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Pain and stress are two epidemics of the 21st century. People are busier than ever, feeling as if there is not enough time in the day to accomplish their tasks and goals. Stress puts us at increased risk for heart disease, it heightens our perception of pain, it’s a significant factor in the development of mental health and psychiatric conditions and much more.

What Stress Does to Your Body

When you are stressed, your brain sends a signal to your stress glands to pump out adrenaline and cortisol — the hormones responsible for your body’s stress response. Normally, this is a life-saving mechanism, but in our day-to-day we are rarely in physical danger. Our stress is mental, but our body doesn’t know the difference. We therefore have way too many stress hormones circulating through our bodies at any given time when we’re worrying about how we’re going to get everything done in the day.

There are many reasons why stress is harmful to the body; it uses up a lot of mental and physical resources to be stressed, and the by-products of stress are often inflammatory, resulting in an increased response to pain. Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system has an important role to play in the regulation of our stress response.

An Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Your endocannabinoid system consists of 2 different receptors and different endocannabinoid chemicals which create a multitude of signals throughout the nervous system and the entire body. Many experimental models have shown that endocannabinoids are at least in part responsible for regulating our stress response, and lack of endocannabinoid signaling results in stress and anxiety-related behavior. Stress results in faster degradation of the endocannabinoids “anandamide” and “2-AG,” resulting in deficiency exacerbated by decreasing the number of receptors in the brain. So goes the vicious cycle: fewer endocannabinoids increases stress which then reduces the amount of endocannabinoids in circulation.

Hungry for Health

Phytocannabinoids can enter our body through bplant-based foods other than hemp and help increase circulating levels of cannabinoids. While CBD reduces endocannabinoid breakdown, the same goes for cacao. Beta-caryophyllene, a terpene-based essential oil compound found in various plants and herbs, has also shown great promise in reducing pain and inflammation via endocannabinoid receptor activation.

In addition to the physical benefits, a diet high in various vegetables, herbs and spices can help balance our moods. Sometimes though, eating lots of veggies, while important, is not sufficient for healing and feeling better. If you eat a clean diet and still need support, you may want to try additional cannabinoid supplementation to bring your body back into balance.