April 21, 2014

THC Keeps Monkeys Alive in AIDS Research Model

Recently, a Doctor came out against using Cannabis for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Among oncologists, his opinion is probably in the minority. This Doctor claims that no HIV patients he knows, would benefit from Cannabis. Unfortunately, the Doctor only discussed his opinion and did not site any current research from controlled studies to support his stance. Current research  in HIV/AIDS and cannabinoids has been promising– practically every clinical trial that has looked at HIV/AIDS and THC has shown that cannabinoids may help patients.

Some of the first patients that were infected with HIV were treated at San Francisco General Hospital.  It was probably there, that the medical staff first noticed patients who used Cannabis seemed to be doing better. Notably, cannabis became known as an effective treatment for HIV/AIDS wasting syndrome.  Among the medical staff, was Dr. Donald Abrams who recorded his observations and would later go on to conduct some of the most important clinical trials in the history of cannabinoid research. Dr. Abrams demonstrated that smoked Cannabis could effectively alleviate neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients. Videos of Dr.Abrams presenting his results can be viewed here: Cannabis & Neuropathic Pain, Dr. Abrams, pt 1 and Cannabis & Neuropathic Pain, Dr. Abrams, pt 2

Later, other researchers would show, in a similar group of HIV patients, that smoked Cannabis can modulate pain where conventional opiates were ineffective. The beneficial effect of cannabis on HIV/AIDS symptoms in humans has inspired other researches to take a closer look at the mechanisms behind these effects.

A research team from Virginia Commonweatlh University showed that natural Delta9- THC and synthetic CP-55,940 could inhibit the HIV inflammatory response through the Cannabinoid Type II (CB2) Receptor. Once HIV invades a cell, the virus makes the cell secrete many proteins to attract other immune cells and this leads to the ongoing infection of other cells. One such protein called Tat is important for viral replication and gene expression; the effects of this protein on cell migration appear to be inhibited by both synthetic and natural cannabinoids. The main finding of these researchers is that cannabinoids can slow the migration of uninfected cells towards the Tat protein and thus could inhibit the HIV infection process and the associated inflammation.

Another research group also thought that the previous worked on HIV and cannabinoids was unbelievable. So, they sought to see if THC made the disease worse in monkeys. The researchers infected monkeys with SIV and studied them for 1 year. SIV is the equivalent of HIV in humans. Their research was published in September 2010 and the entire article can be found here:Molina Article on THC attenuates SIV.

Note that each monkey costs around $8,000.00 for the research study.

The researcher demonstrated that THC slows the progression of HIV in primates. See  Figure 4 below from the Article by Molina et al.

SIV THC Figure 4

In Figure 4, there are two groups of monkeys. The solid line is the THC group and the dotted line is the control group (no drug). Within 11 months, 80% of the control group died (dotted line). In the group that received the drug THC, no deaths were reported.

The authors conclude :”this study is the first to report in vivo experimental data demonstrating that chronic THC initiated prior to, and continued throughout the asymptomatic phase of SIV infection, does not impair the host’s ability to control viral load, and does not increase morbidity and mortality from the infection… THC treatment clearly did not increase disease progression, and indeed resulted in generalized attenuation of the classic markers of SIV disease (set point viral load/viral level in general)…based on our results and reports in the literature, we speculate that retention of body mass,attenuation of viral replication, and an overall immunosuppressant effect of cannabinoids may contribute to the amelioration of SIV disease progression seen in our study.”

However, THC is only part of the story. There are over 500 compounds on the Cannabis plant and some of these compounds may contain powerful medical properties which could treat a variety of diseases including Cancer and HIV/AIDS. For instance researchers have found that Cannabis extracts which contain Denbinobin can inhibit HIV replication in a petri dish. Denbinobin is found on the Cannabis and other plants as well.

The therapeutic promise of this plant remains high and some states have medical laws allowing the use of Cannabis for HIV. Furthermore, Marinol or synthetic THC in a capsule remains available by prescription in the U.S. GW pharmaceuticals has an extract available for the treatment of HIV symptoms but it is not allowed in the United States. It is available in Canada, UK, Spain, and soon to be available in South America.

