There is a reason why there is so much hype around CBD and other compounds which are present in the cannabis plant. Although we still need a lot of research to be done, the reason why medical people are so excited about it is down to its effect on the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a system in the human body, which was only discovered recently, in the 1990s, by researchers who were looking into how cannabis affects us. Once they discovered the endocannabinoid system, it opened up a wealth of possibilities and understanding about a number of health issues which we are facing in the world today.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Just like any other system, the endocannabinoid system is integral to the proper functioning of the body. Its job is to keep everything in balance, enabling the body’s systems and functions to work properly. It is what keeps the body in a state of homeostasis – or in the ‘Goldilocks zone’. This means that everything is in proportion, the body temperature is regulated, and that there are the right amounts of chemicals in the system to make sure that the body is in optimum conditions to work properly.
The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids are made in the body and they interact with the cannabinoid receptors (generally known as CB1 and CB2 receptors) to keep levels balanced.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors are located throughout the body, but with some of them concentrated in certain areas. This means that they can have an effect on different parts of the body.
Generally, CB1 receptors are concentrated around the brain, spinal cord and some of the peripheral organs, whereas the CB2 receptors are more concentrated in the immune system and the gastrointestinal system.
This means that some of the functions of the body that the endocannabinoid system can affect, include:
- The immune system
- The nervous system
What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Endocannabinoid deficiency occurs when the number of endocannabinoids in the system is depleted. This can leave the body with no way to regulate certain aspects of itself, which can then result in a number of health problems.
There is still much more research that is needed to be carried out about how these endocannabinoid levels can be reduced to levels that have the potential to make us ill, but researchers are hopeful that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency will soon be able to explain a number of health problems such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines.
These are all health issues which we still don’t know what causes them, but seem to be closely linked to the endocannabinoid system.
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency and CBD
Cannabidiol – which is better known as CBD is a compound that is found naturally in the cannabis plant. There are over 100 significant compounds in the plant, and it is these compounds which researchers are hoping will be able to help people with a range of health issues.
CBD is a Phytocannabinoid, which means that it is a cannabinoid that is produced in a plant. Scientists believe that Phyto cannabinoids can interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to the endocannabinoids (although not in exactly the same way). It is believed that Phyto cannabinoids have the possibility of replenishing the depleted levels of endocannabinoids and can help to deal with some of the health issues which are associated with endocannabinoid deficiency.
The endocannabinoid system and migraines
Migraines are extremely unpleasant to people who suffer from them. Although we do know a little about some things that can trigger a migraine, we still don’t really know what causes them. What we do know. However, is that migraines are linked to increases in serotonin in the brain, and serotonin levels are something that the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate.
It is hoped, therefore, that CBD – by effectively replenishing the cannabinoid levels by giving the endocannabinoid system a lift, might be able to be used to prevent or treat migraines in the future.
CBD is also known to have analgesic – or pain relieving effects.  This means that it also has the potential to be used to relieve the pain of a migraine in a natural way and reducing the need for sufferers to use opioids which can be highly addictive, or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen which can be harmful if used regularly for a long time.
The endocannabinoid system and irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome – or IBS – is another condition about which medical researchers don’t really know much about. IBS can manifest itself in a number of ways including vomiting and diarrhoea, bloating, loss of appetite and general abdominal discomfort. Scientists believe that serotonin levels can again have an impact of IBS, and it is hoped that by being able to regulate these levels, we can see some progress in the treatment of the condition.
The endocannabinoid system and fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition about which very little is known about. It usually shows itself in chronic pain, muscle stiffness and fatigue and is difficult to diagnose. Treatment comes again, in helping people to deal with the symptoms, and therefore often involves taking high amounts of painkillers in the long term, as well as antidepressants in many cases.
There is mounting evidence to show the link between the endocannabinoid system and fibromyalgia , and, although more research is needed, things are looking very hopeful for people who suffer from the condition.
We still need a lot of medical research to be carried out so that we can fully understand the endocannabinoid system, clinical endocannabinoid deficiency and how CBD can help. However, it is also important to remember that there are also other cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant.
THC is another important cannabinoid that is present in the plant. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and this is the compound that makes you feel the high that is associated with cannabis. The high is caused because it directly binds to the CB1 receptors and sends a particular message to the brain.
However, it is important to note that THC can also be very beneficial to the endocannabinoid system – in a different way to CBD, and this is why we are beginning to see some medications being legalised which also include THC. It is important to remember, however, that any product with THC levels of over 0.2% are illegal to buy or sell in the UK without a special license or prescription. Everywhere has its own rules, and you should check what the rules are wherever you are.
Due to improved technology and recent changes in the law, it is only in the last few decades that scientists have even been aware of the endocannabinoid system. The fact that it has been discovered – and that there are ways that we can affect it offer great hope for many people. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is something that needs to be thoroughly researched and understood, as well as the potential of Phyto cannabinoids and their uses, but the signs are looking good.
With a better understanding, there is hope that we can think about medicine in a whole new way and help people to prevent or treat some of these life inhibiting conditions.