To understand what Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED or CECD) is, first you need to have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system itself. According to multiple studies, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) exists to monitor a multitude of our body's vital biological systems. Its primary role is to help maintain and restore balance to the human body, as well as many other mammals, keeping the body in its optimal condition. have lead researchers to believe that a defective endocannabinoid system could be the underlying cause of medical conditions such as migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment resistant conditions. Though the concept is not unanimously accepted among medical bodies, there is a growing volume of research to support the theory.
Endocannabinoid deficiency starts with your endocannabinoid system
Endocannabinoid deficiency is the idea that conditions and symptoms can occur as a result of problems with the ECS. This could either be from a lack of endocannabinoids being made by your body, missing or even completely defective receptors alltogether. This is probably why many humans feel "right" after consuming cannabis! When the human body is not able to maintain the balance of its physiological systems, diseases can occur. Most of these cases being linked to our immune system. You may have experienced this yourself during dry spells.
Is there research to support the theory of “endocannabinoid deficiency”?
There definitely is! Leading cannabinoid researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo first proposed the concept of endocannabinoid deficiency. His groundbreaking published in 2004 suggests that a lack of cannabinoids may be the underlying cause of several conditions including the following:
Migraine is a highly complex condition that involves signalling between different areas of the brain and several neurochemicals. Basically mega headaches. The exact cause of migraine is not fully understood to this day, however evidence suggest its potentially genetic. Dr. Russo’s review found examples of anandamide (the bodies natural cannabinoid) being involved in serotonin production and pain modulation. High levels of serotonin are believed to contribute to migraine, which could potentially be counteracted by greater concentrations of AEA. His presumption being, a deficiency in the production of anandamide could contribute to migraine due to lack of serotonin regulation.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, long term condition that can leave people in constant pain. There is currently no known cure for the disease. Traditional medicine to this day can only “treat” some of the symptoms. The research Dr. Russo collated suggests that the endocannabinoid system regulates nociceptive thresholds. Nociceptors are responsible for detecting pain and transmitting the signal to the brain to be processed.
Similar to the findings of the investigations into migraine, serotonin was again considered to have significant involvement in fibromyalgia, as did various cannabinoids. The results of his review found that cannabinoids have demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms that promote pain.
• Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or more commonly know as IBS, was the final condition considered (at time of study) to be affected by potential endocannabinoid deficiency as part of Dr. Russo’s review. The involvement of cannabinoids in the onset of IBS was believed to be along the same lines as both migraine and fibromyalgia. Serotonin was thought to play a part, as those with IBS have been shown to have increased levels of serotonin in their blood when compared to individuals without IBS. Though strangely enough, this wasn’t the case for all forms of IBS.
With that beating said, Dr Russo assumes that serotonin plays a crucial role in their development. So controlling or manipulating levels of serotonin, it could be possible to develop treatments. Cannabinoids would obviously become a key part of this treatment because of the influence they have on critical endocannabinoids like anandamide. Dr. Russo concluded that underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency may be suitably treated with medical cannabis or cannabis based medicines.
Can CBD Oil Treat CED?
Judging by the research it would appear that it may be possible to treat CED with high quality CBD oils, though we cannot be for certain. However, we do know that CBD has shown the ability to inhibit the FAAH enzyme. CBD has also been found to directly affect specific serotonin (5-HT1A) receptors in the brain.
CED; More research is needed
The amazing complexity of the endocannabinoid system, and the hundreds of cannabinoids that exist and the new ones appearing almost quarterly, make studying CED or CECD a problematic task requiring large-scale focus and full legalization to allow further studies. For the millions of people across the world living with a chronic disease like migraines, IBS or fibromyalgia, a possible treatment using cannabinoids could be part of the solution. Though for now, if you’re looking for definitive answers, we will have to wait for more definitive results.