Dear Nurse Olga,
I am learning more about the endocannabinoid system and I heard that they are naturally within our bodies, which is why cannabis works so well. Is there such thing as not having enough endocannabinoids, and what symptoms would that translate to?
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, you can appreciate how difficult living with this type of disease can be. You might have gone through several providers before you found one that would listen to you or take your symptoms seriously. You may have been suffering in silence, starting to wonder if it was all in your head or trying to explain away your symptoms.
Autoimmune disorders are diseases where the immune system repeatedly attacks a part of your body such as your joints or GI tract, or attacks your whole body like with fibromyalgia or lupus. Chronic attacks on the body can cause constant inflammation and malfunction, and the subsequent effects can be difficult to interpret. Symptoms common to many illnesses, such as fatigue, muscle aches, and skin rashes can make proper diagnosis and treatment extremely difficult.
If you have been given an autoimmune diagnosis or think you might have an autoimmune disorder, learning about your endocannabinoid system and how it interacts with your body may help you better understand what is happening. You are right, endocannabinoids are everywhere in your body; they have a hand in regulating autoimmune function, inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and fat and energy metabolism. Research suggests that low levels of endocannabinoids can lead to Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome, which might be to blame for your migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS, severely painful periods and/or difficult menopause, and many other conditions. If the endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning properly, the receptors for the many parts of the body that are regulated by the system then become unbalanced, and physical symptoms start to develop.
Endocannabinoids in cannabis naturally work with the nervous system to make necessary changes that will bring balance to the body. Cannabis can be used in place of traditional pharmaceuticals, or alongside them in order to enhance their benefits. Whole plant cannabis is very effective at treating autoimmune diseases- it can simultaneously treat a host of symptoms at once by boosting the endocannabinoid system and allowing the body to balance itself out naturally. CBD can help increase your brain’s production of endocannabinoids, keeping the body in balance and making you feel blissful.
Specific terpenes can also be beneficial for these types of diseases; Myrcene, the most commonly found terpene in cannabis, is known to relax muscles and help soothe inflammation and pain. Linalool, also found in lavender, can help with depression and anxiety.
Further research into the link between ECS and autoimmune diseases is necessary, but for those who are suffering, cannabis may be one of the most comprehensive treatments available and an effective way to relieve some of your symptoms.
Olga Hall has been a registered nurse for 15 years in many different settings. When she started seeing more and more patients coming into the emergency room after overdosing on prescribed narcotics, she began researching the benefits of cannabis for pain management. Olga’s goal is to help end the suffering she has seen first hand by teaching others how to integrate cannabis into their lives.