Oooh, the mysterious endocannabinoid system just got a bit more enigmatic! Not to worry — we’re going to dispel your confusion (at least enough so those deep ruts in your furrowed forehead can go away…).
So, cozy up in your fave comfy chair. We’re about to go knuckle deep into an alphabet soup of ECS, CECD, and CBD.
Before we can intelligibly discuss a deficiency with a thing, you need to know what that thing is. Right?
We don’t want to bore those in the know with repetition, though. So, here’s a little Choose Your Own Adventure, ECS style.
Everyone has an ECS. It’s present throughout the body.
Through a complex — and not-totally-understood — network of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that chat with your brain (which then instigates various bodily responses), the ECS impacts many different bodily functions and systems. Everything from your immune reaction and appetite to mood and pain management to metabolism and sleep.
When you consume CBD, it joins the ECS-brain conversation. This influences the neuro signals and downstream effects on your body. It’s in this manner that CBD yields such diverse and numerous physical and mental health benefits.
All in — your endocannabinoid systems is pretty astounding!
Now that we’re all set on what the ECS is, we can explore what can go wrong with it.
One prob that’s becoming the talk of the town is endocannabinoid deficiency. This condition is also known commonly as endocannabinoid system deficiency. Medically, it’s referred to as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome (CECD).
It’s important to know that CECD is currently just a medical theory. It was first pitched in 2001 and revived in a 2016 review of 10+ years of data on the ECS and it’s relation to body functions and disorders.(1) Despite its not being etched in stone, there is a significant body of research that supports this theory and its connection to certain other illnesses.
In the simplest terms, endocannabinoid deficiency is when the ECS isn’t in homeostasis (a state of balance and peak functioning). In this scenario, the body’s ECS is suffering one or more of the following:
This leads to endocannabinoid levels being off, which then creates dysfunction in the ECS.
With the ECS not working fully or correctly, the usual brain signaling that depends on the ECS is disrupted or distorted. In turn, the body may experience a host of health and wellness issues because it’s getting jacked-up messages and instructions from the command center (the brain).(2) We’ll come back to this in a min.
CECD is hard to put your finger on. Defining its symptoms is like pinning down gelatin. That said, here are some frequently cited signs of possible endocannabinoid deficiency:
If you suspect you might have CECD, talk to your doctor. It’s possible to test for this disorder.
It’s unclear as to what causes endocannabinoid system deficiency. Some believe that it’s likely a combination of factors that includes:
The medical community doesn’t really know how prevalent CECD is. However, other ailments that are believed to be associated with endocannabinoid deficiency are relatively commonplace.(4)
Another hypothesis of CECD is that it can lead or contribute to several other chronic illnesses. The most noted being fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines.(5)
This trio of disorders has many similarities — including that they don’t have clear-cut root causes, can be hard to diagnose, and often are treatment-resistant. Also noteworthy is that these three conditions frequently co-exist in a single patient.
Researchers suggest that an endocannabinoid system deficiency could be the underlying culprit to these illnesses, and a number of others. More studies are needed to be sure, but if CECD is fundamentally tied to fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines — treatments that target the ECS could be the answer.(6)
To learn more about the ECS<>fibromyalgia link, scoot on over to ourCBD for Fibromyalgia post.
For additional info on the ECS and gastrointestinal and digestive concerns, read our postWhy Gut Health Is So Important & How CBD Can Help.
According to a 2014 article, CECD can be treated wit a multitude of therapies, such as:
Several other sources also recommend consuming functional foods (chocolate!) that are rich in therapeutic attributes like antioxidants, fiber, and phytocannabinoids. (Many other food plants boast various cannabinoids — the more you know….). And, of course, improving sleep habits could take a bite out of CECD.
Are you surprised to see that cannabis — a plant packed with cannabinoids — can address imbalances in the ECS and potentially help reverse endocannabinoid deficiency? It makes perfect sense!
Cannabidiol products are a power-packed option because they’re full of cannabinoids (uh, ya-ah!). But, in the case of full- or broad-spectrum CBD, a flood of other beneficial cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBG, CBC, etc.), terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals are inundating your bod, too. Each of these compounds can bolster a flagging ECS in its own tender-lovin’ way.
CBD, specifically, may ease endocannabinoid deficiency by facilitating receptor activity and inhibiting excess enzymes.(8) Both mechanisms are thought to let the ECS get back to business as usual — the call-and-response cadence the ECS-brain-body is known for. The relationship between CBD and CECD is ongoing and we can hope for more light to be shed on this in the near future.
Researchers are also investigating how CBD’s fellow cannabinoids might address the challenges of endocannabinoid deficiency. This is a newer area of study, so stay tuned!
Also known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency or CECD, this suspected condition occurs when the endocannabinoid system under- or mal-performs. Research is ongoing but mounting data indicates that CECD may be an underlying cause of many illnesses, particularly fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS.
A number of treatment possibilities exist and could help restore and protect the ECS so it can function normally. CBD is among the proposed therapies.
More study is needed to definitely prove out the endocannabinoid deficiency theory and the exact role cannabinoids play.
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