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:  

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“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.  

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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)
➔ Inflammation
➔ Gut-brain mediated fat 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 
problems currently? 

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.  

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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.  

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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.

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