Research, Treatment

What Does Research Say About Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?

July 31, 2020 02:53 pm ET
What Does Research Say About Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?

The word ‘endocannabinoid’ seems to belong to cannabis at first glance. However, some may be surprised to find out that all humans have an endocannabinoid system and professionals are still trying to completely understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS).  One thing is for sure, it plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes. Theory suggests that in certain conditions, the endocannabinoid tone becomes deficient. 

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

Although professionals are still trying to figure out all of the ECS, it is known to play a role in regulating functions and processes of sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility. The ECS is active in our bodies, even if cannabis isn’t being used. The ECS has three main components called (1) endocannabinoids, (2) receptors, and (3) enzymes. As simple as that sounds, the ECS is complicated and we have yet to establish how it works as well as its full list of potential functions. 

We know that the ECS is linked to the processes of appetite and digestion, metabolism, chronic pain, inflammation, mood, memory and learning, liver function, bone regrowth, skin, nerve function, cardiovascular system functions, etc. 

The functions provided by the ECS all contribute to homeostasis, which is the term used to refer to the stability of your body’s internal environment. When something external causes, for example, pain… the homeostasis of your body is thrown off, causing the ECS system to act in order to restore the body’s stability. Sounds like having a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency should be avoided, if possible. 

What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD)?

The notion of CECD is the belief that conditions can occur as a result of problems in the body’s ECS. Those problems can be a result of a lack of endocannabinoids being produced or by missing/defective receptors. Without the ECS, the body is not able to maintain the balance, thus being susceptible to diseases and conditions which may occur.

The notion of ‘clinical endocannabinoid deficiency’ (CECD) was first presented in 2001 in two publications but was only more thoroughly explored in 2004. It was explained that all people have an underlying endocannabinoid tone which can reflect (1) levels of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, (2) the acting endocannabinoids,  (3) their synthesis, (4) catabolism as well as the (5) density of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.  All of which are important for accessing whether one has CECD. 

Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol are two of our endogenous cannabinoids.

Simply put, clinical endocannabinoid deficiency can be defined as any condition or illness that stems from a lack of the body’s own cannabinoids. 

Logically, if the primary role of the ECS is to restore balance, then CECD would mean that the function and performance of the ECS will decrease followed by lowered pain thresholds and derangements. Some researchers believe that the CECD could be the underlying cause of many medical conditions. 

CECD is a Suspected Underlying Cause of:

Commonly, most of these conditions remain treatment-resistant. Some suggest that it may be due to the underlying nature being missed or overlooked. 

Can Cannabis Any Provide Relief?

Unfortunately, the current lack of research does little in the way of pinpointing how the condition can be treated. Cannabis can theoretically assist with treating based on its ability to suppress the release of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is an enzyme that breaks down anandamide.  In order words, by suppressing FAAH, the cannabidiol (CBD) will ‘enhance’ the endocannabinoid tone and provide medical benefits with it. 

As you can see, much more research is necessary for more certain benefits from cannabis on CECD.

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