anandamide and 2-AG.
They’re the house keepers of the system, the enzymes break down the endocannabinoids, to avoid them to keep stimulating the ECS indefinitely.
FAAH is the enzyme that breaks anandamide down and MAGL degrades 2-AG.
The Endocannabinoid System Regulates Your Body
The endocannabinoid system is a fundamental communication system. Communication within the body is crucial to maintain homeostasis, and that’s what the ECS does best.
It teams up with the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems to regulate all the daily biological processes that keeps you alive. The system is involved in major functions of your body such as metabolism, mood, emotion, stress response, and immune function, among others.
In short, the ECS defines your well-being.
Crazy, right? Well, there’s more.
Experts believe that the ECS evolved to help control inflammation. Chronic inflammation is known as the silent killer, and it’s linked to a range of diseases. Which makes the system a key player in regulating injury and illness.
The endocannabinoid system shifts role from maintaining balance to fighting maladies to keep you healthy.
Let me break how the ECS impacts vital systems in your body.
THE ECS & METABOLISM
The ECS stimulates key receptors in areas like the digestive tract, the pancreas, liver, and even adipose tissue, affecting a variety of metabolic processes.
Endocannabinoids are responsible for how much you enjoy food, promoting feeding behavior. They also help to storage energy, and interestingly, they’re also linked to that contented state you feel after finishing a 5k marathon, also known as a “runner’s high.”
Do you see the connection here? The human body is designed to move, so moderate exercise and food intake are essential for health, and the ECS gives you hints of this by making you feel good.
THE ECS & THE BRAIN
Besides its role in regulating metabolism, this master system has also been shown to be involved in processes of learning and memory as well as sensory and motor control, which makes it possible to use our body effectively within the environment.
There’s enough evidence to prove the key role the ECS plays in managing emotions, moods, and responses to external stress.
Anandamide, the endocannabinoid that enhances your mood, seems to be crucial in how you manage stress. Low levels of anandamide are linked to a strong and irrational flight-or-flight response, the root of anxiety.
THE ECS & THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune system is your body’s army. It’s responsible for fighting illnesses, viruses, and bacteria. The presence of cannabinoid receptors (CB2) on immune cells is believed to play a key role in promoting immune regulation.
CB2 receptors bind these endocannabinoids and a chemical reaction take place forcing the immune system’s processes to become regulated.
How To Keep Your ECS healthy
The ECS is arguably the most powerful system in your body, but for many reasons beyond your control, it can be easily dysregulated. When this happens, the ECS can’t maintain homeostasis, and disease may appear.
The balance in your ECS results from your lifestyle choices.
Some of us might have a deficiency of endocannabinoids production, while others may suffer the overwhelm of an overstimulated system. Either way, nature has provided solutions to tone the system and to restore homeostasis.
One of those solutions is CBD, a cannabis compound that interacts perfectly with the ECS to bring your body and mind back into balance.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of the many chemicals present in the cannabis plant; it’s also known as “cannabidiol.” Many people are taking CBD these days because of the wide range of medical benefits that this substance offers. It belongs to a class termed as “cannabinoids.” Cannabinoids are chemicals that can interact with the ECS to help it do its job successfully.
CBD can be sourced from all cannabis plants, so will it make you high?
To answer this, let’s first explore the difference between marijuana and hemp. Yes, there is a difference, even though both are forms of cannabis. Marijuana contains up to 30% THC. This is the cannabis chemical that makes you “high.”
Now, hemp, on the other hand, contains less than 0.3% THC, a much lower concentration. This means hemp, unlike marijuana, is NON intoxicating, no matter how much you smoke or ingest, hemp won’t alter your mind and reasoning.
That’s why hemp is now legal in all 50 states of the union. Hemp has negligible traces of THC but is rich in CBD.
Cannabidiol is the sister molecule of THC with no psychotropic effects. In fact, CBD can lessen the mind-altering effect of THC.
CBD is also non-toxic substance; it has been found to be safe for human consumption and no fatal overdose levels have ever been reported.
This cannabinoid can work wonders on chronic pain, anxiety and other ailments. For people like me, it’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever felt. But for others it may not work, as its effects depend on your body’s chemistry, DNA and particular needs.
Now that you have a better grasp of CBD, let’s dive on how this cannabinoid helps you achieve homeostasis.
Homeostasis & CBD
By now, you already know that homeostasis really matters to enhance your well-being, and CBD may lend you a helpful hand.
As noted above, CBD promotes homeostasis by interacting with the ECS, but this cannabinoid has a weak affinity for the cannabinoid receptors in the body.
However, CBD has unique ways to stimulate activity in these receptors to maintain your overall health.
CBD BOOSTS THE SUPPLY OF ENDOCANNABINOIDS
Research has proven that cannabidiol increases the amount of anandamide and 2-AG in your body. It appears that CBD binds to fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) and reduce endocannabinoids metabolism. As a result, more eCBs will be circulating in your bloodstream.
Higher levels of eCBs in the bloodstream result in greater cannabinoid receptors activity throughout the body and can lead to bigger chances of a more efficient ECS that supports and maintain your overall health.
Other studies suggest that CBD interferes with the enzyme FAAH, responsible for breaking down and degrading anandamide.
CBD PREVENTS THE OVER STIMULATION OF THE CB1 RECEPTORS
The CB1 receptors are psychoactive and are associated with psychosis when overstimulated.
CBD may prevent the dysfunction of these receptors, but without binding them directly. It turns out that CBD activates other channels—the TRPV channels.
According to Dr. Daniele Piomelli, professor of pharmacology at the University of California-Irvine, this unique action of CBD produces an effect as effective as major tranquilizers prescribed to treat schizophrenia, but without the typical side effects of these anti-psychotic drugs.
CBD ALSO IMPACTS OTHER RECEPTORS
CBD is a versatile molecule. It not only interacts with your cannabinoid receptors, but CBD can also act on other receptors within the brain to achieve homeostasis.
Experts believe CBD interacts with the serotonin and GABA receptors, pain receptors, gene expression receptors, and also with some specific enzymes. These interactions lead to a number of potential benefits, such as anxiolytic, anti-convulsant and anti-oxidant qualities.
As you can see, this cannabinoid has unique ways to interact with, support, and unlock the healing potential of your endocannabinoid system. And since the ECS is directly involved in homeostasis, CBD may help give your system the boost it needs to achieve the Holy Grail of balance.
There’s no doubt the crucial roles homeostasis and the endocannabinoid system play in our well-being. They’re redefining what wellness and health mean to us.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has been a major breakthrough, and now we also know that CBD is one of the most potent natural mediators of this system.
While research is uncovering the many therapeutic benefits of this cannabinoid, we seem to be merely scratching the surface of what CBD can actually do for our overall health and longevity.
Fortunately, scientists are hard at work on this and will continue to investigate the benefits of CBD and how it interacts within our bodies to give us better insights.
Ready to try CBD? You’re on the right path. Have questions? Ask away. The space below is for you.