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analogizes relationship between microbiome, microbiota and humans

CBD, Your Microbiome, and Your Endocannabinoid System

Have you ever shown someone a macro shot of a bedbug? Isn’t it amusing to see them freak out at the sight of the bugs share their beds? These creepy-crawlies can look pretty scary under the lens of a microscope, so no wonder people want to get rid of them. But if you were to turn that microscope to look within the body, you’d see an astonishing number of microscopic creatures reside within us. Scary looking or not, these organisms are actually essential to our survival.
Scientists estimate that, while the average person is walking around, over half the living cells within them belong to microbes. In fact, microbe cells outnumber human cells by a factor of about 1.3 to 1.
Before we move on, let’s differentiate between our microbiome and microbiota. The human microbiota is a collection of a wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other single-celled creatures that live in the human body. All the microorganism communities spread through the human body make up the human microbiome.
So, the microbiome is like an ecosystem within our own physical bodies; while the microbiota are the species living within that internal ecosystem.

Interesting facts about the microbiota

  • The human microbiota consists of trillions of cells, including innumerable bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Scientists estimate that more than a thousand bacteria live in the human gut.

    educational, offers factoids about human microbiome
  • Our relationship with the microbiota is symbiotic – a mutually beneficial relationship, which vital for the survival of both.
  • The vast majority of microbes live in the gut, with vast populations also found on the skin.
  • As unique as humans are, so are the microbes we live with – we all have a different mix of them.
  • We get our first batch of bacteria as we pass through the birth canal. Babies born via C-section don’t get these bacteria, which may have detrimental effects.
  • The microorganisms living in the gut weigh about 4 pounds.
  • The microbiota plays an important role in immunity, nutrition, behavior, and brain function.
  • The various bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms must be in perfect balance for optimal health.

Why is a healthy microbiome important?

The human microbiome is deeply involved in immunity, nutrition, disease, and behavior.

Beneficial bacteria in the gut build a strong immune system that can combat disease and infection. A healthy immune system can effectively defend against viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune response is one that can distinguish between harmful and beneficial microbes.

Gut bacteria is essential for humans to take in nutrients – they break down complex molecules in our food so we can absorb the nutrients. Without them, eating is pointless. The more varied your diet is, the larger the variety of  microbes live in your gut.

Disturbances of bacteria in the gut have been associated with health conditions like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and type 2 diabetes.

Gut microbes are part of the unconscious system that regulates behavior. Scientists have found that these microbes play a major role in healthy brain function and mental health, including social interaction and stress management.

Microbiota and the endocannabinoid system

The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network distributed throughout the body that works to maintain physiological, emotional and cognitive equilibrium. The ECS is believed to be the communication link between the gut and the brain.
The ECS interacts with two important systems in the body: the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord, and the ENS governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract, from the esophagus to the rectum.
Also called the second brain, the ENS is a large part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). It controls digestive actions independently of the central nervous system.
The endocannabinoid system hosts an internal system of cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2, and they are found throughout the central and enteric nervous systems. These receptors interact with cannabinoids like CBD and THC, which are produced by the cannabis sativa plant.

The promise of cannabis-based treatment for intestinal disorders

Recent studies have shown that our microbiome has a lot to do with our health overall. There is a very real and important interaction between the microbiota and the endocannabinoid system, but scientists don’t understand it completely. However, there is evidence that the endocannabinoid system interacts with bacteria in the gut, affecting its make-up and workings.
There are also indications that phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD can improve microbiome health, thus positively affecting the immune system and reducing leaky gut and inflammation.
Research is still ongoing, and as yet, there are no CBD products that are specifically approved for the treatment of intestinal problems. educational: offers suggestions for a gut-health and endocannabinoid system friendly diet

What can I do to support my ECS and have a healthy gut?

With the ECS playing a leading role in regulating gut inflammation, affecting our response to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); and with phytocannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol), CBD, and THC shown to significantly reduce intestinal inflammation in animal models, it is likely that phytocannabinoids can and do help with gut health.
However, there’s currently insufficient scientific research on CBD for it to be prescribed to support gut health in people. However, there are actions we can all take to support our endocannabinoid systems.
  1. Reduce stress levels, especially chronic stress.
  2. Take a probiotic supplement – do research to make sure you buy a top-quality product.
  3. Eat a diet rich in essential fats. Include fatty fish, nuts and seeds in your diet. Also include foods rich in endocannabinoids like herbs and spices, dark chocolate and cruciferous vegetables (those in the cabbage family). 
  4. Consider taking a phytocannabinoid supplement, like CBD, THC, CBG or others. Many phytocannabinoids possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Do your due diligence before you buy, though. There are many products on the market that don’t contain what they claim to. 

Should I fortify my microbiome and ECS with CBD?

The recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system and its importance for our general health, plus the deregulation of cannabis, means there is a whole new range of treatments for many difficult-to-treat ailments. However, the science is still very young on CBD and cannabis medicine in general. There isn’t enough scientific evidence proving the efficacy of these compounds to treat problems associated to gut health. As a result, the FDA has not approved CBD to treat any ailments related to gut health. 

That being said, there is little-to-no harm in trying CBD as it is relatively affordable, non-toxic, non-addictive, side effects are mild and rare, and there is no risk of overdose. With this kind of safety profile, CBD is a natural remedy that is generally safe to try.

If you decide to try CBD, consult your medical professional first, especially if you are currently on medication. CBD, THC and other cannabinoids can interfere with certain medications.

Benefits of CBD Oil

This information does not constitute medical advice and it should not be relied upon as such. Consult with your doctor before modifying your regular medical regime. Our websites content is provided as a service; all content is solely for informational purpose only and is intended to facilitate communication between you and your healthcare provider. We do not represent in any manner whatsoever that the content of our website contains the opinions of a healthcare professional