Tag Archives: THC

How Cannabis Affects Our Cognition and Psychology

Summary: Researchers investigate how cannabis can influence a number of cognitive and psychological processes.

Source: The Conversation

Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years and is one of the most popular drugs today. With effects such as feelings of joy and relaxation, it is also legal to prescribe or take in several countries.

But how does using the drug affect the mind? In three recent studies, published in The Journal of PsychopharmacologyNeuropsychopharmacology, and the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, we show that it can influence a number of cognitive and psychological processes.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that, in 2018, approximately 192 million people worldwide aged between 15 and 64 used cannabis recreationally. Young adults are particularly keen, with 35% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 using it, while only 10% of people over the age of 26 do.

This indicates that the main users are adolescents and young adults, whose brains are still in development. They may therefore be particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis use on the brain in the longer term.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. It acts on the brain’s “endocannabinoid system”, which are receptors which respond to the chemical components of cannabis. The cannabis receptors are densely populated in prefrontal and limbic areas in the brain, which are involved in reward and motivation. They regulate signalling of the brain chemicals dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate.

We know that dopamine is involved in motivation, reward and learning. GABA and glutamate play a part in cognitive processes, including learning and memory.

Cognitive effects

Cannabis use can affect cognition, especially in those with cannabis-use disorder. This is characterised by the persistent desire to use the drug and disruption to daily activities, such as work or education. It has been estimated that approximately 10% of cannabis users meet the diagnostic criteria for this disorder.

In our research, we tested the cognition of 39 people with the disorder (asked to be clean on the day of testing), and compared it with that of 20 people who never or rarely used cannabis.

We showed that participants with the condition had significantly worse performance on memory tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) compared to the controls, who had either never or very rarely used cannabis. It also negatively affected their “executive functions”, which are mental processes including flexible thinking.

This effect seemed to be linked to the age at which people started taking the drug – the younger they were, the more impaired their executive functioning was.

Cognitive impairments have been noted in mild cannabis users as well. Such users tend to make riskier decisions than others and have more problems with planning.

Although most studies have been conducted in males, there has been evidence of sex differences in the effects of cannabis use on cognition. We showed that, while male cannabis users had poorer memory for visually recognising things, female users had more problems with attention and executive functions.

These sex effects persisted when controlling for age; IQ; alcohol and nicotine use; mood and anxiety symptoms; emotional stability; and impulsive behaviour.

Reward, motivation and mental health

Cannabis use can also affect how we feel – thereby further influencing our thinking. For example, some previous research has suggested that reward and motivation – along with the brain circuits involved in these processes – can be disrupted when we use cannabis. This may affect our performance at school or work as it can make us feel less motivated to work hard, and less rewarded when we do well.

In our recent study, we used a brain imaging task, in which participants were placed in a scanner and viewed orange or blue squares. The orange squares would lead to a monetary reward, after a delay, if the participant made a response. This set up helped us investigate how the brain responds to rewards.

We focused particularly on the ventral striatum, which is a key region in the brain’s reward system. We found that the effects on the reward system in the brain were subtle, with no direct effects of cannabis in the ventral striatum.

However, the participants in our study were moderate cannabis users. The effects may be more pronounced in cannabis users with more severe and chronic use, as seen in cannabis use disorder.

There is also evidence that cannabis can lead to mental health problems. We have shown that it is related to higher “anhedonia” – an inability to feel pleasure – in adolescents. Interestingly, this effect was particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Cannabis use during adolescence has also been reported as a risk factor for developing psychotic experiences as well as schizophrenia.

One study showed that cannabis use moderately increases the risk of psychotic symptoms in young people, but that it has a much stronger effect in those with a predisposition for psychosis (scoring highly on a symptom checklist of paranoid ideas and psychoticism).

This shows a drawing of a woman with cannabis leaves in her hair
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. Image is in the public domain

Assessing 2,437 adolescents and young adults (14-24 years), the authors reported a six percentage points increased risk – from 15% to 21% – of psychotic symptoms in cannabis users without a predisposition for psychosis. But there was a 26-point increase in risk – from 25% to 51% – of psychotic symptoms in cannabis users with a predisposition for psychosis.

