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 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • (d) freedom of association.

 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

 
Before purchasing any product(s) from this site you agree that:
 
You are taking your health into your own hands;
You have done and will continue to do your own research; and
You do not hold this website or its' affiliates responsible for your health.

 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

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  • (d) freedom of association.

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The Endocannabinoid System and Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency

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We spoke exclusively to Ethan Russo who believes that many common diseases stem from clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.

 

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Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency

The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the mid-1980s was a major breakthrough in modern medicine. Yet, if you looked at the curriculum for most medical schools, you might not know it. The finding would not have been possible without the help of the cannabis plant, which remains illicit in most countries around the world. After wide-spread legalization of medical cannabis and over three decades of research, knowledge about the endocannabinoid system and its associated pathologies, like clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, remain sorely overlooked.

The Endocannabinoid System: The Find of the Century?

Two decades before the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, a team of scientists led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medical chemistry a the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had finally isolated the primary psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). After the discovery, researchers around the globe began the quest to figure out exactly how the compound worked.  A group led by Dr. Allyn Howlett, a neuroscientist then with St. Louis University, finally cracked the mystery: THC produced its psychoactive effects through engagement with specialized cell receptors.

A cell receptor can be thought of as a lock that is embedded on the surface of a cell membrane. These locks only respond to specific chemical keys. In this case, THC was the key that engaged a cannabinoid receptor. As research would soon reveal, cannabinoid receptors are part of a larger endocannabinoid system (ECS), a neurotransmitter and cell signaling network like none other.  Made up of receptor sites, their respective chemical activators, and the enzymes that deactivate these compounds, scientists quickly unveiled that the ECS was ubiquitous throughout the human body. Cannabinoid receptors are nearly everywhere — connective tissue, the brain, the spinal cord, internal organs, the digestive tract, the skin, and immune cells.

After what surely was many long hours in the lab, Howlett and her team landed on something big. Why on earth would these receptors be found in so many places? Nearly three decades down the line, scientists are still exploring the wide-reaching ramifications of the endocannabinoid system, Howlett included. In the time since its first discovery, the ECS has been found to be a potent regulator of brain activity, hormonal function, and immune response, linking the three main regulatory systems together. It’s this pervasive modulatory network that responds to THC and other cannabis constituents. When a person consumes intoxicating forms of cannabis, THC hijacks the cannabinoid receptor sites that are normally inhabited by compounds that the body produces naturally.

These compounds are called endocannabinoids. The prefix endo- refers to endogenous or internal cannabinoids. In contrast, the cannabinoids found on the cannabis plant are phytocannabinoids with the prefix phyto referring to plants. As it turns out, endocannabinoids are molecules that help maintain a state of equilibrium, or homeostasis, throughout the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Endocannabinoids play the part of harmonizers or middlemen, managing how each of these systems responds to stressful stimuli and communicates with the others.

Endocannabinoids are at least in part responsible for regulating the biological clock, managing things like hunger and sleep over the course of the day. Cannabinoid receptors are also highly concentrated in areas of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, and metabolism, giving them regulatory effects over a remarkable number of physiological functions. One endocannabinoid, called anandamide, even takes its name from the Sanskrit word for bliss Ananda thanks to its calming and relaxing effects.

With such a profound influence over so many basic bodily commands, it is now theorized that problems in the ECS may contribute to a wide variety of difficult-to-treat pathologies. These potential pathologies include ailments as diverse as migraines and autism.

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency May Contribute to Disease

Howlett and Mechulam may have kicked off the first forays into the endocannabinoid system, but they are far from the only scientists who made serious contributions to this emerging arena of health and medicine. Back in 2001, Ethan Russo, a neurologist and medical researcher, first made the case for clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). Russo is currently the Director of Research and Development with the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI). His theory? That many common diseases stem from deficiencies of the endocannabinoid system.

“Many human disorders relate to deficiencies of neurotransmitter function,” Russo told Cannabis Aficionado. “We know that a lack of acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter, is key to dementia in Alzheimer disease and related disorders. Parkinson disease is associated with a lack of dopamine function. Depression is related to problems with serotonin.”

Now, Russo suggests that something similar could occur in the endocannabinoid system. “In 2001,” he explains, “I hypothesized that various human disorders could be related to a lack of endocannabinoids, the natural chemicals within our brain and bodies that are similar in activity to THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.”

Since endocannabinoids have wide-spread functions in the body, a lack or deficiency of these signaling molecules could cause a whole host of trouble. Symptoms like seizures, mood troubles, and generalized pain, nausea, and inflammation are all possible side effects of an endocannabinoid imbalance. Further, the universal nature of the ECS means that ailments which are seemingly unrelated to each other may now be classified together under the endocannabinoid umbrella.

