Published on: 04/18/19
What is endocannabinoid deficiency? No need to wrack your brain for an answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve put together a quick article for you, explaining the hows and whys of what happens when your endocannabinoid system is out of sync.
Now, many of us solemnly swear by the idea of optimum health and balance from within, and so we eagerly pop a few extra vitamin pills into our routine with the hope of boosting our immune systems.
However, what if we told you that there’s a physiological system that, when in balance, helps you with your overall health - all at once. Spoiler alert, there is, and it’s called the endocannabinoid system!
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS is the body’s primary regulatory system, making it an internal balancing mechanism. When it’s functioning optimally, it works to keep a vast range of bodily functions in equilibrium.
Once we truly begin to understand the ECS and how it works, we might find a shortcut to preventing a plethora of conditions and illnesses - and hey, what’s not to like about that!
Now, let’s take it from the top and then work our way through this 101 on endocannabinoid deficiency.
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What Are Endocannabinoids?
The endocannabinoid system is comprised of three things; endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes - the latter being what’s responsible for both the synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are, in fact, cannabinoids - they’re just a type of cannabinoids that are produced in the body. This means that there’s a difference between the cannabinoids that are added to the system from the outside through plants and the food we eat (i.e. via CBD or THC: both cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant), and the cannabinoids that are created by the body itself. The endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors respond to both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids.
Two of the most popular endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. They play a rather important role as they help regulate things such as appetite, metabolism, pain, and sleep, etc. We’ll get back to anandamide later in the article.
For now, this leads us to the next thing on the list.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system, also referred to as the ECS, presents as a vast network of chemical compounds and receptors that altogether act to maintain homeostasis or balance in the body.
As of now, we know the endocannabinoid system is responsible for:
- Brain health
- Reproduction and sexual arousal
- Cell growth and tissues
For this reason, the endocannabinoid system is thought to play an important role in a long line of conditions and illnesses, as a dysregulation in the system can lead to various conditions.
Researchers argue that the consequences of an inactive endocannabinoid system, or a system thrown out of balance, could lead to things such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When we produce the right amount of endocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system is in perfect balance, meaning that our bodies are in a state of homeostasis. However, when we fail to meet the requirements and the system simply isn’t working right, we experience a lack of endocannabinoid activity. This means that we’re dealing with an endocannabinoid deficiency.
What Is Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Simply put, endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) is a condition where the body produces a lower amount of cannabinoids than what’s essential to living a healthy life. The theory furthermore argues that there’s a line of illnesses that may be caused by this underlying deficiency in the body.
It was Dr. Russo who came up with this theory, believing it not just to be a deficiency limited to conditions such as IBS, migraines, and fibromyalgia - diseases that modern medicine still hasn’t succeeded to fully explain - but considered it to include the following:
- MS (Multiple sclerosis)
- Huntington’s disease
- Neonatal failure to thrive
- Cystic ﬁbrosis
- Unexplained fetal wastage (repetitive miscarriages)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar disease
How Can It Be Treated?
In his studies, Dr. Russo argues that conditions such as IBS, migraine, fibromyalgia among other related conditions show similar clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns, suggesting an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.
According to Russo, there’s a very good chance that this can be treated with cannabinoid medicines. This is due to his belief that supplementing an impaired ECS with plant cannabinoids can help bring it back to its optimum function. Naturally, this will provoke an improvement in any conditions connected to the deficiency. Therefore, a lack of endocannabinoids can be fixed by adding cannabinoids.
Now, THC isn’t the only cannabinoid that can potentially strengthen the ECS. Its non-psychoactive cousin, CBD, can also do just that.
CBD is famous for its calming and relaxing effects,and used by many as a natural remedy against stress and anxiety - not to mention chronic pain conditions, sleep and so much more. CBD has a long line of potential benefits including pain relief, reduction of inflammation and better cardiovascular health.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t attach directly to any of the receptors. Instead, it indirectly activates endocannabinoid signaling.
The reason why CBD is said to work for endocannabinoid deficiency because it helps to increase the levels of anandamide (one of the two major endocannabinoids that work to strengthen the endocannabinoid tone that we mentioned earlier). Anandamide is a key regulator for important things like appetite, metabolism, pain, and sleep, etc.
To put it in technical terms, CBD works to suppresses the enzyme fatty acid amide hydroxylase (FAAH) - an enzyme that is otherwise known for breaking down anandamide. This means that instead of the levels of FAAH increasing and the levels of anandamide decreasing, the FAAH production is suppressed so that more anandamide can be present.
For this reason, patients suffering from conditions associated with low levels of anandamide could potentially benefit greatly from taking CBD by adding cannabinoids to their impaired endocannabinoid system. This way, it should be possible to reestablish their inner balance and encourage their bodies' own endocannabinoid levels. Anandamide levels can then go back to normal and thereby improve whatever symptoms the patient may be experiencing.
Phew, that got a bit sciency, but there you are - an answer to what endocannabinoid deficiency is and a few words on how to potentially treat it.
As always, we hope you enjoyed the read and will continue to join us on our journey towards a healthy and balanced life.
Feel free to send us a message via the chat box in the right hand corner or drop us an email, if you have any questions or comments. We’ll be more than happy to help you!
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Endoca and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or cure. Endoca CBD products have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).