We don’t really know why cannabis is linked to psychotic episodes, but hypotheses suggests dopamine and glutamate may be important in the neurobiology of these conditions.

Another study of 780 teenagers suggested that the association between cannabis use and psychotic experiences was also linked to a brain region called the “uncus”. This lies within the parahippocampus (involved in memory) and olfactory bulb (involved in processing smells), and has a large amount of cannabinoid receptors. It has also previously been associated with schizophrenia and psychotic experiences.

Cognitive and psychological effects of cannabis use are ultimately likely to depend to some extent on dosage (frequency, duration and strength), sex, genetic vulnerabilities and age of onset. But we need to determine whether these effects are temporary or permanent. One article summarising many studies has suggested that with mild cannabis use, the effects may weaken after periods of abstinence.

But even if that’s the case, it is clearly worth considering the effects that prolonged cannabis use can have on our minds – particularly for young people whose brains are still developing.

Funding:

Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian receives funding from the Leverhulme Trust and the Lundbeck Foundation. Her research work is conducted within the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Mental Health and Neurodegeneration Themes and the NIHR MedTech and in vitro diagnostic Co-operative (MIC). She consults for Cambridge Cognition.

Christelle Langley is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Martine Skumlien receives funding from the Aker Foundation.

Tianye Jia receives funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Cannabis and Cancer: Censorship and Conspiracy

Ty Bollinger
December 16th, 2021

The cannabis plant (also known as the hemp plant) has been used in just about every culture for centuries. In fact, cannabis is included in the 50 fundamental herbs within the cornucopia of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been cited in ancient texts as having a healing effect on over 100 ailments. In recent years in the United States, the collective mood is changing in regards to cannabis/hemp (aka “marijuana”).

Personally, I prefer to use the term “hemp” or “cannabis” since those are proper names for the plant, and the truth is that the term “marijuana” (derived from the Mexican slang “marihuana”) was popularized in the early 1930s by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (which later became the DEA) in order to make this amazing plant sound sinister and to elude the public’s existing familiarity and comfort level with the plant and the medical application of cannabis/hemp tinctures. “Marijuana” was not a commonly smoked recreational drug at the time.

Currently, there are over 3 dozen states where it is legal for patients to use “marijuana” for medical purposes. Pending federal legislation may open up opportunities for federally-funded medical research, including human clinical trials. This will further prove cannabis’ track-record when it comes to healing a number of disease conditions ? including cancer.

Cannabis and The Endocannabinoid System

In the mid-1990s, renowned Israeli researcher Dr. Ralph Mechaoulam, professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, made an exciting discovery that would forever change how we look at our biological relationship to plant medicine. Dr. Mechaoulam discovered a subtle system within the body that seemed to have a balancing effect on every other system. He called it the Endocannabinoid (EC) System and it can be found in all mammals, including humans.

The EC system consists of a series of molecular receptors that are designed to receive cannabinoids. In particular this includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as other related substances such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN).

Prior research in the 1980s led Mechaoulam and others to pinpoint two main receptors for cannabinoids ? cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). Researchers at the time also defined the natural substances called endocannabinoids, which our body produces on its own in a similar way it produces endorphins. Phytocannabinoids (namely THC, CBD, and their variants), on the other hand, come directly from the cannabis plant.

Cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are designed by the body to be specific targets for THC, while our natural endocannabinoids help to synthesize it. The process of THC-cannabinoid receptor binding and what this does for the body is what researchers have been studying for over two decades. They are doing this in order to find out exactly how cannabis works in healing cancer.

Microbiologist Dr. Christine Sanchez of Compultense Univeristy in Madrid, Spain has been studying cannabinoids and cancer since the early 2000s. She was the first to discover the antitumor effects of cannabinoids.

“We now know that the endocannabinoid system regulates a lot of biological functions such as appetite, food intake, motor function, reproduction and many others and that is why the plant has such a wide therapeutic potential,” says Dr. Sanchez in a video interview for the web-based cable channel Cannabis Planet.

