Work with Your Mitochondria and Endocannabinoids.
All human beings are “energy,” and the mitochondria are the “energy factories” of the body, several thousand of which are in nearly every cell in the body. Their job is to process oxygen and convert substances from the food you eat into energy. They produce 90 % of the energy needed for the brain and body to function, stored as a chemical called ATP. Mitochondria are the power generators in nearly all our cells that exist within our body.
Mitochondrial diseases occur when the mitochondria fail to produce enough energy for the body to function correctly. Any cell in the brain and body can be impacted and depending upon the location of the affected cells; symptoms can differ.
Mitochondria act at the interface of numerous processes critical for cellular function and organismal health. Recent years have seen a growing appreciation for the diverse roles that mitochondria play not only in energy production and metabolism, but also in the maintenance of reduction and oxidation (redox) balance, regulation of gene expression, ion homeostasis, and control of cell fate.
In living cells, reduction is a gain in electrons and oxidation is a loss of electrons. Redox reactions have important roles in a wide range of biochemical processes. Unbalanced cellular redox reactions are involved in many diseases, so maintaining a balance in these reactions is a no-brainer.
Mitochondrial maintenance is essential for the proper function of cells and tissues, and mitochondrial dysfunction underlies numerous disease processes ranging from severe childhood disorders to heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, generative disease, inherited disorders, mitochondria disease, heart disease, myopathies, muscular dystrophies, balance, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, painful legs, bones, joints and ageing itself.
Mitochondria generate energy (ATP) by breaking down sugars, fats and other chemicals with the assistance of molecular oxygen. It is also involved in different tasks such as communication between cells and cell death. The number of mitochondria in cells varies widely depending on the type of cell. For example, a red blood cell has no mitochondria, but liver cells can have more than 2000.
As I have mentioned, the primary function of mitochondria is to produce energy for the cell; unfortunately, this critical function declines with age, if not addressed:
- Mitochondria produce less energy with age
- Mitochondria fuel is less available with age
- Mitochondria quantity declines with age
- Mitochondria quality declines with age
Upon reflection that the primary function of mitochondria is to produce energy, declining mitochondria bioenergetic capacity plays a significant role in ageing.
Why Allow it “to age” you?
Why not enhance the mitochondria bioenergetics to slow your ageing down?
Given that its dysfunction likely stems more from a reduction in mitochondria bioenergetic capacity than it does from an increase in free radical production, it logically follows that we ought to focus on enhancing mitochondria bioenergetic ability.
If their ability to produce energy declines, then obviously, cells run short on energy. It is difficult to see how some cells, particularly neurons, could survive – let alone function under such a constraint to their energy supply.
Rather than focus on antioxidant supplements, perhaps we ought to concentrate our resources more on therapies and diet that enhance mitochondria bioenergetic capacity.
Every organ that it has been tested on extends life in that organ. Various metabolic therapies alleviate mitochondria dysfunction through several mechanisms, including altering the electron transport chain, bypassing complex defects, improving insulin sensitivity, circumventing insulin resistance, enhancing mitochondria biogenesis, and enhancing autophagy, which is the natural, regulated mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. It allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components. The overall result is an enhanced mitochondrion bioenergetic capacity and life extension.
Dr Lisa Portera-Perry, DC, is a passionate advocate for Functional Medicine and its application for patients and has worked extensively on the development of programs related to dietary and lifestyle modifications as applied to pain syndromes.
Mitochondria have a variety of essential functions within neurons, including oxygen consumption, ATP generation, calcium buffering, and reactive oxygen generation. The five primary mitochondrial functions play critical roles in neuropathic and inflammatory pain including leg, joint and bone pain:
- The mitochondrial energy generating system,
- Reactive oxygen generation – is a phrase used to describe several reactive molecules and free radicals derived from molecular oxygen.
- Mitochondrial permeability transition pore – is a protein that is formed in the inner membrane of the mitochondria under certain pathological conditions such as traumatic brain injury and stroke.
- Apoptotic pathways – a genetically directed process of cell self-destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA.
- Intracellular calcium mobilisation – Calcium metabolism refers to the movements and regulation of calcium ions in and out of various body compartments, such as the gastrointestinal tract, the blood plasma, the extracellular and intracellular fluids, and bone tissue.
