Have you ever heard of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency? If not, you're not alone.
It's a relatively new term that's gaining recognition in the medical community, but it's still largely unknown. So, what is clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, how does it manifest, and what can be done about it? Read on to find out.
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) has been identified as a potential cause of an array of conditions. Still, it only exists as a theory, as no guidelines have been established for diagnosing CED.
The concept of CED was introduced in 2001 in two publications by Ethan Russo, M.D., Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute. It was examined in greater depth in a 2004 article, also by Russo, that has been extensively cited in the literature about this condition. The basic concept of CED was developed around the idea that many diseases of the brain are inherently linked to neurotransmitter deficiencies, for example, dopamine deficiency in Parkinson's disease and similar conditions. Russo theorized that a similar deficiency in endocannabinoid levels could cause comparable symptoms in certain disorders due to this deficiency.
Dr. Russo’s 2016 article reviewing a decade's worth of research on the subject suggests the theory could explain why some people develop migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. However, there is no apparent cause for any of these conditions. In addition, they are often unlikely to respond to treatment and can occur simultaneously.
The endocannabinoid system may serve as the missing key for treating these conditions if CED plays any role at all. However, further research is necessary.
Endocannabinoids are lipid-based neurotransmitters that occur naturally in the body. Signals are transmitted between nerve cells by neurotransmitters, a class of chemical messengers.
Endocannabinoids aid various bodily functions. There is no typical level of these substances since the body produces them as necessary.
There are two main endocannabinoids identified:
● 2-archidonoyl glyerol (2-AG)
● Anandamide (AEA)
According to experts, the body likely contains other endocannabinoids, but their roles and functions are not yet fully understood.
Studying the endocannabinoid system (ECS) components and their interactions with one another and with other systems in the body remains an active area of study. There is still a great deal to learn. The ECS is composed of cannabinoids manufactured by the body (endocannabinoids), enzymes responsible for breaking them down, receptors that bind endocannabinoids, and receptors and cellular structures that seem to be triggered without the aid of endocannabinoids.
Aside from the widely known psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis contains another prominent cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD). CBD, however, does not cause you to get high and doesn't usually have any adverse side effects.
CBD interacts with the ECS in ways that experts are not fully certain. There is, however, some evidence that it doesn't interact with CB1 or CB2 receptors like THC.
In many cases, CBD is believed to prevent the breakdown of endocannabinoids. Thus, your body can benefit more from them. However, other groups of researchers theorize that CBD interacts with a receptor that hasn't been found yet.
Although the exact mechanism of CBD's action is still unknown, research shows it may help relieve nausea, pain, and other symptoms related to multiple diseases.
Unfortunately, there's no quick fix for CED, but there are steps you can take to improve the balance of your ECS. Dr. Russo offered some advice— and it's as simple as taking proper care of your body to make sure your ECS remains in check. Here are some tips we can take with us:
Eat right: ECS is adversely affected by pro-inflammatory foods like trans-fats or excess calories. You should cultivate a consciousness about what you're eating and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Exercise: To improve the balance of the ECS, sedentary behavior must be avoided. However, many chronic illness sufferers will experience a flare-up if they push themselves beyond their limits, so it's recommended that they follow a low-impact aerobic exercise program.
Improve your gut health: Evidence is growing that your gut microbiome, and the bacteria it contains, play an essential role in regulating the ECS. To avoid damaging the delicate balance of the microbiome, don't take antibiotics that are unnecessary. Instead, using probiotics and prebiotics will help your biome remain healthy.
Stress less and sleep better: An unrested, stressed-out body throws all systems off balance and stresses the ECS out. Take care of your ECS by getting some rest and managing stress.
The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors that helps to regulate many different bodily functions. Whenever this system is out of balance, it can lead to various health issues.
Cannabis can be an effective way to restore balance in the endocannabinoid system in some situations. More research is needed, but the potential benefits of cannabis are exciting.
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