Hormones are culturally synonymous with women and their menstrual cycle. This however ignores the fact that we are all, regardless of sex and gender, brimming with hormones of every ilk and function. Oxytocin or “hug hormone” is released when you make skin contact with someone you are emotionally close to. It’s also released when you hug your dog. It’s also involved in part of child birth. Melatonin, another hormone, regulates your circadian rhythm. It’s available as a sleep aid in the US, but in Europe it is often banned as it can have unintended effects on the body.
There are two main signalling pathways for your body to communicate within itself. The nervous system, which is generally a superfast response, and the endocrine system which involves hormones and is generally a slower, but longer lasting response. When it’s your stomach saying it’s hungry, it’s hormones. That’s likely one cause of the delay between eating and feeling full. When you stub your toe, it’s nerves. That’s why it hurts instantly but we also recover rather quickly. (It’s more complex than this in practice).
Neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain and nervous system, interact with nerve pathways to modulate function. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter related to the “reward” system, yet an imbalance can induce Parkinson’s disease. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter, which has been identified as a possible cause of depression, it is also related to the digestion system and has been linked to migraines.
How does all this tie into medical cannabis? The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) in the human body (and many other mammals, too), interacts with many of these hormones and neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids, the chemicals in cannabis, are being investigated for their possible use to treat a wide range of conditions that relate to the body’s signalling systems. Headaches, migraines, pain, weight control, parkinson’s, menstrual issues (such as endometriosis), and diabetes.