EndoCannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System and why so few people know about it

If you’d asked me a year ago about the endocannabinoid system, I would have stared at you blankly while uttering a confused ‘endo-what?’

That’s not to say I’m someone who has no clue about health. As an ex-bodyworker, my training involved learning about all the major systems in the body, or so I thought. But before entering the world of medical cannabis, the endocannabinoid system just wasn’t on my radar.

And I’m not alone. Most people I know have no knowledge of this integral biological system. And like me, with even the briefest of explanations, their eyes light up in wonder and curiosity. It’s as if suddenly everything makes sense, with the proverbial ‘aha’ moment – “Oh right, that’s why cannabis helps so many conditions’.

So, a year into my cannabis immersion, I wanted to get to the bottom of the question: why do so few people know about the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

Scientists discover endocannabinoid system through studying Cannabis

A first clue lies in the manner in which the endocannabinoid system1 was discovered. Since the 1960s, scientists had been studying the active compounds in cannabis; and it was through their quest to understand how THC worked in the body that they found the first cannabinoid receptor in 1988.

This was followed by the identification of the body’s own cannabis-like chemicals that, like THC, fitted into the cannabinoid receptors causing physiological changes in the body. The resulting communication network located primarily in the brain, central nervous and immune system became known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Its role – to act as a biological regulator, ensuring that balance is achieved in the body.

The ECS is implicated in everything from chronic pain, tumor growth, metabolic diseases, anxiety, and epilepsy. Scientists have seen that compounds within the cannabis plant interact with the ECS, and in the process ease symptoms such as nausea during chemotherapy, chronic pain and can even reduce epileptic seizures.

Schedule 1 status restricts research

And yet, these very compounds are classified as having no accepted medical use2, a decision made prior to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

According to Greg Gerdeman, Assistant Professor in Biology at Eckerd College in Florida, “The thing is that the schedule 1 status is so extreme that it creates all of these barriers to research. The DEA has stonewalled researchers to be able to look at herbal cannabis and study its outcomes. For this reason, just the whole intensity of the scheduling has made it difficult to make progress.”3

By progress we can talk in terms of understanding the full extent of the workings of the ECS, researching therapeutic properties of cannabis that are not related to its abuse, and getting herbal cannabis-based medication through all the appropriate protocols; such as double-blind, randomized, three-stage clinical trials.

Doctors lack knowledge

This lack of herbal cannabis medication on the market is a major contributing factor to why so little is known about the ECS in medical circles. According to Gerdeman, an average doctor in the US gets much of their information about advances in medicine from drug reps who have a product under development.

Right now, due in part to the schedule 1 status, selling herbal cannabis products is not on the pharmaceutical companies’ agenda, and so the only information that reaches doctors about cannabis is regarding its potential harm.

However, in states and countries where medical cannabis has been legalized and commercial cannabis-based products are on the market; doctors are clamoring for more information about the ECS and the medicinal uses of cannabis. In Israel, for instance, the Ministry of Health’s Medical Cannabis Unit trains doctors so that they can prescribe medical cannabis for patients with qualifying conditions.

Medical students sitting and talking at the university

Is the endocannabinoid system taught at medical school?

But what about the doctors of the future? Will the endocannabinoid system feature on their med school curriculum?

Back in 2013, David B. Allen MD commissioned a survey in which all the medical schools in the US were asked whether they included the ECS within their syllabus.4 Only 13% were found to teach it in any way, with Dr. Allen declaring that “research and education of medical students involving the ECS is being intentionally restricted by politics.”

This finding sent shock waves through the medical cannabis community, with many wondering what hope there was for an integration of medical cannabis into the healthcare system if most health professionals were unaware of the physiological system underpinning its effectiveness.

Moving in right direction

Thankfully, four years on, there are signs of progress. According to Gerdeman: “Awareness is growing. The neuroscience textbook that I teach my undergraduate neuroscience course with, and is the most popular undergraduate neuroscience textbook … has three pages on endocannabinoids. It cites my work and others calling it, ‘The most exciting discovery in cell signaling in the past several years.’”

