Humans function best when all of our systems are performing at a consistent baseline level. Like clockwork, various systems coordinate and cooperate to keep the body and its systems in balance. This steady state is known as homeostasis. Cannabis can play a significant role in maintaining it.
What is homeostasis?
Your body constantly works to keep your systems in a state of balance. Every time you encounter a stimulus such as going for a run or catching a cold, your body kick-starts mechanisms to keep you alive and functional. Unless you’re a scientist, you probably haven’t heard the word “homeostasis” since biology class. This is a built in mechanism that strives to keep the body in balance. Every time a stimulus, such as heat or physical exertion, challenges our body, homeostatic mechanisms ensure things don’t go too far in any direction.
Examples of optimal ranges in the body
- Blood pH between 7.35–7.45
- Blood pressure between 90/60–120/80mmHg
- Body temperature of around 37°C
The body works constantly to maintain blood sugar levels, potassium and calcium balance, immune system activity, and hydration. However, things become a bit more challenging when we’re exposed to certain stimuli, including infection, physical exertion, hunger, and high temperatures.
How does homeostasis work?
It takes an orchestrated effort. Our bodies house trillions of cells that make up a myriad of tissues, organs, and glands as well as the trillions of bacteria that call your body home.
“Keeping all of these systems and cells working in harmony—and functioning well enough to keep us alive—requires communication. Various systems within the body work in concert to maintain homeostatic boundaries through hormonal excretion and electrical signaling.”
Together, the endocrine and nervous system form feedback loops that underpin homeostasis.
Feedback loops are mechanisms that the body uses to maintain homeostasis. There are two different kinds: positive, and negative feedback loops.
Cannabis and Homeostasis
“Ongoing studies are pitching cannabis and its constituents against a plethora of disease models. Researchers are particularly interested in a subset of cannabis-derived metabolites known as cannabinoids. These molecules are able to influence the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the universal regulator of the human body.”
Interestingly, cannabis-derived cannabinoids share a similar structure to those created within the body. This means they’re also capable of binding to ECS receptors, and have the capacity to influence our universal regulator. Constituents in cannabis can essentially “hack” this master regulatory network.
Cannabis can provide significant relief for those whose conditions have a constellation of symptoms, as may be the case with migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. But the protocol doesn’t fit seamlessly with current Western medical practices. Physicians are typically trained to prescribe one drug per symptom. This can result in a layering of prescriptions, starting with drugs to manage specific symptoms followed by others to counter adverse effects of the first drug. This might be thought of as an artificially managed form of homeostasis.
Why is Homeostasis Important?
The mechanisms that underpin homeostasis keep us alive. Without them, simply going for a run or catching a cold would lead to our death. It’s the key to the health of an organism.
“Given the role of the ECS in this vital mechanism, cannabis and its constituents are front and center in research related to maintaining optimal homeostasis. Though research is preliminary, scientists are keen to unravel this complex but undeniably vital aspect of human biology.”
Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources. Please seek proper medical advice before beginning any treatment program.