 

Want to learn more about HIV/AIDS and cannabinoids? Here are two new studies on HIV/AIDS and cannabinoids:

The Medical Use of Cannabis for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality in Patients with HIV/AIDS

The CB2 Receptor May Weaken HIV

 

Jahan Marcu, Ph.D, is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) and was named Cannabis Researcher of the year for 2012. Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact :science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

 

The Final Four According to Cannabis Research

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament was announced March 17th with a wave of free brackets, guides, Apps, and various experts that give the impression of mystical haruspices with their predictions.

This year we need a new way to determine final four picks. This is your chance to change the way you root for teams, here is a quick guide to base your picks on the quality of the universities contributions to the Cannabis and cannabinoid research field. [Read more...]

Getting the Flax Straight About CBD

A research team based in Poland may have discovered that a CBD-like compound is a major component of the flax plant. The Cannabis plant makes CBD (Cannabidiol), a miraculous plant compound that demonstrates the potential to treat a wide range of diseases with virtually no side effects.

Interestingly, the researchers discovered the presence of a CBD-like compound  in flax accidentally. They were analyzing genetically modified flax plants and comparing them to natural flax plants.  The team noted that the production of several compounds was slightly enhanced in the GMO plants and decided to identify them.

Further analysis revealed that CBD-like compounds were prevalent in many parts of the flax plant and their products, such as such as fibers, seeds, leaves, and seedcakes.

The authors believe the beneficial actions of flax (such anti-inflammatory effects) may be due to the presence of this CBD-like compound. However, the mechanism of CBD’s benefits remains a mystery since CBD does not activate the same receptors as THC.

THC acts on the cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2, which are part of the endocanabinoid system (ECS). The ECS includes the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), as well as a variety of other compounds and additional receptors. Scientists may someday discover the mechanism of CBD, but it will take many years of thorough research to understand exactly how CBD works.

The discovery of CBD in flax is an important one, but the authors make some misleading claims in their manuscript; claims which are not supported by their work or the work of other scientists. They authors claim to be the first people to find cannabinoids IN another plant. Their article was published in 2012—one of the earliest discoveries of non-cannabis sources of cannabinoids is from 1979.

In fact, flax is now part of an ever-growing list of plants that can produce cannabinoids (See image of Phytocannabinoid Producers).

Cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabicyclol (CBC), and cannabicitran (CBT)  have been discovered in the following: species of rhodenderons (Rhodenderon Anthpogonoides), Voacanga Africana, liverwort (Radula Marginata), and woody umbrella (Helichrysum Umbraculigerum). Beta-caryophyllene is a cannabinoid present in virtually all plants and activates the CB2 receptor, notably it occurs in high amounts in cloves and black pepper.

The author’s description of CBD also contains a serious discrepancy:

“…CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of marihuana, acting mostly on the CB2 receptor…” The authors suggest that CBD is activating CB2 receptors.

This statement regarding the activity at a CB2 receptor is not supported by any data from the authors nor is it supported by the referenced studies in the article. The studies (one and two) referenced by the authors did not use CBD in a single experiment. They provide no evidence that CBD is directly interacting with the CB2 receptor. The authors could have cited this article as indirect evidence of CBD interacting with CB2, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that CBD doesn’t need the CB2 receptor for its beneficial effects.

A similar misconception was also made by TIME Magazine last year, claiming that CBD activates CB2 receptors.

As mentioned above the mechanism of CBD isn’t clear yet, but there is enough evidence to SUPPORT that the effects of CBD can occur without activating cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CBD might be the first modulator of the ECS, enhancing or inhibiting certain activities. Different experiments have shown:

Misrepresenting a compound or drug may appear as a minor issue, but it can negatively influence lawmakers and doctors, leading to legal and medical quandaries and ultimately preventing a plant compound like CBD from reaching the clinics. The main hurdles for a successful cannabis-based medicine are the unacceptable side effects that can occur from THC; CBD does not have undesirable side effects.

Cannabis that contains CBD remains prohibited, while flax products are widely available in concentrated forms such as dietary supplements. Although the precise mechanism of CBD remains elusive, its promising medicinal effects are already recognized, and it is legally available when harvested from the appropriate plant.

Here are some additional links to research on the mechanisms of CBD:

CBD enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia

Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?

