Congressman Steve Cohen Calls for End of Schedule I for Cannabis

By Don Fitch

Steve Cohen

Congressman Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen, US Congressman from Tennessee, has called out Attorney General Eric Holder to end the ludicrous Schedule I legal status for cannabis. The Tennessee democrat (TN-09) is one of several US congresspersons working against continued marijuana prohibition.
Congressman Cohen is absolutely right when he speaks about the evils of Schedule I status, the most restrictive and punitive, for cannabis and hemp. These negatives include:

• Asset Forfeiture: Schedule I means marijuana “crimes” are among the most serious federal offenses, enabling draconian stealing of personal assets by the government.

• IRS 280E: This rule may cripple most cannabis businesses by disallowing common business deductions because of the illegality (especially Schedule I) of the product.

• Mandatory Minimums: Long prison terms for any “crime” involving cannabis are supported by the pernicious Schedule I tag.

• Medical Marijuana Research: Total control (and nearly total restriction) is granted to the DEA and NIDA, who cling to the “no medical use” definition to disallow medical research.

• Hemp: Imported seeds for the first Kentucky hemp planting were delayed at the border by the DEA last summer, requiring the intervention of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. To survive, the new American hemp industry needs cannabis rescheduling.

Eric_Holder_official_portrait

Eric Holder

Representative Cohen points out that these and other loathsome Schedule I consequences could be rectified through simple actions by the president or attorney general. Although they both deny it with a troubling lie, either one could deliver cannabis from Schedule I oblivion to a more science-based schedule less determined by politics. Perhaps more than any other action the current administration could take, the rescheduling of cannabis is clearly needed, and the timing is exactly right.Yet with the clock winding down on this administration, particularly this attorney general, it looks like neither man will act. Loretta Lynch, Obama’s pick to replace Holder, has already indicated that she opposes ending pot prohibition.

Obama and Holder state (incorrectly) that they do not have the power to make this change; this is an obvious untruth when they allow the DEA itself to set schedules for drugs and to deny changes to cannabis scheduling. In 1986, the DEA changed the scheduling of Marinol, the synthetic THC pill, from Schedule I to Schedule II and then down to Schedule III in 1999. While the DEA was trying to scare the public with worries about stronger cannabis strains with 20+ percent THC, it down-scheduled 100 percent THC Marinol (not your father’s pot) to make it more medically available, thereby reducing momentum for medical marijuana. By all accounts, the synthetic pot pill causes stressful and difficult psychoactivity, reducing its medical usefulness.

Although rescheduling cannabis to other than Schedule I would undo the worst harms, it would still leave it in the undeserving supervision of the DEA and a host of other regulatory agencies. Cannabis should be removed from the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act altogether.

Such descheduling is also within the capability of the president or attorney general. It could instead be classified with and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes. Bizarrely, these two drugs are by far the most dangerous of all (1,200 daily deaths from cigarettes alone in the USA.) Cannabis kills zero Americans each day and has none of the biological, personal, and social toxicity of alcohol. Yet lumping cannabis in with these killers would ironically free this beneficial plant from the idiotic constraints of the Controlled Substances Act and liberate it forever from the gangrenous grasp of the DEA.

Congressman Cohen acted after Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to the National Press Club, noted that there is “a legitimate debate to be had on both sides of that question on where marijuana should be in terms of scheduling.” Cohen questions that statement, wondering what arguments support continued Schedule I status and urging Eric Holder, “in your remaining time in office to take action, under existing federal law, to reclassify marijuana.”

At the same time as Congressman Steve Cohen’s actions, two other democratic legislators, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, have submitted bills tackling federal marijuana prohibition. More on these soon.

When do you think cannabis will be freed from Schedule I ?

Hemp And Cannabis in Southern Oregon Skirmish

As Oregon’s legal marijuana market goes official on July 1, 2015, two different aspects of cannabis agriculture are at odds.