“The prime candidates for clinical endocannabinoid deficiency are migraine, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome,” says Russo, describing conditions that are currently thought of as distinct and separate pathologies. “All [three] have compelling evidence in the interim that there are deficiencies in endocannabinoid function. Additional evidence has accumulated to include post-traumatic stress, autism, and other disorders.”

It is the ECS that perhaps describes why conditions like migraine and irritable bowel syndrome may share so many overlapping symptoms, including changes in mood, digestive distress, pain, and fatigue. These problems may be genetic in nature or acquired over time. At least one scientist has even gone as far as to describe the endocannabinoid system as a “bridge between body and mind”, connecting the physical reality with an emotional and intellectual one.

Toward Recognition of the ECS

Researchers have been investigating the influence of the endocannabinoid system in disease pathology for the past 30 years. Despite advancements in our understanding about the ECS, however, therapies targeting the endocannabinoid system are still few and far between. While some cannabinoid-based therapies are available to select patients, medical cannabis still remains one of the primary therapies that targets the ECS.

Yet, while the herb has been immensely helpful to patients around the world, both cannabis and endocannabinoid research still suffers from underutilization and harsh political barriers to research. In fact, a 2018 study from the Washington School of Medicine found that only a meager nine percent of medical schools teach their students about medical cannabis. This is despite the fact that the medicinal use of the herb is legal in 33 U.S. states and all of Canada.

“In my opinion, the media attention [on the endocannabinoid system] is not yet sufficient,” says Russo, “as the scientific evidence behind the theory is now quite solid based on serum and cerebrospinal fluid tests and other data.” He is referring to tests conducted in patients with schizophrenia,  migraine, and epilepsy. In each of these conditions, patients exhibited a dysregulation of endocannabinoid molecules in their cerebrospinal fluid. In post-traumatic stress, scientists at the New York University Langone Medical Center made a similar finding back in 2013. Compared with controls, PTSD patients demonstrated reduced endocannabinoid circulation.

“Considering the extreme amount of suffering and economic costs associated with clinical endocannabinoid deficiency disorders, it is necessary to have better research support and clinical investigations,” he presses. Better research and support would enable medical researchers and other scientists to more efficiently establish key therapies and interventions for endocannabinoid disorders. “While it is clear that cannabis in one form or another can be very effective in treating such disorders, certain lifestyle approaches, such as low impact aerobic activity, and dietary manipulations with prebiotics and probiotics may also be effective.”

Unfortunately, nearly 75 percent of medical schools also fail to provide students with the required amount of nutrition education. In a world of quasi-legal remedies and underacknowledged illnesses, its past time that formal institutions look seriously into endocannabinoid health.

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Myrcene: The Terpene with Cytotoxic Effects on Cancer Tumors

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Linalool: The Fragrant, Analgesiac Terpene That Relieves Stress

Linalool is probably best known for the pleasant floral odor it gives to lavender plants, used in aromatherapy to induce relaxation and relieve stress.

 

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Linalool
PHOTO | PEXELS

Linalool is one of 200 terpenes produced by thousands of plants in nature, including the cannabis herb. Considered a major (primary) terpene, this special molecule offers medicinal efficacy to not only humans but all mammals. Without this particular terpene, there would be no scent of lavender.

For years, terpenes were considered to add little more than a revealingly pungent odor to the smoked flowers or the cannabis herb (which is, technically, also a vegetable). Both research and anecdotal evidence have revealed, however, that terpenes offer considerable benefits for human health and wellness, including their aggregate ability to deliver three primary efficacies: Anti-inflammation, analgesia (painkilling), and anti-cancer.

The linalool terpene of cannabis, which provides a floral, herbal, sweet scent, is also produced by numerous fruits. This terpene is commonly used in aromatherapy and meditation to induce relaxation and relieve stress. Like limonene, it is employed as an industrial pesticide against mosquitoes and roaches. Beyond its role as a major terpene in cannabis, linalool is produced by basil, bay leaf, fungi (some varieties), and lavender.

The Details on Linalool

Similar to all major terpenes found in cannabis, linalool provides many benefits to lifestyle users and patients alike. It acts as an anti-inflammatory (a characteristic of nearly all terpenes), is an analgesic, anti-depressant, and anti-convulsant (helpful for those with seizure disorders, such as epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome). Like myrcene, linalool is also a sedative.

Due to its analgesic properties, linalool is used as a treatment following gastric band surgery. One study revealed that this molecule, when inhaled, resulted in study participants consuming significantly less morphine to treat their pain.

The Research

The three most promising applications of this terpene are its role as an anti-cancer agent, its ability to prevent seizures, and its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Multiple studies have proven it to possess anti-cancer properties, most notably for liver cancer and lymphoma.

