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The popularity of CBD oil has skyrocketed recently, and there are tens of thousands of examples of anecdotal evidence as to its effectiveness in treating a myriad of symptoms and disorders, such as pediatric epilepsy, pain, inflammation, acne, asthma, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, and depression. As I began researching PTSD for my own family, the sheer volume of stories from such a wide variety of issues actually made me doubt the validity of CBD oil. How could CBD oil help all of these people with all of these different issues? It’s not a miracle oil. Surely this had become the latest health craze that people were jumping on without much to back it up. I wondered if CBD oil was too good to be true and if it was no different than a snake oil.
All of that changed when I learned about our Endocannabinoid system, how it functions, what it controls, how deficiencies can affect us, and how plant based cannabinoids can fill in the gap to improve health. If there is a theme to what I have learned about CBD oil in the last year, it is that God is truly the great Designer. His designs are intricate and purposeful and amazing.
The psalmist says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). When I was in high school, I had the incredible chance to see the delicate, inner parts of the body knitted together. My favorite class was Honors Anatomy and Physiology, and the highlight of the class was the opportunity to dissect.
Our school partnered with a medical supply company that provided cats in bags of formaldehyde for dissection each year. We chose our cat at the beginning of the class and continued to learn on the same cat throughout the school year. Though it may sound gruesome, it was fascinating and exciting for me and my lab partner to learn about one of the body systems in the textbook and lecture (ex: circulatory, respiratory, lymphatic), and then actually see and touch that same system in our cat (affectionately named Butch).
I learned so much that year about God’s incredible design, the intricacies of our body systems, and how they interact for optimal health. The accepted understanding when I was in high school was that there were 11 main body organ systems, and those were the systems we studied.
However, around that same time (the early 1990s), a Dr. L.A. Matsuda was on the verge of an amazing finding. Matsuda and other scientists were studying the effects of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, in the brain. In the process, they discovered “a remarkably complex network of cannabinoid receptors (CBr) expressed in cells of both the central and peripheral nervous system.”
They surmised that if there were naturally occuring receptors in our body, then the body must produce naturally occurring cannabinoid-like chemicals that would bind to them. What good would a receptor be if our bodies made nothing to actually bind to them? The doctors started looking for cannabinoids naturally produced in the body. As they continued their research, the first cannabinoid the scientists found was Anandamide, which modulates both the central and peripheral nervous system.
They found that “Anandamide alone has the most receptors in the brain and is critical for maintaining a healthy central nervous system.” The central nervous system controls activity in the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system is the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord and regulates the of functions of the immune system.
Though increased research over the years has revealed a plethora of receptors in our Endocannabinoid system, the actual role of the ECS is still not entirely clear. The best description seems to focus on the idea of homeostasis. When our body’s Endocannabinoid system is working properly, producing enough endocannabinoids to bind to our receptors, then our body is in a state of health and equilibrium. When there is a deficiency of endocannabinoids, other issues manifest in the body. For example, people who experience sensitivity to pain resulting in migraines, IBS, or fibromyalgia have been shown to have a dysfunctional ESC.
The wildly different issues and conditions that all seemed to benefit from CBD oil started to make sense to me as I learned that the ESC system includes receptors in our central and peripheral nervous systems. Mood disorders like anxiety and depression, pain issues like migraines and fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis or Lupus would all be affected by a deficiency of the cannabinoids naturally produced by the body. CBD oil produced from hemp works to replace the missing cannabinoids in the body, bringing relief and healing. No longer did CBD oil seem like snake oil to me. It seemed like another natural design from a good God, the great Designer.
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