Cannabidiol dispays unexpectedly high potency as an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptor

CBD protects brain cells by mechanisms that do not involve CB1, CB2, TRPV1 or PPARg receptors

CBD may represent a novel, protective strategy against  brain injury by attenuating key inflammatory pathways and oxidative/nitrative tissue injury, independent of classical CB1/2 receptors

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact   science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannabinoids, Breast Milk, and Development

 

Hospitals routinely screen new born babies for drugs. If a mother uses a drug, such as Cannabis then the baby may drink the plants ingredients or metabolites in breast milk, thus baby urine or feces can provide evidence of the mother’s drug use and allow the state to take control of the child. Cannabis should be an easy drug to detect, THC can stay in the body for an extended period of time, unlike cocaine or speed or alcohol. However, detecting THC in babies just got a little bit trickier.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry demonstrated that baby urine containing a tiny amount of baby soap would give a positive result on a drug test for THC, the active ingredient in the plant. A positive test for your baby can result in child abuse allegations and the involvement of social services. Hence, the authors suggest that laboratories, which conduct drug tests for THC should be aware of these potential sources of error that exist in the real world.

So, what do you do when your baby tests positive for marijuana? We know what the consequences of the failing the tests are…but what does the science say about pregnancy, babies, and breast milk?

The science demonstrates that cannabinoid receptor activation (i.e. CB1 and CB2 receptors) is a natural and important component for proper development. Mammals, including humans, produce endocannabinoids, which are THC-like compounds. These THC-like compounds include anandamide and 2-AG. Anandamide and 2-AG activate the same receptors as THC, and are found in bovine and human breast milk. Adding THC to the mix of endocannabinoids in breast milk may lead to changes in development but scientists just aren’t sure if any of these differences in animals translate into long term changes in human development.

The developmental effects of THC exposure remain unclear, but the blocking of cannabinoid receptor activation during early development is considered to have “catastrophic” effects. Studies by Ester Fride and colleagues have demonstrated the importance of having an endocannabinoid system that is functioning properly. For example, one of the studies by Fride et al. showed that the administration of SR141716A, a drug which prevents CB1 receptor activation, will kill 50% of baby mice within 2 days, due to a disruption of feeding behavior. In another experiment from the same study, THC was able to reverse the disruption in feeding behavior induced by SR141716A.

Additional studies in mice and rats have shown that prenatal or postnatal exposure to cannabis or cannabinoids may lead to subtle changes in breast milk and development. However, many of these animal studies do not have much, if any human data to corroborate them. Always keep in mind that drugs abuse studies are difficult to interpret, as most subjects use multiple drugs and socioeconomic status seems to play the biggest role–money, health care, and your parents level of education can have a bigger impact on healthy development than Cannabis. Interestingly, a study found that among poor mothers living in the northeast, marijuana was the least common drug used and the health of a newborn seem to be most affected by polydrug use, including: alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine.

Many studies have looked at the effect of Cannabis use during pregnancy and the results suggest that there are not clear consequences. A review article published by Dr. Ethan Russo walks the reader through the human studies on pregnancy, here are of some of the examples from his article:

  • “A variety of studies have demonstrated transient effects of cannabis on endocrine hormone levels, but no consistent effects seem to occur in chronic settings (Russo et al.2002).”
  • “Studies are hampered by the obvious fact that laboratory animals are not human in their responses. Estrous cycles and behaviors in animals are not always analogous to menstrual cycles and other physiological effects in women.”
  • “In a study of 171 women, 25% of pregnancies ended spontaneously within 6 weeks of the last menses. Cannabis exposure seemed to have no observable effect in these cases (Wilcox, Weinberg, and Baird 1990).”
  • “In 1987, the Ottawa group compared effects of cannabis, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine during gestation (Fried et al. 1987). Whereas tobacco negatively affected neonatal birth weight and head circumference, and alcohol was associated with lower birth weight and length, no effects on any growth parameters were ascribable to maternal cannabis usage.”
  • “In a subsequent study (Witter and Niebyl 1990), examination of 8350 birth records revealed that 417 mothers (5%) claimed cannabis-only usage in pregnancy, but no association was noted with prematurity or congenital anomalies. The authors suggested that previously ascribed links to cannabis were likely confounded by concomitant alcohol and tobacco abuse.”
  • “A group in Boston noted a decrease in birth weight of 79 g in infants born to 331 of 1226 surveyed mothers with positive using drug screen for cannabis (p =0.04) (Parker and Zuckerman 1999), but no changes in gestation, head circumference or congenital abnormalities were noted.”
  • “The largest study of the issue to date evaluated 12,424 pregnancies (Linn et al.1983). Although low birth weight, shortened gestation and malformations seemed to be associated with maternal cannabis usage, when logistic regression analysis was employed to control for other demographic and exposure factors, this association fell out of statistical significance.”
  • “Dreher has extensively examined prenatal cannabis usage in Jamaica (Dreher 1997; Dreher, Nugent, and Hudgins 1994), wherein the population observations were not compounded by concomitant alcohol, tobacco, or polydrug abuse. This study is unique in that regard, no less due to the heavy intake of cannabis (“ganja”), often daily, in this cohort of Rastafarian women. No differences were seen between groups of cannabis-using and non-cannabis-using mothers in the weight, length, gestational age or Apgar scores of their infants (Dreher, Nugent, and Hudgins 1994). Deleterious effects on progeny of cannabis smokers were not apparent; in fact, developmental precocity was observed in some measures in infants born to women who smoked ganja daily.”