Some of the world’s finest wines are produced from grapes grown in southern Oregon. In nearby fields, some of the planet’s choicest cannabis strains benefit from the same climate. The medical marijuana plants appear like small trees, protruding with arm-sized buds worth big money when harvested, dried and trimmed.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis Flower Without Seeds

The aromatic female cannabis flowers glisten as they await the wind-borne arrival of pollen from male cannabis so they can produce seeds and complete their reproductive cycle. But the pollen never arrives, as growers are quick to uproot any male plants. Pollination would ruin the monetary and medical value of the crop as surely as a late season hail storm. Sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) cannabis can sell for up to two thousand dollars a pound; seeded marijuana has no market value.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp crop.

Now a new player is entering the Oregon cannabis agriculture: hemp. Like medically valuable sinsemilla, hemp is also marijuana, cannabis sativa. Unlike sinsemilla, hemp is grown for the seeds; they are the most valuable part of the hemp crop, although the entire plant is useful in dozens of ways. Indeed, hemp seeds themselves and the oil produced from them are arguably the world’s most nutritious food. They are sources of essential oils and proteins that our bodies cannot produce themselves, and they provide perfectly balanced omega 3 fatty acids, excellent nutrition for brain and body. If you were abandoned on a desert island with the choice of one food, hemp seeds might be your single best pick.

Currently, Americans seeking these health benefits must import their hemp seeds from Canada, from sources such as Manitoba Harvest, with its best-selling food, Hemp Hearts. But now the American hemp industry is getting underway, with several states (including Kentucky, Colorado and Oregon) passing new legislation legalizing hemp cultivation . Federally, new legislation and conservative Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell have been instrumental in furthering hemp agriculture and pressured the DEA when it held up hemp seed shipments from Italy in 2014. Getting these low-THC seeds remains a challenge to American hemp growers.

Now hemp agriculture is coming to southern Oregon, a development disturbing to sinsemilla cannabis growers. An Eagle Point, Oregon, farmer, Edgar Winters, has applied to grow 25 acres of hemp in Jackson County not far from many cannabis crops. Three other hemp growing applications are in the works. Many growers fear pollen from male hemp plants will drift on the wind and pollinate their costly and valuable female buds, making them worthless both financially and medically. Is this a valid concern? “Yes,” says advocate and Oregon State University hemp course teacher Anndrea Hermann , as quoted by Noelle Crombie on her Oregonian reporting on the issue. “There is a risk to marijuana growers.”

Winters, a medical marijuana grower himself, downplays the risk, citing a shorter growing season and earlier harvest for hemp. It will be interesting to see how his medical marijuana crop does next year if it grows next to 25 acres of pollen-producing hemp. A down-wind test plot would be an interesting and telling experiment. We should be getting some good answers, as the entire operation will be well documented by Doug Fine, author of Hemp Bound and Too High to Fail, for his next book.

Intriguingly, southern Oregon cannabis growers have political clout: Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, a long-time friend of medical cannabis in Oregon, responded to numerous emails from outdoor growers worried about their livelihoods and life’s work. Medical users worry about their medicine being wiped out by pollination.

Some of the highest value and most medically useful cannabis crops in southern Oregon are now from CBD predominant strains, which are especially useful medically because of their low psychoactivity and the wide range of conditions they help. There are dozens of medical uses, including calming childhood epilepsy and providing palliative care for cancer. It would indeed be tragic if hemp pollen were to destroy even one CBD medical grow. These concerns could involve solutions such as placing geographic restrictions on planting hemp, for example, to the east side of the Cascade Mountains, zoning west side sinsemilla growers would like.

How do you think hemp versus cannabis agriculture will play out in southern Oregon and elsewhere?

Your Brain On Exercise: Rewarded With Testosterone and New Neurons

3d rendered illustration - hippocampus

Hippocampus (yellow) deep in the brain

More proof that exercise is good for your brain as well as your body. Recent Japanese research shows that exercise such as jogging floods your brain with testosterone and spurs growth in specific memory areas, the important hippocampus region.

Exercise is little less than a magic elixir for our health. It is not quite magic, though, in that we still have to earn these health rewards by actively exercising our bodies. When we do exercise by moving our bodies under our own power, especially moving them quickly so we breathe hard and start to sweat, astounding benefits take place in our bodies and brains.

