WHAT’S YOUR GUT FEELING?
You’d be forgiven for thinking we’ve got it all worked out by now, in terms of how the human body works. After all, medicine has progressed exponentially over the years, as has technology. But in reality, there is still so much to learn and our understanding of how the body works is changing all the time. One perfect example of this is the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the complex network spanning almost every aspect of the body, even down to the mitochondrial walls, with which phytocannabinoids (and our own, naturally occurring endocannabinoids) interact. We’ve learned that keeping this system in balance – which CBD helps with – is vital for most, if not all, functions. Yet teaching of it has still not been integrated into medical training. This alone indicates that there’s still a very long way to go and, hopefully, opens up the opportunity for very exciting developments in the near future
Another area of constantly developing research and understanding is the importance of gut health – it goes far, far beyond our digestive processes.
Is the gut our second brain?
You may have heard that the gut is rather like a second brain, and there’s a lot of truth in this.
We’ve all experienced feeling of ‘butterflies’ in the stomach when nerves strike, ‘gut-wrenching’ sensations, stress stomach aches and even a tummy flip of excitement! This is because the gut and the brain are very firmly linked, with over 100 million neurons in the brain connecting to over 500 million neurons in the gut via the nerves in our nervous system, including the vagus nerve which signals both ways. What this means is, our gut health hugely impacts our mental health, and vice versa. In addition to this, we now also know that the ECS controls both gut and brain function – and therefore, so can cannabinoids.
Can food affect our gut and brain health?
Many of our neurotransmitters (like serotonin, dopamine and GABA) which control feelings and emotions are produced by our gut cells, not our brain at all! This indicates that what we put into our gut in the way of food, drink and supplements such as CBD or probiotics, may have a dramatic affect on brain health and even reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and potentially disorders such as autism and dementia. There have been multiple studies into these subjects, including one which showed taking a probiotic called ‘galactooligosaccharides’ for three weeks significantly decreased the stress hormone, cortisol, in participants.
Inflammation is a very common trigger for all sorts of ailments, from arthritis to Alzheimer’s, so it will come as no surprise to learn that inflammation in the gut may be responsible for many of the world’s most prevalent health issues. Food plays a huge role here, as certain types can increase inflammation, while others reduce it.
Some of the most inflammatory foods to avoid are:
- Sugar and high fructose corn syrup: Study after study has revealed the inflammatory affects of sugar. This ingredient (particularly the hideously processed version, high fructose corn syrup) is so harmful that it actually has been shown to cause mice to develop breast cancer, which then spread to the lungs and has been repeatedly linked to chronic kidney disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease and more.
- Alcohol: Chronic inflammation is often associated with alcohol-related medical conditions, as it impairs gut and liver functions and multi-organ interactions which can lead to persistent systemic inflammation.
- Trans fats: Fried foods (especially deep fried), margarine, fast food and vegetable oils are typically laden with this nasty form of fat, which has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and infertility in women.
Some of the most anti-inflammatory include in your diet are:
- Fermented foods: Eating fermented foods can help boost good bacteria in the gut. Examples of these include sauerkraut, kefir, miso and kombucha.
- Polyphenol-rich foods: There are more than 8,000 different types of polyphenols, including flavonoids, lignanamides, and phenolic acids which you can find in the cannabis plant! They are wonderfully anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and there many even be scope as a cancer treatment. You can also find these in berries, tea, spinach, dark chocolate, ginger, oregano and lots more.
- Anti-oxidant foods: Grapes, nuts, blueberries, green tea and hemp seed oil are all wonderful examples of anti-oxidant foods that can help reduce inflammation.
Did you know?
Hemp seed oil, which The Tonic uses as a carrier for CBD, contains a perfect ratio of Omega 3 and 6, plus the full range of 21 amino acids, which can help keep inflammation under control.
Can CBD help keep your gut in check?
A number of clinical and preclinical studies have found CBD to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The therapeutic potential has been (and continues to be) evaluated for many conditions which ordinarily accompany oxidative stress and inflammation. And on top of this, a key link has been established between the ECS and the brain-gut axis.
The ECS is the largest homeostatic regulator in the human body, which essentially means it’s responsible for keeping everything in balance. The actions, which can be supported and set into motion by CBD oil, contributes to the regulation of motility and inflammation in the GI tract and neurotransmitter signalling.
Cannabis has been used with great success to treat gut conditions for thousands of years, including abdominal pain, nausea and inflammatory and functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. As research into this incredible plant continues and we learn more about the molecules within, we will no doubt gain a much deeper understanding into the inner workings, and how it can be used to benefit those in need.