Cannabis Tinctures

In many states of the United States and across Canada, dispensaries and health food stores have shelves lined with little amber or blue glass dropper bottles. Easy to purchase and use, tinctures offer a tried-and-true mode of Cannabis consumption that has been around since long before the days of legalisation. A dropper or two of a liquid tincture placed under the tongue is a solid sub-lingual delivery mechanism that can lead to quick absorption and lasting effects. But what exactly is in a tincture? Tinctures have been used in ancient and modern herbalism for centuries and are, at a basic level, an alcohol extract of an herb.

The two necessary ingredients to any tincture are thus alcohol and an amount of the botanical from which to derive an extract. In the case of Cannabis tinctures, this means the most basic ingredients are alcohol and Cannabis. Ethanol, or grain alcohol, is the most common base for a tincture, but the extract can also be done by soaking plant material in oil or in vegetable glycerine under normal ambient conditions. A saturated MCT oil, such as coconut oil, is a common carrier for this type of tincture. A vegetable glycerine tincture is the least common due to the availability of glycerine and the fact it can lead to a less potent tincture.


Cannabis tinctures are made by soaking Cannabis flowers (buds) in alcohol (leaf trim, hash and kief can also be used). The alcohol extracts the terpenes, cannabinoids and other compounds from the Cannabis (for the full ‘Entourage Effect’), into a liquid that contains a high concentration of active compounds. Alcohol preserves the compounds, which is important since it takes longer to consume tinctures as opposed to other forms of Cannabis. A DIY or homemade tincture would involve soaking raw Cannabis in a strong grain-derived alcohol and leaving it to soak in a dark glass container for several weeks.

Tinctures are often darker than post-processed concentrates which have undergone clean-up steps like winterisation to remove undesirable plant molecules like waxes, lipids and chlorophyll that are soluble in the alcohol. A commercial application would involve a similar process while using laboratory equipment to adhere to standards and regulations for cleanliness and quantity. Cannabis should be decarboxylated prior to being placed in the alcohol (or oil/glycerine) solution if the intent is to consume the activated THC instead of the inactive THC-A. While a strict tincture only consists of the carrier liquid and herb base, many tinctures available for public consumption in North America contain other ingredients.


Many additions are based on flavour and/or recipe desires and are not essential in the creation of a tincture. Honey, Mint, Lavender and many other herbs can be added to a Cannabis tincture and are often included to make a more proprietary blend that brands can use to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Cannabis tinctures are usually stored in glass dropper bottles, which help preserve the tincture for longer by blocking out sunlight. One of the benefits of using tinctures is the alcohol allows the body to absorb the medicine faster. Most tinctures are taken by placing a few drops under the tongue, known as sublingual administration.

When you take a tincture sublingually, the cannabinoids are absorbed rapidly by the blood vessels lining the inner tissues of the mouth, resulting in a quick onset of effects. Tinctures can also be ingested orally, such as by swallowing or mixing it with food. If you consume a tincture orally, the cannabinoids must be absorbed through the stomach and gastrointestinal tract and through the liver (in particular) and take significantly longer to enter the bloodstream. Depending on whether the Cannabis is decarboxylated first, tinctures may contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in its active form or non-active form (THCa). Most people choose to decarboxylate their Cannabis before making a tincture, allowing them to take full advantage of the medical benefits of THC. 

thcWhile medical uses of THC are still being researched, there is evidence it can be helpful in treating a wide range of conditions and disorders, including nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, pain, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, sleep apnoea, glaucoma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many others. However, if you do not decarboxylate your Cannabis, you will receive the benefits of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, THC acid or THCa, found in the flowers, leaves and stems of young Cannabis plants.

Biosynthesised by the trichomes, THCa plays a critical role in protecting the trichomes, and thus the plants themselves, from insects and other predators. Furthermore, THCa is no more ‘psychoactive’ than CBD, thus allaying parental concerns about getting their children ‘high’ (an unfounded, prohibitionist-driven fear). THCa is one of the cannabinoids primarily found in fresh Cannabis, although in variable amounts, according to CannLabs. Once the Cannabis plant is exposed to heat, such as vaporising, THCa decarboxylates to THC. What happens on a molecular level is that the carbon dioxide in the Cannabis is released; as a carbon atom in the acid is lost, THCa is converted to neuro-active THC. THCa acts as a cannabinoid receptor agonist and in so doing, also provides neuro-protective (brain protection) effects.