In other countries such as the UK and Spain, the endocannabinoid system is taught in many if not all medical schools, although surprisingly in Israel, it is not.

Could more knowledge of the ECS change cannabis scheduling?

So, whatever way you look at it, the therapeutic future of both the endocannabinoid system and the cannabis plant are defined by what is essentially outdated drug scheduling. But could a greater knowledge of the ECS allow cannabis to come out of its 50-year hinterland?

Gerdeman thinks this could be the case. “Discovering the ECS is liberating cannabis from the schedule 1 paradigm where it hasn’t really ever belonged,” he says. “And naturally it feeds into the narrative that cannabis in some shape or form could be beneficial to so many different people.”

It would follow then that as more knowledge of the endocannabinoid system seeps out of the research labs into the knowledge bank of doctors and the public at large, a change in scheduling of cannabis might just follow.

So, it’s time to go forth and publicize our neglected, biological best friend, the endocannabinoid system. Get informed, spread the word, and let’s help give the ECS the recognition it deserves.

About the Author:

Mary Biles is a British freelance writer-blogger and wandering spirit, mostly based in the Andalusian capital of Seville, Southern Spain. She is passionate about the healing potential of cannabis and is currently a guest blogger for CBD oil innovators Endoca.

 


References:

1.
Nicke D. Marijuana Your Body Makes – Endocannabinoids | The Cannapedia. The Cannapedia. http://thecannapedia.org/marijuana-your-body-makes-endocannabinoids/. Published November 5, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2017.
2.
Controlled Substances Act – Wikipedia. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act. Accessed June 18, 2017.
3.
Gregory Gerdeman. Biology | Eckerd College. https://www.eckerd.edu/biology/faculty/gerdeman/. Accessed June 18, 2017.
4.
B. Allen, M.D. D. Survey Shows Low Acceptance of the Science of the ECS (Endocannabinoid System). Outword Magazine. http://www.outwordmagazine.com/inside-outword/glbt-news/1266-survey-shows-low-acceptance-of-the-science-of-the-ecs-endocannabinoid-system. Accessed June 18, 2017.

A New Hope for Veterans with PTSD

Two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is estimated that 30 percent of them have returned with PTSD 1. That means the Veterans Health Administration (VA) has been overwhelmed with more than 600,000 PTSD patients, and in response, they are over-prescribing opiates. Despite treatment, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

While it is normal to experience stress after a trauma, PTSD sufferers seem caught in an endless loop of reliving the trauma and overreacting to similar, yet ordinary events in daily life. The simplest and most innocent event can trigger nightmares, violent reactions, or even a full-blown flashback. For those suffering from PTSD, it is not uncommon for them to avoid any situation that might trigger them, often withdrawing from friendships, relationships, and life in general. Suicide is an all too common outcome for these returning heroes with wounds that can’t be seen.

The current treatments include therapy and prescription opiates. For this reason, veterans get addicted to prescription drugs at a much higher rate than civilians. NIDA reports that prescriptions for opioids written by military physicians quadrupled between 2001 and 2009, with devastating effects. On average, 2,500 veterans commit suicide each year. But many are turning to Cannabis as an effective treatment for their PTSD.

Because Cannabis is still illegal at the Federal level, the VA refuses to prescribe it. On their website, the VA claims that marijuana is actually harmful to individuals with PTSD 2, and veterans found to be using Cannabis will lose their benefits 3. In fact, VA doctors are not even allowed to discuss the topic of medical marijuana with patients 4.

A New Hope

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is one of the most respected neuroscientists in Israel. In the 1960’s, he identified THC as the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and in 1971 he successfully synthesized it 5. Decades later, in the 1980’s, he demonstrated that cannabis was a safe and effective treatment for epilepsy in humans 6, then in the 1990’s, he identified endogenous cannabinoids produced within the body which regulate a wide range of psychological and physiological functions. For more than 50 years, Mechoulam has been studying the Cannabis plant and the way its compounds interact with the human body. He seems to think Cannabis would be an effective treatment for PTSD and has applied to conduct research on this topic. In 2011, Mechoulam published a study that claimed cannabinoids appear to be a “magic-bullet” in treating traumatic brain injury 7.

