September 21, 2014

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.

 

 

New Study on Marijuana or Synthetic Cannabinoids Treating Headaches

wikimedia - cluster headache

7/17/2011 – Dr. Uri Napchan was lead author on a commentary published by the American Headache Society, which discussed the possibility of using synthetic cannabinoids or natural Cannabis for the treatment of headaches. Given what scientists know about how Cannabis works, marijuana-like compounds or synthetic cannabinoids may be a promising treatment for acute, refractory, or cluster headaches.

The authors warn that it is premature to make strong clinical recommendations as there are only a small number of case reports and surveys suggesting a possible benefit from Cannabis for headache treatment. The authors do point out that Cannabis is a Schedule I drug and there is dispute over its value in different medical conditions among experts. Therefore, the authors imply that synthesizing a new cannabinoid specifically for headaches could be the best approach. This new chemical drug would not have anything from the natural Cannabis plant.

In a strange turn of events these scientists (and others like them) could see their research on a collision course with politicians in the United States. Ironically, the compounds that have the best possibilities are being swiftly prohibited. Under an “emergency” measure the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved several synthetic cannabinoids into the Schedule I category under federal laws.

Over the last year synthetic cannabinoids have been demonized in this country because of a new fad drug on the streets marketed as “K2″ or “Spice.” Although these packages sold as “incense” just as often contain synthetic opiates (that are still perfectly legal by the way), the cannabinoids are what public officials seem to rant about.

The compounds already targeted for prohibition, called JWH cannabinoids, were supposed to be the building blocks of a variety of promising research that should be explored further. They were regularly used in academic laboratories but are now much more difficult to obtain for legitimate research.

The authors of this study present a well-found notion of creating a non-psychotropic synthetic cannabinoid that could treat headaches. But while more states approve laws for whole-plant medical marijuana, even more are passing local laws banning synthetic cannabinoids. Politics alone could prove to be the most significant barrier for developing the science in this headache study.

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.

 

 

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...]

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.

The Rise of Corporate Cannabis

4/12/2011 - The nascent medical marijuana program in New Jersey may change the laboratory research landscape for cannabis. Several of the first six Alternative Treatment Centers are planning heavy investments (tens of millions of dollars) into lab equipment and manpower. Although explained away as regulatory compliance the long-term profits from this type of science could be substantial.

In other states the legal medical marijuana industry consists of small businesses using a holistic model of care. The Garden State is  exploring a centralized system modeled on corporate health care instead. This could be the biggest change yet for the domestic medical cannabis market. [Read more...]

A Brief History of Cannabinoid Research

Depiction of Cannabis use in Japan Photo: www.japanhemp.org/en/canjpn.htm

As early as 5,000 years ago Cannabis was noted for its effects on the central nervous system[1]. This often manifested in the form of pain relief, appetite stimulation, and sedation (Iverson 2000). Medicinal Cannabis preparations were widely used in western medicine during the 19th century. At the time it was no secret that pharmaceutical preparations of Cannabis were variable. As the active ingredient was not known, quality control was virtually impossible, and this is in part why the plant fell out of use.

During the Victorian era, many plants were extracted for their unique properties, namely alkaloids. These plant chemists were successful because the alkaloids they were targeting are water soluble organic bases that form crystalline solids when combined with acids. Among the medicinal compounds isolated in the 19th century were quinine, morphine, and cocaine. These were major advances in plant chemistry. The molecules on the cannabis plant, however, are almost completely insoluble in water. The chemical nature of cannabinoids prevented early Victorian scientists from making efficient extracts of these non-polar compounds. The active ingredient, THC, wasn’t isolated and identified until 1964.

Read more at the Philadelphia Medical Marijuana Examiner

[1] Evidence for the medicinal use of Cannabis goes back to the emperor Chen Nung (the father of Chinese agriculture), a discoverer of medicinal plants, and also taught his people how to cultivate grains. Chen Nung is believed to be the author of the oldest known Chinese pharmacopoeia, in which, he writes about the medical use of Cannabis for rheumatism, menstrual fatigue, malaria, constipation, and absentmindedness.

Read full article at the Philadelphia Medical Marijuana Examiner

More articles here at freedomisgreen.com in Sensible Science Category.

Also see  A Brief History of Weed [A Video]