Researchers believe that the root cause of many medical conditions people suffer from could be a disorder known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.
It’s a recurring theory that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) could be behind several different ailments, particularly those relating to the immune system and inflammation. We’ve briefly discussed the purpose of the endocannabinoid system in past articles.
To review, the endocannabinoid system is made up of lipid-based neurotransmitters – called endocannabinoids – that work together to regulate different body processes and create a state of physiological balance. Some of its primary functions include managing pain, cognition, memory, mood, sleep, immune response, and appetite.
What is Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is when the body doesn’t produce enough cannabinoids or receptors, which, as stated above, affects many different body functions. This results in the body becoming unbalanced which can eventually cause diseases and disorders to arise.
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According to famed cannabinoid researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, people who are diagnosed with a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency can benefit tremendously by supplementing with phytocannabinoids – cannabinoids coming from plants.
What Conditions Result from Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
“Migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggests a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines,” Russo commented in his 2004 study. This research has been reviewed a couple times over the years, in 2014 and 2016.
The above conditions have the greatest evidence of being caused by a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, however, there is an extensive list of disorders that may be related to CECD such as neonatal failure to thrive, cystic fibrosis, causalgia, brachial plexopathy, phantom limb pain, infantile colic, glaucoma, dysmenorrhea, hyperemesis gravidarum, unexplained repetitive miscarriages, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disease, and the list goes on.
Furthermore, because endocannabinoids have also been linked to neurological disorders, it makes sense that a deficiency might be the underlying cause of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well. This could be why people suffering from these conditions report success when self-medicating with cannabis products.
How is it Diagnosed?
Since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the early 1990’s, the science has evolved tremendously. Early methods for measuring levels of endocannabinoids were complex and invasive. Most often, it was done by cutting into the brain, gathering lipids, and analyzing them with liquid or gas chromatography.
Over time, the tactics became less invasive and a common procedure for checking endocannabinoid levels was via microdialysis. These days, the techniques have evolved even further, allowing healthcare professionals to measure endocannabinoids in a patient’s saliva or plasma.
While more research is needed before official treatment plans can be enacted, this discovery could pave the way for new and natural methods to treat certain conditions. To learn more about the latest medical discoveries, make sure to sign up for our Medical Cannabis Weekly Report. We strive to keep you informed and updated.