The research on this subject doesn’t end there. Researchers have administered cannabinoids to children; cannabinoids may have a role in pediatric medicine as young children do not appear to get “high” from cannabinoids such as THC. Below Ester Fride discussed two of the clinical trials on cannabinoids and children:

The gradual postnatal increase of anandamide and its CB1 receptors (see Video of Pre- and postnatal development of the endocannabinoid CB receptor system below) is accompanied by a gradual maturing response to the psychoactive potential of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol and anandamide in postnatal mice between birth and weaning (Fride and Mechoulam, 1996b).

This observation has important implications for cannabinoid therapy in children, since psychoactive side effects may be expected to be minor when treated with cannabinoids at a young age. Indeed, very high doses of D8-tetrahydrocannabinol (approximately 0.64 mg/kg/treatment) were given to children between the ages 3 and 13 years who were undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of various hematologic cancers, over long periods of time (up to 114 treatments, based on 4 treatments/24h during the days of chemotherapy). The anti-emetic effects were impressive, whereas the side effects were minimal (Abrahamov and Mechoulam, 1995). In a case report study (Lorenz, 2003), eight children (ages 3–14 years) with a variety of severe neurological diseases were treated with D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (0.04–0.12 mg/kg/day). Significant improvements in behavioralparameters including reduced spasticity, improved dystonia, increased interest in the surroundings and antiepileptic activity were reported without notable adverse effects.

It is not clear, how, in the first study, the anti-emetic effects were achieved (presumably via the area postrema) and in the second, positive neurological benefit was derived in the absence of adverse psychological effects.

Is it possible that a differential CB1 receptor distribution appears during development, or that differential maturation of brain pathways is responsible for the clinical success? Clearly, further animal experiments and clinical investigations of cannabinoid treatment in the developing organism are warranted.”

The scientific evidence discussed here suggests that Cannabis may be used during pregnancy with little risk or consequence to your health or the baby’s health (One parenting website suggested that the biggest risk to a child is the parents state of mind after use).

Regarding Cannabis use, the most severe consequences to the mother and her baby appear to result from interactions with law enforcement, social services, and baby soap.

 

VIDEO: Pre- and Postnatal Development of the Endocannabinoid System by Ester Fride Ph.D

 

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact   science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Medical Cannabis helps ALS patient outlive her own doctors

 

Medical Cannabis helps ALS patient outlive her own doctors

Last month, Cathy Jordan sat on a panel at the Cannabis Therapeutics Conference in Arizona.  Before taking the stage, she discussed the medical use of cannabis for ALS with Jahan Marcu, the Science Editor at Freedom is Green.

Cathy Jordan first noticed something was wrong in summer of 1985 when she couldn’t pick things up. Her muscles weren’t responding. In 1986, she was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is characterized by the death of motor neurons leading to loss of limb control, breathing, swallowing, speech and widespread cellular dysfunction. Most cases of ALS are sporadic; it is not a viral or autoimmune disease.

“Most people start using a feeding tube because they are afraid of choking to death”, says Cathy.

In 1986, she was given 3 – 5 years to live according to her neurologi st. Nearly 3 decades later, she is still alive and living with ALS.

“All my docs are retiring or dead. I’ve outlived 5 support groups and 4 neurologists,” said Cathy. This actually posed a problem for Cathy who lost her social security benefits because she lived passed her expiration date. The state of Florida said her ID and regular documentation wasn’t good enough to prove she was alive and to continue to receive benefits. She had to ask her neurologist to fill out paperwork to prove she was still alive.