North American Recipes

Australian Recipes (Nimbin HEMP Embassy)

(including Cold and Hot Methods, Glycerine and Oil-based Methods)Effects of Cannabis Tinctures

Tinctures can be felt as quickly as 15 minutes after dosing and the effects last for a shorter period of time compared to edibles. Tincture efficacy usually peaks about 90 minutes after consumption and can last 4 to 8 hours, depending on the dose. Because the effects can be felt so quickly, dosing with a tincture is easier than dosing with an edible. As with any form of Cannabis, you should start with a small dose to gauge your tolerance and to avoid any possible, initial, unwanted effects of ‘over-consuming’. If you’re taking a Cannabis tincture for the first time, start off with about 1 ml and adjust (upwards or downwards) as necessary. CBD-min-1-800x445

There are three ways to consume Cannabis tinctures: sublingually, orally or with food. To take a tincture sublingually, drop desired dose under the tongue and hold for 30 seconds before swallowing. This method will produce quicker, stronger effects because the tincture is absorbed into the bloodstream through the inner lining of the mouth. You can take Cannabis tinctures orally by adding a few drops to a beverage such as a smoothie, juice or even a ‘mocktail’. Alternatively, you can swallow the tincture on its own like any liquid medicine. When you take a tincture orally rather than sublingually, it must be absorbed through the digestive system, so it will take longer to feel the effects.

Tinctures taken orally have a similar effect to edibles and can take up to an hour to start Cannabis tinctureworking. Tinctures can also be combined with food to make a tincture edible. The difference between a tincture edible and a fat-based edible is the latter is harder to dose and can produce a longer, more intense effect (including euphoria). If you consume a tincture mixed with food, it will take the digestive system more time to absorb than if you took the tincture sublingually. Cannabis tinctures may be added to a variety of foods such as puddings, ice creams, dressings and sauces.

There are many advantages to taking Cannabis tinctures, with a major one being how easy they are to make at home. You can make your own Cannabis tincture (links above) and, while there are many different recipes, these are some of the most popular. When preparing a Cannabis tincture, you usually must decarboxylate (or ‘decarb’) your plant material. Decarboxylation is the process of heating Cannabis to activate the compounds in the plant. Specifically, this will convert THCa into THC and allow you to experience all the effects of whole-plant Cannabis. If you choose to skip this step, your tincture will mostly contain THCa.

Epsilon Apothecaries, (California, US) has a downloadable Extraction Basics Guide (pdf), the Epsilon Essentials Guide Series, comprises a novice approach to the creation of three special supplements: tincture extract of Cannabis, essential extract of Cannabis and supplemental extract of Cannabis. Readers can learn how to create therapeutic grade supplements at home, following in the footsteps of Epsilon’s decade-long track record of success in a variety of cases. The Epsilon Essentials Guide is free of charge, the company’s website says, “All we ask is your respect in return”.

Adapted from What’s in a Tincture? and Cannabis Tinctures: Uses, Effects and Recipes



Terpene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Therapeutic Uses


Beta-caryophyllene or β-caryophyllene (βCP), is a natural bicyclic sesquiterpene commonly found in:

  • Basil (Thai, in particular)Cloves
  • Black Caraway
  • Black Pepper
  • Cinnamon (true)
  • Cloves
  • Copaiba Oil
  • Hops
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Ylang Ylang



With a rich spicy odour and flavour it is present in all Cannabis strains. Strains that have tested high in βCP are Sour Diesel, Skywalker OG, Chemdawg, Rockstar, Bubba Kush and OG Kush. Caryophyllene oxide takes part in the defence system of plants, functioning as an insecticide and an anti-fungal. Drug sniffing dogs use caryophyllene oxide to identify Cannabis, it is also an approved food additive used for flavouring. Various studies have shown βCP’s therapeutic uses to include:

  • Alcohol craving reduction
  • Analgaesic – pain relief
  • Anti-bacterial 
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-coagulant (properties)
  • Anti-depressant 
  • Anti-fungal – Caryophyllene and Cannabichromene (CBC) join in defence against fungi; caryophyllene oxide has shown clinical effectiveness against certain fungal infections
  • Anti-inflammatory on two levels, one is blocking prostaglandins’ inflammatory pathway (also occurs with myrcene and pinene), the other is as a CB2 agonist
  • Anti-nociceptive (blocking detection of painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons)
  • Anti-oxidant – prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-proliferative – inhibits cancer cell growth
  • Anti-seizure
  • Anxiolytic – relieves anxiety
  • Gastric protection effects
  • Neuroprotective – slows damage to the nervous system and brain

And, much like the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), this terpene can be a good combatant for deemed ‘uncomfortable’ amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the system. The medical establishment stands poised to accept Cannabis and its active constituents as legitimate medicinal compounds. An article in the Journal of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons advocated for increasing the scrutiny of cannabinoids as a potential alternative to narcotics and anti-inflammatory steroids in the modulation of pain. βCP, has shown potential in recent years as a modulator of pain and inflammation. There are two main cannabinoid receptors in the human body, so-called CB1 and CB2βCP has been shown to selectively activate the CB2 receptor. While CB1 is especially localised in the central nervous system (CNS), CB2 can be found mainly in the peripheries, especially in white blood cells that mediate inflammation and cellular immunity.fztaqa0yr4lgedjehbot_cannabinoid-receptors

It’s hypothesised that by βCP binding to and activating the CBreceptor, it mediates and enhances the same activity as that caused by the cannabinoid class of compounds, providing some scientific rationale for the often bespoken entourage effect. To that effect, a European study was conducted to see how βCP modulates the pain-relieving capabilities of both strong opioids and molecular mimics of THC termed CB2-agonists. It successfully demonstrated (in mice) that βCP does indeed work through the CB2 receptor and that it even enhances the pain-relief provided by morphine. The authors postulated that this may illuminate the path towards making a combinatorial βCP and narcotic pharmaceutical mixture to administer for relief of cancer-induced pain. Besides the anti-nociception activity described above, βCP specifically alters several key pathways important for cancer development. Therefore, a pharmaceutical mixture that not only provides pain-relief, but also actively down-regulates the cancer from developing itself, obviously represents a win-win situation.


An astrocyte grown in tissue culture stained with
Fibrillary Acid Protein (GFAP) and Vimentin.

Switching gears to a discussion of a different terpene and system, another study aimed at testing molecular targets of brain cells that have become actively inflamed. The brain contains two main types of cells: neurons, or excitatory cells and glial, or non-excitatory cells. The purpose of the glial cells is, generally speaking, to support the neurons. Astrocytes (see above) are a type of glial cell that carry out a lot of the metabolic activity required to 1) feed neurons, and 2) keep the local electrolyte environment of the neuron well-adjusted. When the CNS undergoes injury, a healing process called gliosis, meaning inflammation of the surrounding glial cells, takes place. The study, which was done in cells in a lab rather than a living being (in vitro), examined the effects of how Linalool affects the ability of astrocytes to become less inflamed and the results showed promise. There is a large and growing body of research that is exploring the use of terpenes for treating all kinds of pain, from neuropathic and muscular all the way to headaches and migraines. We think that terpene formulations providing tangible relief for pain are going to hit the market hard, and soon.

Adapted from Terpenes for PainCaryophyllene Terpene Profile C15H24 and Cannabis Terpenes and Their Benefits – Caryophyllene Geraniol and Humulene.


Cooking with a Canadian Cannabis Chef

chef John MacNeil zennabis cooking with cannabisRed Seal chef John MacNeil

A chef earns a Red Seal accreditation by demonstrating superior skills, knowledge and passing a national exam. Canadian John MacNeil is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, but worked at Michelin-rated restaurants in Europe and then made a name for himself in Calgary, where he was an executive chef of the award-winning Italian restaurant, Teatro Ristorante.