The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a network of cannabinoid receptors found throughout every vertebrate’s brain and body. It turns out that the ECS is integrally related to memory, specifically memory extinction. Memory extinction is the normal, healthy process of removing associations from stimuli. Some researchers, such as Dr. Robert Melamede, believe that endogenous cannabinoids found in mother’s milk help babies forget and recover from the trauma of childbirth.

This has profound implications for patients with PTSD, who have trouble forgetting traumatic events. Dr. Mechoulam explained experiments conducted on mice which were given an electric shock combined with a certain noise. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the mice are conditioned to react to the noise as if they have been shocked even when the noise is played by itself. After a few days of hearing just the noise without the shock, the mice eventually remove that association naturally. However, mice bred with a deficient ECS simply never forget – they continue to cringe at the noise indefinitely, whether they receive an electric shock or not 8,9.

Conversely, mice administered phytocannabinoids (from the Cannabis plant) show a much-improved ability to “decouple” the memory of the sound with the trauma of the electric shock.

Killer Painkillers

“The United States is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis,” says Dr. Dustin Sulak.
Prescription opioid abuse and addiction is actually a much bigger problem than heroin addiction in the US. In 2014 there were 11,000 overdose deaths from heroin, however, there were 19,000 overdose deaths from prescription opiates – nearly twice as many.

What’s worse, nearly 80 percent of heroin users in the US reported that they began on prescription painkillers before progressing to heroin use, and 45 percent of heroin users are currently addicted to prescription painkillers. “So this problem is largely starting in the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Sulak.

According to a recent Army study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly half of all troops who have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq are coping with chronic pain 10. Veterans with PTSD are more likely to be prescribed more than one opioid, and to receive the highest dose 11. This only compounds the problems for veterans who suffer from both chronic pain and PTSD. They are prescribed one type of opioid for their pain and another type of opioid for their PTSD. Your body builds a tolerance to opioids, and so over time, you need to be prescribed more and more. This is the downward spiral that ensnares far too many of our veterans today.

Cannabis, Opioid Addiction, and PTSD – A Magic Bullet?

According to reports from Doctors and researchers like Dr. Sulak, Cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in and of itself. Administering Cannabis and opioids together results in a “greater-than-additive anti-pain effect” 12. As if that weren’t enough, Cannabis also prevents the body from building a tolerance to the opioids resulting in dose escalation, and it helps treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Simply legalizing medical marijuana is enough to reduce opioid overdose deaths dramatically. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, States that had legalized medical Cannabis showed a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths compared with states where Cannabis is still illegal 13.

Just like Dr. Mechoulam’s traumatized mice, traumatized veterans have shown significant improvements in their symptoms of PTSD after consuming Cannabis. Some veterans report that marijuana helps them manage anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares 14. Mike Whiter, a former Marine who switched from prescription drugs to medical marijuana, told CBS, “I went from being an anxious mess to numbing myself with the pills they were giving me. Cannabis helped me get out of the hole I was in. I started to talk to people and get over my social anxiety.” 15

Cannabis provides all of these benefits without any of the seeming side effects. “Cannabis? The worst it’s ever made me do is be happy,” says one veteran in the Vice series Weediquette16 There has never been a recorded death caused by Cannabis, ever. There is no known toxic dose for any cannabinoid, and therefore it is impossible to overdose on Cannabis.

“Those pills, they take your soul away,” says veteran Ryan Begin, in reference to prescription opioids. “They are murdering veterans every day by giving them those cocktails of pills. [Cannabis] is a solution to that problem. It is safe as shit! People don’t kill themselves, people don’t kill other people, people don’t kill their families. This is love in this little joint right here. Love.”

Despite mounting evidence and countless vocal examples like veteran Ryan Begin, Cannabis remains illegal Federally, and therefore unavailable to veterans through the VA. We hear politicians try to demonize this medicine in statements and press conferences, and the DEA has near free reign to write their own rules and prosecute citizens and veterans alike for saving their own lives. But there is hope on the horizon.