Mrs. Jordan began using Cannabis from a Florida grower to treat her ALS in the late 80’s. “Donny Clark provided my medicine, grown in the Myakka River Valley…he was busted and sentenced to life in prison, and that strain of Cannabis was lost.

“You know, they say the fountain of youth is in Florida. Maybe it was something in the soil that made this plant helps me…and I don’t understand why doctors wouldn’t study me. But I still would like to know why this is helping me.”

At first, doctors wouldn’t accept Cathy’s that marijuana could be responsible for her extended life span. Other doctors thought that smoking anything would impair her lung function and even threatened to have this paralyzed women committed, simply based on the fact that she thought Cannabis was actually helping her.

“I visited a neurologist at Duke University. When I told him that I was smoking Cannabis, he didn’t know what to do with me. He was afraid. He wouldn’t even take my blood pressure because I was using an illegal drug.”

Cathy adds:

“I asked my docs if they would take a drug if it was neuroprotective, an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. They say ‘yes’ and ask me if I know of one. Cannabis, I tell them.”

Nearly three decades later, the science has caught up with this miracle patient. Scientists created a mouse with ALS, which was very exciting for Cathy. Research has shown that THC and other cannabinoids can benefit mice with ALS. The mounting evidence of cannabinoids halting the progression of ALS has started to change the attitudes of doctors and prominent researchers have recently called for ALS clinical trials with Cannabis or cannabinoids.

“They all agree today that I should smoke Cannabis,” says Cathy. Twenty six years later, my original neurologist fought [successfully] to make sure Cannabis is legal for patients in Delaware.”

Researchers think Cannabis may help ALS patients relieving pain, spasticity, drooling, appetite loss and has minimal drug-drug interactions and toxicity.

“There are ALS patients associations that fight for the right of patients to die with dignity. But what about my right to life?” asks Cathy. “Keeping my medicine illegal removes my right to life.”

 

Video: Tucson AZ – The Use of Cannabis for ALS – Jahan Marcu & Cathy Jordan

 

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact   science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

 

 

Cannabis and PTSD Clinical Trials Announced

The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine published a bulletin highlighting the preliminary results from an observational clinical trial studying the effects of Cannabis on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“According to an observational study by scientists of MaReNa Diagnostic and Consulting Center in Bat-Yam, Israel, presented at the Cannabinoid Conference 2011 in Bonn, Germany, the use of cannabis may improve symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. As a part of their routine consulting work, they assessed the mental condition of 79 adult PTSD patients, who applied to the Ministry of Health in order to obtain a license for the medical use of cannabis. Only part of them (about 50 per cent) got cannabis licenses and constitutes the study group. They were followed for a period of about two years.”

One of the oldest known medical uses for Cannabis is in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, as described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts from India (Russo 2005). This ancient medicinal claim is proving itself true through recent scientific studies. Scientists studying fear conditioning in animals discovered that the CB1 receptor is necessary for the extinction of adverse memories (Marsciano 2002). Researchers studied mice that are genetically bred without the CB1 receptors. These mice without CB1 receptors have an impaired ability to extinguish fear. Scientists have also tried using the drug Rimonbandt, which blocks the CB1 receptor and seen similar results (Lutz 2007).

The CB1 receptor is the most abundant protein in the human protein, and anyone who has activated this receptor with THC can tell you about its effect on memory. This memory impairment associated with Cannabis can be harnessed for medical uses.

The CB1 receptor is part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a natural part of our body and among many things it controls things such as eating, sleeping relaxing, and memory. Conceptually, by adding THC to the brain, the ECS is turned on and begins to do its work. THC from the Cannabis plant and our body’s endocannabinoids may control the extinction of adverse memories by acting through the CB1 receptor. Adverse memories underlie or cause many anxiety disorders such as PTSD. You don’t have to be a veteran to receive relief from Cannabis for a psychiatric disorder. The extinction of adverse memories through the CB1 receptor is emerging as a universal mechanism in the brain.

Despite a vast amount of scientific information on the effect of cannabinoids on memory, the first clinical trial on Cannabis and PTSD is yet to be completed. This clinical trial is an obvious next step that will test the effect of CB1 receptor stimulation on adapting to fear. This is something scientists have not been successful at studying; researchers have only been approved to study the effect of CB1 receptors on anxiety disorders indirectly through genetically altered mice and by blocking the receptor.