He opened The Black Pig Bistro in the city’s trendy Bridgeland area five years ago. He later sold it to his business partners and started reTreat Edibles, which sells baking mixes formulated to accommodate the addition of Cannabis. He starts by emphasising the importance of origin. “You should only use legally produced Cannabis to ensure it’s clean and safe” he says. “People don’t scrutinise Cannabis the way they scrutinise food, but they should”. 

How does Cannabis affect the flavour of a dish?

Like wine grapes, Cannabis comes in countless strains with various flavours including, for example, citrus, berry, mint and pine. These flavours are created by aromatic oils called terpenes, which are secreted in the same glands that produce Cannabis compounds including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Terpenes form part of the flavour profile of a Cannabis-infused dish so it’s important to select ones that complement the other ingredients.coriander-leaves-and-seeds

How much Cannabis should be included in a dish?

MacNeil compares learning how much Cannabis to include in a dish to learning how to cook steak properly. You overcook then undercook before learning to make it just right. It takes practice to find out where the sweet spot is, he says. Dosing varies from one individual to the next depending on a person’s previous history of Cannabis consumption, gastrointestinal factors, and the sensitivity of his or her endocannabinoid system.

Most experts recommend a starting dose of no more than 2.5 mg of bud for beginners. However, since effects vary based on each person consuming, MacNeil does not make dosing recommendations. Also, it takes awhile for edibles to take effect so beginners often make the mistake of ingesting too much too soon. MacNeil and other experts advise beginners to wait around two hours before deciding whether to take a second dose.

What is one of the most popular Cannabis-infused items people make at home?

Many people express an interest in Cannabis-infused brownies. MacNeil recommends using Thai coconut milk and French chocolate. To infuse Cannabis into chocolate brownies and other baked goods, many people use the whole plant, drying, curing and then grinding it into a flour-like substance and combining  it with cooking oil or butter.naturaloil

Cooking with Cannabis Recipes by Chef John MacNeil

Adapted from, Cooking with Cannabis: Tips From a Red Seal Chef

Terpenes Treat Oxidative Stress

The majority of research on Cannabis has been conducted on the two most familiar compounds – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the lesser-studied terpene constituents, also produced in the trichomes, have been shown to possess key biochemical properties that make them well-suited for therapeutic applications. Terpenes are also believed to interact with cannabinoids to produce an “entourage effect” – a synergy of biochemical interactions that provide holistic medicinal benefits. While terpenes are essential components of Cannabis, they are by no means exclusive to it, as they can be found in flowering plants. Limonene contributes to the fragrance of citrus and Linalool, lavender. The shared chemical properties across terpenes and their physiological effects have provided clues as to the specific medicinal properties of Cannabis-derived terpenes. Pre-clinical trials have shown that certain terpenes possess anti-oxidant properties. 

While many consumer products are labelled as “antioxidants” to promote health, only substances proven to prevent the oxidation of fundamental biological compounds such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats, are scientifically considered “antioxidants”. When oxygen is broken down in the body, it produces free radicals, or atoms with unpaired electrons. An abundance of free radicals can causes damage, as they are highly reactive and unstable – this is called oxidative stress. The damage caused by oxidative stress has been linked to multiple conditions, including autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Nitric oxide (NO), an essential signalling molecule in the body, is a free radical and during the process of creating NO, additional free radicals are produced. NO levels have been linked to increased oxidative stress and associated disease. While erroneous (or exaggerated) claims abound, several terpenes, such as those found in Rosemary, are proven to possess antioxidant properties through inhibition of NO production.

Similar effects have been found for Cannabis terpenes. One study evaluated three Cannabis chemotypes and analysed their terpenoid content. Applying high concentrations of different terpenes inhibited production of NO in cell cultures and reduced production of reactive oxygen intermediates, byproducts of oxygen metabolism. These terpenes also reduced swelling and pain perception (measured by muscle retraction) in an animal model of paw inflammation. Another study found that Myrcene significantly reduced NO production in a cellular model of osteoarthritis. However, this effect was exclusive to Myrcene; while Limonene produced a smaller degree of inhibition, E-caryophyllene showed no effect. These results indicate that some terpenes may possess more potent effects on oxidative stress than others. Additional research is necessary to better understand how terpenes impact NO production, as well as other forms of oxidative stress, to better evaluate how they could be potentially used as antioxidants.lavender-essential-oils

