Innumerous research is published by Dr. Ethan Russo and he reviewed articles in the field during the last two decades (many related to Sativex and intractable epilepsy) and he is ranked among the world’s most prolific researchers of medical cannabis.
At the turn of the century, he authored three often cited articles in which he elaborated a theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. He recommended that a shortage in endocannabinoid signalling might also clarify a set of conditions that had until then evaded an appropriate understanding. A lot of diseases included in list that involve endocannabinoid dysfunction, three have attained a reasonable level of support since the publication of those influential articles: migraines, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Fibromyalgia, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome are included in Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CEDS), it is an umbrella term used for these group of illnesses. In the medical community growing number of esteemed scientists believe low levels of endocannabinoids are the root reason of these upsetting conditions. There is scientific proof signifying that endocannabinoids play a part in swelling, insulin sensitivity, and fat and energy metabolism.
What are endocannabinoids?
Human and animal bodies synthesize endocannabinoids naturally. There are three basic parts to the endocannabinoid system Enzymes that control endocannabinoid levels, Endocannabinoid receptors and Endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoid levels are controlled by enxymes. They stimulate the manufacture of endocannabinoid to lift levels or signal endocannabinoid demolition to lower levels. Endocannabinoids are lipids, which are a special type of fat that interacts with the nervous system to cause specific changes in the body. Endocannabinoids create these changes in the nervous system by bolting onto particular endocannabinoid receptor cells. This action is somewhat like a captain docking his boat at a marina.
Receptor cells are located throughout the body. All mammals produce endocannabinoids that bind to endocannabinoid receptors. There are two types of endocannabinoids – anandamide and 2-AG. Each one of these binds to exact endocannabinoid receptors; anandamide latches onto CB1 receptors and 2-AG docks onto CB2 receptor cells. CB1 are more common in vital organs while CB2 are more prevalent in peripheral cells and in the immune system.
Role of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency in fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by pain in soft tissues, particularly in the regions of the shoulder or neck, which is intense or frequent enough to limit physical activity and affect sleep and long-term well-being. Surprisingly to the medical community, there is an absence of clear biomarkers in this disease, including the usual signs of inflammation that accompany other pain syndromes.
This has led to a contentious debate about the validity of the diagnosis, but despite this, fibromyalgia ranks as the most common rheumatology diagnosis in the U.S for decades, since fibromyalgia disproportionately affected women, those who suffered with its often debilitating effects were often labeled as “hysterical women.” Many doctors would not even acknowledge that it was a legitimate physical disorder and called women hypochondriacs. It was often referred to as a “psychosomatic disorder.”
Over the decades, the medical communities have finally recognized it as a physical disorder, but have only speculated as to its underlying cause. The conventional Western medical treatment consisted of 3 pharmaceuticals, none of which helps with the symptoms, but produces plenty of side effects. The 3 drugs are Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella. Medical cannabis has been anecdotally shown to reduce many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia including pain, fatigue, sleep problems, digestive problems and mental fog.
With no relief provided by pharmaceuticals, many desperate fibromyalgia sufferers are turning to medical cannabis as a last resort and have been ecstatic with the results. I know patients who have been so incapacitated by fibromyalgia that they were unable to get out of bed, let alone work. Many have resumed activities that they never expected to do again in their lives, including working and exercising. It has been literally a “life saver” for many. The confusion is why does cannabis appear to work so fine?
The answer is that people who have fibromyalgia undergo Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED). When you replenish the depleted endocannabinoid system with the necessary cannabinoids, the symptoms disappear. Think of it in similar terms of someone with a Vitamin B deficiency feeling much better after taking supplements. For those who have studied the endocannabinoid system (ECS), you will know that its main function is to help the body maintain homeostasis. When the body is in homeostasis, it is free from disease.
Can taking Cannabis ease symptoms of endocannabinoid deficiency?
Fibromyalgia, much maligned as a psychosomatic disorder, is the most common diagnosis in American rheumatology practices. The high level of pain experienced by patients is due to secondary hyperalgesia (over sensitivity to pain) and according to Russo, ‘is observed in association with central endocannabinoid hypofunction in the spinal cord. It is relieved by taking cannabis.
A small study was conducted and 28 ﬁbromyalgia patients took cannabis and were compared with patients who did not take cannabis. There was a reported ‘lessening of pain and rigidity, improvement of relaxation and an increase in somnolence and feeling of well-being two hours after cannabis use. Comparing the effectiveness of cannabis with pharmaceutical drugs normally used for fibromyalgia found that cannabis came out unsurpassed compared to the prescription alternatives.
At present the Endocannabinoid System is hardly taught in medical school and surely hasn’t made it into the public field. So it’s your chance to get educating and share this information. The more the Endocannabinoid System becomes inbuilt in the public awareness, the more possible it is that people will get access to the most suitable treatment for their condition. Why not share this article with your doctor too.