Explaining the Theory of Endocannabinoid System Deficiency

If you’ve read anything about how cannabinoid (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids work, you’ve likely come across the term “endocannabinoid system”. But, have you ever heard of something called endocannabinoid system deficiency or endocannabinoid deficiency?

While still a theory, many researchers believe that a deficiency in endocannabinoids may be the origin of several conditions that remain resistant to traditional treatment approaches.

Below we provide an overview of the endocannabinoid system and its function, endocannabinoids, and the theory of endocannabinoid system deficiency.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system of receptors that was discovered in the early 1990s and was named after the plant that led to its discovery. Currently, experts believe the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in regulating a breadth of functions and processes in our bodies, including:

The endocannabinoid system performs a range of tasks at different locations in the body but always with the same objective: homeostasis. What this means is that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating and balancing our bodies.

The endocannabinoid system is comprised of two receptor types: the endocannabinoid type I and type II (CB1 and CB2) receptors which are located throughout your body, including the nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord, your gastrointestinal tract, your skeletal muscles, your vascular system, and your skin. 

So, What Are Endocannabinoids?

The human body produces its own native cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids, that can activate receptors in the endocannabinoid system to keep internal functions running smoothly. 

So far, researchers have identified two main endocannabinoids: 

  • Anandamide (AEA)

  • 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) 

What Is Endocannabinoid System Deficiency?

Endocannabinoid system deficiency—often referred to as endocannabinoid deficiency or clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD)—is a theory first explored in 2004. The theory suggests that several health conditions may be caused by a deficiency in endocannabinoid levels. The concept of neurotransmitter deficiencies isn’t new—it’s similar to serotonin deficiency in mental health disorders like depression.

There are several common pain syndromes, including migraine, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia, that appear to be resistant to treatment and lack objective causes or signs. Additionally, these conditions often occur alongside each other, suggesting a connection between the three.

According to several research studies, comorbidity (simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or conditions) is very clear in the three diagnoses:

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  • Primary headaches co-occurred in 97% of 201 fibromyalgia patients.

  • 35.6% of 101 chronic daily headache (transformed migraine) subjects also fit clinical criteria of fibromyalgia.

  • 31.6% of IBS subjects were also diagnosable with fibromyalgia, while 32% of fibromyalgia patients also fit for IBS.

There are also similarities in symptoms across the three conditions. The primary overlap between symptomatology present in all of these disorders is central sensitization (hypersensitivity to stimuli from things that aren’t typically painful) and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to feeling pain and extreme response to pain).

Because of these commonalities, these disorders are theorized to originate from the same overarching cause. The foundation of this hypothesis relies on the idea that all of us humans have an underlying endocannabinoid “tone”, or baseline, that correlates to the level of endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG as well as their production, metabolism, and the abundance and state of endocannabinoid receptors. 

Put simply, the theory suggests that when this endocannabinoid “tone” becomes deficient, it may result in pathophysiological syndromes.

Proposed Treatments for Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Again, this is still a theory, but some researchers and cannabis experts believe that there are methods to improve your own endocannabinoid system tone. Researchers have suggested various strategies over the years to treat endocannabinoid system deficiency, including:

  • Introduce FAAH inhibitors (such as CBD) to increase AEA levels in the endocannabinoid system

  • Treatment via CB1 agonists (cannabinoids, such as THC) to “jumpstart” the endocannabinoid system

  • Lifestyle approaches (low-impact aerobic regimens, dietary changes like the use of prebiotics and probiotics, etc.)

Feals: More Than Just a CBD Company

At Feals, we’re not only dedicated to providing the highest quality CBD products possible but are also committed to providing education, guidance, and support along the way.

If you still have questions about the endocannabinoid system or endocannabinoid system deficiency, our customer service team would love to chat with you. Just give them a call on our CBD hotline.

To learn more about the endocannabinoid system and CBD or about what Feals can do for you, call our CBD hotline at 844-311-9090 or check out our products today.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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