Adapted from Antioxidant Properties of Cannabis-derived Terpenes Fighting oxidative stress


Cannabis Topicals and How They Work


Tens of millions of Americans are afflicted with chronic pain and many are seeking safe, non-addictive solutions to ease their suffering. So too in Australia, where 67% or 11.1 million people aged 15 years and over reported experiencing bodily pain in the previous month (2012). Around one in ten (9%) experienced severe or very severe pain, and many adults experienced chronic pain. Research suggests Cannabis topicals could provide relief for sufferers of ailments ranging from sports injuries and migraines to skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Image result for cannabis topicals

Topicals represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the legal Cannabis marketplace in the United States. Scientific bodies confirm Cannabis has pain-relieving properties. But to fully understand how topicals can relieve pain and other ailments, we need to take a quick tour of the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a vast network of receptors throughout the body. It’s responsible for modulating many physiological systems involving the brain, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Researchers have found the ECS is essential for maintaining homoeostasis, or balance, in these various systems.


There are two main types of receptors or ‘message receivers’ in the ECS, classified as CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the brain and central nervous system; CB2 receptors are primarily in the peripheral nervous system. The messages these receptors receive are actually chemicals that bind to the receptor and either activate it or shut it down, producing a corresponding effect within the body. 


The chemical compounds in Cannabis that interact with the ECS are called cannabinoids, with the most well-known being neuroactive delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which activates CB1 receptors in the brain to create euphoria. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the Cannabis plant including cannabidiol (CBD) and others like cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv), whose various medicinal properties are under escalating scrutiny.

When you apply a Cannabis topical to your skin, the cannabinoids interact with CB2 receptors in your epidermis and muscles. In a 2016 report in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, researchers found when CB2 receptors were the targets, the result was reduced inflammation, an immune response that plays a role in many ailments including skin conditions and chronic pain. Unlike anti-inflammatory medications, Cannabis topicals can be used without risking unpleasant potential side effects or overdose. Image result for cannabis topicals

Some Cannabis topicals contain THC, but when applied to the skin, the cannabinoids don’t actually enter the bloodstream. Instead, THC interacts with the ECS receptors outside the blood-brain barrier. A research review in Molecular Pharmacology concluded, “activation of CB2 receptors does not appear to produce … psychotropic effects”. Topicals allow consumers to localise and directly target an afflicted area to reduce inflammation. People can and do ingest Cannabis via smoking, vaping or edibles for generalised pain relief, but many prefer to single out that aching knee or sore neck by applying a topical directly. Image result for cannabis topicals

Some research even indicates cannabinoids may accelerate our bodies’ natural healing process. A 2005 study on CB1 and CB2 receptors in the gastrointestinal system found that cannabinoids can promote the healing of epithelial wounds. Our skin is composed of epithelial cells, which also line the surfaces of our organs and blood vessels. So, Cannabis topicals may also promote a quicker healing response for skin conditions and injuries. Perhaps best of all, Cannabis topicals offer consumers a simple, safe and low-stakes entryway into exploring the wellness benefits of Cannabis.

Image result for elderly using cannabis topicals

Many people still harbour fears about Cannabis, but topicals are approachable and in many ways, the best ambassador for the Cannabis plant’s pain-relieving and healing capabilities. The emerging research is clear in showing the tangible ways Cannabis topicals work with our bodies. Just let that knowledge soak in.

Adapted from How Cannabis Topicals Actually Work: A Deep Dive into Your Body’s CB1 / CB2 Receptors (Author Dahlia Mertens is the founder and CEO of Mary Jane’s Medicinals)


Cannabinoids and Biosynthesis

Any time a living organism synthesises a chemical compound on its own, we term that activity ‘biosynthesis’ (or anabolism). These chemical reactions are different than ones we do in test tubes (in vitro) because biological systems have a host of mechanisms in place to drive energetically unfavourable reactions to completion, including enzyme catalysers (substances capable of initiating or speeding up a chemical reaction) and energy currency in the form of adenosine triphosphate or ATP (adenosine molecule bonded to three phosphate groups, present in all living tissue). Chemists mimic these processes by imbuing the system with heat, mechanical agitation, metal catalysers and more, but these are mere shadows on the wall compared to the vast beauty and efficiency of a biological synthetic pathway.

