Restoring Gut Health With Terpenes
Latest trends in wellness put a strong light on gut health and bacteria. So what's all the fuss about? It's all not as complicated as it sounds, all this stuff is right there inside your gut at all times begging to be nurtured! Probiotics, Pre-biotics, microbiomes... Why?
Let's get you up to date with the facts on how to improve gut health naturally.
Why A Healthy Gut is Important
You, yes you sitting here reading this! Your gut contains a super complex ecosystem. Look down and give your tummy a pat, because it's doing a great job at keeping you alive. It's a gigantic ecological community of bacteria that makes up your microbiome. Micro, meaning small. Biome, being a habitat, like a forest. So yes, YOUR stomach is about as complex as a forest habitat. Take that, National Geographic.
In fact, there are approximately 38,000,000,000,000 (38 trillion) microorganisms in the body, and the majority are located in the gut. These organisms are important for converting nutrients from one form to another. Some are known to synthesize vitamins into existence for your body, so if you are wondering how people survive without the magic of taking dietary vitamins (and if the entire industry is just some kind of scam?), it isn't! The fact is, these incredible bacteria try to take that workload when you choose not to.
Your microbiome will influence every aspect of your health, including your brain. As it turns out, your brain and gut are quite chatty with each other, communicating in various ways through the nervous system – one of those being your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is still under research, so here's what we can tell you: As the name suggests, it mediates the effects of cannabis use, and maybe involved in controlling fertility, immune system activity, appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory. That's a simple way of explaining why smoking weed can work up the munchies in you! It's also why bad gut health and depression, anxiety and other nasty mental problems have such a strong relationship.
It's especially involved in regulating fat intake, as well as digestive movements, gut inflammation, cancer-cell life-cycles, and speaking with the bacteria in your intestines. Research now shows that encouraging your ECS with phytocannabinoids from hemp or cannabis could help out with conditions such as irritable bowels, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and more. The health of your digestive tract, in general, WILL affect your ability to fight viruses, gene expression, weight, and mental health. In some ways, the gut is a direct gateway to who you are, so you truly “are what you eat”.
So while the ECS is still being researched, there's really no argument that the health of what's inside can be greatly underappreciated by a lot of folks.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are strange compounds with not-so-strange effects on the body. They usually come packaged in a lot of CBD products, but even if you've never tried CBD, you've definitely come across terpenes before.
Let's de-mystify this: they are essentially the aromatics that make plants smell so lovely. Which means every time you have stopped to smell roses or lavender (or any flower, OR fresh fruit) you're definitely smelling terpenes. Considering “Terpenes” is kind of a complex, funny word, you wouldn't guess we are actually always surrounded by them. Slightly less complex than the world of gut bacteria, there are hundreds of terpenes that exist all over the world. But only a handful are useful to the world of CBD.
Cannabinoids and the Gut
Hold on, what has this got to do with bacteria and gut health?
Well, remember the ECS system from above? Well, whilst weed might get you “high”, it's the unique terpenes from each strain that is responsible for the differences in how they affect your body. For example, you may get the “munchies”, you may get sleepy, and you could become perked up and happy. Each strain, or product, will have natural or modified quantities and types of these terpenes, added to adjust for each experience or situation you're using them for. These terpenes are thought to have some beneficial qualities for your body. Specifically, some that are popular in aromatherapy, while still under research, are thought to have legitimate therapeutic effects on the body.
Here are a few names to get you acquainted: Pinene, Linalool, Myrcene, Limonene, Caryophyllene, and Humulene. If you're having Biology class flashbacks just reading those, don't worry, so are we. Just remember they're here to help you!
So basically, all terpenes that can be used in CBD products have unique and exciting properties, which is why when you use CBD, you can feel some differences in effects! And - In many cases, users can tailor their experience to their own comforts by adding additional terpenes.
For a quick example, someone looking to use CBD oil in the evening might want to consider a product with Myrcene, which holds gentle, sleep-inducing effects to wind down after a hard days work. So it's not hard to see why these wonderful compounds can affect the body in a beneficial way. Terpenes are not something you should ignore (or can ignore, really.)
Heal Your Gut
Let's talk about healing the gut with terpenes. I know, I know, this is the meaty part you've been waiting for. We need to get it straight that you'll need to make smart, medical decisions on using this stuff, so make sure to check with your GP, especially if you are pregnant or have pre-existing conditions. That said – there's growing evidence out there that Terpenes can treat IBS and other inflammatory conditions.
Specifically, let's point to a terpene like “caryophyllene” (mentioned in the list above). Researchers describe it as “gastro-protective” and are one of the only terpenes in the world known to bind to your cannabinoid receptors in the same way that THC and CBD do.
Pinene, named after its location in pine-sap, is also found to have unique effects on the immune system and reducing levels of inflammation.
Myrcene is super popular and has similar effectiveness in not only reducing excessive natural inflammation.
Linalool skips the sedative effects of those other terpenes and simply can help ease skin irritation like acne.
Well, we've spoken about these gut health supplements, what about food? What are the best foods for gut health? You basically want to reduce inflammation as much as possible. Which means foods that are high in fibre and low in poor quality sugar. Think about bananas, berries, grapefruit, avocado and various nuts.
Let's recap some unbelievable facts about the gut, you now know:
- That terpenes are not mysterious, but in fact, are just smelly plant compounds.
- A handful of different terpenes effects for you to try out.
- Healthy gut, healthy you!