THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM

Before we can dive into the main concept of this article, we must first look at its foundation. When cannabis is consumed, there are usually certain personal goals attached. Whether we toke on a joint to better enjoy a concert or smoke a bowl to deal with a headache, there is always a desired effect we’re looking for. The only reason we can experience these different effects is because chemical compounds in cannabis bind and interact with a natural system inside our bodies known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Cannabinoid receptors are found on numerous sites in the human body, mainly in the form of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 is predominantly found in the brain and central nervous system. This is the receptor responsible for triggering the psychoactive effects most notably associated with cannabis consumption. THC binds to CB1 receptors quite like a key fits into a lock. CB2 receptors, however, are found mainly outside the nervous system in the immune system. CB2 receptors do not stimulate psychoactivity.

Before you start thinking that the human body has a whole system just so we can react to cannabis, let’s talk about the endogenous cannabinoids. These are the ones that are naturally produced by our body. The reason the receptors and system are named in regard to the cannabis plant is because they were discovered when looking at how cannabis interacted with the human body. Only later was it discovered that the body produces its own cannabinoids, and that’s why we have such a system.

Body CB1 And CB2 Receptors Cannabinoids

CLINICAL ENDOCANNABINOID DEFICIENCY

This still hasn’t been approved as an official condition, but probably will be soon. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) is implicated in a spectrum of disorders. As you now know, the endocannabinoid system has receptors all throughout the body. One of its main functions is to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. This translates to keeping it in balance. With unbalanced cannabinoid levels, our bodies do not react positively. A 2016 paper  describes the existence of this condition, and we’ll certainly be hearing more about it in the future.

Given what the endocannabinoid system is capable of achieving in our bodies, it’s noteworthy to suggest that phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids found outside the human body) may play a role in treating or reducing the symptoms of numerous conditions.

To sum up, a short and precise definition of CEDC would be any condition or illness that stems from a lack of cannabinoids in the body. While our body is very good at producing endocannabinoids, there are various individuals whose levels are not ideal and as such, may suffer. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the conditions currently linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency.

Homeostasis Fitocannabinoids And Endocannabinoids

MIGRAINES

Migraines have been with humans for a long time. But because this isn’t a deadly condition, people usually take an aspirin and let time solve the issue. This has led to a massive lack of scientific research into the condition. There is still a lot we don’t understand about migraines. Although we know it’s correlated with an increase in serotonin levels in the brain, we also know correlation does not mean causation.

The endocannabinoid anandamide, with its significant effects on pain regulation and serotonin transmission, will actively help those suffering from migraines. THC mimics the shape of anandamide and therefore may reproduce its therapeutic effects. The only drawback is that THC is said to worsen the problem in low doses. Only with a larger intake will there be supposed benefits.

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)

IBS is a condition associated with abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhoea. This too has been linked with endocannabinoid deficiency. Not only has serotonin been found to influence the condition, but the cannabinoid receptors in the gut are also said to help control inflammation and hypersensitivity. Serotonin will slow down gut motility, which in turn may help to control bowel spasms.

Although correlations between cannabis and relief of IBS symptoms have been implicated, more information is absolutely necessary before conclusive theories can be drawn. Especially since, in some cases, cannabis use and an increase in serotonin have actually triggered IBS symptoms in some individuals. Large-scale clinical trials will likely reveal more answers in the future.

FIBROMYALGIA

This last disorder is a neuropsychiatric one that causes pain and is also linked with serotonin. Currently, where it’s legal, cannabis is already being prescribed as a medicine for fibromyalgia. This is one of the conditions where there actually is a decent amount of scientific research, although more is always needed. In both a 2008 and a 2011 paper, researchers witnessed a significant improvement in pain and anxiety.

HOW CBD MAY HELP

Unlike THC, CBD does not bind directly to any cannabinoid receptors. Instead, one of its primary functions is suppressing the release of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). This enzyme breaks down anandamide, one of our endogenous cannabinoids. This means that by suppressing FAAH, CBD will “enhance endocannabinoid tone” and induce medicinal benefits therein.

As you now know, with a condition like migraines, anandamide plays a super important role. THC mimics its shape and could therefore lead to similar results. CBD is gaining a lot of traction as a powerful anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and analgesic, yet there is still no definitive answer on whether CBD can relieve migraines with the same anecdotal success as THC-rich medicine.

All of the above conditions have elements in common. Frequently, sufferers of one of these illnesses will also display symptoms of other related conditions. This is what’s so interesting about clinical endocannabinoid deficinency; many IBS patients will also report symptoms of migraines, and a majority of fibromyalgia sufferers also show traces of IBS. This is what has led to the hypothesis that they are all manifestations of the same disorder. Only with greater research will we be able to find the answers to clinical endocannabinoid deficiency and provide people with the relief they so desire.

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