September 18, 2019

Understanding Homeostasis & CBD

How your body takes care of itself—and what happens when it doesn't.

homeostasis & cbd

The demanding nature of life means that most living things have a lot of moving parts, and we humans are no exception! 

This complexity means that living beings have to intelligently structure themselves.  To really thrive, they have to stand out from their outer environment by operating within physiological systems. These systems maintain homeostasis, or balance, inside the organism — in spite of outside stress. 

The above intro is a slightly changed excerpt from our Guide to the Endocannabinoid System (if you haven’t read it yet, we highly recommend you do!).

Understand the Basics of Homeostasis

A lot of complex terms get thrown around within the fledgling CBD industry; daunting terms like endocannabinoid, neurotransmitter, and retrograde signaling. There’s plenty of acronyms, too: CBD, THC, ECS, etc. It can get confusing.

On a quest to sound reputable, startup CBD companies are flavoring their content with this type of language. The result? Blog posts that read more like medical papers than, well, blogs…and further confusion on the part of consumers.

Scientific correctness isn’t a bad thing; it has its place. After all, we have some technical, high-level content too! But unless these finer points are placed into the context of a much larger, much more holistic picture, they’re not all that valuable.

So, let’s back up a bit. In this article we’ll be diving deeply into a single term, one you may well have heard before: homeostasis.

Homeostasis (noun): a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group.

In other words, the type of homeostasis we’re talking about here is a state of equilibrium (which itself means balance between opposing forces) between elements of the human body.

To put it simpler: homeostasis is exemplified in a body that’s in balance with — at peace with, even — itself.

When one is in homeostasis good things happen, things like health, vitality, and a healthy metabolism. Conversely, a fall out of homeostasis almost always results in disease.

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How does homeostasis work?

Let’s look at a very practical example. Optimal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature reflects our internal combustion, our slow-burn of energy production.  Anything much above 98° indicates fever or infection, while anything much below puts one in danger of hypothermia.

In order to keep things within such a small range, the body’s temperature homeostasis has to be very precise. And it has to occur regardless of external, environmental temperature!

So, how do our bodies maintain homeostasis? Good question. There are two parts to it: internal communication (controlled by the nervous system) and external perception (controlled by the nervous system and immune system, too).

Going back to the temperature regulation example above, let’s say it’s very hot outside. The nervous system and brain communicate to dilate blood vessels, produce more sweat, etc. But how’d they know to do that? They wouldn’t have… if TRP channels hadn’t alerted them to external conditions.

Of course, our bodies maintain homeostasis in other areas too. We self-regulate levels of hormones like cortisol and insulin; our muscles maintain delicate balances of different electrolytes. Energy homeostasis is also important if one wants to stay fit and athletic!

Though a somewhat intuitive concept, maintaining homeostasis is complex. It requires integral communication between the body and mind — and between physiological systems, like the immune and nervous systems we mentioned earlier.

To weave everything together, an overarching regulator is needed; something that can homeostatically regulate every part of the whole. And that’s exactly where the endocannabinoid system comes in. By increasing intracellular and intra-system communication, it makes complexity possible.

Disclaimer: Information found in this article or on fredandjane.com shouldn’t be taken as any medical or scientific opinion, advice or recommendation. Please do your own research and consult with your doctor before introducing cannabinoids to your body. 

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