Cannabis and cannabinoids may offer a benefit in the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as phobias (fears) or PTSD, and the pain that is often associated with them. The implications of the current scientific data suggest that Cannabis and cannabinoids can treat a wide range of anxiety orders. If you are feeling nervous about the speculation of using Cannabis to treat anxiety disorders, just remember the title from Nature magazine’s 2002 article, “Never Fear, Cannabinoids are Here (Sah, 2002).”

 
Bibliography

Lutz, B. (2007). The Endocannabinoid System and Extinction Learning. Molecuar Neurobiology, 36:92-101.

Marsciano, G. (2002). The Endogenous Cannabioid System Controls the Extinction of Adverse Memories. Nature, 530-534.

Russo, E. (2005). Cannabis in Inida: ancient lore and modern medicine. In R. Mechoulam, Cannabinoids as Therpeutics.

Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland. Sah, P. (2002). Never Fear, Cannabinoids are Here. Nature, 488-489.

Read more Science at Freedomisgreen.com

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.


Pot and Pumpkin Pie: Endocannabinoid System Enhanced by Vitamin E

Could eating a better diet make for a better cannabinoid experience? The journal of Free Radical Biology and Medicine published a report, which identifies vitamin E as a “modulator of the cannabinoid system.”

Alpha-Tocopheral is considered the main ingredient of vitamin E, and is well known for its anti-oxidant properties and mood elevating abilities. Low levels of alpha-tocopheral in the brain are associated with health issues such as depression and neuronal degradation.

The authors demonstrated that the actions of vitamin E can be blocked, if the cannabinoid type 1 receptor is blocked by a drug AM251. AM251 can block cannabinoid receptors and prevent them from being activated.

The authors report that the vitamin E and cannabinoid receptor interactions are occurring in a region of the brain known as the hippocampus, which may help explain the benefits of vitamin E other than its anti-oxidant properties.

Vitamin E can have profound effects on brain function, and it is widely used as a food additive. Without vitamin E in the diet a number a symptoms can start to appear, such as anxiety or ataxia. [Read more...]

Please Welcome, Dr.Cannabinergy!

Sunil Aggarwal

[Editor's Note from Jahan Marcu] – This guest post was written by Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., PhD. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal is a graduate of the University of Washington’s NIH-supported Medical Scientist Training Program. He received his M.D. in 2010 and his Ph.D. in Medical Geography in 2008. He completed his internship in Preliminary Internal Medicine at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington and is currently continuing his Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at New York University’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.

As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Dr. Aggarwal conducted and published human studies of medical cannabis use under the first-ever granted federal Certificates of Confidentiality which protected 176 enrolled study subjects recruited both from sites of both cannabis delivery and medical consultation.  He has authored or co-authored papers on cannabinoid medical science, dosing, and human rights published in journals of Pain medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, General Medicine, and Law, in addition to a book chapter for the general public.[Read More about Dr. Aggarwal]

Dear Readers of Freedomisgreen.com,

My friend and colleague, cannabinoid researcher and doctoral student Jahan Marcu of Temple Univeristy, has graciously invited me to write a blog post here introducing the launch of my new website, cannabinergy.com.

At its core, cannabinergy.com is a vehicle for public education to inspire, alight, and broadly educate internet users about basic and social scientific understandings regarding the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system and the cannabingeric properties of cannabis hempflowers.  It seeks to be relevant to current policy debates and therefore aims to present the ecological politics, or political ecology, of cannabis, thereby giving visitors a broader understanding of the complex web of powerful actors and grassroots movements that are variously attempting to enclose, monopolize, ignore, or democratize this increasingly valued botanical resource.  In this current scenario, a website such as cannabinergy.com is needed to help to stimulate and facilitate the public conversation regarding the status of this plant as a commons resource and its responsible use guided by science and green ethics.

The website accomplishes much of this by showcasing my own academic and personal journey as a bicultural physician-scientist and medical geographer who has, over time, come to understand the social and medicinal significance of the cannabis plant.  This is illustrated through a online digital library of papers, public presentations, interviews, personal reflections, and photographs.  The ultimate goal is to link this website up to another one called cannabisconversation.com which will allow a much greater degree of user participation and dialogue.  I invite you to explore, learn, be inspired, and share at cannabinergy.com!

