Chapter 9: Endocrine Health and Disease

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Human Endocrine System

The endocrine system consists of glands that produce and secrete hormones; chemical substances produced in the body that manages the body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual maturation and function. The hormones are discharged into the bloodstream and may affect one or several organs throughout the body. Hormones are chemical carriers produced by the body. They convey information from one set of cells to another to regulate the functions of different members of the body. The central glands of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pineal body, and the reproductive organs (ovaries and testes). Other organs in the body also produce hormones these include the heart, stomach, pancreas and small intestine, however, unlike the exocrine system, the endocrine system is ductless; it disperses hormones directly into the bloodstream. Similar to the nervous system the endocrine system conveys information, but it does it through chemical reactions and not electrical signals. The result is a slow initiation and a lengthy response which can last a few hours or weeks.1

Role of CBD in Endocrine Disorders and Diseases

A collection of glands that signal each other in sequence is an axis, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. An increasing amount of data is indicating the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating stress responses by influencing this axis. Studies have also shown the effects of the ECS in the control of the reproductive system through gonadotropin release adjustment, fertility, and even sexual behavior. Such results support to essential role cannabinoids play in preserving hormonal homeostasis, and therefore their eligibility in the treatment of endocrine conditions.2

Diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrine dysfunction with a firm ancestral element, affecting children and adults permanently. The extension of insulin resistance and glucose dysregulation characterizes diabetes mellitus and impacts the cardiovascular, immunological, neurological and the endocrine system. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), defined as genetic and acquired, affects both excitatory CB1 receptors and immune-responsive CB2 receptors in the endocrine system. An overactive endocannabinoid system that has hyperactive CB1 receptors is associated with oxidative and nitrative stress, inflammation, increased insulin resistance and increased appetite.

Research supports the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) in decreasing insulin resistance and as a hypoglycemic agent. Two groups of mice showing initial symptoms of diabetes were used in a study, where some were given controlled CBD, and others received no treatment. The experiment concluded that only 32% of the CBD treated group developed diabetes, where 100% of the untreated group developed diabetes. Preventatively in healthy and in people at risk for diabetes mellitus, cannabidiol is suggested to improve disease management and prevent secondary manifestations of the disease, such as diabetic neuropathy.2-32

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid is a gland is at the bottom of the next above the collarbone. This gland manages a series of functions, such a the heartbeat pace, and the rate of burning calories. The hormones released from the thyroid regulate the metabolism of the body.

Hypothyroidism is a disease that relates to an overactive thyroid; it produces an excess amount of the thyroxine hormone. Consequently leading to complications that include weight gain, fatigue, immune dysfunction and imbalance in internal temperature. Hypothyroidism is an idiopathic autoimmune and genetic, clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) that directly affects CB1 receptors. Several treatments help in the management of this disease. Cannabidiol oil is effective in reducing the symptoms and improving CB1 receptivity. CBD oil can be used as an adjunctive treatment and also as a preventative in individuals at risk of developing hypothyroidism.33

Thyroid Cancer

There are four main classifications of thyroid cancer, ranging from the most common papillary cancer which can usually be cured to the more aggressive and harder to cure anaplastic thyroid cancer. Generally, thyroid cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the tissues of the thyroid glands and can affect any age group. Signs of the disease include swelling or lumping in the neck and is usually detected through examining the neck and testing the blood.

Thyroid cancer is an idiopathic autoimmune clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD); its symptoms include fatigue, depression, and difficulties in breathing and swallowing. It reduces the ability of CB2 receptors in eradicating the malignancy through the immune system. Research has shown that cannabidiol (CBD) has anti-tumoral benefits. The therapeutic administration of CBD is beneficial as an adjunctive and preventative treatment. Human studies suggest that cannabidiol can inhibit cancerous cells from spreading.34

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