A very long list of health benefits of exercise need not be repeated here. Most of the lifestyle related maladies most that strike down people in modern society stem, in good part, from insufficient exercise. Cardiovascular and strength exercises provide preventative, curative and restorative solutions to many of our modern health maladies.  All that and they make you strong and feel great too!

The Japanese research would indicate that as least part of the elation often felt during and after exercise may be explained by the increases in testosterone in the brain. Testosterone is called the “male hormone” and indeed it is associated with the gonads (and elsewhere) and occurs at levels around eight times higher in male than female animals, including humans. But all people produce testosterone. Not unlike the runner’s high, which has been associated with endorphins and endocannabinoids produced during exercise, testosterone provides an energized, pleasant feeling. All these enjoyable effects associated with exercise may provide evolutionary benefit, that is, rewarding physical activity that might help feed the family by encouraging hunting or other survival activity.

More than just feeling good, though, this new research shows that the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced causes actual new brain cell growth in the area we need it most, the hippocampus, deep down in our brains. This vital area is associated with memory and benefits greatly from new neurons coming on-line. A hippocampus refreshed by these new neurons can help retain memory, promote new learning, protect from depression, and generally help the brain operate more efficiently. DHT, earned through exercise, is necessary for this rejuvenating neurogenesis.

Do yourself and your brain a favor. Walk a lot, at least 10,000 steps a day. Try to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat for at least a few minutes each day.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 7;109(32):13100-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210023109. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Mild exercise increases dihydrotestosterone in hippocampus providing evidence for androgenic mediation of neurogenesis.

Football Concussions and the Brain-Saving Effects of Cannabis

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© intheskies – Fotolia.com

The prevalence of brain injuries associated with football are becoming increasingly clear. More than anyone suspected, banging heads together in football causes mild (and not so mild) traumatic brain injuries( mTBI). New findings and the plights of many former players may fundamentally change the game of American football, from the NFL all the way down through college and high school to Pop Warner. The latter kid’s league is suffers declining participation as parents fear damage to their children’s brains.

During the same time period that the the severity of brain-damaging injuries suffered by football players was becoming clear, research in Israel and Spain began to show that the human brain is protected from TBI by the cannabinoids in cannabis.

It may well turn out to be that the best on-field treatment of a suspected concussion will be taking “hits” of vaporized cannabinoids, right from medical cannabis. Even now, portable vaporizers can be ready to provide a controlled dosage of cannabinoids within a few seconds.

At the same time, new helmets with  accelerometers for measuring impact force and gyrometers for measuring twist will help in the immediate assessment of possible concussion after a violent tackle or block. Perhaps LED lights will read out G force readings right on the helmet’s surface, allowing fellow players, coach, and trainer to spot potential dangers.

Imagine this scenario in the not-too-far future: At a home game in Seattle or Denver or other state with medical marijuana exemption to tyrannical federal marijuana laws, the home team quarterback sets his squad on a crucial third down. Unfortunately for him, he was swallowed in a pass rush; worse yet when he was floored by a 300 pound left tackle, his helmet smashed into that of another tackler at a high rate of force. He lay stunned, not quite sure why to get up. Coach and team physician approach at a jog alarmed to see the red glow from the helmet LED declaring a probably concussion. As the physician reads the G force readings from the collision, she clicks on the portable vaporizer. She asks the player a few questions, at which he performs badly. He can state his name but is unsure of the date, even the year. This, along with the red light concussion warning and the dangerously high deceleration ‘G’ rating, convinces her to act immediately, bringing the vaporizer to the injured player’s lips and telling him, “breathe in this medicine.”

As the brain-traumatized player inhales cannabinoids into his lungs, they quickly make it to his heart and fountain up to his brain. Within seconds the cannabinoids THC, CBD and others cross the blood-brain-barrier in his brain and begin their neuroprotective functions. In the injured brain, neurotransmitters, particularly glutamate, are overproduced in a frenzy that damages neurons. Inflammatory processes produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), dangling electrons that wound cell walls and DNA. In this unlikely scenario, total time from traumatic brain injury, to diagnosis, to treatment molecules reaching the site of injury was perhaps one minute. This may also be a future protocol in case of stroke, another source of traumatic brain injury.

