Perfect Balance, CBD & Yoga
Cannabis is designed to maintain homeostasis in our bodies. It interconnects all systems, organs and tissues and responds to changes in the internal and external environment. Its whole purpose is to keep our bodies functioning at their optimal level by adapting to change. The cannabis plant is incredibly complex, and each piece of its physiology plays an integral role in creating its healing properties and psychoactive experiences. The entourage effect states that the natural components of cannabis, like terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids, combine synergistically to complement and enhance their therapeutic benefits.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the father of cannabis discovered the structure of cannabidiol (CBD) and the isolation and synthesis of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); the two more prominent cannabinoids in cannabis. Mechoulam's total synthesis of cannabinoids eventually led him to the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) which has neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory abilities. In 1992, Mechoulam found that people naturally make their own cannabinoids that are integral to the regulation of memory, pain, mood, sleep and hunger. Inside your body are millions of cannabinoid receptors that receive and process our endogenous cannabinoids and neurotransmitters. Cannabinoid receptors operate by retrograde signaling; they are the only known brain signals that travel backwards across the synapse to regulate the signaling neuron. When a receptor neuron is being over-stimulated, it can actually send a message backwards, telling it to calm down and stop signaling. This is how they treat symptoms like chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, and seizures. If they act on an inhibitory signal they function as stimulants, treating symptoms like depression or loss of appetite. The ECS is maintaining the perfect balance in our bodies.
Cannabinoids must be synthesized by components within the cell membrane when they are needed. So, if your diet and lifestyle, lack of exercise, drug abuse, environmental toxins, or genetics have left your neurons deficient in healthy fats, they cannot produce enough endocannabinoids to modulate signals for pain, fear, desire, reward, learning, cognition, and so on. Insufficient release of endocannabinoids is the root cause of fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic fatigue and IBS. This deficiency reduces our ability to adapt to chronic stress. Prolonged exposure to stress depletes endocannabinoid tone, which impacts a multitude of physiological processes and causes a disruption of homeostasis.
CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, heightens physical sensations in the body, which enhances the mind-body connection similar to the process experienced in yoga. CBD and yoga are harmonious, amplifying each other’s restorative abilities. This awareness of the body combined with CBD’s calming effects helps promote deeper, slower, and more intentional breaths, which in turn can help you reap deeper benefits from your practice. CBD helps stay better connected to your breath and how the body is responding to the pose.
Yoga guides us towards our center, aligning our breath and movement promoting mindfulness, relaxation while lowering our body’s stress hormone, cortisol. Research shows that intervention with mind-body technique such as meditation can have a major effect on cardiovascular events.
The wide spectrum of CBD’s medical conditions reflects its diverse set of brain and body targets and differences in sensitivity. Overshooting the ideal dose when trying to treat a given condition may reduce the efficacy of CBD. Again, too little may not be sufficient to be therapeutic and more is not always better but instead, we aim for the perfect balance.
At relatively, low doses, CBD can block endocannabinoids from interacting with receptors in the nervous system explaining CBD’s ability to reduce the adverse effects such as paranoia and psychoactivity that can accompany THC. So, THC and CBD can exist in harmony to create an ideal emotion or reaction.
Whether marijuana will boost or inhibit each bodily system depends on the state of the body at the time of use as well as the chemical makeup of the marijuana and the dosing strategy. Normal tone of the endocannabinoid system has been associated with a state of good health and well-being, while distress in this regulatory system has been associated with several disease states.
Cannabis is so powerfully beneficial; it is an amplifier that threatens the status quo. Cannabis allows us to be who we are without regret. It can free us from the desire to survive with the fittest. It helps us trust the energy of the moment which leads to awakening.
Given cannabis’ favorable safety profile, with increased research, it has the potential to lead to novel therapies to prevent disease or progression of symptoms by modulating the ECS.
Cannabis/CBD and yoga can help raise our consciousness, as we inhale and exhale and exist in a natural state of nonresistance. We can learn to appreciate the plant, find strength in the differences and comfort where we overlap.
"No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature."Deepak Chopra
Michelle Weiner, DO, MPH
Spine and Wellness Centers of America