5 Healthy Methods for Getting the Most From Your Cannabis
As part of our biological makeup, all of us are equipped with an endogenous cannabinoid system that regulates the production and uptake of cannabinoids. This system is known as the “endocannabinoid system,” and it is believed to promote bodily homeostasis by regulating a diverse array of physiological processes, such as body temperature, thirst and hunger, sleep, digestion, heart rate, and much more. The idea behind the use medicinal cannabis is that by properly aligning the bodies endocannabinoid system, often by supplementing cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, one can procure a state well-being through bodily homeostasis, in which all physiological processes are balanced. The endogenous cannabinoid system is vast and complex, and has only just begun to be explored, but it’s now understood that there are two main types of cannabinoid receptors:
CB1 receptors, which are located throughout the brain, central nervous system, connective tissues, and related organs, are the primary receptor for THC, the notorious psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s believed that CB1 receptors are the most densely populated receptor found in the human brain, explaining why they have such a large influence over physical processes.
CB2 receptors, which are located throughout the immune system, modulate intestinal inflammatory response. CB2 receptors are critical for the regulation of the gastrointestinal system and the immune system. CB2 receptors do not produce the “high” associated with cannabis use, since they populate the brain sparsely.
Specific cannabinoids bind to certain cannabinoid receptors, consequently activating the receptor. Each of us already produce our own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids (an amalgamation of the words “endogenous” and “cannabinoid”), so when we consume cannabis by smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise ingesting it, we’re actually just supplementing endogenous cannabinoids with phytocannabinoids (those produced by plants). Therefore, in order for cannabis to be more effective, it’s helpful to consider the receptivity of your endocannabinoid receptors. Here are a few useful tips for how to boost your endocannabinoid system in healthy and natural ways:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3’s are the building blocks for CB1 receptor formation. CB1 receptors facilitate the absorption of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. So, if you’re looking for an effective and healthy way to boost your uptake of THC, and possibly boost your buzz, make sure you’re consuming the proper amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Interestingly enough, one of the most abundant and healthy sources of Omega-3 fatty acids is the hemp plant! Hemp seeds are believed to have the optimal ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (1:3), since this ratio emulates the ratio found in the human body. Many seeds and legumes are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and fish oil supplements are an option as well.
2. Reduce Stress and Alcohol Consumption
Both stress and heavy alcohol consumption slow the growth and repair of new endocannabinoid receptors. Moderate alcohol consumption is likely harmless to endocannabinoid function, but heavy drinking and binge use can significantly impair the ability of receptors to optimally process cannabinoids. High levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, also impede the functioning of CB1 receptors. Maybe that explains the characteristic “carefree stoner” depicted in cannabis culture? Either way, finding healthy ways to manage stress can be doubly beneficial when it comes to using cannabis.
Speaking of stress management, exercise is a great way to manage stress in a healthy way, while benefiting from the numerous advantages of physical activity. It’s well known that getting enough exercise can help you sleep better, but adequate exercise can also increase levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid that is believed to promote happiness. In fact, some think the “runner’s high” phenomena is actually due to an increase in the production and absorption of endocannabinoids, rather than endorphins.
Caryophyllene is a “terpene,” which is another term for an aromatic compound. This unique terpene is prevalent in herbs and spices such as cloves, rosemary, basil, oregano, black pepper, and cannabis! It’s actually the only known terpene to stimulate endocannabinoid receptors by binding to them. The properties of caryophyllene are found to be neuroprotective, preventing stress and anxiety. Perhaps this explains the urban legend that chewing on a black peppercorn can help alleviate the paranoia and anxiety from consuming too much cannabis and getting too high…
5. CBD (Cannabidiol)
CBD is the second most common cannabinoid found in cannabis, with THC being the most common. CBD is non-intoxicating, although it also interacts with endogenous cannabinoid receptors in a way that is still being researched. CBD is often used by those seeking medicinal benefits from the cannabis plant, and many experience relief from conditions theorized to be caused by endocannabinoid deficiency, such as fibromyalgia, migraine and IBS. Because CBD is non-intoxicating, and relatively very safe, it is becoming more available throughout the United States and internationally. Intriguingly, research shows that CBD has neuroprotective qualities that may help prevent cannabinoid receptors from degrading due to overexposure to THC, and may additionally mitigate some of the negative side-effects of consuming too much THC, such as paranoia or anxiety.
Learning how to enhance your natural ability to absorb and process cannabinoids is vital to maximizing the benefit of your herb. Different methods work best for different people, especially according to their needs, but healthy dieting, proper sleeping, and adequate exercise are fool-proof means of reducing stress, boosting endocannabinoid receptors, and living more healthfully. However, moderation is the most important lesson to prevent oversaturating endocannabinoid receptors, which is what lends to the accumulation of a tolerance.