November 1, 2014

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...]

Live from ICRS: Cannabinoid Scientists Discuss Cancer, Pain, Arthritis

ICRS logo

7/7/2011  by Jahan Marcu – The annual International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) meeting is taking place this week in Chicago. I’m here with over 250 researchers to take in 55 presentations on the subject of Cannabis and cannabinoids. This year I’m also honored to be presenting some of my recent work. The ICRS meeting is a unique and concentrated pool of cannabinoid science showcasing the latest breakthroughs.

The morning presentations on the opening day were devoted to the study of cannabinoids in learning and memory. [Read more...]

K2, Spice and Synthetic Cannabinoid Bans Widen

6/29/2011 - Pennsylvania recently passed a law banning some synthetic cannabinoids and New Jersey has pending legislation. These new prohibitions are intended to curb to the use of  fad drugs that are sold under hundreds of brand names but commonly referred to as “K2” or “Spice.” Users seek a high with the ability to pass a standard drug screen.

Earlier this year the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permanently prohibited six synthetic cannabinoids, including a common Spice ingredient JWH-018. [Read more...]

THC Tunnel Vision Limits Therapeutic Cannabis Variety

Medical marijuana growing in CA

6/2/2011 - The most common plant varieties of Cannabis in North America are THC-rich strains. These have have dominated the underground market for 100 years because THC is the main cause of the euphoric effect or ‘high.’  But the Cannabis plant is more than just tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); it is a treasure trove of potentially therapeutic compounds (Mechoulam 2005).

‘THC tunnel vision’  in America has prevented the identification and capitalization of the other, extremely valuable cannabinoids. Scientists are now taking on more research to look closer at the mechanics of these no-high cannabinoids.

The Cannabis plant can produce a rich mixture of active ingredients, these unique compounds are called cannabinoids. Everyone knows THC, but it is important to be aware of some other 3-letter compounds that are showing great promise for medical applications. These include: cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), to name only a few. Many of these compounds have been shown in laboratory studies to produce greater therapeutic effects than THC, without unwanted side effects (Russo-Guy 2006).

CBD varieties possess many ancient and unique genetics required to produce medically relevant cannabinoids. Plants containing a high amount of CBD have also become the second most popular choice in the supply of medical cannabis. A recent surge in demand for CBD-rich medical cannabis has also spurred an even greater interest in the identification and exploration of other cannabinoid varieties.

CBG has been shown to have pain-relieving and anti-depressant effects that are greater than THC (Evans 1991, Musty-Deyo 2006). CBG does not interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors like THC but instead interacts with different receptors, some that multi-billion dollar drugs target. These include adrenoreceptors and serotonin (5-HT1A) receptors (Cascio 2010).

Even though CBG was first isolated in 1964, the first report of a high CBG-producing plant wasn’t until the 1980’s, when it was discovered in a French hemp population. In 2005, a team of researchers identified a CBG plant in Italy.

They crossed this CBG plant with other THC and CBD plants of “good breeding value.” With the help of genetic analysis and chromatography, they were crossbred with different varieties and cultivars, until they identified a strain that produced high amounts of CBG, with little to no THC (de Meijer et al.2005).

Today, the only known high-yielding CBG variety is presently in the greenhouses of GW Pharmaceuticals, where CBG makes up a small but consistent portion of Sativex, a cannabinoid mouth spray. So while CBG and other varieties exist, they’re current exploration and usage seem to be sparse or under lock and key.

In America, there is a proliferation of cultivars (clones) of THC varieties given many different names (e.g., Skunk, Silver Haze, White Widow). Patients are given the illusion of variety where there may be none.

Fortunately, CBG, THCV and other unique strains may organically surface, either directly from the natural proliferation of CBD varieties or due to the plant’s “hypermorphic genetics” which can jump around spontaneously – Cannabis is a weed after all.

Potency testing may be able to identify cannabinoid compounds post-harvest, but only genetics and careful selection will allow the medical cannabis industry to track heritability. This will greatly enhance the generation of new and therapeutically useful strains of Cannabis, just like those that have been created over the last 20 years in Europe.

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.

Cannabis Laboratories: The Testing Landscape in America

Gas chromatography equipment - WikiMedia Commons

[Note - This guest blog was submitted by Samantha Miller of Pure Analytics.]

5/23/2011 – The testing of commercially available cannabis for cannabinoid profile and potency is becoming more prevalent. This is important information for patients and dispensaries who increasingly seek out these profiles.  The availability of cannabis testing promotes better access to medically important cannabis options such as CBD-rich cannabis, through identification. Laboratory testing is also key for strategic breeding programs and promotes the overall legitimization of cannabis for therapeutic use.  Right now the cannabis testing industry is unregulated.

An easy-to-read cannabinoid profile helps medical cannabis patients choose the strains that best suit the therapy requirements for their ailment.  The cannabinoid potency information provides guidance in determining an individual’s dosage through self-experimentation, often called “self-titration”.  Reliable cannabinoid profiles also support the ability for patients to achieve a repeat of therapeutic benefits without experiencing unwanted intoxication. [Read more...]

10 Questions To Ask Your Cannabis Scientist

Guest blog by Samantha Miller - The current cannabis laboratory environment is unregulated so consumers have to be savvy. Knowing what questions to ask a prospective cannabis lab is key.  To help the process a group of laboratory service providers* from various states along with an international advisor compiled a list of 10 questions to ask a cannabis scientist. This can act as a quick reference guide for those looking for a qualified laboratory partner.

10 Questions to ask your cannabis scientist [Read more...]

New Science Supports Cannabis for Pain Treatment

5/5/2011 – Recent scientific articles reviewed the ability of cannabis and cannabinoids to treat pain, especially neuropathic pain. This may be new hope for doctors who are struggling to treat these conditions. Clinical trials on humans using cannabis in various forms (smoked, extracts, oral THC, synthetic analogues) were reviewed by different research teams. Three recent reviews of those human trials demonstrate that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for treating certain types of chronic pain with acceptable side effects. [Read more...]

Poor Diet Impairs Cannabinoid Receptors

New data suggests that our diet can effect our response to cannabinoids. The authors demonstrate that an Omega-3 deficient diet in rats leads to a less functional endocannabinoid system, specifically by reducing the functionality of the Cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R). The reduction of CB1Rs was associated by the authors with impaired emotional behavior. The endocannabinoid system may require a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e. Fish, nuts,etc).

Additionally, this article discusses the lack of essential nutrients in western diets. In the United States high-calorie, inexpensive, high-fat and nutritionally deficient diets are common. These bad diets are correlated to obesity and brain disease. For example, an imbalance in Omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to nueropsychiatric diseases, like depression. However the mechanism of neuroprotection from Omega-3 fatty acids remains unknown.

We already know that our diet can influence our response to cannabinoids and Cannabis. Could the negative effects of cannabinoids be related to nutritionally-deficient diets, which are also associated with mental diseases, such as depression? Could eating a better diet make for a better cannabinoid experience? This study raises a number of radical ideas that warrant further studies.

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. Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA).   Contact:  science { at } 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 Jersey Marijuana Center Applications Made Public

4/13/2011 – Documents from the application process in New Jersey for the medical marijuana Alternative Treatment Centers are being released. The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) and Freedomisgreen.com acquired the six applications that were approved.They are posted online for public download here: http://www.scribd.com/NJcannabisDocs

Requests for the information were filed through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) with the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). [Read more...]