The First Clinical Trial

2017 saw the start of the first placebo-controlled, triple-blind, randomized crossover study on the effects of smoked marijuana on veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD 17,18. We don’t need to wait for the results of this study before we take action to help our veterans.

If you support our troops, don’t forget to support them even after they’ve finished serving. Real change will only come when everyday citizens like you and I begin to educate ourselves and speak up. Check the facts stated in this article and prove to yourself whether or not this is true. Then take action! Share this article with a friend, write a letter to Congress, or contact your local representative.

Don’t wait until another 22 veterans take their own lives tomorrow.

References:

1.
Veterans Face Dangerous Combination of Painkillers and PTSD – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/veterans-face-dangerous-combination-of-painkillers-and-ptsd/. Published November 11, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2017.
2.
Veterans A. Marijuana Use and PTSD among Veterans – PTSD: National Center for PTSD. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/marijuana_use_ptsd_veterans.asp. Accessed March 10, 2017.
3.
Will My Fellow Vet Lose His Veterans Administration Benefits if He Uses Medical Marijuana to Help His PTSD? Drug Policy Alliance. http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/will-my-fellow-vet-lose-his-veterans-administration-benefits-if-he-uses-medical-marijuana-help-. Accessed March 10, 2017.
4.
Veterans Still Can’t Discuss Medical Marijuana With Their VA Doctors. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/veterans-medical-marijuana_n_5244565.html. Published May 1, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2017.
5.
Ben-Zvi Z, Mechoulam R, Edery H, Porath G. 6 -hydroxy-  1 -tetrahydrocannabinol synthesis and biological activity. Science. 1971;174(4012):951-952. [PubMed]
6.
Cunha J, Carlini E, Pereira A, et al. Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Pharmacology. 1980;21(3):175-185. [PubMed]
7.
Shohami E, Cohen-Yeshurun A, Magid L, Algali M, Mechoulam R. Endocannabinoids and traumatic brain injury. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1402-1410. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01343.x
8.
General use of cannabis for PTSD Symptoms | VMCA . Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. http://veteransformedicalmarijuana.org/content/general-use-cannabis-ptsd-symptoms. Accessed March 11, 2017.
9.
Bouton ME. Context and ambiguity in the extinction of emotional learning: Implications for exposure therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 1988;26(2):137-149. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(88)90113-1 [Source]
10.
VA, NIH seek alternatives to addictive opioids . U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://www.research.va.gov/pubs/varqu/fall2014/fall14-3.cfm. Published 2014. Accessed March 11, 2017.
11.
Toblin RL, Quartana PJ, Riviere LA, Walper KC, Hoge CW. Chronic Pain and Opioid Use in US Soldiers After Combat Deployment. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(8):1400. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.2726
12.
Dr. Dustin Sulak on America’s Opiate Addiction Crisis and How Medical Cannabis Can Help. Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/article/americas-opiate-crisis-how-medical-cannabis-can-help. Published July 25, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
13.
Bachhuber MA, Saloner B, Cunningham CO, Barry CL. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(10):1668. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.4005
14.
AP Eastern U.S. on Twitter. Twitter. https://twitter.com/APEastRegion/status/712276895258247169. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
15.
More veterans using marijuana for PTSD. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-veterans-using-marijuana-for-ptsd/. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
16.
Stoned Vets – Weediquette – VICELAND. VICELAND. https://www.viceland.com/en_us/video/stoned-vets/56cdd0654e3a0a6d5eaa13c3. Published March 8, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2017.
17.
Times A. Clinical trial using marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans gets underway. Army Times. https://www.armytimes.com/articles/clinical-trial-using-marijuana-to-treat-ptsd-in-veterans-gets-underway. Published February 7, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2017.
18.
MAPS – Marijuana for Symptoms of PTSD in U.S. Veterans. MAPS. http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/marijuana-us. Accessed March 11, 2017.

The Benefits of Terpenes in Cannabis Essential Oil

Most of us are familiar with essential oils. You have likely enjoyed the smell of lavender, sage or eucalyptus essential oil.

Essential oils are basically the juices extracted from plants either through steam distillation, CO2 Extraction or through a press.

