CBD and homeostasis
Numerous studies, journal articles and media reports suggest that CBD and the endocannabinoid system play a key role in promoting homeostasis, but what exactly is homeostasis and what does the endocannabinoid system have to do with it?
What is homeostasis?
Homeostasis is a term used to describe the process of maintaining internal balance in a constantly changing external environment. In humans, homeostasis refers to a plethora of individual but interdependent processes that ultimately keep our body functioning properly.
Conditions within our body can fluctuate in response to a variety of external factors. Think about how things like temperature, stress or even the food you eat can temporarily affect your body’s functioning.
Heat on a particularly hot day, for example, can cause your blood pressure to drop and leave you feeling dizzy, fatigued or nauseous. On the other hand, the stress of preparing for a job presentation or studying for an exam can cause your blood pressure to rise, leaving you anxious or dealing with headaches and other physical symptoms.
These are just a few examples of how your body’s internal conditions can fluctuate in response to changing conditions in the external environment. Fortunately, your body has built-in response mechanisms to cope with these changes and return to proper functioning as quickly as possible.
All of these different mechanisms play an important role in helping our body achieve and maintain homeostasis. And although the individual homeostatic processes in your body vary, they are all made up of 3 essential components:
- Receivers responsible for detecting external changes.
- A Control Center that decides how to respond to these changes.
- Effectors that carry out the relevant response.
To better understand how our body responds to external changes, let’s think about how it regulates our internal body temperature.
In this example, the control center is the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps our bodies detect temperature changes and respond to them accordingly to maintain an optimal internal temperature.
In a way, the hypothalamus functions as a thermostat. By using receptors found both in the skin and in the internal structures of the body, the hypothalamus can detect any temperature changes and respond to them accordingly. When temperatures rise, our body begins to promote heat loss to maintain its internal temperature at around 37°C (98.6°F). When temperatures drop, on the other hand, our body reduces heat loss.
Thermoregulation is just one example of a homeostatic process that takes place constantly in our body. Body fluid composition, blood sugar and blood pressure are some other processes involved in keeping our body functioning at its best.
Homeostasis and the endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) is a complex physiological system present in all mammals. Recent research has highlighted the complexity of the endocannabinoid system and suggests that it is involved in the management of several homeostatic processes.
There is a solid body of research exploring the role of the endocannabinoid system. So far, studies show that it is involved in the management of pain, inflammation, immune response, appetite, metabolism, memory, mood and emotion, and much more.
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