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You are evolved to heal.
You have an endocannabinoid system. It got its name because the very first piece they identified of this signalling system they didn't know we had was the cell receptor named CB1, where the molecule THC attached.
Consider if you will, that the discovery of what is arguably the most important system in your body came about because we were being forced into a belief that there was something dangerous about cannabis. That negative message rankled some Israeli researchers who turned our world upside down in the most unexpected way.
This is the benefit prohibition brought us that we don't acknowledge enough. Prohibition brought about its own demise. You gotta love a playful universe.
Back to our conversation.
THC is a phytocannabinoid, a molecule found in the cannabis plant that will function in the endocannabinoid system. All mammals have endocannabinoid systems. This is why mammals heal. These curious researchers wanted to know what happened with this molecule inside the body. They found, quite to their surprise, that the cells were covered with receptors these molecules fit into like they were made just for this purpose.
Once they found these cell receptors, the "locks" on the cell membranes that the cannabinoid "key" fits into, they realized there must be something the body made that naturally fit these receptors. What they found was even more surprising than a receptor that these plant molecules fit so beautifully.
They found a system intended to keep your entire body in perfect balance. A system evolved to heal you, as needed, with the overriding intent to keep your beautifully complex human body in homeostasis - that balance point of health and wholeness that allows you to express life in the most playful, joyful way.
Your ECS is really just a signalling system made up of three basic parts.
We have the receptors on the cells. These are like the locks, a pathway into the cell for signals to pass.
Then we have the cannabinoids that attach to the receptors, the key that fits this very particular lock. This to me, is the magical part of the game. Using some guidance we have yet to understand, your ECS reaches into the membranes of your cells, extracts tiny fat-like molecules we call lipids, and fabricates them through some wonderous cosmic evolutionary alchemy, to create cannabinoids to meet the precise signalling needed by this one little cell out of all the others.
Your ECS does this magical creative action all day, every day, all over your body, simultaneously. Isn't that the most exciting thing ever? Think of how powerful you didn't know you were. I'd like you to allow that sense of power to grow. Your ECS can hear that confidence, and will grow stronger.
Upon attachment, the cannabinoids send a specific signal into the cell that causes a particular cascade of chemicals. The cell hears this biological message and triggers a desired behavior that will either bring it back into balance with its neighbors, or sacrifice its life for the good of the community by committing apoptosis - safe and efficient cellular suicide.
Lastly, we have the enzymes that are created to break down the cannabinoids so they can be flushed out of the system.
We have the locks, the keys, and housekeeping.
An example: You stub your toe. There's pain and some inflammation. This registers immediately and your ECS attends to the problem from a couple different directions. To begin, your ECS produces the molecule anandamide, one of the major endocannabinoids and the one whose action THC mirrors. Endo means "inside". Anandamide and 2-AG are made inside your body.
The molecules are created at the site of the injury and will attach to receptors on affected cells to cut off the pain signal, so you begin to immediately feel less pain. Sound familiar? Can you imagine that initial pain staying at that level? Thank goodness your ECS immediately goes to work on that pain signal.
Your ECS simultaneously produces more anandamide, in the brain this time, to cut off the pain signals that got through already, or may be coming, and others to attach to neurons in the brain that are screaming "PAIN!!!" to help quiet them down.
Your busy ECS is also creating 2-AG, the endocannabinoid CBD's action mirrors. This part of the magic happens at the injury site to reduce the inflammation. Your ECS is eliminating future pain by solving the more serious problem.
Your ECS thoughtfully eliminates the cause of the pain and your perception of it - cutting immediate pain at the signals, and future pain with actual healing.
Cells are tiny, microscopic things. We're talking about a lot of creative work going on just to heal this one small stubbed toe. It's not like your ECS can take a break from keeping all the rest of you running smoothly........
You begin to see the challenge before you? The nuances hinted at in this new journey we're about to jump into? We've been asking our endocannabinoid systems to take on a monumental task with inadequate support. Think of the workload needed to heal a body of cancer. Make no mistake about it, the ECS is evolved to rid the body of cancer too.
What the ECS does to cancer cells is absolutely astounding, but that's for another chapter. You can allow yourself be excited about that chapter. It's a thrilling ride all its own.
Our current story continues.
Housekeeping works busily along the front lines. As this creation and healing is going on system-wide, the enzymes are being created to do all the cleaning up for these specialized molecules. They happily go about the job of breaking everything down into basic components and bundling everything up nice and neat for transport to grab and go.
All of which needs to be washed away to keep the body systems clutter-free.
Drink more water. You now understand why this is more important than you thought it was. All that bio-trash waiting to be washed away.........
In basic terms, this is your friendly ECS, working so diligently to heal you of any and all disease that dares try to set up residence in this charged, creative atmosphere. On-demand healing potential. How do you not get excited about that?
You were evolved to heal. This marvelous, creative force inside wonderful you needs your support to help it run more efficiently. Its signalling keeps every other system in your body running smoothly, efficiently, and in close concert with all other body systems. We've lost sight of the fact that healing is the norm, and we've developed some nasty nutritional and lifestyle habits that could benefit from our attention and modification.
You were evolved to heal. The system responsible for keeping you healthy and whole - in homeostasis - needs your support.
Before we begin, Dr. Sulak has some introductory thoughts on the endocannabinoid system that I believe will help us better understand the journey ahead.
Your Endocannabinoid System Explained - YouTube
Let's talk about some things we can do to help support our endocannabinoid systems that have nothing to do with cannabis.