Unlike some health trends, I’m really ecstatic that CBD is becoming more mainstream. And that something that is thought to be taboo (aka taking a derivative of the marijuana plant) is becoming known for its health benefits.
If you’ve not heard of CBD, let’s start at the beginning: What’s the endocannabinoid system?
There is a segment of your nervous system called the endocannabinoid system, whose main duty is to keep everything in check. It’s similar to an on/off switch when it comes to cellular function. For example If your immune system is out of control, and too high (as in autoimmune disease), the endocannabinoid system can help to bring it back down to normal functioning.
All humans have this endocannabinoid system in our bodies: It’s very dispersed, reaching from the brain and the central nervous system to the rest of your peripheral nervous system, including your uterus, thyroid, adrenals, and digestive tract. That’s why impacting this system can have such wide ranging positive effects—these cannabinoid receptors are everywhere.
Our bodies make their own source of cannabinoids that bind to these receptors and can create effects of euphoria, pain relief, and relaxation. These cannabinoids travel everywhere throughout your body and can benefit anything from autoimmune disorders, anxiety and ADHD to irritable bowel syndrome, and pain.
But, our bodies don’t store these cannabinoids for release when they’re needed. In fact, it can be tricky to get them where they need to go to induce those good effects. When your brain is signaled that it needs to create cannabinoids, our bodies make and release them. Then the cannabinoid travels through our systems to get to the right cell to be utilized.
Why are cannabinoids getting so much hype?
So why is this cannabinoid system getting so much attention right now? People are searching for alternative and outside the box approaches to heal from chronic conditions—and researchers are finding herbs that can stimulate these cannabinoid receptors, thereby contributing to healing.
One of those herbs is the Cannabis sativa plant, which has two main constituents to it that give it these healing properties. One constituent is THC, which is the most active cannabinoid and when heated and consumed, will have psychoactive properties. The other constituent is CBD or cannabidiol, which has zero psychoactive properties and all the medicinal properties to it, making it the optimal part for day-to-day use.
CBD, which is technically called a phytocannabinoid due to its plant derivative, has a diverse resume as to what it can be effective at treating. How can that be? As I said before, there are endocannabinoid receptors all over your body. Each tissue has a different density of these receptors, meaning CBD can be effective everywhere in your body. But denser areas see stronger effects of CBD.
How does CBD work?
When you consume therapeutic doses of CBD, it travels to these cannabinoid receptors and stimulates them to either turn on or off the function of the cell. How vague, right? Let’s give an example. In an autoimmune condition, your immune system is hyperactive and starting to recognize your own body’s cells as foreign invaders. It’s mounting an attack on them.
Now, there are several organs that have an influence on your immune system, and also have a high density of cannabinoid receptors on them. When you consume a CBD product, these phytocannabinoids can travel to the cannabinoid receptors on your immune system organs. This helps curb the over-reactive nature of these organs, calms the immune system down, and can help heal the autoimmunity. On top of that (and often you can see these side effects first), you might see reduction in autoimmune symptoms, like pain (from all the inflammation), anxiety, and other hormonal fluctuations.
Is CBD right for me?
The benefits of CBD have been clearly outlined in the literature, but each person who is looking to experiment with CBD should first find out how it affects them before utilizing it and performing important daily functions, such as driving a car. There are many factors that can determine how CBD may affect you including other medications you’re taking, the dose and form of CBD, and your unique biochemical makeup. Consulting with your health care practitioner is always the best way to ensure safety on this journey. If you’re interested in learning more, or if CBD is right for you, partner with our health team who thinks outside the conventional box when it comes to personalizing our treatment approaches.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.