Turmeric is ‘Sort-of’ Like Cannabis

History of Tumeric

If you haven’t tried cooking with Turmeric (Curcumae longae) and fresh-cracked Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), you’re missing out! Salivary glands aside, there may be lots of benefits associated with consuming Turmeric. Turmeric has several major chemical components, a number of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, including zingiberene, curcumene, α-, β- and ar-turmerone among others. 5% are curcuminoids, 50–60% of which are a mix of curcumin, monodesmethoxycurcumin and bisdesmethoxycurcumin.  

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Representative structures of Curcuminoids

Most modern scientific research has been on curcumin, a curcuminoid component of Turmeric. But one paper looked further. The researchers had a good reason. They noted that the “bioavailability analysis of curcumin evidenced poor absorption, rapid metabolism and excretion impeding its ability to reach the brain in order to exert any potential therapeutic action”. So, they decided to look at what else turmeric has to offer. Their 2012 report published in Epilepsy and Behaviour identified anti-convulsant activity in a Turmeric-derived terpene.

Turmeric has long been used as a traditional medicine in South Asia for the treatment of epilepsy. Researchers looked at how Turmeric impacted larval zebra fish and mouse seizure assays. Their findings were interesting and supported previous findings that curcumin displays anti-convulsive activities, but they showed additional such properties independent of the curcumin. Researchers noted the anti-convulsive properties were seen with just the application of Turmeric oil, which contains terpenoids rather than curcuminoids.

Turmeric oil is mostly composed of α-, β- and ar-turmerone and α-atlantone. The researchers were able to isolate and identify unique anticonvulsant properties with these bisabolene sesquiterpenoids of Turmeric when applied to zebra fish larvae. Intrigued, they continued their tests on the mice and showed “the anti-convulsant properties of Turmeric oil in the zebra fish model were successfully corroborated in the mouse PTZ model”.

What this means for humans has yet to be fully explored. However, we do know that Turmeric is safe for human consumption. It has been used throughout history as a food, dye and therapeutically. Perhaps in the future, it will be used as a modern medicine for certain types of seizures. The researchers supported this idea by noting, “it is currently in our interest to additionally assess the activity of the bisabolene sesquiterpenoids in other models of epilepsy …”.

Adapted from How Turmeric is Sort of Like Cannabis


Extract from the
World Health Organisation Monograph
on Selected Medicinal Plants
Turmeric (Rhizoma Curcumae Longae)

Turmeric’s Organoleptic Properties:

  • Odour, aromatic;
  • Taste, warmly aromatic and bitter;
  • When chewed, colours saliva yellow.

Medicinal Uses:

  • Supported by clinical data – Treatment of acid, flatulent, or atonic dyspepsia.
  • Described in pharmacopoeias and traditional systems of medicine – Treatment of peptic ulcers, pain and inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, diarrhoea, epilepsy, pain and skin diseases.
  • Described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data – Treatment of asthma, boils, bruises, coughs, dizziness, epilepsy, haemorrhages, insect bites, jaundice, ringworm, urinary calculi and slow lactation.

Experimental Pharmacology:

  • Anti-inflammatory activity was demonstrated in animal models; Effectiveness in rats was reported to be similar to that of hydrocortisone acetate or indometacin in experimentally induced inflammation. Anti-inflammatory activity appears to be mediated through the inhibition of the enzymes trypsin and hyaluronidase. Curcumin and its derivatives are the active anti-inflammatory constituents. The anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin may be due to its ability to scavenge oxygen radicals, which have been implicated in the inflammation process.
  • Activity against peptic ulcer and dyspepsia; Oral administration to rabbits significantly decreased gastric secretion and increased the mucin contents of gastric juice. Intragastric administration to rats effectively inhibited gastric secretion and protected the gastroduodenal mucosa against injuries caused by pyloric ligation, hypothermic-restraint stress, indometacin, reserpine and mercaptamine administration and cytodestructive agents such as 80% methanol, 0.6mol/l hydrochloric acid, 0.2mol/l sodium hydroxide and 25% sodium chloride (30, 46). The drug stimulated production of gastric wall mucus and restored non-protein sulphides in rats. Curcumin has been shown to prevent and ameliorate experimentally induced gastric lesions in animal models by stimulation of mucin production. The effect of curcumin on intestinal gas formation has been demonstrated in-vitro and in-vivo. Addition of curcumin to Clostridium perfringens of intestinal origin in-vitro and to a chickpea flour diet fed to rats led to a gradual reduction in gas formation.

Clinical pharmacology:

  • Oral administration to 116 patients with acid-, flatulent- or atonic dyspepsia in a randomised, double-blind study resulted in a statistically significant response. Patients received 500 mg (powdered) four times daily for one week. Two other clinical trials which measured the effect on peptic ulcers showed oral administration promoted ulcer healing and decreased abdominal pain. Two clinical studies show curcumin is an effective anti-inflammatory. A short-term (two week) double-blind, crossover study of 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed patients receiving either curcumin (1200 mg/day) or phenylbutazone (30 mg/day) had significant improvement in morning stiffness, walking time and joint swelling. The effectiveness of curcumin and phenylbutazone on postoperative inflammation was investigated in a double-blind study. Both produced a better anti-inflammatory response than placebo.
  • Pregnancy: Safety during pregnancy has not been established. As a precautionary measure, should not be used during pregnancy except on medical advice.
  • Nursing mothers: Excretion into breast milk and its effects on the newborn have not been established. Until such data are available, should not be used during lactation except on medical advice.
  • Paediatric use: The safety and effectiveness in children has not been established.
  • Adverse reactions: Allergic dermatitis has been reported. Reactions to patch testing occurred most commonly in persons regularly exposed to the substance or already had dermatitis of the fingertips. Persons who were not previously exposed had few allergic reactions.

Posology (Dosages):

  • Crude plant material, 3–9 g daily;
  • Powdered plant material, 1.5–3.0 g daily;
  • Oral infusion, 0.5–1 g three times per day;
  • Tincture (1:10) 0.5–1 ml three times per day.


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Bioavailability of Cannabis Oils and Optimal Dosing

Most Cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil goes to waste in the body. Amid the current frenzy in many North American jurisdictions surrounding legal Cannabis and its therapeutic benefits, it’s easy to gloss over the bioavailability of Cannabis products. Bioavailability refers to the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream to be used where needed. Physiological processes and consumption methods can affect Cannabis absorption, rendering its effects somewhat hit-and-miss. It’s critical to understand bioavailability in order to maximise the medicinal potency of Cannabis. The more bioavailable the Cannabis is, the lesser quantity of plant is required to reap all the benefits. The surge in Cannabis popularity in legal jurisdictions around the world can in part be attributed to the range of consumption methods available.

Edibles and tinctures can have less of the traditional stigma attached to them than the likes of joints, for example. However, when cannabinoids such as CBD and THC are ingested in oil form—oil is also used to make edibles—their bioavailability becomes compromised. CBD and THC oils resist absorption into the bloodstream because the human body is up to 60% water. Basic science dictates that oil and water do not mix and the same is true for Cannabis oil and the human body. “Cannabinoids are fat-loving molecules and have to traverse a cellular environment that is aqueous or watery”, explained Dr Patricia Frye, member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and current chief medical officer at Hello MD (US). When Cannabis is consumed as an oil, the onset of effects can become delayed and bioavailability limited.

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Another phenomenon that limits oil-based Cannabis extracts from reaching the bloodstream is the first-pass effect. When Cannabis is ingested orally, it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and transported via the portal vein to the liver, where it is metabolised. As a result of this process, only a limited quantity reaches the circulatory system. Since Cannabis oil is often taken orally, its efficacy can be hindered. 
There has been some investigation into CBD, THC, and less into cannabinol, or CBN. Studies have shown the bioavailability of cannabinoids depends on the method of delivery. When applied as a topical ointment or transdermal patch, CBD can penetrate the tissue ten times more effectively than THC. The same is true of CBN. THC, however, is more bioavailable than CBD when administered orally or delivered via the lungs.

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clinical study found concentrations of THC in the bloodstream appeared 30-50% higher than CBD following oral delivery as a sublingual spray. However, bioavailability of THC is still limited and when consumed orally, averaged 4-12%. When smoked or vaped, the bioavailability of THC leaps to an average of 30%Some of the most common and convenient Cannabis products available across much of North America, such as capsules, soft gels, tinctures and edibles, limit bioavailability due to the first pass through the liver. “With edibles, absorption is slow, unpredictable and highly variable”, said Frye. “Only about 6% of the dose is absorbed. The onset of action can be as long as 6 hours; it’s very easy to take too much, and the effects can last as long as 20 hours”.

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Oral administration lasts longer than smoking, eliminating the need for frequent dosing and avoids irritation to the airways and risk of malignancies associated with smoking, for example. That said, inhaling Cannabis guarantees increased bioavailability because molecules are transported by vapour particles directly to the alveoli in the lungs. This allows cannabinoids to rapidly enter the bloodstream without being metabolised by the liver. Another lesser known method of administration is intranasal delivery, which enables cannabinoids to be easily absorbed with a rapid onset of ten minutes or less. “Intranasal methods are highly bioavailable at 34-46%”, said Frye. “It’s a particularly helpful mode of delivery for patients who are having a seizure or for patients trying to abort an impending seizure or migraine”.

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Transdermal patches can be super effective at targeting localised or systemic pain. They allow for a steady infusion of active ingredients to the delivery site, so the patient is unlikely to experience spikes of THC in the bloodstream. One method that boosts the absorption of edibles is to combine the Cannabis product with fats. Frye recommends combining edibles or tinctures with healthy fats such as guacamole, hummus, or dark chocolate. The same goes for alcohol-based tinctures. For those who smoke or vape, bioavailability can be enhanced by minimising sidestream loss and increasing the number of puffs. “Using a desktop or handheld vaporiser with flower will eliminate sidestream losses”, Frye advised. If you think you get more bang for your buck by holding your breath, think again. “There is no evidence supporting holding one’s breath for more than 10 seconds”, said Frye. 

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For those looking to optimise Cannabis bioavailability, Dr Fyre said: “The most cost-effective way to use Cannabis is not to use more than you need. Less is more”. Due to its biphasic nature, excessive dosing may exacerbate symptoms. Therapeutic Cannabis products consumed as oils or liquid capsules are more slowly absorbed with effects generally delayed for 30-90 minutes. Bioavailability of oral cannabinoids is low (10-20%) because of intestinal and first pass liver metabolism. Peak effects can occur two to four hours after consumption. Given the longer time frame, it is important to allow at least three hours between administration of single oral doses. Effects can last eight hours and as long as 24 hours. Given the slower onset and longer duration, taking therapeutic Cannabis products orally would be more useful for medical conditions or symptoms where control over longer periods of time is sought – similar to use of slow release medications.


Coconut Oil Canna Capsules

Cannabis oil capsules, infused/mixed with coconut oil, are an alternative way to therapeutically use Cannabis without having to inhale it via smoking or vaporising. Coconut oil is used due to its high amount of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which makes it a good binding agent for the cannabinoids, not to mention its amazing health properties. Half the fat in coconut oil is comprised of lauric acid, a fat not frequently found in nature. Lauric acid has been called a ‘miracle’ ingredient due to its health promoting capabilities. Present in mother’s milk, it can be found in only three dietary sources – small amounts in butterfat and larger amounts in palm kernel and coconut oil. In the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, a potent antiviral, antibacterial and anti-protozoal substance. Monolaurin, being a monoglyceride, can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes and a number of pathogenic bacteria. Although it ‘targets’ the liver and gets processed there (metabolism), you can avoid this happening with your infusion/blend, and the ensuing metabolism of the cannabinoids (e.g. Δ-9-THC metabolises into Δ-11-THC in the liver), by a process commonly known as ‘pre-loading’. Consuming a large spoonful of coconut oil around half an hour before dosing with capsules occupies the metabolising enzymes and allows cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream and go about their business, as they are meant to, before going back to the liver.

Hempy Honeytongue,
Cannabis as Medicine and More – Its Your Life


 

According to Dr Dustin Sulak, dosage is the key factor in achieving the most benefits from Cannabis. After following thousands of patients using Cannabis therapeutically for eight years, he observed that dosing Cannabis is unlike any therapeutic agent to which he was exposed during medical training. A basic understanding of the key characteristics of Cannabis dosing can empower one to make the most of this incredibly versatile, safe and effective herb, Dr Sulak said. Some patients effectively use tiny amounts of Cannabis, while others use incredibly high doses. Dr Sulak has seen adult patients achieve therapeutic effects at 1 mg of total cannabinoids daily, while others consume over 2,000 mg daily. And while a 2000-fold dosing range is unusual for a medication, researchers have failed to kill monkeys at doses even 300 times higher than the highest dose Dr Sulak observed in the clinic.

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Within this unusually broad dosing range, Cannabis exhibits an unusual relationship between the dose and the expected response.  For most medications, a higher dose will result in a stronger therapeutic effect and a higher likelihood of adverse effects; this is described as a monophasic dose-response relationship. Cannabis simply does not follow this pattern. For most Cannabis consumers, gradually increasing their dose will at first result in stronger effects; but after a certain point (unique to each individual), subsequent dosage increases can result in weaker and weaker therapeutic effects.  Consumers who continue to increase their dosage to very high levels can often reclaim some or all of the previously lost benefit, and sometimes find additional therapeutic effects not achieved at the lower doses. Of course, ultra-high doses are much more expensive and can produce some unwanted side effects.

Most patients do much better at the lowest effective dose. For many Cannabis users, this means that less can be more. In a study of 263 opioid-treated cancer patients with poorly controlled pain, the group receiving 21 mg of combined THC and CBD each day experienced significant improvements in pain levels, more so than the group that received 52 mg daily. The group that received 83 mg daily reduced their pain no better than placebo, but experienced more adverse effects. How is this possible? The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a sensitive, highly tuned physiologic infrastructure designed to maintain balance at a cellular level. When the cannabinoid receptors become overstimulated by high doses of Cannabis, the cells pull the receptors inside, where they are either recycled or degraded. As cannabinoid receptor levels diminish, the effects of Cannabis will diminish as well, even (or especially) in the face of dose escalation.

Image result for cannabis endocannabinoid system

This is known as tolerance-building, something that many regular Cannabis users have experienced. The term therapeutic window describes the range between the lowest effective dose and the dose that produces unwanted or intolerable side effects. People who have little or no experience using Cannabis typically have a very narrow therapeutic window, while regular users develop a wider therapeutic window. This is due to the fact that individuals build tolerance to the various effects of Cannabis at different rates and most build tolerance to unwanted effects faster than desired effects. Cannabis also has the ability to produce opposite (or bidirectional) effects in different people, with different strains, and at different dosages. For example, anxious people who take Cannabis may relax while non-anxious people who take the same dose can become anxious.

Image result for two different varieties of cannabis

The same dose of two different varieties of Cannabis can cause opposite effects – one might be an awakening strain and the other might put you to sleep. CBD and THC have many overlapping therapeutic qualities, including relief of pain, anxiety, seizures and nausea, although they work via different mechanisms of action. When combined, CBD and THC can enhance each other’s benefits while reducing unwanted effects. By adding CBD to THC, the therapeutic window becomes even wider. Consumers should know, however, that the total dose of cannabinoids needed to treat a symptom or condition will also likely increase. For example, in a study of 177 patients with cancer pain, one group received an oral spray of THC, while another group received an oral spray of combined THC and CBD at an approximate 1:1 ratio. Both groups were allowed to gradually increase their dose until they experienced satisfactory relief.

