Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) is a very real thing for almost all of us. Born and raised with this powerful Endocannabinoid System (ECS), it is constantly working within your body to bring balance and homeostasis at both the CELLULAR level and to your body as a whole. Like a finely tuned guitar, the tone of the ECS can either play out a beautiful melody or, improperly tuned, can be more like nails on a chalkboard.
Fortunately AND unfortunately this responsive system is heavily effected by our environment. Stress levels, diet and exercise all influence the ECS and our fast-paced modern day way of life seems to be taking its toll.
Scientific studies have found direct links with levels of our endocannabinoids and ECS function and certain conditions. For instance, researchers have found hypofunction (low function) of the ECS has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder through advanced imaging studies.
According to Ethan Russo, M.D. (Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute), who has proposed that Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) be added to the lengthy list of medical conditions, there is a significant link between certain treatment-resistant syndromes and dysfunction of the ECS. For instance, migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome have quite a crossover of commonality (more here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5576607/) with research finding a “statistically significant difference” of anandamide levels in migraine sufferers.
Dr. Pal Pacher, M.D., Ph.D who has also poured some serious hours into uncovering the full workings of the ECS and has also been listed as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds for several years (2014, 2015, and 2016) has been quoted saying this …
“Modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system has turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few.”
— Dr. Pal Pacher, M.D., Ph.D
We know that the ECS regulates numerous cellular and physiological processes through the activation of receptors that are located throughout your body. With CB1 receptors abundant in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors heavily populating immune-related cells and tissues, the list of conditions that are being linked to imbalances of the ECS are vast and varied:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive disorders
- IBS and IBD
- Neuropathic pain
- Heart attacks
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Multiple Sclerosis
Getting a touch more scientific on you for a moment here but stay with me (especially if you are skeptical in how the ECS is being linked to so many different dis-ease states and health conditions).
One of the key functions of the ECS is modulating mitochondrial function. Inside of every tiny little cell of your body resides something called the mitochondria. This extremely unique component of every cell has many different functions and they even contain their own genome (more on this fascinating tidbit later)! Some of its many functions include energy production, coordinating the stress response, cellular metabolism and glucose regulation which impact appetite regulation, behavioral responses, and even the end fate of the cell lies within the power of the mitochondria! That’s a lot to take in I know, but vital in understand Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency and how to overcome it.
So let’s fly up a bit and look down on the forest for a moment for a more simplified look.
We have this maze of connections within our body that is able to receive information about changes to the environment (both internally and externally), and is then able to communicate with all the other systems of our body (neurological, immune, endocrine, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, etc.) by reaching the energy source INSIDE of teeny-tiny little cells all over our bodies so that those cells and systems can then elicit it’s best response to the change. This is obviously all done without our conscious awareness to it!
See … our bodies are truly incredible masterpieces!
Like any other system of your body, disconnects and imbalance can occur and are often from one of the following reasons:
- deficiencies of key nutrients that support the ECS
- toxicities that disrupt the proper function of the ECS
- genetic connections to ECS function
Let’s talk about deficiencies first. Remember in when we discovered that cannabinoids are built from our fatty acid levels which are heavily influenced by our diet? Without access to the right source of fatty acids from our diet, our intelligent bodies have to find alternatives or simply aren’t able to produce adequate levels of endocannabinoids … leaving us deficient in the cannabinoid “keys” that activate the “switch locks” of the ECS.
Studies show that omega-3 deficiency can hinder production of receptors and issues with fatty acid production can impact endocannabinoid production.
Let’s touch on toxicities … it’s difficult to tackle because in our world today there are SO many toxicities that it’s going to be a struggle to list them all but more and more research is conducted every day on the toxic effects of GMOs and glyphosate, heavy metals, mold, obesogens, xenoestrogens, electromagnetics, and many more.
One interesting area that typically ties into both areas of deficiency and toxicity resides within the digestive tract and how the microbiome (the trillions of bacteria that must live inside of us to sustain life and health) appear to be a major regulator of the ECS. As a functional medicine practitioner that specializes in gut health, I can speak firsthand to the difference a healthy microbiome and proper gut function played in restoring health and vitality to both children and adults.
What does STRESS and heavy alcohol consumption have in common? I could think of a few but keeping relevant to the ECS, both have been found to slow the growth and repair of new endocannabinoid receptors! Chronic stress causes down-regulation or loss of CB1 receptors throughout the brain.
So … chances are likely that you or someone you love is dealing with an clinical endocannabinoid deficiency or an imbalance in the function and tone of the ECS.
What can we do?
There are simple recommendations that can tie over to virtually every other condition lining the medical books …
But let’s get a little deeper and more specific, shall we?
This is a repeat from a previous article but is worth noting again … EXERCISE is not only a great way to manage stress in a healthy way, it can increase levels of anandamide as well. In fact, scientists now believe the “runners high” to be associated with an increase in the production of endocannabinoids rather than endorphins.
Remember from the previous article (link back to endocannabinoids article) that singing and dancing can boost your endocannabinoid production? That’s a great place for all of us to start for a natural way to battle Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency … can you imagine more song and dance from our boss or spouse?
Please don’t be discouraged if you hate singing and dancing, there are other ways that you can boost your cannabinoid counts and I highly doubt your boss is going to start Monday morning meetings with the Macarena anytime soon! Besides, considering the level of deficiency and the desired outcome in relation to our often-high expectation with results … most of us are in need of a greater source of support to restore ideal function to our vital ECS.
The environment also contains cannabinoids which are often referred to as exogenous cannabinoids. This means that we were created to make and release our own cannabinoids AND we have also been gifted with plants that also support this vital system.
This is where it can get really fun.
Are you open minded enough to dive deeper into a talk about hemp? If so, you can find the solutions to overcoming your Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED).