Article by Dr. Frank, Cannabis Culture
Sure, we know cannabis has proven helpful in relieving symptoms associated with cancer, epilepsy and glaucoma. But did you know, more and more evidence has been recorded that cannabis is more than beneficial, we actually need it?
Since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and various phytocannabinoids beyond just tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it seems that a sort of “shift” occurred in how we approach cannabis. “Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency” – sometimes (and less accurately) called “clinical cannabinoid deficiency – is actually an umbrella term for various conditions, in particular:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Other treatment-resistant conditions that could be alleviated by cannabis use
Essentially, a CECD means “a lack of endocannabinoids”. The solution? Phytocannabinoids, which are found in abundance in cannabis. To state simply, a lack of cannabinoids could explain why conditions like migraine, fibromyalgia and IBS arise, and why people suffering from these conditions find cannabis to be therapeutic.
Now, there are a lot of conditions that could be linked to a CECD. This is perhaps because of the ECS’s intimate relationship with homeostasis (the balance of the body’s physiological processes), and there is still the chicken-or-egg question of “do these conditions arise because of a CECD, or does suffering from, say, multiple sclerosis or persistent headaches eventually cause a CECD?” The answer is likely to be “both”, and it could be one of the key reasons why cannabis is so useful for so many conditions.
The CECD concept comes from Dr. Ethan Russo, who is a leading researcher on cannabidiol (CBD) and was involved in the development of GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex – a CBD extract for epilepsy, and currently at Stage 3 development in the US. To see more of his work, check out the following links:
The original 2004 paper, which states:
“Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines.” However, the lack of evidence at the time made it just an “educated guess based upon some observable data and experimentation”.
As stated earlier, the evidence is mounting. Neurologist and Medical Scientist Ethan Russo is at the spearhead of this research. In this video he explains the concept of CECD and the importance of CBD. In 2016 Ethan Russo updated his findings in a peer reviewed journal that can be found here.
The abstract to Russo’s article states:
“Currently, however, statistically significant differences in cerebrospinal fluid anandamide levels have been documented in migraines, and advanced imaging studies have demonstrated ECS hypofunction in post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional studies have provided a firmer foundation for the theory, while clinical data have also produced evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits to cannabinoid treatment and adjunctive lifestyle approaches affecting the ECS.”
In a 2014 review published in the US National Library of Medicine journal, Scientists S.C. Smith and M.S. Wagner backed up Russo’s theories. The pair wrote, “…subsequent research has confirmed that underlying endocannabinoid deficiencies indeed play a role in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and a growing list of other medical conditions. Clinical experience is bearing this out. Further research and especially clinical trials will further demonstrate the usefulness of medical cannabis. As legal barriers fall and scientific bias fades this will become more apparent.”