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The THC group ended up using an average of 27 mg daily, while the CBD+THC group used close to 60 total mg daily, but the CBD+THC group had a superior reduction in pain. Some patients do well with ultra-high doses (hundreds or thousands of milligrams daily). THC consumers have to slowly work up to these high doses, but many patients can quickly reach high doses of CBD without adverse effects. On the other hand, ultra-low doses can be extremely effective, sometimes even more so than the other extreme. Most people are surprised to learn that the therapeutic effects of THC-dominant Cannabis can be achieved at dosages lower than those required to produce euphoria. Cannabis microdosing, taking a dose for the purpose of improving heath and productivity, has been gaining popularity across many legal jurisdictions.

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People report better mood, reduced anxiety, improved focus, enhanced resilience to stress, less pain (and/or less bothersome pain) and other benefits without any adverse effects. Most consumers find 1-5 mg works well. Some emerging evidence even suggests a practice like this could be protective against damage of a heart attack or brain injury. For new Cannabis users, Dr Sulak abides by an old adage: “Start low, go slow, and don’t be afraid to go all the way”. Dr Sulak has  developed an easy- to-follow program to help find the optimal dose, along with other useful resources available on Healer.com. If you’ve not tried non-inhaled delivery methods such as tinctures or sprays, and haven’t experimented with the combination of CBD and THC, Dr Sulak suggests both endeavours will help you continue to unlock the full power of this incredible herb.

Adapted from Most THC and CBD oil goes to waste in your body—here’s whyA Physician’s Perspective on Optimal Cannabis Dosing with Guidance for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia: Overview and Granny Storm Crow’s List Phytocannabinoids 2015-2019 

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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.

0000ECSandBodilySystems

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. 

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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.

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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)

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Cannabis Promotes Homoeostasis (Balance)


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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.

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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).

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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.

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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”.

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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.  

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Adapted from How Cannabis Promotes Homeostasis with How Marijuana Promotes Homeostasis 

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Why Cannabis is a Superfood

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Americans are supposed to get five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. This equates to roughly two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables. Although this is the recommended amount that should be eaten according to the USDA (United States Dietary Association), most of the American population don’t even come close to meeting this recommendation. In Australia, government dietary guidelines recommend about five serves of veggies per day (where a serve is defined as around 75 grams) and two serves of fruit a day (a serve is about 150 grams). As you can see, serving sizes vary based on the country an individual resides in. Fortunately, a plant consumed for centuries due to its plethora of medicinal, therapeutic and nutritional benefits, Cannabis sativa, has more recently attracted the label superfood from numerous researchers and physicians, whom note Cannabis is worthy of incorporation into the human diet in some way or another. 

Cannabis many medicinal and therapeutic benefits are well established, but the nutritional benefits of Cannabis are still gaining recognition and public coverage. ‘Superfoods are unprocessed foods rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, often derived from fruits, vegetables and herbs. Under this definition, numerous doctors believe Cannabis can be grouped into the superfoods category. Besides Cannabis’ array of medicinal and therapeutic benefits, the plant is an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients. In general, there are various parts of Cannabis that can be consumed, such as leaves, stems and buds, heated or not. To reap Cannabis’ nutritional benefits though, consuming raw parts of the plant is the way to go.

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Hemp seeds contain a multitude of nutritional benefits that can help improve one’s diet. Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa (same species), but is grown to produce industrial and commercial products including food, animal feed and other useful materials like rope, textiles, paper and hempcrete. Generally, hemp seeds are consumed for their high nutrient and protein content, especially by vegans and vegetarians. Additionally, hemp seeds are consumed for their fatty acid content in the form of Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s. Overall, humans need to consume a regular amount of fatty acids, particularly due to benefits they have on our heart and brain. Research has found when one consumes Omega fatty acids, inflammation can be reduced, ADHD and arthritic pain can be better managed and high cholesterol can be combatted.

The presence of Omega fatty acids in hemp seeds is worth noting because they also help in the area of protein production. Hemp seeds serves as a much healthier alternative for those who don’t consume fish but need to get their serving of fatty acids. They’re an excellent source of Vitamin E (and other tocopherols), zinc, magnesium, iron, liver enzymes, antioxidants and protein. Not only is hemp extremely versatile, some of its other nutritional benefits include: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, high plant-based protein content, high Omega fatty acids content, simple to digest, FODMAP suitable, paleo, ketogenic and diabetic-friendly.