Cannabis & Cancer: Tumor Growth

“We observed that when we treated [astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor] cells with cannabinoids, the THC…was killing the cells in our Petri dishes,” Dr. Sanchez says. “We…decided to analyze these components in animal models of breast and brain tumors. The results we are obtaining are telling us that cannabinoids may be useful for the treatment of Breast Cancer.”

Sanchez and other researchers have confirmed that the most potent effects against tumor growth occur when THC and CBD are combined.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not have a psychoactive effect, has long been known as a potent anti-cancer agent. This is because of its ability to interfere with cellular communication in tumors as well as in its ability to instigate apoptosis, or programmed cancer cell death. Some research studies, including in vitro and animal-based trials conducted by San Francisco-based researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, have also shown that CBD may affect genes involved in aggressive metastasis. It does this by helping to shut down cellular growth receptors.

QUOTE-CANNABIS-hemp-Sanchez-Chemotherapy

?9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (i.e. THC), the psychoactive counterpart to CBD, has been shown to reduce tumor growth as well. It has also shown to have an effect on the rate of metastasis, including for non-small cell lung cancer ? the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. A 2007 study on THC and highly-aggressive epidermal growth factor receptor-overexpressing (EGF-expressing) lung cancer conducted by Harvard Medical School found that certain EGF lung cancer cells express CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. They found that the presence of THC effected metastasis of these cells by reducing the “focal adhesion complex,” which plays a vital role in cancer migration.

Studies have also been conducted on the combined effect of CBD and THC on lung, prostate, colon, pancreatic, liver, bladder, cervical, blood-based, brain, and other forms of cancer. These studies lend increasing evidence to the fact that cannabinoids are not only antioxidant phytonutrients but powerful “herbal chemo” agents.

Says Dr. Sanchez: “One of the advantages of cannabinoid-based medicines would be that they target specifically tumor cells. They don’t have any toxic effect on normal non-tumoral cells. This is an advantage with respect to standard chemotherapy that targets basically everything.”

If You Use Cannabis for Cancer, Do it Right

Because cannabinoid therapy is relatively new in the mainstream, a current challenge for patients regarding its use is lack of regulation. This may change, however, with the possible passing of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which has the support of 37 members of Congress.

CARERS would remove “marijuana” from the Controlled Substances Act Schedule I drug category, where it has been since 1970 ? on par with heroin and cocaine. This classification is ridiculous since, by definition, Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical uses” and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) holds a patent (U.S. Patent 6630507) on cannabis oil for medical use!

Think about it. How can HHS hold a medical use patent for cannabis oil if there are no medical uses for cannabis? OK, enough of the logic lesson. Let’s just say that there are some serious logic deficiencies in these laws.

If “marijuana” is rightfully removed from a Schedule I drug, this would open the door for more targeted, federally-funded research as well as increased patient access to this amazing healing plant.

In the meantime, if you are on a cancer-healing path and are considering using cannabinoids, here are some general guidelines that experts agree are worth considering:

  1. Do your own research. The best way to learn about the power of cannabis in healing cancer is to start digging. There are approximately 500 articles on Pubmed alone relating to cannabis and cancer. Learn about strains, qualified targeted research studies, what method of administration may be right for you, and the importance of balancing the Endocannabinoid System.
  2. Know your source. Unfortunately, because the medical cannabis industry is largely unregulated, charlatans selling bogus products definitely exist. You should not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for any cannabis product that you buy from regulated pharmacies or online. Also, make quality a priority for you. Be sure that your product comes from an organic source and that you know that the plant has not been grown or processed using pesticides.
  3. Stick with natural cannabis products. Synthetically-produced cannabinoids such as Marinol are commercially available. However, anecdotal evidence has found that these do not work as efficiently as natural substances do.
  4. Work with a professional healthcare provider trained in cannabinoid therapy. These professionals are out there in increasing numbers, especially in states where the medical cannabis industry is well established or growing, such as California and Colorado. Reach out to a patient advocate group online if no qualified professionals are in your area.
  5. Make cannabis therapy an important part of your overall cancer-healing toolbox. A well-rounded naturally-based cancer healing protocol involves working with the body’s own healing mechanisms through a variety of means. For you, this may mean changes to your diet and lifestyle, reducing stress, getting quality sleep, moving your body, intense detoxing protocols, and using other supplements and proven natural methods in addition to the powerful healing power of cannabis.

