Medical Research

What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome?

Written by Lisa Rennie

Could some of your health issues be linked to a deficiency in endocannabinoids in your body? According to researchers, many ailments that people suffer from could be a result of what’s known as “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome,” (CED) which is a condition that is believed to occur when the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is not performing up to par. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant may serve as supplementation when this system needs a boost.

The ECS, or the body’s built-in cannabis system, works to keep the body’s internal environment in proper balance.[1] It’s made up of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that help to regulate several bodily functions, including pain, mood, and appetite, among others.

Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the body on cell surfaces, and endocannabinoids interact with or bind to these receptors to induce a certain reaction. Endocannabinoids are then are metabolized, or broken down, by enzymes in the ECS.[1]

When there aren’t enough endocannabinoids in the body, problems can arise. CED is a condition whereby the levels of endocannabinoids produced in the body are much lower than required to maintain proper health and well being.

Cannabinoid researcher Ethan Russo, MD first suggested in 2001 that deficient levels of endocannabinoids may help to explain the development of certain conditions.[2] Migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowl syndrome have most strongly been associated with endocannabinoid deficiency. However, there are data suggesting that additional conditions, including multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and autism, may also be linked to reduced function of the ECS.[2]

While additional research is certainly needed to better understand ECS function, CED could explain why taking cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can be so effective at alleviating certain ailments. Considering the idea that a shortage of endocannabinoids may be behind the lack of homeostasis in the body and therefore may lead to various ailments, cannabinoids may provide important supplementation to the ECS to fill a void.

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  1. Zou S & Kumar U. Cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system: Signaling and function in the central nervous system. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(3):1-23.
  2. Russo EB. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency reconsidered: Current research supports the theory in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, and other treatment-resistant syndromes. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):154-165.

About the author

Lisa Rennie

Lisa Simoneli Rennie has been working as a freelance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content dedicated to informing consumers. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others, and in her spare time, Lisa enjoys trying funky new recipes, spending time with her dog, and of course, reveling in the joy of family.