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Although various cannabinoids deliver medicinal and therapeutic benefits when they’re heated up or decarboxylated, the true nutritional benefits come from the consumption of raw cannabinoids. Some raw cannabinoids’ benefits:

  • Improve productivity and efficiency of cells within the body
  • Initiate the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to activate antioxidant release
  • Released antioxidants act as a ‘cleaner’ by removing damaged cells from the body
  • When orally ingested, therapeutic benefits are achieved more effectively
  • Can be incorporated into diet in numerous ways

You can grind up raw Cannabis leaves, buds or stems to use as seasonings or toppings for salads, soups, stews, oatmeal, porridge etc. Also, juicing raw Cannabis leaves is nutritionally beneficial, according to Dr William Courtney. He recommends using 20-30 big leaves or two or three raw buds daily to reap numerous nutritional and therapeutic benefits. You can also grind up raw Cannabis parts and add to smoothies, shakes and sauces.

0000ECSandBodilySystems

All humans and mammals have an ECS, one of the most integral physiological systems involved in the establishment and maintenance of one’s health and creating homoeostasis across all bodily systems (balance). This system plays a vital role in the functioning of the brain, endocrine and immune tissues. The ECS plays a significant part in the secretion of hormones associated with reproductive functions and stress responses. In addition, the ECS regulates homeostasis and influences the function of the food consumption centres of the body’s central nervous system (CNS) and gastrointestinal tract activity. Throughout our bodies are endocannabinoids and their receptors (CB1 and CB2), which are within the brain, connective tissues, glands, immune cells, and various organs. Within each tissue, the ECS plays a role in maintaining homoeostasis, which is the maintenance of a stable internal environment regardless of different instabilities in the external environment.

endocannabinoid-homeostasis

One study stated the following about this integral system: “This system plays a significant role in a wide range of physiologic processes and behaviours including neurogenesis, neural development, immune function, metabolism and energy homoeostasis, synaptic plasticity and learning, pain, emotional state, arousal and sleep, stress reactivity and reward processing/addiction to other drugs of abuse”. Overall, not only is Cannabis medically and therapeutically beneficial, this plant and byproducts of it can be nutritionally beneficial if raw forms of it are consumed. Whether you want a vitamin, nutrient, or mineral boost or an improvement in your well-being, try consuming raw cannabinoids and/or hemp seeds and see how much it improves your health and lifestyle.

Adapted from Top three reasons why cannabis is a powerful superfood

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Higher Cannabis Education – Bridging the Clinical Gap

Cannabis and its role as a medicine is gaining prevalence, despite a distinct lack of governmental recognition of its true medicinal value. Isn’t it about time doctors, all those professionals with their knowledge purportedly rooted in science and reality, gain an adequate Cannabis education? How else can doctors possibly give their patients guidance? Every health expert should know about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and that almost every living creature with vertebrae has one. Named after the plant that led to its discovery, Cannabis, the Endocannabinoid System is one of the most widespread and powerful physiological control systems in the human body. It helps balance nearly every metabolic process in the body, from fertility to pain perception to emotion and so much more.
endocannabinoid-homeostasis
Pointedly, several different chronic diseases and conditions are thought to be a direct result of an ECS imbalance or dysfunction. Understanding how the ECS works with respect to both our endogenous (from within) cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and those exogenously (externally) produced, like in the Cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids), is undeniably vital to human physiology. Given its significance, most conventional health professionals know very little about Cannabis and ECS science. An independent survey by Dr David Allen, an American 30-year veteran heart and general surgeon, showed only 13.3% of the 157 accredited US medical schools taught or offered any type of endocannabinoid and/or Cannabis education. Dr Allen himself claims the ECS is the “single most important discovery in modern medicine since the recognition of sterile surgical technique”.Image result for ECS is the single most important discovery in modern medicineWith such little Cannabis education, it’s no wonder most doctors are so ill-equipped to effectively treat patients with Cannabis. The inability of physicians to guide patients in regard to Cannabis is essentially creating a “clinical gap” between patient and provider.  Cannabis is a versatile yet relatively safe and sophisticated living medicine. Millions worldwide turn to it for relief for numerous ailments every single day. Cannabis breaks the boundaries and limitations of single-molecule synthetic drugs and trumps other plant species with its intra-species diversity and vast clinical applications. For many patients however, navigating the waters of Cannabis therapy can be frustrating and difficult without expert, educated medical guidance on how to approach Cannabis treatment. While knowing that “CBD is good for inflammation” for example, educated Cannabis physicians will understand the lipophilic (“fat-loving”) nature of cannabinoids like CBD, and how they must be used consistently to allow for its “accumulation” in one’s body. The truth is, Cannabis is a complex and tricky plant.

