Microdosing to Supplement Endocannabinoid System Deficiencies
I would like to begin to establish an understanding that we, in fact, have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) deficiency. Unless we are supplementing nutritionally or in some other way making sure cannabinoids are present in our system there is an identified level of deficiency because in every other system of the body, that is what we observe.
For example, we develop an iron deficiency if we do not get enough iron in the foods that we eat. Our blood doesn’t create enough iron in order for us to have the sufficient amount of iron that we need to sustain us.
There is also a huge deficiency of magnesium in our bodies. We are supposed to get magnesium from the foods we eat, mainly from the fruits and vegetables grown in the soil that contains it and other minerals. However, our food’s soil is so depleted of magnesium and other key minerals that we do not get the nutrients we are meant to get from the soil our food is grown in, i.e. magnesium. Another example of our body’s natural deficiencies is co-enzyme Q10, an enzyme our body uses to convert food to usable energy. Our bodies stop producing CoQ10 over the years and some people need CoQ10 supplements in order to help them convert their food into usable energy.
My point is that you can see in every other system of the body, every vitamin, every mineral, ever amino acid, becomes deficient over time and requires some kind of supplementation.
The only group of people that an endocannabinoid deficiency may naturally not be present in, is small children. But even then (unless they are exclusively nursed) I would say that they would suffer from a deficiency as well. But since we don’t measure or test ECS deficiency, let’s exclude that small group. We must address that as we get older, however, we stop producing things our bodies need and thus require supplementation for these deficiencies.
We need supplementation for our hormones when we experience both female and male menopause. Every system needs some kind of supplementation, so why wouldn’t the ECS also need supplementation over time?
As I was saying before, we don’t have a way to measure that. There’s not really a test for baseline. What is the ECS baseline? What is normal? We do not currently know.
For blood pressure, we know what the normal range is. For glucose we know how to measure whether someone is hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic. We can measure if someone is diabetic. You know what the baselines are to make a determination if there’s a deficiency or something that is going on with many other systems of the body. We don’t really have these same methods of testing for the ECS, mostly because there are 100s of cannabinoids and we really have only identified about 34 of them, which we are actively studying and know anything about.
So that would lead us to understand that:
1) There is an ECS deficiency and it is there, period.
2) The only way we can address it is by introducing cannabinoids into our system on a regular basis. The best way to do that is through the cannabis plant, which contains phytocannabinoids to supplement our endocannabinoid system.
3) The only questions left are what are the dosing and delivery methods.
Dosing and delivery are currently the biggest questions when it comes to supplementing our deficient ECS. Not everyone wants to walk around feeling the euphoric or psychoactive effects of cannabis. They have jobs. They are parents. They have things to do that do not accommodate the psychoactive profiles of cannabis, and this is understandable. So they can’t necessarily have an uptake of cannabinoids through smoking cannabis or something that’s going to be psychoactive. This is why microdosing of full spectrum, raw cannabis is so important to our ability of using the cannabis plant to supplement our bodies and get that nutrition we are in need of.
One of the things that I love about microdosing is that it works on the same principles of everything else in natural health. With natural healing the way supplementation is effective is by constantly introducing natural compounds to your system, this is the basis for nutrition. There is no time release, no fillers, it goes in your body and through your body, through your digestive system and gets discarded from your body, as everything else you nutritionally feed your body with. If you’re not constantly introducing the supplement to your body, then it is not present, so then it is not effective because it is not there. This is why I like microdosing, and this is why I like microdosing specifically with things that you ingest.
You can’t really microdose with smoking cannabis. First of all the flowers change their chemical composition when you decarboxylate them. It is almost always introducing some type of psychoactive effect, whether you want it or not.
When you have raw cannabis it has the THCa with the acid still on it, which blocks psychoactivity, so you are not having the psychoactive affects and thus you can use it more often, hence microdosing is great with raw cannabis.
You can think about it the same as when you’re digesting food and how it goes through your system. You get about 4 hours between when you eat something and when it is digested and discarded from your system. Of course there are factors like metabolism, sluggish digestion and these different circumstances that play a role in that process.
With this knowledge we can say that unless you are consuming cannabinoids every 4–6 hours, cannabinoids are not going to be present in your system. With microdosing you can take a little bit of a cannabis product as a supplement whether it be an edible, tincture, candy, whatever your delivery method is. It should preferably be a full spectrum cannabis product, so we are not talking about isolates or distillates here, but a full spectrum product, preferably raw cannabis. Raw cannabis is what contains THCa and blocks psycho-activity while giving you the cannabinoid profiles you need to supplement. This full spectrum cannabis product should be used nutritionally every 4–6 hours.
Now whether you are juicing the fan leaves or you juice the plant as you would wheat grass and take a shot, or whether you use the leaves and sometimes even the flowers to eat them like salad greens or whether you’ve extracted all of the active constituents out of the plant and are putting them into some type of carrier oil or fat and make it into a edible product, ideally you would be ingesting this form of a microdose of cannabis, every 4- 6 hours until you have addressed your deficiency.
