My GUT Is Making Me Depressed
Wait…80% of the immune system is located in the gut?
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? Gut problems that overlap with other health problems are the norm in medicine. Ethan B. Russo’s paper, “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes,” describes it best:
“Comorbidity is quite clear in the three diagnoses. Primary headaches co-occurred in 97% of 201 fibromyalgia patients, 35.6% of 101 chronic daily headache (transformed migraine) subjects also fit clinical criteria of fibromyalgia, and 31.6% of IBS subjects were also diagnosable with fibromyalgia, while 32% of fibromyalgia patients also fit for IBS.”
Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016; 1(1): 154–165.
Gut-Brain Communication? Gut Microbiome?
The gut and the brain are in constant communication via the biochemical signalling of the gut-brain axis. In other words, the gut heavily influences the brain and the brain heavily influences the gut. How? The gut has pathways between the cognitive functions of the brain and the peripheral intestinal functions of the gut.
The gut microbiota– tens of trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. This is the new superstar of medical research and for a good reason. A plethora of research has indicated that a disrupted gut microbiome is not only responsible for problems of the gut, but it can also cause disruptions in brain functioning and mental health as well.
“Commensal human colon microbiota are integral to numerous functions that maintain health. While research on these organisms has traditionally focused on disorders of the gut, there is growing interest in their connection to the central nervous system (CNS). The interconnectedness of the gut and the brain—the association between dysregulation of the gut microbiome and psychiatric disorders, neurodegeneration, and impaired brain development, for example—raises the possibility of targeting the microbiome to treat neurological diseases.”
—The New York Academy of Sciences
For example, researchers Stephanie G. Cheung, et al., implanted disrupted mice microbiomes in rats and 2 weeks later, the mice were depressed.
…What does the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) have to
do with any of this?
Along with the endocannabinoid system’s integral role in the central nervous system (communication between the gut and the brain), the ECS is the base of the immune system. An important part of immune function that the ECS takes responsibility for (in the gut) is increasing the amount of beneficial microbes, while inhibiting undesired strains of gut microbes.
The CB receptors of the ECS are present throughout the GI tract. CBD especially works on CB2 receptors, which are the receptors of the peripheral system of the gut.
Synthesizing and degrading cannabinoids is a regulatory part of gastric function and is vital for…
➔ The Processes of motility (food’s flow/movement through the GI tract)
➔ Secretion (substance release)
➔ Sensation (what you feel)
➔ Emesis (nausea and vomiting)
➔ Satiety (satisfaction)
➔ Gut-brain mediated gat intake
➔ Hunger signaling
➔ Gut permeability
➔ Dynamic interactions with gut microbiome
Most importantly, the endocannabinoid system mediates protection against intestinal inflammation.
But then why aren’t my Endocannabinoids fixing my gut
Today, we do so many horrible things to our guts. Pollution, not enough exercise, chronic disease, eating the wrong food, eating too fast, eating while trying to finish up work, worrying about why that boy isn’t returning our texts… all of these result in bad digestion.
We can get pills for acid reflux, constipation, bloating, etc., but over time, the medicines we buy somehow seem to only make us worse. They are putting bandaids on a problem, while simultaneously worsening other aspects of our health. The goal of medicine should be to treat the problem, rather than the symptoms of that problem—the real problem, the underlying problem.
Our bodies were not evolutionized to deal with the gut-stress induced by the modern world. Because there are so many toxins and so much stress in the modern day, our endocannabinoids become depleted . Yet, cannabinoids are vital for the immune system of our gut, to create relaxation for digestion and proper gut-brain communication, as well as for fighting bad bacteria and retaining the good stuff. Supplementing with phytocannabinoids (from the hemp plant) is a great option to ensure that the gut is healthy and balanced.
Build your Temple
“Your body is your temple”—yes, it is so cliche, but only because it is so true! Appreciating your body and everything it does for you by taking care of it is a rewarding venture. Not only will you feel more confident in yourself and comfortable in your body, but also, every response you have to life is dictated first by a physiological response in the body. Therefore, the health of your body shapes your experience of the world—being comfortable in it, both physically and psychologically, is going to make your life experiences better. Your body is the structure of your experience. Let’s build the right structure for a beautiful life.
An Article By Evie Louise
Evie Louise is a recent psychology graduate from New York University. She is a certified in International Cannabinoid Clinical Therapy. Evie sees all forms of the cannabis sativa plant as the future of psychiatry, and hopes to use it in her therapy practice as a full spectrum approach to mental health and wellness.