CBD AND HOMEOSTASIS
Homeostasis is ‘any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival.’
Homeostasis is also involved in regulating bodily systems to a 24 hour cycle. Our day/night circadian rhythms are regulated by melatonin. Homeostasis maintains other processes, such as cortisol levels, core body temperature, food intake, and the timing of other biological processes.
Essentially, homeostasis orchestrates a variety of internal changes in response to internal or external stimuli in order to keep the body in optimal condition.
Body temperature, stress, and hunger can alter bodily functions and we have direct feedback loops that prompt sweating or eating etc. Human body temperature stays around 37°C and we have processes to maintain this by shivering when too cold or sweating when too hot.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex physiological system present in all mammals. Research has shown the complexity of this system and suggests its involvement in various homeostatic processes. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant, which interacts with the body’s natural ECS.
There are two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are present throughout the body but located most extensively in the central nervous system and immune system. We produce our own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which interact with the ECS and bind CB1/CB2. Two of these endocannabinoids are called 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) and anandamide. If endocannabinoids are produced in excess or are no longer needed, they are broken down by enzymes. The enzyme MAGL breaks down anandamide and FAAH breaks down 2-AG. The homeostatic feedback loop is maintained by endocannabinoids being synthesised, binding their receptors, and being broken down once their purpose has been achieved. This process is repeated until homeostasis is reached.
Research suggests that the endocannabinoid system switches on when it detects imbalances in the body, and switches off once balance has been restored.
In order to reach homeostasis, our body must find balance. For example, an athlete applies greater stress to their body which triggers pain and inflammation. There is no longer balance, so the endocannabinoid system tries to restore homeostasis. Taking supplementary cannabinoids can help achieve homeostatic balance.