Many people, even cannabis enthusiasts, are not entirely familiar with how much our endocannabinoid system (ECS) affects our day-to-day lives. Our ECS is responsible for regulating our appetite, sleeping habits, memory, immunity, mood, and pain-sensation. While our endocannabinoid tone is determined by genetics, we can regulate it with our lifestyle choices. Certain habits, whether we know it or not, have the ability to determine how our ECS behaves and can even lead to potential health concerns. But fret not, there are ways to keep your endocannabinoid tone balanced.
Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout our body. Some people, however, have genetic variations that prevents the body from producing enough endocannabinoids and cell receptors for a healthy ECS. Luckily, a change in lifestyle habits involving food and nutrition can improve endocannabinoid tone.
Our endocannabinoid tone is determined by the amount of cell receptor activity occurring at any given time. Our ECS is composed of two main cell receptors, CB1 and CB2. Research has shown that when our body creates too many CB1 receptors, we become more prone to anxiety, stress, paranoia, increased appetite, and an immune boost.
When our body produces too many CB2 receptors, our bodies can take in more of the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis leading to faster tissue recovery in the case of an injury. Studies have also shown an increase in metabolic health, energy, and satiety in conjunction with CB2 over-activation.
When our endocannabinoid tone becomes imbalanced, it can lead to a host of negative health outcomes. For example, too much CB1 signaling has been associated with an increased risk of psychoactivity, inflammation, cardiovascular risk, and diabetes. In contrast, when there is not enough CB1 signaling, we are prone to a decrease in fertility, mood, and immunity. CB2 over-activation often leads to decreased immunity and ability to heal injuries.
Since about 85 percent of our neurotransmitters are produced in our gut, our diet has a lot to do with our endocannabinoid system. For one, our body requires a balanced amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 or else they will not metabolize properly.
Omega-6 is typically found in cooking oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, and peanut. It’s also found in a variety of prepackaged food. With so many accessible sources of Omega-6, it’s no wonder we consume it in excess.
Omega-3 sources, on the other hand, are not as readily available as Omega-6. People often get their Omega-3 from fish and eggs, but those sources aren’t enough to compensate for the abundance of Omega-6. It is a constant struggle for balance between the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 and the pro-inflammatory Omega-6.
For vegetarians, sources of Omega-3 include walnuts, hemp, chia seeds, and flax. Keep in mind, these consuming these sources of Omega-3 aren’t as effective as animal sources that contain EPA and DHA, only found in animal sources. Vegetarians can opt for algae-based products that provide the DHA compound.
Research suggests that alternative methods of therapy can upregulate our endocannabinoid tone: massage, meditation, aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbal medicines, sex, and yoga. Additionally, you can receive great benefits from probiotics, a low-sugar diet, low alcohol consumption, low dairy, high vegetable and fruit consumption, and even lacto-fermented foods like kombucha.
Ultimately, we have the power to determine how our body regulates internal biological processes. Incorporate healthy eating habits along with regular exercise and moderate cannabis consumption to achieve a balanced endocannabinoid tone.