The main therapeutic agent in essential oils are the terpenes.

Terpenes are the life force, the quintessential 5th element or the spirit of the plant. – Ethan Russo

They are delicate, organic compounds, known as phytochemicals or metabolites.

Physiologically, Terpenes are involved in Three Crucial Processes.

  • Communication between symbiotic organisms 
  • The Attraction of Pollinating Insects
  • Plant Interactions such as creating defense mechanisms for predators. 1

Terpenes are well known for giving the plant, its unique aroma signature. These essences activate the olfactory system, which when inhaled can send messages to the limbic system of your brain, resulting in a cascading effect of positive benefits.

These fragrances may release stored memories, change your mood, calm you down in stressful times, among other physiological and physical benefits.

Dr. Ethan Russo, Neurologist and Medical Scientist, suggests that “terpenes are potent agents for animal and human behavior transformation when inhaled at ambient air level serums.”

Russo mentions that terpenes are a crucial aspect of the entourage effect that is a significant component to the therapeutic qualities of the cannabis plant.

He believes that the crucial connection between cannabinoids and terpenes is what gives cannabis its healing power, for things like: cancer, epilepsy, viral infections, depression, anxiety, and addiction.2

Terpenes are foundational components to a thriving eco-system and optimal human health.

For example, Artemisia was a sesquiterpene used to fight Malaria. Another terpene known as Yew,  has been recognized for warding off ovarian and breast cancers. Terpenes extracted from Foxglove were used in over 1 million heart disease cases. 1

Depending on which terpenes are present in each cultivar the essential oil will have a unique essence and signature.  I’ve often heard in the industry that there are over 700 cultivars of cannabis! That is some serious medicine available to the human species. That’s why you can smell sweet, earthy, skunky, pine-like, and fruity cannabis among many other essences.

Here are just a few of the main terpenes present in the blossoms of cannabis essential oil and their respective health promoting benefits.

Cannabis Essential Oil Terpene Benefits | Infographic

Cannabis Essential Oil Terpenes Infographic

In order to distinguish which terpenes are in any given essential oil, a lab analysis should be done as there are over 200 known terpenes in the cannabis plant. There are well over 19,000 terpenes in the plant kingdom.

Lastly, terpenes are volatile and vaporize at even moderate temperatures. In the middle of a hot summer day, for example, you won’t smell the aroma as much. However, in the ambrosial hours when things are cool and a dew sets over the plants the pungent terpene aromas can be better experienced making it the best time to harvest medicinal plants – such as cannabis – rich with terpenes.

Autism - boy covers ears

What’s The Answer to Autism?

In order to understand what is happening in an Autistic individual we must touch upon the critical role of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

A low-grade chronic infection is a primary challenge in autistic individuals – resulting in systemic inflammation. A pro-inflammatory state in both the brain and the gut are symptoms of Autism which points to a malfunctioning ECS. 

Our ECS is made up of lipids and receptors and is located in the brain, immune and nervous systems. The ECS regulates physiological systems, including appetite, pain, inflammatory response, thermoregulation, intra-ocular pressure, physical sensation, muscle control, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation/reward, mood, and memory. 1

Autism and its relation to an imbalanced or inefficient ECS is one of the main research findings by the late great Doctor Bradstreet out of Melbourne, Florida. Stanford University research also shows us the powerful link to the ECS and Autism as well as studies put out by The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics.  2  3

Further research suggests that a gene mutation is present in autistic individuals blocking the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. 4  This then results in behavioral challenges, issues with psychological development and imbalances in cognition.

Another key finding is that this gene mutation is what causes spastic communication instead of calm communication between pathways, this directly links to an inefficient ECS5

Take for example an Autistic person that displays an addiction to certain foods. The ECS regulates this type of impulse. An imbalanced ECS can cause irregular cravings as well as leaky gut. The ECS controls all of these physiological systems and without sufficient endocannabinoid production, it is challenging for the body to communicate properly.

Autistic individuals are also highly sensitive to environmental toxins because their system does not properly control toxins from passing through the gut lining as well as the blood-brain barrier.

This shows us a direct connection to a weak ECS. Their brain is susceptible to toxins because the ECS in the brain is malfunctioning, allowing toxins to pass the blood brain barrier causing irritation. Cannabinoids – like cannabidiol – help to seal the matrix of the brain and protect the neurovascular environment.    Because our ECS is also a part of the digestive system this same challenge happens with the gut wall; causing irritation and imbalances. It too must be sealed and cannabinoids help to accomplish this. 

With a restored and nourished ECS, a proper foundation is created leading to the healthy signaling of transmitters in the brain and gut.

The Solution:

Cannabinoids are a foundational part of a healthy and optimal functioning body.

Using extracted cannabinoids from the cannabis plant could be a therapeutic approach offered by nature. These fatty acid compounds help to:

  • Nourish the brain – ease inflammation
  • Seal the blood brain barrier from toxins, as well as
  • Heal the protein-tight-junctions in the gut so that pathogens do not get through.

With this improved state of one’s immune system, the signaling can be restored to optimal function and communication can operate in a healthy manner.

Research and real life examples show supplemental usage of cannabis oil helps to calm down these individuals and restore the ECS.

Here is an infographic sharing the importance of a well-nourished endocannabinoid system and its connection to Autism.   

*This article is dedicated to the late Dr. Jeff Bradstreet for his impeccable service to share his findings with the Autistic community.

1.
2.
Endocannabinoid Signaling in Autism. Neurotherapeutics. http://petaleconsultancy.com/Endocannabinoid-Signaling-in-Autism.pdf.
3.
Dr. Jeff B. Understanding the Endocannabinoid System and Autism and therapeutics. Youtube Presentation. https://youtu.be/s8CbIvd8p4Q.
4.
Cannabis shows great promise treating autism. Natural Society. http://naturalsociety.com/cannabis-shows-great-promise-treating-autism-symptoms/.
5.
Mutations found in individuals with autism interfere with endocannabinoid signaling in the brain. Eurekalert. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-04/cp-mfi040513.php.

Cracking the Cannabis Epilepsy Code

Epilepsy is a central nervous system and neurological disorder characterized by seizures, convulsions, and involuntary movements.1 The use of cannabis for epilepsy is nothing new. In fact, the first documented use of the hemp plant for this purpose was in 1,800 B.C.E in Ancient Sumer (modern day Southern Iraq). In these times neurologists would use Indian hemp to successfully control seizures amongst their patients.2

Seizures are initiated by brain cells that get overexcited and fire in an abnormal fashion.

One of the most interesting findings on cannabis and its therapeutic properties is how it activates retrograde signaling in the brain. Retrograde simply means moving backward. This reverse signaling process, unique to cannabinoids controls the output of neurons that fire and quiets down the over-excited neurons that cause convulsions and seizures.

Key Point: When a neuron is overstimulated, such as with epilepsy, having the ability to send a signal backwards to the signaling neuron is important to control and calm down the neurons. This is achieved through the use of cannabinoids as neurotransmitters.

As we now know CB1 receptors reside primarily on the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.3 Research shows that during a seizure, our endocannabinoid system becomes activated, especially the CB1 receptor proteins.45

The cannabis plant offers over 100 phytocannabinoids and an array of terpenoids that actually create what is known as the “entourage effect” (coined by S. Ben- Shabat in 1998) and can help supply the receptors with these crucial compounds.

The dosage of cannabis oil for epilepsy is patient specific. The mayo clinic suggests the following dosage for epilepsy (2014): “To treat epilepsy, 200-300 milligrams of CBD has been taken by mouth daily for up to 4.5 months.”

Dr. Geddy owner and founder of Gedde Whole Health, shares, “Some children are so sensitized to medications that they need to start at a very low dose, and give it plenty of time to work.”

Other clinical trials report that cannabinoids created an internal domino effect in the cell network, producing adaptive like capabilities to handle the seizures more effectively.

Some of the main benefits of cannabinoids for epilepsy include:

  • Mood Regulation
  • Enhancement of cognitive function
  • Anti-oxidant effects to protect the brain
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Energy balance
  • Reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines

Through retrograde signaling, the endogenous cannabinoid system provides on demand protection against seizures and the cannabinoids from cannabis oil help to modulate the communication between each pathway.

There is no doubt epilepsy is influenced by the endocannabinoid system and the entourage effects of cannabis oil shows to be a promising remedy for this type of disease.

I would like to add that the US Government holds patents on Cannabis as a neuroprotectant. Perhaps consider this information when making an educated decision on the use of cannabis oil for neurological disorders. Up until now, a lot of funding has gone to finding ways to demonize the plant and so it is up to us to uncover the research on our own, honoring the antiquity and historical use of cannabis among medical doctors.

1.
Definition of EPILEPSY. Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epilepsy. Accessed November 27, 2016.
2.
Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy. The New England Journal of Medicine. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMra1407304. Published September 10, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2016.
3.
Robertson S. Cannabinoid Receptors. News-Medical.net. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Cannabinoid-Receptors.aspx. Published June 2, 2010. Accessed November 27, 2016.
4.
Cannabinoids: Defending the Epileptic Brain. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1176332/. Published May 4, 2004. Accessed November 27, 2016.
5.
Cannabinoids and Epilepsy. Neurotherapeutics. http://cannabisclinicians.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Cannabinoids-and-Epilpsy.pdf. Published 2015. Accessed November 27, 2016.

ADD/ADHD Could Be A Cannabinoid Deficiency

ADD/ADHD or attention deficit disorder and attention hyperactivity disorder is known as a chronic condition resulting in impulsive behaviors, lack of focus and challenges with sustaining one’s attention.1

What is occurring in someone’s neurological system that is challenged with ADD/ADHD?

Scientists are finding that a dopamine shortage could be one of the main problems in these chronic conditions. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter associated with our attention, memory and cognitive function.

Someone with ADD often has information overload. Essentially, too much information is flooding into the receptors of the brain causing confusion. When the system overloads, over and over impulsive behavioral patterns result.

The common drug of choice for ADD/ADHD has been Ritalin which was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 1955.

Things like Adderall and Ritalin work to increase dopamine shortages, yet come at a serious expense to your body. In fact, so much so, that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a “black box” warning on all methylphenidate drugs, including Ritalin.2 Medical studies have proven Ritalin carries an enhanced risk of serious, or even life-threatening effects.

Research is showing that there are other more natural approaches to healing ADD/ADHD.

Dr. Bearman, a figurehead of Cannabis Research out of California shares that, “Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine.”3 Therapeutic doses of cannabinoids could ultimately correct the dopamine deficiency so many ADD/ADHD patients suffer with. In fact, Dr. Bearman has seen much success with his own patients, utilizing proper dosages of cannabis.

Dr. Bearman goes on to share that what we are really seeing is what is known as an endocannabinoid deficiency.

This could suggest our inherent cannabinoid system is simply lacking in vital nourishment from cannabinoids so the neurotransmitters cannot fire effectively. We are becoming increasingly aware that the brain function is interrelated to our endogenous cannabinoid system and with time more studies will help to validate these findings.

Another major connection to ADD/ADHD is the health of our gut microbiome.

Because the gut acts as our second brain this is fundamental in solving ADD/ADHD. Increasing studies suggest that the if the tight junctions of the gut are not well sealed we notice a condition called leaky gut. In fact 75% of people with ADD have a leaky gut.4

A study conducted in 2011 by the British Journal of Pharmacology found that Phytocannabinoids from cannabis (specifically THC and Cannabidiol) have been shown to decrease the intestinal permeability of the gut wall, while simultaneously increasing the tight junction proteins of the gut, specifically protein claudin-1.5

This particular protein is vital in cell to cell adhesion which helps keep the gut lining strong which ensures proper communication with your brain. This indeed is a very crucial aspect to a healthy focused individual as the gut is now known as the second brain. Nourishing the body with cannabinoid rich plants could be a natural approach to solving the ADD/ADHD condition.

