Is Cannabinoid Deficiency the Underlying Cause of Health Problems?
For many suffering from chronic illness, medical marijuana products are life changing. From those dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, to the ones managing anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, marijuana can help ease their symptoms better than ever.
Medicine continues to struggle in its approaches to multiple common pain syndromes that remain treatment resistant. Foremost among these are migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. But why?
Everyone has a system in their body known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS was only recently discovered in the early 1990s when two different scientists identified the two main endocannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2. These receptors have been linked to the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues.The ECS is present in every major bodily system, which is how its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions—and how marijuana manages to treat them.
The theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) was presented in 2001 and was based on the concept that many brain disorders are associated with neurotransmitter deficiencies, affecting acetylcholine in Alzheimer’s disease, dopamine in parkinsonian syndromes, serotonin and norepinephrine in depression, and that a comparable deficiency in endocannabinoid levels might be manifest similarly in certain disorders that display predictable clinical features as sequelae of this deficiency. 
All humans possess an underlying endocannabinoid tone that reflects of levels of anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), the centrally acting endocannabinoids. If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it would result in a lowered pain threshold, along with disruption of digestion, mood, and sleep. The CED theory also suggests that such deficiencies could happen because of genetic or congenital reasons or be acquired due to injury or a disease that produces characteristic pathophysiological syndromes.
The CED theory explains that these health conditions are due to a deficiency in endocannabinoid levels, similar to the way neurotransmitter deficiencies are behind other conditions — like serotonin deficiency in depression. Basically, this theory suggests that the cause of these syndromes is an insufficient amount of endocannabinoids functioning throughout the ECS.
Decreased ECS function was found in those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. And clinical data has shown that using medical marijuana and making lifestyle changes aimed to promote the health of the endocannabinoid system decreased pain and improved sleep.
How to improve ECS “tone”
Dr. Russo, the Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, is the scientist who has theorized that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency could be the cause behind different ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and migraines. When asked about how to maintain a healthy endocannabinoid system, he had some advice on the matter. Here are some tips:
- Heal your gut: There is increasing evidence that the gut microbiome, and the levels of bacteria within it, are a major regulator of the ECS. People should avoid unnecessary antibiotics, as these damage the natural microbiome balance in the gut. Also try pro- and prebiotics to get that biome in shape.
- Eat right: Pro-inflammatory foods, such as fried foods with trans-fats, or too many calories in general are bad for the ECS. It’s also important to cultivate consciousness about what you’re eating—how you were taught might not be best for what’s best for your body now. Sources of endocannabinoid-enhancing fatty acids:
- Hemp seeds and hemp oil
- Flax seeds and flax oil
- Chia seeds
- Sardines and anchovies
- Eggs (pasture-fed or omega-3 enriched only)
- Exercise: Sedentary behavior is harmful to the ECS, and exercise is essential to improving tone. However, many fighters of chronic illness will experience a flare in symptoms if they push it, so a low-impact aerobic program is recommended for many.
- Look at family health: ECS dysfunction isn’t genetic like eye color, but there are genetic tendencies, so be extra careful if there are others in your family who are fighters of chronic illness. Also be mindful about unhealthy habits you may share.
- Sleep well and stress less: The ECS loves balance, and a body that’s stressed out and unrested is great at throwing all kinds of systems out-of-whack. So get those eight hours and get real about managing stress.
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using medical marijuana products, people are starting to finally get the relief they have been longing for. Floridians and seasonal residents who suffer from a qualifying medical condition can be approved by a Florida Medical Marijuana Physician to be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry and obtain a Medical Marijauana State ID card. The following conditions are eligible for approval per state guidelines:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
If you or a loved one is suffering from one of the qualifying conditions listed above and are interested in seeing if medical marijuana products can bring you relief, take this online eligibility survey. In just a matter of minutes you will know whether or not you might qualify for a physician’s recommendation for medical marijauna product use in Florida. Once you are ready to make an appointment with a compassionate and knowledgeable Florida medical marijuana physician, all it takes is a quick fifteen minutes to see if you are eligible for your state-issued Florida medical marijuana ID card.