tetrahydrocannabinol

Sceptics continue to decry, “there isn’t enough research!” Yes, we do need more research around Cannabis. Yet, we already know more about it than most realise. Go to PubMed.gov (US repository for medical literature) and you’ll find over 28,000 studies published on Cannabis, whilst the likes of Ritalin will give over 8,600 results. Aside from this, Cannabis has been recognised as a medicine for thousands of years. Prohibition is fairly recent compared to that and is backed by zero science.  Prohibition also fails to account for the body’s own Endocannabinoid System and how Cannabis has proven to be an excellent supplement for this system, relieving many different types of ailments and conditions. Countries like Israel are light years ahead in their Cannabis research and clinical experience. Image result for israel cannabis researchCannabis has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to large-scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. However, we know enough about the plant and the Endocannabinoid System that this shouldn’t prevent us from embracing it now. The only way we can begin to optimise cannabinoid therapy for patients is by breaking the mould and integrating Endocannabinoid and Cannabis education into the medical curriculum, as well as those in other sectors of healthcare (e.g. nurses etc). In the US, while the DEA continues to stonewall research attempts due to federally restrictive scheduling of Cannabis, there is absolutely nothing stopping allopathic medical schools from teaching future doctors what we do know about the Endocannabinoid System (which is a lot). American Osteopathic and Naturopathic medical schools have already begun, putting them at a clear advantage over their allopathic counterparts.    0000ECSandBodilySystems

The Endocannabinoid System is arguably involved in almost every physiological and biological process involving who we are and the status of our health. We can either pretend this incredibly significant element of the human body doesn’t exist (not recommended), or we can do something about it and start implementing evidence-based Cannabis education into healthcare curriculums around the world. Patients deserve the best, safest and most effective care medicine has to offer. Humanity deserves the opportunity to continue its pursuit of knowledge of the biomechanical and physiological workings of the human body. The mainstream medical community can no longer stand on the sidelines as they do in the US, simply authorising patients for a ‘medical cannabis’ card is not enough. The time to bridge this clinical gap is now; not just for the sake of the patients and physicians, but for all of us.

Adapted from Higher Education: Bridging the Clinical Gap in Medical Cannabis

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The Endocannabinoid System For Beginners

The Endocannabinoid System is made up of neurons, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. There are nerve cells called neurons throughout the brain and body which are linked together by neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are molecules called agonists that move from one neuron to another through the minute space between them, which is called the synapse. The agonists plug into neural receptors, causing a chain reaction. In the case of the Endocannabinoid System, these receptors are called CB1 (Cannabinoid receptor 1) and CB2 (Cannabinoid receptor 2). CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, with some in the liver, lungs and kidneys. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body. There are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than any other type of neural receptor and a common analogy is that the agonists are keys and the receptors are locks.


The Endocannabinoid System sends signals within the brain and around the body.
Cannabinoids transmit signals from one neuron to another.
CB1 = Cannabinoid Receptor 1, found mostly in the Brain
CB2 = Cannabinoid Receptor 2, found mostly in the BodyCB1-CB-2-receptors-1024x1024


The Endocannabinoid System is activated by cannabinoids. The cannabinoids naturally produced by the body, which are known as endocannabinoids, and cannabinoids found in Cannabis, known as phytocannabinoids. The key and lock analogy is based upon the CB1 and CB2 receptors only being activated by cannabinoids, not any other type of agonist molecule. The cannabinoid ‘keys’ are the only ones that will fit the receptor ‘locks’.