References:

Peer-reviewed Study Shows Cannabis Compounds Block Covid-19 from Entering Human Cells

Matt Agorist 
January 13, 2022

As many folks are quickly learning, no amount of police state can stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite lockdowns, mask mandates, social distancing, and unethical forced medical procedures, the US and Europe are experiencing the largest wave of coronavirus yet. Even the criminal Dr. Fauci has since admitted that omicron will “find just about everybody.”

What’s more, contrary to the hype — all of which turned out to be false — that the vaccine would save us, end the pandemic, and stop covid dead in its tracks, the exact opposite has happened. Highlighting the sheer insanity of this rollout is the fact that as the Supreme Court deliberated whether or not OSHA can force workers to take the jab, the CEO of Pfizer, whose jab is being mandated, came out and said it provides “very limited protection, if any” against the virus.

As the house of cards crumbles with mandates, lockdowns, and the covid police state failing in a beautiful splendor, Team Doom is now walking back their stance, throwing their hands in the air, and realizing that no amount of tyranny can stop a virus. As it should have been this entire time, it is up to you to weigh the risks and make the appropriate choices to protect yourself and your family from a disease which, if most people catch, will be entirely fine.

The good news is that some of these choices are easy. Staying healthy, eating right, and exercising are some of the best ways you can protect yourself from the virus — although the state will tell you to do the opposite. And, if you want to go further, a new study out of Oregon State University showed that compounds found in hemp “show the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells.”

The study was led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center in the College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute. According to OSU:

Van Breemen and collaborators, including scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people.

The compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, and the spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. A drug target is any molecule critical to the process a disease follows, meaning its disruption can thwart infection or disease progression.

“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” van Breemen said. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.”

“Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention, and the connection of the spike protein’s receptor binding domain to the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is a critical step in that cycle,” he said. “That means cell entry inhibitors, like the acids from hemp, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells. They bind to the spike proteins so those proteins can’t bind to the ACE2 enzyme, which is abundant on the outer membrane of endothelial cells in the lungs and other organs.”

According to Van Breen similar compounds have been used to block virus-receptor interaction in patients with other viral infections including HIV-1 and hepatitis.

“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” van Breemen said. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2. CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers. However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.”

This study is preceded by a similar study we reported on out of the University of Chicago, in which researchers discovered that another particular cannabis compound inhibits infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in human lung cells.

Marsha Rosner and her colleagues from the university found cannabidiol (CBD) and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD potently blocked SARS-CoV-2 replication in lung epithelial cells.

TFTP has reported on a third study as well, out of Canada, in which researchers found that certain strains of cannabis may also increase resistance to the coronavirus.

As the state fails the people once again, the perfect irony can be found in the fact that a plant — which they still claim has ” no currently accepted medical use” — is doing a better job than them at stopping the virus.

The Endocannabinoid Systems Role in Human Health

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola
Originally published February 10, 2019

  • Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors
  • Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions
  • While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes as well
  • Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. The latest Farm Bill, signed into law at the end of 2018, makes it legal again; hemp oil with full-spectrum phytocannabinoids may benefit a wide range of health problems
  • There’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status. Omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body

Check out CBD Products here

Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. Thankfully, the latest Farm Bill signed into law at the end of 2018 makes it legal. In this interview, board-certified clinical nutritionist and expert on phytocannabinoids, Carl Germano, discusses the exciting implications of this change.

Now, there’s a difference between cannabidiol (CBD) products made from hemp and those made from marijuana. While many mistakenly believe hemp and marijuana are interchangeable, they’re actually two different plants.

