The Endocannabinoid System Encourages Homeostasis – What Does That Mean?

When we talk here at Riparian Farms about the significance of cannabidiol (CBD) and the role that cannabinoids play in maintaining and improving our health, we’re referring to their influence on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and potentially improving its ability to maintain homeostasis.

For the non-scientific minds out there, homeostasis refers to any process or reaction that our body utilizes to actively maintain a constant internal environment. In many cases, these efforts to maintain balance are necessary for survival.

Automatic control systems throughout our bodies are constantly making adjustments to maintain ideal levels of vital conditions, such as oxygen levels, hydration and internal temperature. To maintain the necessary temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, the body monitors for changes and if needed, signals an appropriate response. We sweat when our internal temperatures get too high, and shiver to produce heat when temperatures get too low.

It is similar to numerous balancing weights hung onto each other. If one side of one particular receptacle becomes injured or imbalanced than the other balancing levers move to compensate in an effort to maintain an overall balance. It may not be the most optimal configuration, but it achieves a new “balance” for the entirety of the full system to function.

We often experience this phenomena as we age, or as we injure ourselves in some way shape or fashion. A pulled muscle in our back or a sprained ankle puts more stress on the rest of the body as we move around our daily lives. And unlike an ankle that is sprained soon heals, sometimes that which we injure or becomes dysfunctional internally doesn’t heal unless there is some additional help for it to restore the original balance, or homeostasis.

Efforts to maintain homeostasis are constantly happening in the body, as our systems, including the endocannabinoid system, are constantly regulating several variables to adjust for any changes in our internal environment.

Why Homeostasis is Important for Health

To survive, grow and function, organisms must be able to maintain stable internal environments. Uncorrected disturbances to equilibrium can lead to health problems, ranging from minor symptoms like headaches to more serious diseases like cancer.

Diseases like arthritis, epilepsy, stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and glaucoma are some of the conditions that have been linked to a loss of balance. Whether or not the body is able to adjust to changes and effectively maintain homeostasis directly impacts the likelihood that a disease will develop.

The Endocannabinoid System’s Role in Maintaining Homeostasis

Shown to have extensive influence over homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating the biochemistry related to an array of processes. Pain management, immune response, appetite, energy regulation, mood, and memory are just some of the functions that are managed by the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system works to maintain homeostasis by utilizing cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors found throughout the immune system and central and peripheral nervous systems. When an imbalance is detected, the body naturally synthesizes cannabinoids to interact with the cannabinoid receptors, which in turn stimulate a chemical response that works to return the physiological process that is out of balance back to homeostasis. Cannabinoids are what allow communication and coordination between different cell types.

The body naturally synthesizes cannabinoids on demand, but scientists believe that in some cases not enough cannabinoids are created for the endocannabinoid system to work effectively. This condition, referred to as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, has been linked to several health problems and diseases. In these cases, researchers have found evidence that supplementing with phytocannabinoids, such as CBD, may help the endocannabinoid system to function properly and lead to improved health.