In the brain these cannabinoids dampen down the frenzied, brain-damaging transmitters. Cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, reduce production of the transmitter glutamate. Cannabinoids also serve as antioxidants to sop up the dangerous ROS oxidants. They calm the brain and reduce inflammation.

In moves it looks like the NFL might actually do, the league should end any restriction for players using cannabis. Not only is it good for their battered brains but also offers the safest medication for several types of pain, including neuropathic pain. There is actually more justification for making cannabis use by NFL players mandatory than there good reasons for its prohibition. Strict enforcement of rules penalizing wounding play actions such as ‘helmeting’ will also help.

Mr. President, tear down this law!

Tear down this law, Mr. President, in your State-of-the-Union address. President Barack Obama has a vast opportunity to do the right thing in his upcoming speech. With a decisive voice and one bold stroke of the executive pen, the president could deschedule cannabis from the tyrannical Controlled Substance Act. He could step beyond rescheduling marijuana, to actually descheduling this medical marvel. He could free forever this beneficent plant and the American people (along with billions of others planet-wide) from the parasitic clutches of the DEA and other drug war bureaucrats. He could right a thousand wrongs.

This action comes too late for the 20 million Americans arrested for cannabis over the long decades of the drug war. It comes too late that have gone blind from glaucoma, denied the sight-saving effects of marijuana. I comes too late for the centuries of wasted years spent by marijuana prisoners, jailed for no more reason that those in Stalin’s gulags. But still, bold action would save future Americans from these Inquisition-like punishments plus allow them the pain relief, anti-inflammation and other medical benefits of cannabis.

The benefits to President Obama for such a course of action would be huge. Historically, he would be remembered as a president who righted  huge historical wrongs, these millions of lives disadvantaged by a needless arrest, the ‘incarceration nation’ that jails more than any other and a militarized police enforcing immoral laws.  Politically, President Obama would gain immensely, finally removing a huge problem he suffers with those who voted for him, his hardline, dismissive policy on cannabis and medical cannabis freedom. Surely legalization must come up in an address concerning the state of the union, the union in which one state (and soon another) has legalized personal use and open store sale of marijuana, a union where nearly a score of states offer medical exemption to marijuana laws.

The Scheule I designation of cannabis as a dangerous drug with no medical value is one the great lies of the American justice system. The sooner it is rescheduled, or better, descheduled totally, the sooner a great, historical evil begins to crumble. Do the right thing, Mr. President, tear down this law.!

Medical Cannabis Refugees

Americans in dire need of medical cannabis for themselves or their children are being forced to flee to states with humane laws providing access to their medicine. For many people and especially parents, access to medical marijuana is literally a matter of life and death.  marijuana and pillsMost US states still adhere to draconian laws regarding any possession of cannabis and afford medical users no protection. Parents face prosecution, even loss of possession of their children for trying to supply them natural compounds that can save their children’s lives from slow death by seizures, sometimes hundreds a day.

Ironically, the main compound sought by these parents is the CBD or cannabidiol. Unlike psychoactive cannabinoid THC, CBD provides no ‘high,’ the mental state seemingly so feared by nearly all researchers. Nevertheless, CBD is itself classified, as are all cannabinoids from marijuana, as a Schedule I drug, highly dangerous and without medical value. This for a compound with no psychoactivity, nor toxicity that may well turn out to be one of the most significant medicines ever discovered. This is your government on drugs.

Certainly to a growing group of parents and stricken children in states like Colorado, CBD is a momentous medical godsend. As reported by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in his documentary Weed, CBD strains of medical marijuana provide blessed relief from childhood seizures and developmental problems caused by Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), aka Dravet Syndrome. Where mixtures of powerful and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs of every type had failed to stop the seizures, and almost killed their small patients, CBD tinctures provided immediate relief.

