Our endocannabinoid system (ECS), the namesake of which is CBD’s mother plant, has been described by researchers as “a literal bridge between body and mind” and with the right approach and method for each individual, we can use CBD oil and other CBD products to strengthen this bridge.
As individuals we may have all experienced the feeling of being “trapped inside your own mind” and now, as a society, we’ve been literally trapped inside for an unprecedented amount of time.
You might have found yourself staring blankly into the fridge looking for comfort or avoiding all possible eye contact while at the shop because your 2-meter radar makes any interaction feel illegal.
And with 25-34-year-olds spending an average of 2 hours and 37 minutes a day on social media, staring into a square-shaped space of stress (otherwise known as an Instagram post) might also have been more than a regular occurrence.
Multiply that by the intergalactic speed of the internet and a limitless search engine, and you’ve got a pretty anxiety-inducing concoction.
With the growing popularity of Eastern practices, many Westerners have turned to Yoga and meditation for relief of these modern symptoms of information overload. Over the counter quick fixes not being enough for the well informed millennial. Then comes the question:
What about plant medicine?
In his book ‘A brand New Earth’ Eckhart Tolle says “Flowers more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless…”.
If we apply this philosophy to Cannabis as medicine, as we would say something like echinacea, we can start to appreciate the beauty and benefits that this plant has to offer.
So how can an extract of Cannabis help us to heal?
Cannabidiol (CBD) can help us relieve symptoms of stress by how it works within our ECS. It indirectly stimulates our CB1 (brain) and CB2 (body) receptors to make more Anandamide available to us, which in turn enables the body to heal itself better.
Anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning bliss. This “molecule of wonder” influences physiological systems such as pain, appetite regulation, pleasure and reward, so you could think of CBD as helping the mind and body enter a state of blissfulness; a state from which we can achieve clarity, presence and maintain good health.
CBD Yoga teacher Cheri Smith links the blissfulness of Anandamide to the feeling you get during a Yoga class. The practice of Yoga, as described in Yogic philosophy, is when one’s mind, intellect and self are under control. If we combine this practice with Cannabis as plant medicine, we can enhance the synergistic relationship between mind and body, increasing attention span and deepening practice. In terms of meditation, one could think of this as ‘no-space. That is the peaceful, sweet spot in which there is no thing (or no-self) but everything resides.
The Yoga Sutras state that “Attention is the first indispensable step in all knowledge” and so we can set ourselves up for a powerful mind-body experience before class, or a run, with the correct application of CBD.
There is, of course, the possibility that this sweet spot could be lost. As the angel on our shoulder likes to remind us “everything in moderation”. It is important that you listen to your body, consult with your doctor or a physician if using Cannabis in conjunction with another medication (CBD can have the “grapefruit effect” when taken alongside other things) and start small. Micro dosing over macro dosing.
Journaling is known to strengthen emotional functions, boost mood and is often an outlet of the mindful yogi or a sufferer of the overactive mind, so of course the increased attention and “present moment” thinking that CBD can encourage or make room for would compliment this writing and mindfulness exercise.
Keeping a dosage diary would be a useful extension of this when starting on your journey to healing with Cannabis. Or if this is unfamiliar territory, it could be a fantastic opportunity to discover a new stress-reducing daily practice.
As discussed previously on Karma Coast, CBD is also a known anti-inflammatory. It can encourage faster muscle recovery, reduced inflammation and accelerated healing. One study summarises the overall role of the endocannabinoid system as a “resilience to allostatic load”, i.e. helping the bodies quick recovery from wear and tear.
Not only could this be useful to overstretched yogis, but to runners with joint pain too. A 2016 study found that CBD significantly reduced joint swelling without the inhibiting side effects of other drugs.
Our tolerance to cannabis products increases over time, and so with a well-kept dosage journal, we can increase our percentage intake for optimum results.
Everyone’s ECS and body works differently, making the subjective, intuitive approach extremely important. Jennifer S. Hawkins of West Virginia University talks of this shared intuition being the way to go in the theory of well-being. And we can see here in Leinow & Birnbaum’s ‘CBD: A patients guide to medical cannabis’ the perfect summary: “One’s total-body make-up is a moving target, and cannabis therapy can be subtly adjusted each time one medicates, in line with intuitive information about what is best at that moment.”. Listen, tune in, and your body will tell you what it needs.
We are born with everything we need for life. Our ECS is understood as a vital part of that lifeforce. CBD healing, combined with our mental, spiritual and physical practices, could allow us to access new, heightened levels of mind, body and soul wellness.