Substantial data have demonstrated mitochondrial involvement in painful peripheral neuropathies evoked by chemotherapy, diabetes, and HIV. Treating mitochondrial dysfunction, naturally is a promising strategy to alleviate or prevent chronic pain states including in the legs and joints.
Food Plan to feed the Mitochondria
Mitochondria produce 95% of cellular energy and play a critical role in protecting the cell from oxidative stress. Lifestyle and environmental stressors can alter mitochondrial function and cause the onset of disease processes within the body. As a first step in enhancing mitochondrial stability, the Functional Medicine model educates patients about the Mitochondrial Food Plan; an anti-inflammatory, low-glycaemic, gluten-free, low-grain, high-quality fats approach to eating. The plan, which was developed through the combined efforts of a team consisting of Functional Medicine physicians, leading experts, and nutrition professionals, focuses on supporting healthy mitochondria with foods that improve energy production.
The plan focuses on supporting healthy mitochondria through the use of therapeutic foods
that improve energy production. Mitochondria are structures in the cell that make energy by using oxygen and nutrients from food. The brain, heart, nerves, muscles, and organs all have higher concentrations of mitochondria. These parts of the body are also more susceptible to a premature decline in function by a host of common onslaughts. Unhealthy food choices can contribute to this decline, leading to poor health and chronic illness.
I strongly support the Mito Food Plan which will support your body in the production of energy, restore a sense of vitality, and help you use food to support a graceful and healthy ageing process. The Mito food list can assist in preventing the development of chronic neurological disease by assisting the people in choosing specific foods that enhance mitochondrial function.
“No two pain patients are the same; every pain patient has a unique underpinning—a unique pattern of neurological and mitochondrial change, so we want to widen our lens and broaden our thinking. Pain unravels in many layers,” says Dr Portera-Perry.
Drive your Mitochondrial-Cannabinoid’s Energy.
Energy drives all biologic activity—within individual atoms and molecules, as part of cellular physiology, up through organ-system and whole-person functioning, and, ultimately, the entire biosphere. Science is making dramatic breakthroughs in understanding how mitochondria work and what they require for enduring optimal function. Genetic and epigenetic vulnerabilities have been discovered; the effects of toxic environmental exposures on energy production have been revealed, and connections between dysregulation in energy production and many clinical conditions have been discovered.
Physiology is one side of the coin, but we are also learning about the larger energy landscape, including the mechanisms underlying the clinical effects of magnetic fields and microcurrent, hands-on therapies such as manipulation and craniosacral, acupuncture, and the profound power of the therapeutic partnership.
Modern science has validated what ancient healing traditions have known for centuries: the GI tract has a central role in chronic, systemic disease. From intestinal pathogens and allergens to intestinal permeability and imbalances in colonic microbiota, gut dysfunction compromises a patient’s health and diminishes vitality. It is always the first place to start in improving overall health.
The endocannabinoid system
There is a reciprocal relationship between epigenetics and mitochondrial function – they impact one another. The endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and the enzymes or proteins responsible for their biosynthesis, degradation, and re-updating constitute the endocannabinoid system.
In recent decades, the endocannabinoid system has attracted considerable attention as a potential therapeutic target in numerous physiological conditions; such as in energy balance, appetite stimulation, blood pressure, pain modulation, embryogenesis, nausea vomiting control, memory, learning and immune response, as well as in pathological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases and multiple sclerosis.
Cannabinoids are a group of diverse chemical compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptor cells within our bodies. They are broken down into two main categories, Endo-cannabinoids and Phyto-cannabinoids.
When it comes to the topic of endo-cannabinoids and phyto-cannabinoids, the two are very similar, but they also have some striking differences, starting with their origins. Both types will interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the nervous systems of all mammals; but endo-cannabinoids are naturally produced by the body and phyto-cannabinoids come from various parts of plants.
Endocannabinoids are internal lipid-based neurotransmitters and one of several components that work together to make up the endo-cannabinoid system. This regulatory system is known for keeping several biological processes in a state of balance. Some of its common functions include managing pain, memory, cognition, mood, immune response, sleep, and appetite.
Phyto-cannabinoids are the cannabinoids derived from plants, for example, hemp. They imitate many of the actions of endo-cannabinoids, and they also activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Many people don’t produce enough of their own endo-cannabinoids – a condition referred to as clinical endo-cannabinoid deficiency – so supplementing with phyto-cannabinoids is essential to their overall well-being.
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