October 26, 2014

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Freedomisgreen: Cultivating High Quality Content

Press conference in Trenton, NJ photo by Diane Fornbacher

by Chris Goldstein – March has seen a hurricane of cannabis reform activity hit the East Coast and at times we have been right in the center of the storm. Our fast growing audience has been able to watch important stories emerge and we have seen strong demand for our feature articles. [Read more...]