Thank you,

Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., PhD

aka “Dr. Cannabinergy”

Read more Science at Freedomisgreen.com

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

 

The CBD Research that Time Forgot

7/28/2011 – Time magazine made a flawed, sensationalistic attempt at covering cannibinoid research in a recent article. The piece details the effects of a synthetic cannabinoid (called JWH-133) and its ability to deter cocaine addiction in an animal model by activating the CB2 receptor in the brain. The implications of this study imply that cannabinoids could be potentially used as an “exit” drug for cocaine users. But Time confused the synthetic drug used in the study with a natural substance called cannabidiol or CBD.

Unfortunately, the seemingly good news about CB2 receptors and the treatment of cocaine addiction was over-shadowed by a plethora of inaccurate scientific information.

Here are the three main points that Time forgot:

  • CBD does not activate CB2 receptors at a reasonable concentration. This crucial information was published in 1996. In test tube experiments, CBD can only activate the CB2 receptor at a concentration unachievable through any known or conventional route of administration. If, for instance, a patient had an IV hooked up to a vat of nearly pure CBD, then there might be enough CBD to affect receptor dynamics and thus lead to the activation of CB2 receptors. In short, CBD may be able to treat cocaine addiction, but not by acting through cannabinoid receptors.
  • Time magazine glaringly overlooked the most relevant research done on the effects of actual CBD (not a synthetic cannibinoid like JWH-133) and cocaine addiction by Raphael Mechoulam, one of the most noted Cannabis researchers in history. Dr. Mechoulam is credited as the first scientist to isolate THC as the primary ingredient in Cannabis back in 1964 and he continues to produce groundbreaking cannabis research. His important 2004 study looked at CBD and cocaine addiction but the research cited by Time never even mentions CBD.

One of the most basic concepts in cannabinoid science is that THC activates CB1 and CB2 receptors, but CBD does not activate CB1 and CB2 receptors. To refute this fundamental understanding of cannabinoid receptors is an insult to the scientific community and ultimately does more harm than good. As a scientist, this type of research is extremely complex and all news organizations will need to do a better job when conveying information to the public.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam - The scientist that Time forgot

Read more Science at Freedomisgreen.com

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

New Human Research on CBD, Endocannabinoids and Depression

ICRS logo

8/8/2011 - The International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) meeting  in Chicago last month showcased new data on cannabinoids gathered from human subjects. Most bio-medical science happens on rats or in petri dishes, so any studies on people are always notable. The ICRS is a unique and concentrated pool of cannabinoid scientists presenting the latest breakthroughs at our annual meetings.

The second day of the 2011 ICRS meeting had a Psychiatric Session that included these interesting topics:

Danieal Hauer, Ludwig-Maimilians University (Germany) discussed results from human subject who had undergone cardiac surgery.  23.5% percent of patients were thought to have diagnosable symptoms of depression after 6 months post-surgery.  This population of depressed patients had lower blood levels of Anandamide, an endocannabinoid. The doctors suggest that patients with lower endocannabinoid levels during the peri-opertaive stage are at a higher risk of developing depression.

Mateus Bergamaschi, University Sao Paulo Brazil, showed results from a human study on the effects of pure CBD to treat people with social phobia.  Participants were all healthy college undergraduates. They divided into different groups and were given 2 minutes to prepare a 4 minute oral presentation on “the public transportation system of your city.” The participants who received an oral of CBD had lower anxiety scores than the placebo group. The researchers conclude that this is another study which demonstrates the anti-anxiety effects of CBD and additional double blind, placebo controlled studies are needed.

Andrea Dlugos (University of Muenster, University of Chicago) presented the first data on human subjects which indicates that stress can increase the levels of many endocannabinoids. Acute stress increases N-Acylethanolamines, i.e., AEA, in healthy humans. Basla serum levels of AG and AEA were found to be lower in depressed women. Functional FAAH gene variants influence response to acute stress. eCB increases are correlated to circulating levels of stress indicators.  Stress increases AEA, PEA, OEA but not 2AG, 2OG. Psychosocial specific stress increases some levels. Interestingly, Caucasians show an increase in certain cannabinoids that was not seen in African Americans and Asians.  The authors note that cortisol and PEA share a common mechanism that warrants further study.

These three sets of research could have beneficial applications if they are developed. Testing the endocannabinoid levels to help identify those at risk for depression after heart surgery would be a simple way of averting this negative outcome. It is also exciting to see pure CBD used in a psychological experiment with humans demonstrating a promising treatment from an easily acquired extract.

The ICRS meeting was jam packed with amazing new science. We’ll have more from the presentations in future posts.

Read more Science at Freedomisgreen.com

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.