“Both are considered Cannabis sativa by genus and species, but that’s where the similarity ends,” Germano explains. “Hemp has been cultivated for many reasons for the past few thousand years — food, clothing, fiber and fuel. The plant itself contains naturally occurring active compounds called phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is just one of them.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has been cultivated for its primary phytocannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While it has recreational value at small levels, it does have medicinal value.

Nevertheless, many decades ago, hemp got dumped into the definition of marijuana. Hemp was unjustly placed into the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which kind of hampered its access, its ability to have U.S. farmers grow it, or to have even medical or academic institutions study it.

We’ve been in the Dark Ages for decades. Thanks to Israel and Europe, who’ve championed all the research, we’ve [discovered] the cannabinoid system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Trump did sign a Farm Bill that finally deregulates hemp. It takes it out of the CSA … It gives the rights of farmers to grow it. It will open up the doors for academic and medical institutions to study it. It will give consumers access to [what is] probably the most important botanical we have on this planet.”

Why Whole Hemp May Be Better Than Isolated CBD

The hemp plant contains over 100 different phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is one. And while hemp has now been taken off the CSA, CBD is still under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the labeling of supplements and enforcing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

“With the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), you have several things against CBD. First, CBD was not in commerce prior to 1994, so it could not be grandfathered as a dietary supplement, yet hemp oil has been in commerce prior to 1994, so we’re OK there.

Secondly, DSHEA states that if you want to submit a new dietary ingredient application, you can do so and petition the FDA for an ingredient to be classified as a dietary supplement.

Well, if you were to do that today, you would get rejected immediately because the other part of DSHEA states that if Big Pharma takes a natural ingredient and makes a drug that gets approved, it’s hands-off to the dietary supplement industry.

GW Pharmaceuticals has two drugs using isolated purified CBD in it. Therefore, we’ve got several strikes against putting CBD on the front panel, calling it a dietary supplement, and I say, why bother? Because the story is much bigger than CBD, both clinically, scientifically and legally.”

Hemp oil is a food that happens to have CBD in it. But while CBD may not be legally advertised on the label, CBD-containing hemp products can be labeled as having phytocannabinoids — the class of compounds to which CBD belongs. While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well.

“Those of us in botanical medicine understand that the sum of all the parts of the plant is greater than any one single ingredient,” Germano says. “Let’s face it. There’s more than one ginsenoside in ginseng. There’s more than one curcuminoid in curcumin. There’s more than one isobutylamide in Echinacea. There’s more than one ginkgolide in ginkgo.

Well, there’s more than just one phytocannabinoid in hemp. Back in 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology1 … wrote about the entourage effect of all the phytocannabinoids and terpenes needing to be present to give rise to full clinical, meaningful benefit …

While CBD may be the most dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp, the others are there in minor in number, but they are not minor in the body as they all participate in nourishing, supporting the ECS, which is the bigger story.”

Understanding Your ECS

While the discovery of the ECS is fairly recent, genetically it dates back over 600 million years.2Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors.

It was also discovered that the ECS orchestrates communication between other bodily systems, such as your respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems. The ECS does this via receptors found in every organ, including your skin.

“Your ECS is like the conductor of the orchestra. The orchestra are our organ systems. We cannot be healthy, we cannot be well if our ECS does not function well,” Germano says.

“Your body produces cannabinoids similar structurally to the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Your body feeds off of them. If you don’t produce enough to feed every single receptor, various conditions and various illnesses will ensue.”

Two Types of Endocannabinoid Receptors Have Been Identified

There are two primary ECS receptors: cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). While CB1 is typically thought of as being primarily in the brain and CB2 primarily in the immune system, both types of receptors are in fact found throughout your body.

One of the two cannabinoids your body produces is called anandamide — a nod to the word “ananda,” the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” as it attaches to the same CB1 receptors that THC attaches to. The other, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), is found throughout your body.

“The ECS has been the subject of many scholarly textbooks … Quite frankly, this is something that should be taught from high school to college to medical school. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to cannabinoids … less than 13 percent [of medical schools in the U.S.] are teaching the ECS.

I say, ‘Are you insane? This is like saying that for the next 70 years we will not teach the cardiovascular system, as if it never existed.’ We now have to dismantle this medical travesty … The whole thing is about education. This is critical and crucial to our health and well-being.