A study conducted in 2010 entitled “Anticonvulsant Activity of the Linalool Enantiomers” and published in the journal Natural Product Communications revealed that linalool is an effective anti-convulsant and that “Pretreatment of mice with linalool increased the latency of convulsions significantly.”

A 2008 study entitled “Antiproliferative Effects of Essential Oils and Their Major Constituents in Human Renal Adenocarcinoma” that was published in the journal Cell Proliferation found it to be an effective agent in fighting liver cancer. The study concluded, “Three identified terpenes, linalool, beta-caryophyllene and alpha-cedrol, were found to be active on both cell lines tested.”

A 2003 study entitled “Antileukemic Activity of Selected Natural Products in Taiwan” and published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine studied six “chemical classes of pure compounds present in commonly used medicinal plants.”

The study’s researchers concluded, “Water insoluble compounds, such as triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid), monoterpenes (linalool), and flavonoids (luteolin) possessed strong activity against human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. Among them, linalool showed the strongest activity against histiocytic lymphoma cells.”

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Cannabis

Up Close and Personal with the Science Behind Cannabinoids

Get to know the three different classes of cannabinoids: phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.

 

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Cannabinoids
PHOTO | Adobe Stock

The cannabis plant produces literally hundreds of specialized molecules — cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — that have been shown to deliver medicinal efficacy, lifestyle enhancement, and even performance enhancement to human beings. For those afflicted with disease, medical cannabis has been found to offer a wide range of health benefits, from killing cancerous tumors to alleviating the pain of arthritis to reducing the number of seizures experienced by epileptic children.

Of these molecules, cannabinoids are the most cited and understood. The most infamous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule responsible for most of the psychoactive (psychotropic) and euphoric effects of cannabis, but that also has been found to successfully treat serious conditions, such as PTSD and cancer. Another notable cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), a mostly non-psychoactive chemical that has been found to provide a wide range of medicinal benefits, including reductions in pain, anxiety, and depression.

Endocannabinoids vs. Phytocannabinoids

First discovered in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with the human body by mimicking the molecular characteristics of chemicals produced internally. Called endocannabinoids, these internally manufactured molecules include anandamide and 2-AG.

Anandamide has been dubbed the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to decrease depression in humans. It plays a central role in the regulation and modulation of critical bodily functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, immune system efficiency, and one’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids emerged in the 1970s and are created in a laboratory. An example of it would be dronabinol (Δ9-THC synthetic), which is the active compound of Marinol, a medicine that comes in capsules and has been consumed in the US since 1985 to prevent nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and loss of weight.

The Endocannabinoid System

All mammals, not merely humans, have evolved with a network of specialized cellular receptors throughout their bodies that are designed to bind with cannabinoids — both endocannabinoids such as anandamide and phytocannabinoids from cannabis — that is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The fact that the ECS is present in all mammals is why companies and product lines dedicated to the health and wellness of household pets are beginning to emerge in legal cannabis markets. Dogs and cats suffering conditions such as arthritis, digestive issues, anxiety, and pain can gain significant benefit from the cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp.

Anandamide production has been found to increase and temporarily spike in those who engage in endurance exercise on a regular basis. However, it metabolizes quickly, exhibiting a relatively short duration of effect. Anandamide hints at the chemical underpinnings of the significant health benefits of frequent and intense exercise—and the fact that the mere consumption of cannabinoids is not enough to establish and sustain optimal health of the ECS (a condition called homeostasis that means “balance”).

Both internally produced endocannabinoids and plant-based phytocannabinoids interface with the ECS via specialized cellular receptors that were discovered in the 1990s and called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are located primarily in the organs and tissues of the immune system—including the thymus, skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, bowel, and the mucous membranes of the bladder, genitals, nose, and throat.

Major Cannabinoids + Acidic Precursors

More than 113 cannabinoids have been isolated and identified within the cannabis plant — which is, technically, also a vegetable. Beyond the two major cannabis-derived molecules, THC and CBD, are a plethora of healthful cannabinoids that deliver a slew of desirable and beneficial efficacies for lifestyle consumers and patients alike. Among these are cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

Additional healthful cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These chemicals represent a class of cannabinoids dubbed acidic precursors. Think of acidic precursors as the larval caterpillar stage of what becomes the butterflies of THC and CBD.

While they provide significant benefits in terms of health and wellness, the exact effects of these molecules differ from their non-acidic versions. For example, while strains of cannabis that are potent in THC can exact a significant toll in terms of psychoactivity and euphoria, THCA delivers no such psychotropic effect. THCA does, however, offer anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, making it helpful for conditions as wide-ranging as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.

Understanding Decarboxylation

The process by which the transmogrification from the chemical state of acidic precursor (THCA) to its child molecule (THC) occurs is significant (and can be accurately controlled by anyone). A process called decarboxylation, this conversion involves the application of heat (via flame, as in combustion, or from a hot surface or airstream, as in vaporization) to catalyze a chemical reaction in which the THCA molecule drops a carbon and two oxygen atoms (called a carboxyl ring, or COOH) to become THC — and gain its euphoric effects based on its newfound binding affinity with the CB1 receptors of the ECS.

