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What Is Endocannabinoid Deficiency and How Can Medical Marijuana Help?

August 13, 2020 • • Medical Marijuana

If your body’s endocannabinoid system is underperforming, you may have Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency. Here’s how medical cannabis can help.

Did you know that the human body naturally creates cannabinoids like THC and CBD? The reason these chemical compounds have physiological effects is because, in addition to the nervous, skeletal, and cardiovascular systems, our bodies also have what’s known as the endocannabinoid system

This system, which includes hundreds of cannabinoid receptors spread across the body, is still being studied. While not yet fully understood, the endocannabinoid system is thought to help regulate a number of bodily processes. There are two kinds of receptors: CB1 receptors help manage things like appetite, cognition, and motor skills, while CB2 receptors have a much broader impact on bodily function, affecting the digestive tract, immune system, and even the reproductive system.

If your body isn’t naturally producing enough cannabinoids, it can cause what’s known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, or CED. This condition can have adverse effects that are difficult to treat. Here’s what we know about how medical cannabis can be used to manage these deficiencies and improve patients’ quality of life.

The Research on Endocannabinoid Deficiencies

The current theory behind endocannabinoid deficiencies came about in 2001, when Dr. Ethan Russo was studying the effects that cannabis has on migraines. In his research, he used the cannabinoids found in marijuana-based treatments to stimulate and replenish patients’ depleted cannabinoid receptors. Since then, Russo has discovered links between endocannabinoid deficiencies and conditions like migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, as well as digestive, mood, sleep, and other imbalances across the body.

The core hypothesis of Russo’s research is fairly straightforward: each person’s endocannabinoid receptors require a certain baseline of stimulation in order to properly function and manage the body’s physiological processes. If a patient’s body isn’t producing enough endocannabinoids, it can lead to a number of health conditions and autoimmune disorders, such as those listed above.

Given that many of these conditions involve serious pain that can be difficult to treat, researchers were curious to see whether they shared an underlying cause. The study found significant chemical differences in the cerebrospinal fluid of those who have frequent migraines, as well in those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Similar to how some hormone imbalances can be treated and stabilized, Russo’s team found that using cannabis to manage an underperforming endocannabinoid system can reduce pain, improve sleep, and mitigate many of the side effects of these conditions. Other conditions that can potentially be treated with cannabis include cystic fibrosis, phantom limb pain, glaucoma, menstrual cramps, bipolar disorder, and more.

Treating Conditions Caused by Endocannabinoid Deficiencies

While endocannabinoid deficiency is not currently on the list of
qualifying conditions that can be legally treated with medical marijuana in the state of Ohio, it may be the underlying cause for some of the conditions that do qualify. Patients with fibromyalgia, for instance, often benefit from the pain-relieving effects that cannabis provides.

If you’re interested in learning whether medical marijuana is the right course of treatment for you,
contact Lakewood Medical Clinic today. Our team of doctors and medical cannabis experts specializes in making each patient feel at home, whether you’re visiting us for the first time or have seen us before. We’re happy to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have.