One thing I would like to highlight is that you might not necessarily know that you are deficient until you start supplementing and then you will notice that you feel better. In this country we have a certain amount of tendency to live with disease or chronic pain and we dismiss it as ‘just the way it is’. But you are not supposed to be in pain everyday, you are not supposed to have a headache everyday, there is not supposed to be something that is ailing you every single day. But we, in this country, more than anywhere else, accept ailment as a certain level of normal. We accept that as our new normal and our new level of quality of life. It’s never going to be as good as it should be and we have become completely okay with that.
But until you actually start supplementing and microdosing with cannabinoids, you might not understand that you really have been feeling bad and that you don’t truly know what normal is for you.
For example, I have patients who tell me that they have headaches every day of their life and that is normal for them. But I have to say no, that is not normal because normal function of the human body does not warrant having a headache every single day. That is not normal and unless you start supplementing and fixing those things you don’t realize what your normal actually is.
A microdose is generally 15–25mg and this is what I consider a microdose. Some people say 5–10 mg is a mirodose but honestly that is not enough to be truly therapeutic or effective. You need about 15–25mg and that range is dependent on your weight, your age, your height, and your metabolism. This will determine how little you should have and how effective it will be for you. But generally that is a microdose and you should be supplementing with that microdose everything 4–6 hours, ideally.
Microdosing would help to address any endocannbinoid system deficiency that you did have and also work on the premise of other herbal therapies. You’re introducing it to your body nutritionally to help your body remember that it can produce those substances and it can support those systems into producing more and wanting to produce more. Seeing that the ECS in our brain really is the epicenter for homeostasis in the body, having that supplementation introduced nutritionally and on a regular basis will help to induce a certain level of homeostasis in the body and will help all other organs and systems in the body to perform more optimally as well.
What is homeostasis? Homeostasis refers to the processes and reactions that our body utilizes to actively maintain a constant internal environment. Some examples of systems within our bodies that require this constant balancing include: oxygen levels, hydration, and body temperature. Disturbances to this balance can lead to autoimmune disorders, or what we have come to call diseases. Examples: epilepsy, stroke, arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, obesity, and cancer. To reiterate, our body’s endocannabinoid system naturally produces cannabinoids that regulate the biochemical processes, which help to maintain homeostasis. However, our bodies do not produce enough cannabinoids on their own and we must incorporate phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) to help our body obtain homeostasis.
I would surmise that at some point when we get to really studying homeostasis and the endocannabinoids in the body that we will know that an ECS deficiency may be a leading cause of other system deficiencies. But right now we are not researching that and our thought process isn’t necessarily there.
By ingesting 15–25 mg of a full spectrum cannabinoid profile product, preferably a tincture, something in a high fat carrier oil containing a clean full spectrum extract that would make it better assimilated by our bodies and more bio-available as opposed to an edible because then you have other ingredients to account for, we can begin to address those deficiencies even without identifying exactly how deficient and in which cannabinoids you are deficient in. It leaves room for individuality and allows your bodies to chose which one of those active cannabinoids or combination of cannabinoid constituents are needed for your body and then the body will digest and discard the rest without any adverse side effects or symptoms.
Since cannabinoid supplementation is beneficial in every stage of life, if you wanted to dose this out for children, or if you are in a state that does not have medical or adult use cannabis laws you can always use the nutritional style of supplementation through a product that has a cannabinoid profile but that is derived from the hemp plant.
Hemp is a super food, so not only are you getting the cannabinoid profiles but you are also getting supplementation for vitamins, minerals, amino acids, all of the constitutes that are required to sustain life. Sometimes when you are taking vitamin and minerals your body is unable to absorb them fully. But if you are using a full spectrum product from hemp or hemp seed oil you are helping your body to absorb all of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, cannabinoids, and terpenes that are available in that product. That is honestly the best way to supplement for vitamins and minerals as well, since hemp assists your body in the absorption of these additional constituents.
If you have access to hemp seed or hemp seed oil that would be where you want to start. I would suggest some oil or fat in a sublingual form that you can take every 4–6 hours a day to address your endocannabinoid deficiency. If you are located in a state where cannabis is legal you would want to start with a raw full spectrum plant or product and if you have a high tolerance for cannabis you can choose to decarboxylate the product since you’re getting your deficiency addressed.
There are many ways to supplement your endocannbinoid system depending on the reasons and effects you are looking to establish. However, all cannabis use is medical for this reason, all cannabis use is addressing your ECS and homeostasis and there are many delivery methods as well as various dosing preferences and needs. But when we start addressing our ECS as a system that requires supplementation we can move the conversation to which methods are right for every individual, since we all have an ECS.
Testing for ECS Deficiency:
Although formally, in order to test for cannabinoid deficiency we would have to begin identifying each of the cannabinoids out there, so if there are 100s and we’ve only identified 34 then we need to identify and index the remainder of these other cannabinoids and what they are good for.
In the meantime, we can do a self-assessment and ask ourselves some questions based on what we currently know about ECS deficiency and related symptoms of such deficiencies.
I have developed a quiz based on the knowledge we currently have to help you understand if you are experiencing an endocannabinoid deficiency and if so, to what degree. Take this quiz, share this quiz, and let’s start the discussion of cannabis nutrition with microdosing.