Merging Cannabis with Healthcare
A few years ago, this topic would have never come up because of the negative stigma towards cannabis, but there is no doubt that things are changing. We are seeing a shift in what we believe is health advice and what isn’t. For the first time in history, we are realizing that long term dependence on medications may not be good for us, and it can cause more harm than good and here is why.
Our body works predominantly in a negative feedback loop to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is essentially the neutral point that the body functions best to maintain an adequate internal environment. This means that our body maintains favorable conditions so many physiological processes can work adequately.
For example, if our body heats up, we produce sweat to cool it back down. This is because the body is meant to function within a certain degree range and anything too hot or too cold can mess with our ability to function properly because it is no longer within a certain temperature range.
This deviation from homeostasis, if not corrected, can be life threatening. This means that maintaining homeostasis is vital to our survival.
When we take medications short term (acutely) not much harm is done. This is because the human body is very resilient and can adequately filter and eliminate toxins at a very successful rate. However, there is a certain breaking point of no return.
Medications can cause a great deal of harm to our gut, our gut barrier (mucosal membranes), and even disrupt the good gut bacteria balance that we have in our GI tract. When we are negatively affecting our gut health through long term medication dependence, our health is going to spiral down. It isn’t an “if” type of thing, but rather “when”.
The more I understand what health is and just how important gut health is, the more I realize the actual harm we are doing to ourselves through pharmaceutical dependence. For the longest time, medications were the only thing we had to rely on and unless you are fortunate enough to have access to an herbalist or a functional medicine practitioner, we all had to rely on the same thing for relief, pills. We need something else to give us relief without damaging our gut.
This is where the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids such as CBD and THC come into play. There has been a shift in healthcare with the legalization of cannabinoids, giving healthcare professionals another tool to rely on to improve the health of mankind. This means that researchers are now able to study these plant compounds, which revealed some truth after many years of spreading misinformation about cannabis.
What we discovered is that these plant compounds act on our Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is a very complex receptor system that controls many functions in the human body (as well as all mammals). Which brings us back to the topic of homeostasis.
We knew what homeostasis is and how important it was, but medical researchers did not really understand how the body accomplished this. With more research and studies going on, we quickly realized exactly how the body maintains homeostasis, which is through the ECS.
The ECS is the largest receptor system in the human body, and it is present in our central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, as well as all our cells. This is how our cells directly communicate to one another and maintain favorable conditions or homeostasis.
In addition to homeostasis, we also learned that the ECS controls immune response (including inflammation, which is huge when discussing chronic disease), pain perception, mood, sleep, appetite, memory, temperature control, appetite, bone growth and remodeling, mental health (anxiety, depression, etc.), learning, reproduction, metabolism, growth and development, just to name a few (1).
What this means is that we now have a target receptor system that controls many physiological functions within the human body. This means that we can utilize cannabinoids to act on this receptor system to address many pathological conditions. This is huge because it is like introducing a new medication that works along with our body, not against. What is even more exciting is that these are natural plant compounds that have been around for thousands and thousands of years. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties of these cannabinoids give healthcare professionals much hope when it comes to our health and wellness.
What sets cannabinoids apart from medications is the long-term effects (or should I say lack thereof) it has on human health. Like I said earlier, long term medication dependency can cause negative side effects that can be crippling as well as life threatening. Side effects are going to surface at some point because these synthetic pharmaceuticals work against our body when it comes to homeostasis and gut health.
When you rely on these plant compounds long term to address certain conditions that I mentioned above, we are having a positive impact on our health, not trading it in for relief. This is the difference between night and day, sickness and health.
What do I mean? We are going from relying on something that causes a toxic load on the liver to using something that has liver protecting properties. We are going from something that is causing inflammation to our GI tract (mucosal membrane) and killing off our good gut bacteria to using something that soothes inflammation within our GI tract, restores our mucosal membrane, and has a positive impact on our gut bacteria. We are going from relying on something that causes a shift away from homeostasis to relying on something that acts on our receptor system that helps the body to maintain homeostasis.
You see, these plant compounds are far superior when it comes to our health. We are getting the relief we need, but at the same time we aren’t giving up our health to get relief. It is the total opposite end of the health spectrum.
My goal is to show you the potential of these plant compounds so we can improve our quality of life and rely less on pharmaceuticals. I want to show other healthcare professionals the potential of these plant compounds so we can improve our medical model around the world. Most importantly, I want to show you that we can use these plant compounds and take our later years into consideration. Our bodies can only take so much until it reaches the breaking point. Using these natural plant compounds aid in our health in wellness, making sure we never reach that breaking point from long term dependence on pharmaceuticals.
Finally, we can get relief without trading in our health!
Cheers to these amazing plant compounds.
- Skaper, S. D., & Di Marzo, V. (2012). Endocannabinoids in nervous system health and disease: the big picture in a nutshell. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 367(1607), 3193–3200.https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2012.0313