Cannabis has been with us since the dawn of man. The plant was cultivated and used for not only food, fiber, but of course for its essential cannabinoids. The primary focus of these cannabinoids was not so much for their psychotropic effects but for the medicinal benefit these cannabinoids provided for people. These cannabinoids would heal the sick and wounded and were used in treatments to heal not only the body but the mind as well.
During the 1800’s and very early 1900’s cannabis medicine was sold in local pharmacies, but ended when prohibition came about. We are now on the brink of the emergence of cannabinoid-based medication once again, this time with clinical studies proving their medical use. These molecules will put us years ahead of where we currently are and have the ability to treat multiple unknown medical ailments such as anxiety, schizophrenia, migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, a spectrum disorder that can cause all of these conditions, can be treated with the cannabinoids present in marijuana.
What Is CECD?
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) is a condition in which the body has a lack of production or overproduction of endogenous cannabinoids. In 2001, the term was coined by Dr. Ethan Russo in two initial studies and was revisited again in 2004 and 2012. He discovered that treatment conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and may be treated using cannabinoid therapy without any adverse side effects. Endocannabinoids regulate homeostasis within the body via the endocannabinoid system, which balances our body to the right equilibrium temperature of 98.6 °F.
The endocannabinoids produced naturally in our bodies are anandamide (AEA) and arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Too many or too few endocannabinoids can cause an imbalance within our bodies. While it was previously thought that conditions caused by this were “treatment resistant”, we now understand that CBD can help if there are either too many or too few endocannabinoids.
What are the symptoms of CECD?
Think of the endocannabinoids as yin and yang; an imbalance of one causes an imbalance of the other. All things in nature are biphasic, meaning more is not always better and having too much of anything can cause adverse effects.
Think of it as being similar to Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Papa Bear’s porridge was too hot and burned her tongue. Mama Bear’s porridge was too cold and tasted horrible, but Baby Bear’s porridge was just right and could be eaten perfectly.
The same story goes for cannabinoids, as too much or too little can have adverse effects. Consider THC, for example. Too little may not provide any pain or stress relief, while too much may cause paranoia or anxiety.
Roughly speaking, our body’s natural form of THC is anandamide. They both are CB1 agonists and are responsible for managing various functions in the central nervous system. Too much THC can cause anxiety, psychosis, and seizures. The same could be said for those who have unbalanced endocannabinoids, such as anandamide.
Fun fact: Astronomers use the term “Goldilocks Zone” to describe planets that are thought to be “just right” to sustain life.
Lack of production of endocannabinoids the will cause ailments such as Alzheimer’s, migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia. Endocannabinoids are responsible for homeostasis, which helps balance the natural chemicals in our brain. As everyone is unique, symptoms will vary within each patient.
In the case of migraines, concussion-like symptoms such as sensitivity to sound and light can occur. With fibromyalgia, symptoms include (but are not limited to) widespread muscular and physical pain, mood swings, and tingling sensations. Alzheimer’s has been found to occur due to a lack of production of endocannabinoids in the brain, which has been shown to affect memories.
How Do You Treat CECD?
CEDC can be treated by introducing phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from the cannabis plant) such as THC and CBD. Each ailment can be treated differently, which can determine the necessary ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes desired for an efficient recovery. Just as a doctor prescribes medicine for other diseases, each condition can be effectively treated with varying doses.
While all of the cannabinoids are unique, and more research needs to be done, Dr. Russo has stated that CBD synergizes with THC and also is effective at keeping this balance, regardless if there is an underproduction or overproduction of endocannabinoids. Within the past few years, a wide variety of high CBD strains are becoming more available, which can be used for various ingestion methods.
With so many people suffering and in pain throughout the world, it is essential that we continue with as much research as possible. This information will help doctors prescribe effective medication. With any luck, natural cannabinoid-based medicine and holistic methods will not be considered alternative treatment, but rather a trustworthy and viable option for millions of people on this planet.
A Tribute from the Author
I would like to dedicate this piece to my mentor, Albert Coles II, without you I would still be on the streets of Oakland and neither I nor the cannabis industry would be what it is today. Your work ethic has inspired me and the others around you. You have done so much to make CBD an international topic of discussion inside and outside the cannabis community. I may not know where you are or how you are doing, but I sincerely wish you the best and hope that all is well with you and Fiona. I thank you for everything you have done.
Until we meet again,