1.
The History of ADHD: A Timeline. Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/history#Overview1. Published February 26, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2016.
2.
Ritalin (methylphenidate) Side Effects and Warnings. Drug Enquirer. http://ritalinsideeffects.net/. Accessed November 15, 2016.
3.
Is Cannabis Good For ADHD? Leaf Science. http://www.leafscience.com/2016/01/22/cannabis-good-adhd/. Published January 22, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2016.
4.
Linking ADHD to a Leaky gut? Naturopathetarian. http://naturopathetarian.com/linking-adhd-to-a-leaky-gut/. Published November 15, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2016.
5.
Leaky Gut Syndrome: Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) as a therapeutic target. SC Labs. http://sclabs.com/about-blog/item/131-leaky-gut-syndrome-cannabinoids-and-the-endocannabinoid-system-ecs-as-a-therapeutic-target.html. Published November 12, 2014. Accessed November 15, 2016.
Happy Couple prevent Alzheimer's

How Cannabidiol Protects You From Alzheimers Disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease and how could cannabidiol (CBD) protect you from it?

As defined by the Collin’s Dictionary, Alzheimer’s is a disorder of the brain resulting in progressive decline in both intellectual and physical abilities.1

1 in 9 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s.2 This degenerative brain condition affects an estimated 5.1 million Americans.3 Truth be told, this is not a normal way to age. With the rapid increase of environmental toxins, societal pressures and other biological stressors this disease has unfortunately become the norm throughout the world.

Clinical symptoms include apathy and depression. As the disease progresses, one may notice disorientation, lack of discernment, behavioral shifts and challenges with speech.

Biologically speaking, Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of beta amyloid plaque in the brain.

What is beta amyloid plaque?

Beta Amyloid plaque is a build up of proteins that leads to the hardening of plaque within the arteries. In a healthy brain these foreign proteins are broken down and thus eliminated from the organ but in a diseased state the brain is overwhelmed and cannot perform this fundamental biological process leading to build up.

It results in far less oxygen being pumped to this vital organ and makes it harder and harder for communication to free flow throughout the brain. There are so many blood vessels in the brain, packed into a relatively small area, feeding and regulating a very complex organ.

Over time, arteries can get very thin in the brain, and it is of vital importance that they are clean, strong and healthy. When they become clogged, we see decline in mental well-being that inevitably leads to Alzheimers. The solution is keeping these channels free and clear.

Studies are now showing the ability of CBD from Cannabis to protect the brain from beta amyloid peptide build up and reactive oxygen species that seem to damage the lipids. It acts as a key anti-oxidant in the brain protecting the RNA and DNA from oxidative damage to these life essential fats.4 This is a key finding because our brain is made mostly of fat and for proper function these fats must remain whole, Un-oxidized and intact.

We see that this non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis could likely protect the brain from cell death and promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus. This translates to new cell growth in the medial temporal lobe while protecting the brain from inflammation.

There are also findings that suggest THC could be a fundamental player in preventing beta amyloid plaque build up in the brain warding off Alzheimers as well. After conducting an assay of amyloid plaque with THC through lab testing, there is direct interaction of THC and the stopping of amyloid aggregates.5

This could suggest that more of a full spectrum, whole plant extract is best to powerfully put a halt to amyloid plaque build up and Alzheimer’s disease.

The simple fact that our brains have cannabinoid receptors, makes plant cannabinoids the perfect food and nourishment for this vital organ — while helping protect and ward off the debilitating disease, Alzheimer’s.

References:


1.
Alzheimer’s disease | Definition, meaning & more | Collins Dictionary. Collins English DIctionary. http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/alzheimers-disease. Accessed November 6, 2016.
2.
Alzheimer’s Statistics. Alzheimers.net. http://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/. Published 2016. Accessed November 6, 2016.
3.
Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. http://www.alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers/statistics.html. Published January 28, 2016. Accessed November 6, 2016.
4.
Steardo L, Iuvone T, Carratù MR, et al. Cannabidiol Reduces Aβ-Induced Neuroinflammation and Promotes Hippocampal Neurogenesis through PPARγ Involvement. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):1. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028668 [Source]
5.
Cao C, Li Y, Liu H, et al. The potential therapeutic effects of THC on Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;42(3):973-984. [PubMed]