Phyto = prefix meaning a plant or plants
Endo = prefix meaning within or inside
Phytocannabinoids, also called classic
cannabinoids, 
come from plants

Endocannabinoids come from inside the body

CB1 receptors are activated by the phytocannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, so when the ‘head-rush’ effect caused by sativa-dominant, THC-heavy strains is mentioned, there’s a literal quality to that statement! CB2 receptors are activated by the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol or CBD, giving a relaxing, body-centric effect. This makes the location of, and difference between, the two receptors easy to remember!

CB1 = THC = head
CB2 = CBD = body

Image result for homoeostasis
The Endocannabinoid System regulates the body’s systems to maintain homoeostasis: the state of balance necessary for healthy function. Homoeostasis can be thought of as the narrow range of states within which bodies work as they should. For example, blood sugar levels, internal temperature, pH levels of blood, regulation of water and minerals in the body and the removal of metabolic waste are all governed by homoeostatic processes.

endocannabinoid-homeostasis
Most agonists only travel in one direction. Cannabinoids are unusual in that they can travel both ways between neurons. This is known as a negative feedback loop. It is what makes the Endocannabinoid System such an essential system for most lifeforms. It tells the body when to begin a process (for example, sweating to cool down) but also when to stop it (otherwise we’d all be sweating constantly).
What is the endocannabinoid system and how does it work? Explained in an infographic.Bodies constantly make endocannabinoids to interact with their Endocannabinoid System, ensuring homoeostasis continues. If not enough endocannabinoids are created, it is thought  Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency may occur. It is also thought this can be treated by introducing phytocannabinoids, something humanity has been doing with varying degrees of therapeutic success since before recorded history.

Image result for endocannabinoid system homoeostasis


The reason Cannabis can treat so many different conditions is that the
Endocannabinoid System is spread throughout the body and responsible for
the correct functioning of so many different parts and aspects of it.


All vertebrates (creatures with a backbone) and invertebrates (creatures without a backbone) have an Endocannabinoid System. This explains why Cannabis products are having such success when used on pets and have the potential to treat a virtually unlimited number of species. There are a few species that don’t have one, such as sea sponges, nematode worms and anemones, since their evolution diverged so long ago. The earliest lifeform known to have cannabinoid receptors is the sea-squirt.  This primitive tube-shaped creature evolved more than 600 million years ago and vomits up its internal organs as a self-defence move! There is even a type of slime mould that “possesses a rudimentary endocannabinoid system”. You might think, since the Endocannabinoid System is so ancient, so vital and so common in lifeforms, it would have been discovered long ago. You would be wrong. The Endocannabinoid System was only confirmed in the form that we know it today (CB1 and CB2 receptors, triggered by two known endocannabinoids) in 1995!

1940 – CBD first isolated
1963 – CBD first synthesised
1964 – THC first synthesised
1988 – CB1 identified (in rats)
1991 – CB1 in humans successfully cloned
1992 – Anandamide, the first endocannabinoid, discovered in human brain
1993 – CB2 identified in humans and successfully cloned
1995 – 2-AG, the second endocannabinoid, discovered

The phytocannabinoid CBD was first isolated in 1940, but not until 1963 did Professor Raphael Mechoulam and his team discover its chemical structure and successfully synthesise it. Their feat was replicated with THC a year later. In 1988, the first Cannabis receptor was identified, and in 1993, the second. The first endocannabinoid, Anandamide, was only discovered in 1992 and the second, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol, known as 2-AG, followed in 1995. Professor Mechoulam, said, with simple eloquence:

“By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered
a new physiological system of immense importance … We wouldn’t
have been able to get there if we had not looked at the plant”.

Image result for endocannabinoid system
Adapted from What is the endocannabinoid system and how does it work? A beginner’s guide
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