We have to dismantle the stigma, and we have to start educating ourselves to understand that the ECS is probably one of the most important medical discoveries in quite some time. Understanding the enormity of this system and what it does and what it influences throughout the entire human body.”

Low Endocannabinoid Levels Result in Ill Health

With age, our bodies tend to become less efficient in creating the compounds needed for optimal health, and this holds true for anandamide and 2-AG as well. According to Germano, these two cannabinoids can actually be used as biological markers for certain illnesses and conditions.

Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migrainesfibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions. Germano also cites a paper3 in Translational Psychiatry, which found low anandamide levels are a statistically positive indicator for stress-induced anxiety.

They’ve also discovered there’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status.4As it turns out, omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body.

“What do we see in people who have low omega-3 status? We see the same things we see in people who are endocannabinoid deficient: pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and so on. It is a perfect marriage between omega-3s and phytocannabinoids, which act like a multivitamin for the ECS.

But it doesn’t stop there. Look at bones … the reason we give post-menopausal women estrogen is because it influences the cells that build up bone, osteoblasts, and the cells that break down bone, osteoclasts. What does this have to do with the ECS?

We now know that if you stimulate the CB1 receptors, you start to stimulate the brain-to-bone communication by slowing down the brain from releasing bone-breaking compounds, like norepinephrine. Then when you stimulate the CB2 receptors, it increases osteoblasts, the bone makers, and decreases osteoclasts, the bone breakers.”

Top conditions associated with low cannabinoid levels include:

  • Pain, inflammation and inflammatory conditions
  • Stress, anxiety and insomnia
  • Ocular health
  • Bone health
  • Neurological conditions

“These are all conditions that can be suitably treated with phytocannabinoids,” Germano says. “These are conditions that we see in people who are endocannabinoid-deficient.”

Running Dramatically Boosts Anandamide Level

While runner’s high is typically attributed to the release of endorphins, running also dramatically increases anandamide in the body, and anandamide not only targets the CB1 receptor, but it also influences opioid and endorphin receptors. Not surprisingly then, the higher an individual’s anandamide level, the better they report feeling.

“That makes sense, because anandamide hits the receptors in the brain that are involved in reward and mood,” Germano says. “We also understand that the cannabinoids we produce are quite promiscuous.

They certainly touch the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but they [affect] other receptors as well, [such as] the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT3) receptors, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, and receptors that control inflammation, pain, reward, anxiety and things of that nature.”

A paper5 published in PLOS ONE also details how various nutrients (such as omega-3 fats), drugs, exercise, chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture influence the function of your ECS.

Your Endocannabinoid System — A Key Player in Inflammation

Curcuminboswellia, fish oil and quercetin are all well-recognized anti-inflammatory nutrients, but none can compare to what cannabinoids can do, Germano says, especially when the full spectrum is used.

As noted in a 2014 paper6 in Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, the ECS is an emerging key player in inflammation, because it’s intertwined with all of the inflammatory pathways, including the eicosanoid ones that omega-3 fish oils influence.

Germano also cites other research showing that targeting the ECS can ease both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, and describe how cannabinoids act as analgesics. According to Germano:

“You cannot contend with any inflammatory condition unless you’re supporting the ECS. They can be used interchangeably; phytocannabinoids along with curcumin and boswellia and fish oils would be remarkable, as they are complementary to each other by doing different things.

Again, we must address the ECS in any inflammatory condition, whether it be irritable bowel syndrome or injuries — even inflammation in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of all neurological diseases. In 2003, the United States government got issued a patent on the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids.

At that time, while the government has been telling us that phytocannabinoids are like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and heroin — [meaning they] have no medical value — they go out and get a patent on the medical value.

But that was followed up, and there are many papers that talk all about the anti-inflammatory effects in the brain and in the nervous system, of these cannabinoids … There is nothing else like supporting the ECS with phytocannabinoids.”

