Supporting Your ECS to Ensure it Can Make Optimal Use of CBD
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an extensive network of neurons, neural pathways, receptors, cells, molecules, and enzymes that work tirelessly throughout your body to maintain a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
And while you’ve surely heard that our ECS can receive, process, and use the medicinal compounds in cannabis, there are many things that you can do to keep your ECS in top shape so that it can better make use of CBD supplements. That’s right. How well your body can be prepared for the optimal production of endocannabinoids (and its ability to uptake phytocannabinoids) can be optimally supported by many lifestyle choices.
Supporting Your ECS Through Exercise
Exercise is practically medicine, so critical is it to maintaining health and well-being. Both animal and human studies have shown that exercise can heal, but how does exercise impact the ECS?
An increase in both cannabinoid receptors in the brain and their interaction with endocannabinoids has been seen by measuring the increase in endocannabinoid levels in the blood after sustained exercise such as biking, running, and swimming. You’ve heard of runner’s high and the endorphin theory? Another explanation for this experience of wellness and euphoria is the activation of the ECS.
Supporting Your ECS through Sleep
Sleep is an essential element in good health and well-being throughout your life. Adequate, recuperative sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. During the various phases of sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function, consolidate information, process memories, stimulate creativity, and work on physical restoration.
Sleep wards off inflammation and pain and it also support us in managing stress. All of these actions are also regulated by a healthy Endocannabinoid System. In fact, scientists have found that certain endocannabinoids increase in number at night while we’re sleeping and that certain receptors are more responsive to them. In this way, sleep and the ECS work together in a symbiotic relationship to have us operate optimally.
A Balanced Diet That Supports Homeostasis
Did you know that foods that are balanced in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids support endocannabinoid production? Fish such as salmon, avocado, and leafy greens are rich in omega-3. Corn, sunflower, and soybean oils contain omega-6. Flaxseed, hemp seed oil and nuts contain both omega-3 and omega-6.
The balance between these acids is the key. Having a ratio of 1:1 to 1:5 of omega-6 to omega-3 is the most beneficial. If the omega-6 part of the ratio increases, the production of endocannabinoids decreases and makes homeostasis unmaintainable (which leads to a higher likelihood of disease).
Stress Management to Support Production of ECS receptors and Endocannabinoids
While stress, of course, has an evolutionary function, an ongoing chrone state of stress is known to contribute to a wide array of health challenges. Unfortunately, many of the behaviors and mechanisms we adopt to help as cope with stress, such as becoming a workaholic, drinking excessively, lying awake at night in a state of worry, skipping meals, etc., are detrimental to our well-being.
Furthermore, a 2016 NIH study showed that chronic stress decreases the production of both ECS receptors and endocannabinoids. This decrease not only lowers the ability to fight inflammation and protect immune function, it also sets the stage for conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, memory loss, depression, and more.
Adopting healthy stress management techniques from yoga to massage to Tai Chi to meditation, and even prayer or a spiritual practice, can all help the ECS remain balanced, warding off stress and the diseases triggered by stress.
Nurturing Close Connections
The truth is, as social beings, it is incredibly important to both our physical and psychological well-being to nurture healthy friendships. Everybody needs myriad relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Numerous studies show that deep social attachments increase oxytocin, a chemical that reinforces our empathy and trust and diminishes stress, anxiety, depression. Oxytocin also aids in relieving pain and inflammation and encourages optimal heart…all of which help the ECS maintain balance.
Exercise, a balanced diet, stress managment, sleep, social connections –all of these play a vital role in supporting healing and in strengthening the ECS. Integrating all of the above in addition to a CBD supplement will optimize homostasis, healing, well-being and ultimately, longevity.
1) Healing and CBD by Eileen Konieczny, RN
2) CBD Handbook by Barbara Brownell Grogan
3) Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body & Mind by Nick Littlehales
4) New Aging by Matthias Hollwich
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