The list of conditions tied to cannabis is wide-ranging and steadily growing. Whether cannabinoids are providing relief from migraines, fibromyalgia, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the mechanism involved is largely the same; success is often attributed to activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
Striking similarities between a wide variety of conditions, each shown to respond well to cannabinoid treatments, brings about an interesting question. Is it possible that a “cannabinoid deficiency” could be the underlying cause of these ailments? A number of researchers believe that just may be the case.
Dr. Ethan Russo is the Senior Medical Advisor at GW Pharmaceuticals, the company responsible for Sativex and Epidiolex. One of his most notable contributions to the cannabis knowledge bank can be found in his study “Taming THC,” in which he discussed the synergistic effect of terpenes in cannabis.
“Deficient cannabinoid levels may be the underlying cause of numerous conditions alleviated by cannabis.”– Ethan Russo
In 2004, however, Dr. Russo proposed the idea of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) in a study published in neuro Neuro endocrinologyletters. Hesuggested that deficient cannabinoid levels may be the underlying cause of numerous conditions alleviated by cannabis.
Similarly, Dr. Robert Melamede, former Biology Department chair and current Professor at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, holds the belief that endocannabinoids can inhibit the aging process. Furthermore, he speculates that cannabinoids are essential nutrients with the ability to minimize age-related illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Melamede explains that his experience investigating the biology of radiation therapy and DNA repair, in addition to his personal cannabis use, gave him a unique perspective on the plant. It is becoming increasingly accepted that free radicals are responsible for aging and age-related illness. Specifically, they have been tied to cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, age-related cognitive dysfunction, and skeletal diseases like osteoporosis.
Interestingly, the creation of free radicals goes hand in hand with inflammation. Seeing as cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), are known to inhibit inflammation, it stands to reason that they could play a role in the modulation of free radicals as well.
According to Dr. Melamede, age-related illnesses are simply the result of inflammation-induced free radicals. As he explains in the Americans for Safe Access (ASA) testimonial below, inflammatory conditions accumulate over time until “the weakest link” breaks. Of course, that link varies from person to person, which would explain why a cannabinoid deficiency may present itself in a variety of ways.
Nonetheless, supplementing the body’s cannabinoid supply could be of equal benefit for each deficiency-related condition. Essential fatty acids like Omega-3 have received a great deal of media attention in recent years for their cardiovascular benefits. However, Dr. Melamede points out that they directly effect the endocannabinoid system, a fact that few people are aware of.
“[Dr. Melamede] speculates that essential fatty acids from hemp oil would be more beneficial than Omega-3.”
With that said, he speculates that essential fatty acids from hemp oil would be even more beneficial than Omega-3. It would be possible to use veganic growing techniques, whereas fish-derived Omega-3 could contain mercury.
Of course, one’s diet will have a limited effect on endocannabinoid production, which is why Dr. Melamede believes cannabis should be used as a supplement. According to him, the extended life expectancy of humans, compared to historical averages, has landed age-related illness among the most common causes of death today.
“Nobody dies from getting old,” he explained. “People die from age-related illnesses.”
As Dr. Melamede recalled during his American’s for Safe Access testimonial, a similar situation occurred before antibiotics were invented when infectious disease was responsible for a number of deaths. Needless to say, people with access to adequate healthcare no longer die from infectious disease. Accordingly, he feels that we must adapt as humans to counter the detriments of unnecessary inflammatory action.
Of course, it’s unlikely that we could do so quickly enough through evolution, but Dr. Melamede believes cannabis is a “miracle drug” that could help the body achieve homeostasis. Further, he sees cannabis as an essential nutrient akin to any vitamin. With that in mind, it seems that juicing cannabis and ingesting raw leaves, or infused edibles, could be beneficial preventive measures against age-related disease.