Your Endocannabinoid System Also Plays a Key Role in Your Gut Health

You’re probably familiar with the fact that there’s a strong connection between not only your brain and your gut, but also your immune system. The importance of this triad in health and disease prevention cannot be overstated. Your gut not only is your largest immune organ, it’s also your second brain, containing hundreds of millions of neurons.

“We now understand how the gut is involved with communicating with the brain and the immune system, because it has brain cells and immune cells in it,” Germano says. In the middle of this trio is your ECS. It is actually the orchestrator of this tri-directional communication. According to Germano, researchers have also discovered the ECS controls:

  • Motility in the gut
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gut permeability
  • Tolerance to antigens

The ECS also reduces the activity of the stress pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) pathways. Anandamide, specifically, participates in the immunological response in the gut. What’s more, there’s also communication occurring between your endocannabinoid system and your gut microbiome (the bacteria in your gut).

Clinical Applications for Hemp Products

Again, a full-spectrum oil is actually far preferable to product in which CBD has been isolated. Germano cites a 2015 Israeli paper, which compared full-spectrum oil against isolated CBD, and found the full-spectrum oil was in fact clinically superior.

As for dosing, most of the literature demonstrates efficacy of CBD in the several hundred milligram range — but that is for “single magic bullet” isolated CBD. Preclinical studies and any clinicians are reporting that efficacy can be achieved with much lower doses when using a ful spectrum oil — some in the 10 to 25mg CBD range.

“Since CBD is the most dominant cannabinoid in hemp, when you extract oil from hemp, you do have much, much higher levels of CBD naturally in the oil as compared to the rest of the phytocannabinoid family. Providing 10 to 25 mg of CBD is the sweet spot for most conditions in the trade — especially when used with other synergistic ingredients …

People are responding quite remarkably, which [suggests] you don’t need a lot to jump-start the body’s ECS. Quite frankly, when we look at the bell-shaped curve with the isolates, the higher the dose, sometimes you decrease the effectiveness … When you use a full-spectrum oil and you’re getting the other important phytocannabinoid and terpene components, this is superior, and I’ll tell you why.

People have been focusing on CBD, which is the wrong message. It’s the myopic message. Think about it, CBD does not attach to the CB1 or CB2 receptors. If anything, CBD supports the CB1 receptors by preventing the breakdown of anandamide in our bodies and anandamide hits the CB1 receptor.

What about the CB2 receptor that controls inflammatory cycling, pain signaling, insulin sensitivity and bone building? CBD does nothing for that, so we need something of a CB2 agonist. A perfect partner to CBD would be another phytocannabinoid called beta caryophyllene. Luckily, the family of other phytocannabinoids in a full-spectrum oil contains other phytocannabinoids that complement to what CBD is not doing as well.

We must get off this single magic bullet bandwagon. We must appreciate the full gamut of all these phytocannabinoids as a whole, and that they complement each other, because CBD is not the answer to support the ECS as a whole.”

As with most things, too much can backfire. While CBD cannot kill you, using CBD isolate in too high amounts can reduce its effectiveness. Such problems are far less likely when using a full-spectrum oil.

“I don’t foresee anybody really overdosing on the standard dosages that we’re recommending,” Germano says. “Nor when we look at the data that’s been published, up to 1,500 mg of CBD chronically administered over time show that it was well-tolerated, minimal to no adverse reactions on physiological function, psychological functioning and other parameters in the body, including blood pressure. So, CBD is quite well-tolerated in humans.”

Hemp Oil for Sleep

Aside from inflammation and pain, another area where a full-spectrum hemp oil can be beneficial is to improve sleep and treat insomnia. Germano recommends using a full-spectrum oil in a dose that provides 25 mg of CBD.

“CBD at that range does a number of things. No. 1, it reduces excitability in the brain. It can reduce glutamate toxicity and any excitatory conditioning. Secondly, CBD is involved in various neurotransmitters that are involved with a normal sleep cycle.

While it has a calming effect and helps to establish a normal sleep cycle, it’s not necessarily a sedative. You can use it with melatonin. You can use it with lavender. You can use it with chamomile and passionflower, what have you. I would do that towards the latter part of the day, at least an hour or two before bedtime. Lower doses of CBD are more stimulating, so to speak, and more upregulating.”

