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What is Endocannabinoid Deficiency?

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In December of 2003, Dr. Ethan B Russo wrote a paper exploring the concept known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, or CECD for short. He theorized that a mammal being deficient in their own cannabinoid production could have impacts on the underlying pathophysiology of migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other functional conditions. 

Since then, subsequent research has confirmed that underlying endocannabinoid deficiencies indeed play a role in the above mentioned conditions on top of a growing list of other medical conditions. 

Remember, that our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is responsible for bringing the body to homeostasis. When the body is in a homeostatic state, it has the ability to self-heal and optimize. By supplementing this system with phytocannabinoids such as CBD, we can make up for any endocannabinoid deficiency we might be experiencing. 

It is also shown that our bodies produce their own cannabinoids by breaking down omega fatty acids. A great source for these fatty acids can be found in hemp foods like hemp hearts and hemp protein! 

In a study performed in March of 2018, it was found that there is a link between plasma anandamide (an endocannabinoid we produce) concentrations and autism spectrum disorder. In this study it was found that anandamide concentrations significantly differentiated ASD cases from controls, such that children with lower anandamide concentrations were more likely to have ASD. 

When you think about it, the concept of endocannabinoid deficiency makes a lot of sense and could explain why supplementing our ECS with phytocannabinoids seems to help with so many different things. Prior to cannabis prohibition, cannabinoids were a part of the human food chain. Dairy cows ate feral hemp, which was rich in CBD, and passed the CBD to humans through their milk. Pigs, chickens and other livestock were also fed hemp and were a part of this ecosystem in the same way. Beginning in 1937, however, the government eradicated all forms of feral and cultivated hemp, thus virtually eliminating cannabinoids from the human diet which it had been part of since pre-historic times. 

So, is CBD is the only way to help with this deficiency? Not at all! Exercise stimulates the release of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide. Anandamide, not endophins is actually what gives runners the “high” we often hear about and can help boost the endocannabinoid system. More research is needed to find which cannabinoids and dosage protocols would be optimal in the treatment of such conditions. Until then people are left to do there own experimenting to find what may help them relieve the symptoms that interfere with everyday life. 

I want to leave you with a quote from Dr. Russo in a conversation he had with Project CBD in 2016.

"First and foremost, we need to better understand the role of the endocannabinoids in our lives and our health status. That’s been ignored, possibly because of its name – having cannabis in the name of this pejorative connation has impeded education, even in medical school. Basically, it hardly exists. Let’s consider this. There are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are for all of the neurotransmitters put together. That being true – and it is – recognizing that fact, why would one ignore this system? Why isn’t this being taught? Our public needs to know about this and how lifestyle and diet affect this system, and how it could be brought to bear to improve their life condition."

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29564080?fbclid=IwAR1sc26PtdPT1RH4MphQqFdXGmyvdAZVgFcppYKEUNemnhcsOl8pD0SdUtw

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24977967

 https://www.projectcbd.org/science/cbd-clinical-endocannabinoid-deficiency

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