Image result for cannabis leaf macro images

Biosynthesis of cannabinoids generally takes place in the plant cells of leaves, which makes sense. Building up these complex molecules involves a large amount of energy expenditure and leaves are the main powerhouse of the plant. Cannabinoids are also big and bulky; Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) alone requires 21 carbon atoms. All this carbon matter has to come from somewhere and in the case of plants, this matter comes right from the air, from carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants take up CO2 in their leaves, some of it becoming photosynthesised into molecular oxygen (O2) and some being catabolised (degradative metabolism) into simple organic compounds for use throughout the plant.

Figure 1. Isopentyl diphosphate (1) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (2) are the precursor molecules of all terpenoids. They are shunted into the cannabinoid pathway by enzymatically catalysing their addition into geranyl diphosphate (3).

Interestingly, cannabinoid biosynthesis is a branch of terpenoid biosynthesis, sharing the same precursor molecules and pathways (Figure 1). There is more than one pathway to create these precursors. Once these precursors are made, they are shunted into the cannabinoid pathway by a series of enzymatic reactions which produce the penultimate cannabinoid precursor Cannabigerolic acid, or CBGa (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Geranyl diphosphate (3) and olivetolic acid (4) are combined to form CBGa (5).

From there, the cannabinoids that we have discovered seem to differentiate mostly via non-catalysed modifications to the skeletal structure. This explains the similar structure shared by all cannabinoids. These modifications include decarboxylation (loss of CO2 moiety [part of a molecule]), isomerisation (structural rearrangement without change in chemical composition) and oxidation (loss of electrons). There are also three enzymes that specifically modify CBGa into more specific cannabinoid moieties, including the all-important Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) and Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) (Figure 3).

Figure 3. CBGa is modified by three particular enzymes, producing Cannabichromenic acid (CBCa) (6), THCa (7), or CBDa (8). The numbers surrounding the structures of 6 and 7 help identify carbon atoms, facilitating understanding and communication.

Adapted from Biosynthesis of Cannabinoids 

Cannabis Promotes Homoeostasis (Balance)

Image result for homoeostasis = balance

The human body is biologically designed to look for balance. This state of equilibrium that the body seeks to achieve is called homoeostasis. Think of homoeostasis as an internal “check and balance” system of the body that helps you function optimally. The trillions of cells within our body work independently and with each other to ensure we are alive and healthy. And because the human body is a single unit, when there is any change in the body’s systems it will affect one or more of the others. A group of nerve cells, known as the hypothalamus, are found deep within our brains. The hypothalamus is essential in regulating key processes we perform everyday, which we never notice, even though they are critical to maintaining homoeostasis. These include:

  • Sleep: Homoeostasis is dependent on a healthy sleep-wake cycle, which is defined as the amount of time that has passed since the last time you got enough sleep. Sleep deficits result in a compensatory increase in the duration and intensity of sleep, while too much sleep will decrease sleep propensity.
  • Blood pressure: Regulated when cells in the body send feedback to the brain. Cells send signals that widen the blood vessels to eliminate pressure or narrow the vessels to increase pressure.
  • Breathing: Respiration rate is affected by how much carbon dioxide you have in your blood, which is controlled and monitored by a part of your brain. This process changes as you engage in certain activities, such as when you breathe deeper and more when you climb up a set of stairs because your muscles are burning more oxygen.
  • Mood: Adjusts based on changes, triggers and stressors in the environment.