How the New Law Can Improve Quality of Hemp Products

In the past, prior to the signing of the new Farm Bill, the leaf, flower and bud of the hemp plant could not be used in the production of CBD-rich hemp oil. The oil had to be pulled from the stalk and stem of the plant only — the less concentrated part. With the new law, all parts of the plant can be used, which will make processing easier and more economical, as the cannabinoids are more concentrated in the leaves, flowers and buds.

The law also makes it legal to grow hemp in in every state, so if you wanted to, you could grow it in your backyard. This is something I’m definitely considering, as you can easily juice the whole plant or add it to smoothies.

“Growing it for yourself would be wonderful,” Germano says. “It is a weed. It has a short period of harvest. It grows very rapidly — July, August and September. Yes, the whole plant can be used rather than just extracting the oils from it. All the phytocannabinoids and lipids are found in the oils, but the leaf can be juiced and put into smoothies as well …

In terms of growing and processing it, it’s a rather easy plant to grow, because it is a weed. When we talk about the raw plant, a lot of these cannabinoids are in their acidic form. CBD is in CBDA, cannabidiol acid, form. To convert it to its useable form, the acid has to be decarboxylated.

So, while you may benefit from a lot of the phytocannabinoids [in the raw plant], it’s going to be reliant on your body’s ability to process it from the acidic forms that are in there. Exposure to heat, light, moisture and air will decarboxylate a lot of them as well. The more you process it yourself, the more useable some of those phytocannabinoids will be.

[To process it], you can take the leaf, flower and bud. You can blend it and store it in the refrigerator. Over a day or two of exposure to heat, air, light and moisture, it’ll decarboxylate to some extent and you’ll benefit more from that. How much do you get? Appreciable amounts of CBD may be difficult with just juicing alone …

I don’t want to misquote myself and say the wrong thing, but probably an ounce or two [of raw plant] would do the trick as a healthy plant beverage. Again, you don’t need a lot to jump-start your body’s ECS. It’s not a numbers game. Small doses, you would definitely respond to.”

“I look for companies that are doing the right thing also. That is, they don’t mention CBD on the front panel or quantify it in the Supplement Fact box. Responsible companies talk about phytocannabinoids,” Germano says.

“They talk about hemp oil. They talk about nourishing the endocannabinoid system. This is a superior story to just CBD. Those are the more reputable companies that are telling the right story, [and not just talking about] isolated CBD.”

More Information About Endocannabinoid System

Germano has written a book about the endocannabinoid system called, “Road to Ananda: The Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Phytocannabinoids and Hemp,” (www.roadtoananda.com) which is due out shortly. I am very proud to have written the forward to this book as it is a great resource. Definitely pick up a copy if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic. 

“I’m ecstatic to announce that the person who wrote the introduction to the book is Raphael Mechoulam, the father of cannabinoid research and who was involved in the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

He is well-known in the scholarly circles. There are certainly plenty of scholarly work out there, but we need to get this message, this story, which is enormous, out to the layman and practitioner out there who is really unaware still,” Germano says.

“I’ve been in this industry for over 35 years. I’m a clinical nutritionist by trade. I have not seen any natural compounds this clinically relevant since the inception of this industry. I can tell you that targeting the endocannabinoid system, supporting it, will dominate medicine and nutrition of the next couple of decades.

There are also topical applications for phytocannabinoids, because, again, our skin is one of our largest organs. It also has five to 10 times more cannabinoids in it than we have in our brain. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are there as well.

There are three targeted areas for topical applications. One, obviously, is pain and inflammation, because the CB2 receptors are there that control that. That is something that will blow away any of these compounds in the marketplace today for topical pain relief.

Then we know that certain cannabinoids strangle the sebaceous gland for acne. Certain cannabinoids also influence age spot development and antiaging. [There are] some very interesting things going on in the topical application area.

When we look at the global picture of what is the subcutaneous endocannabinoid system doing, it’s helping to maintain normal cell proliferation, differentiation and immune competence. Oncologists are going to be interested in that aspect.”


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