Technically, maximum decarboxylation for a sample of cannabis flowers occurs most effectively when exposed to 220 degrees F (104 degrees C) for a period of 30 to 45 minutes. Decarboxylation is easy and convenient because it can be accomplished using a standard consumer oven.

Thus, one who eats the raw flowers of cannabis will gain significant medicinal benefits, but no euphoria. The simple application of a flame or hot air, however, leads to the nearly instantaneous transformation of these molecules into their chemical cousins, delivering beneficial — but sometimes very different — effects.

The Research

A 2017 research study entitled “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting” that was published in the journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics found the cannabinoids of cannabis, such as THC and CBD, to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.

The study’s researchers stated, the “Beneficial cannabinoids exist, as evidenced by single-entity agents derived from cannabis containing the compounds THC and CBD.” The study concluded that “cannabis is relatively safe; therapy is self-titratable by the patient; and…therapy is relatively inexpensive compared with pharmaceutical agents.”

CBC is a powerful cannabinoid first isolated in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam. It is considered one of the “big six” cannabinoids that, according to Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley, California, is ten times more effective than CBD in treating anxiety and stress.

In a 2011 study conducted by cannabis research pioneer Ethan Russo entitled “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects” and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, Russo found that a CBC-extract displayed “pronounced antidepressant effect,” meaning it may be helpful for humans suffering from anxiety and depression.

Additional evidence of the medical benefits of cannabinoids derived from cannabis — this time for an ocular disease — was revealed in a 2008 study entitled “Possibilities of Applying Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Glaucoma” that was published in the journal Klinika Oczna. The study concluded that cannabinoids like CBG are “able to decrease intraocular pressure. These compounds are characterized by neuroprotection and vasodilatation properties that additionally substantiate their therapeutic utility in conservative treatment of glaucoma.”

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Cannabis

CBG: The Cannabinoid with Massive Medical Possibilities

CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that may well be the next cannabinoid to become the focus of medical cannabis research.

 

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CBG

PHOTO | Dabsel Adams

he cannabis herb contains more than 113 special medicinal molecules called cannabinoids. These chemicals are categorized as phytocannabinoids because they are derived from a plant. The human body produces similar molecules called endocannabinoids that interact with a specialized system of receptors found in the brain, central nervous system, and immune system that compose the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Like most cannabinoids other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychoactive and has been found to act on very specific physiological systems. Through research studies and anecdotal evidence, this cannabinoid has demonstrated significant health and lifestyle benefits, especially in diseases involving inflammation and neurological damage.

The Details on CBG

The acidic precursor to CBG, CBGA, is considered to be the mother of all cannabinoids due to the fact that the plant transforms this special molecule into all other cannabinoids.

A 2015 study entitled “Neuroprotective Properties of Cannabigerol in Huntington’s Disease” published in the journal Neurotherapeutics demonstrated CBG’s neuroprotective powers based on its ability to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease. This special chemical may also help fight cancer and has been shown to act as an antibacterial agent. CBG may inhibit muscle contractions and serve as a therapy to prevent bladder dysfunction disorders. This cannabinoid has also been shown to help treat depression.

Scientists have learned some tricks for obtaining more potent levels of CBG from cannabis plants during cultivation and harvest. In particular strains, an optimum extraction period of about six weeks into an eight-week flowering cycle has been identified. Some examples of the strain Bediol are purported to be rich in CBG.

The Research

CBG has been found to be a valuable and effective treatment for glaucoma due to the fact that it reduces intraocular pressure in the eye. This cannabinoid also demonstrates neuroprotective properties and, in experiments involving mice, was found to be effective in decreasing the systemic inflammation that characterizes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and related conditions.

Research studies have been conducted into the efficacy of CBG for IBD — an umbrella category that includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gastrointestinal diseases involving inflammation within the intestines. IBD afflicts more than three million people in the United States alone.

One such study published in 2013 and entitled “Beneficial Effect of the Non-psychotropic Plant Cannabinoid Cannabigerol on Experimental Inflammatory Bowel Disease” published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology found CBG to be helpful for IBD patients. The study’s researchers concluded and the promise of this special cannabinoid as a future therapy “could be considered for clinical experimentation in IBD patients.”

A 2008 study entitled “Possibilities of Applying Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Glaucoma” that was published in the Polish journal Klinika Oczna concluded that cannabinoids like CBG “are able to decrease intraocular pressure. What is more, these compounds are characterized by neuroprotection and vasodilatation properties that additionally substantiate its therapeutic utility in conservative treatment of glaucoma.”


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