Image result for hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is the primary command post, which is responsible for identifying changes in the environment and acting in response to it by releasing hormones as well as neurotransmitters, which then allow cells and structures in the body to communicate. For example, when you exercise, you become red. This is the result of your blood vessels dilating to reduce the increase in body temperature, as well as the increase in heart rate and breathing to make sure that oxygen levels in your body are adequate. These things happen as a response to your body seeking balance after exposed to a stimulus – exercise. When homoeostasis is interrupted because of illness, disease, injuries, or medications, the body cannot achieve that balance. Many of the most common illnesses that plague the world today are caused by disrupted homoeostasis. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, endocrine disorders, and thyroid disorders. Is it a surprise that these conditions are also treated by Cannabis? Age also affects homoeostasis. Things within our body just don’t function as well, and the bones aren’t the only parts that get rickety over time. Even our cells don’t work as well when we get older (senescence or biological ageing).

Image result for age-related conditions lack of homoeostasis

Many age-related conditions have their roots in a lack of homoeostasis, including arthritis and osteoporosis. On the other hand, conditions like chronic pain give us homoeostatic symptoms due to the disruption of the cannabinoid cycle. Patients suffering from chronic pain may also suffer from depression, sleep problems, blood pressure and heart rate issues. These symptoms occur because the Endocannabinoid System has to work overtime due to constant pain. Studies show when cannabinoids are consumed from Cannabis, it can help restore or maintain homoeostasis especially as we age. In fact, the main job of the Endocannabinoid System is to promote homoeostasis. The Endocannabinoid System has three main components:

Cannabinoid receptors, located on the surface of cells, monitor for conditions that occur outside the cell. They are responsible for transmitting information to the inside of the cell, because any change in conditions will trigger the necessary cellular responses. The two primary cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2; CB1 receptors interact with THC in cannabis which results in euphoria (among other welcome effects). CB2 receptors are mostly concentrated in areas beyond the nervous system such as the immune system. But both receptors are found throughout the body.

Image result for cannabinoid receptors 

Endocannabinoids are the molecules that bind to and stimulate the cannabinoid receptors. But unlike THC and CBD, endocannabinoids are naturally produced by cells within the body. The two main endocannabinoids are 2-AG and anandamide, which are produced from molecules similar to fat, located within the membranes. They are produced by the body when needed, which means they are only synthesised and utilised when the body needs them instead of being stored away for future use, just like other molecules within the body.Image result for endocannabinoids anandamide and 2ag

Metabolic enzymes are the third part of the trifecta, which obliterate endocannabinoids when they have been used up. FAAH and MAGL are the two main metabolic enzymes. FAAH metabolises anandamide while MAGL metabolises 2-AG. These two make sure that the endocannabinoids are used when they are needed but not for longer.

These three components are located in almost every major system in the human body. When something results in a disruption of homoeostasis, these three things work together to restore homoeostasis. According to Dr Vicenzo Di Marzo, Research Director, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Naples, Italy: “With the ‘pro-homoeostatic action of the ECS’ we mean that this system of chemical signals gets temporarily activated following deviations from cellular homoeostasis. When such deviations are non-physiological, the temporarily activated ECS attempts, in a space- and time-selective manner, to restore the previous physiological situation (homoeostasis)”. A report published in Endocrine, Metabolic, and Immune Disorders – Drug Targets, states: “The ECS (Endocannabinoid System) has deep phylogenetic roots and regulates many aspects of embryological development and homoeostasis, including neuroprotection and neural plasticity, immunity and inflammation, apoptosis and carcinogenesis, pain and emotional memory and the focus of this review: hunger, feeding, and metabolism”.

Image result for endocannabinoids

Dr Dustin Sulak, an osteopathic doctor and Diplomat of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, says the Endocannabinoid System is “perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health”. Additionally, by facilitating communication between various cells, endocannabinoids help regulate homoeostasis. “At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitisers from the injured tissue, stabilising the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing and calming nearby immune cells to prevent the release of pro-inflammatory substances”, writes Dr Sulak. Humans, as a functioning, single-unit organism, need a well-balanced internal system in order to grow and function optimally. An imbalanced state of homoeostasis can lead to health problems ranging from minor headaches to more serious, life-threatening conditions including cancer. The Endocannabinoid System helps regulate important processes that maintain homoeostasis by activating cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems. You can restore homoeostasis by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and consuming whole plant Cannabis in a form that suits you best.  

Image result for stunning whole plant cannabis

Adapted from How Cannabis Promotes Homeostasis with How Marijuana Promotes Homeostasis