Seeing such dramatic improvement for such a heart-breaking condition, parents of children with similar conditions across the country of course became excited about the possibility of providing their infants with relief. But because medical cannabis research has been blocked by the DEA and Schedule I status, these new high-CBD medicines are in short supply, available (and legal) pretty much only in Colorado.

The situation is leading to a medical cannabis refugee movement from states with harsh and cruel laws to states where voter’s have mandated legal exemption for medical use, like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California. The first two states on this list also now allow personal use of cannabis, again voted in by the citizens of Colorado and Washington.

An excellent series in the Salt Lake Tribune documents this process of “Families migrating to Colorado for a medical marijuana miracle.” The article’s author, Kirsten Stewart interviews physician Dr. Margaret Gebbe, who calls the results of CBD in treating these epilepsy disorders as “absolutely remarkable.” Dr. Gebbe is also interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in his Weed documentary.

Sanjay Gupta reports on a similar movement on an international scale, with his story on a British citizen traveling to the Netherlands for access to his preferred pain treatment, cannabis sativa. He shows Gupta vial after vial of pharmaceutical narcotics he has been prescribed but were ineffective and with mind numbing side effects. Treatment with cannabis is unavailable in England, making this middle age man, bedeviled by pain cross the channel as another medical cannabis refugee.

American states and world countries that recognize the idiocy of cannabis prohibition and the powerful medical potential of cannabis will prosper while providing hugely needed relief and succor to these refugees.

Copyright © 2013 by Don Fitch

Memory Improvements from Exercise use Endocannabinoid System!

Hippocampus Word CLoud - © intheskies - Fotolia.com

Hippocampus Word Cloud – © intheskies – Fotolia.com

Exercise has been long known to be among the few things that can help memory. In physiological terms, “physical exercise has positive effects on cognitive functions and hippocampal plasticity.”  Plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change from experience and is  closely related to learning and memory.  The hippocampus is a deep brain structure closely tied with memory, so hippocampal plasticity is a good thing, but brain scientist were not sure how exercise exerted these positive changes. A likely answer has been published by Brazilian researchers in the journal Hippocampus, and has to do with positive effects exercise has on the brain and memory stem from its simulation of the endocannabinoid system. The research paper is entitled “A role for the endocannabinoid system in exercise-induced spatial memory enhancement in mice.”

The endocannabinoid system is fairly recently discovered and major regulatory system in humans and other animals. The system was first discovered in relation to cannabis, as protein receptors on cell membranes turned out the be the target of marijuana and the reason for its medical and psychoactive effects. The CB1 receptor is activated by THC in cannabis and was the focus of study is this research. They conclude, “Our results suggest that, at least in part, the promnesic effect of the exercise is dependent of CB1 receptor activation and is mediated by BDNF.” Promnesic refers to memory promoting as is the opposite of amnesic. BDNF is brain-derived neurotropic factor, a secreted protein that helps support and grow brain cells.

 

 

Bad Day for Medical Liberty: US Supreme Court Denies Cannabis Rescheduling

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© freshidea – Fotolia.com

Depressingly, the first thing the US Supreme Court did on its first Monday was to deny reconsideration of cannabis scheduling.

By refusing to appeal a lower ruling, the court locks in Schedule I (highly dangerous, no medical value) by allowing the DEA to make that decision. Read the gory details at StopTheDrugWar.org. This come out on the same day that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia admits that he fully believes in the devil. His mindset would better fit Spain during the Inquisition than the USA in the 21st century. Yet we are stuck with his rulings.

There seems little chance now that the draconian Schedule I felonizing of cannabis will change, probably for decades to come. After all, it was just over 25 years that DEA law judge Francis L. Young told the truth about marijuana, including the fact that in no way should it be Schedule I. Yet a quarter century later, it still is. During these 25 years 20 million Americans have been unjustly arrested under these cruel laws.

With Schedule I intact,  the DEA and US Attorneys can continue to  jail Americans for decades along with seizing their property for the benefit of the agencies. States may legalize cannabis for medical or personal use all they want but as long as possession of any marijuana by anybody remains a stiff federal offense, the medical potential of cannabis will be blunted. The DEA and NIDA will still have control over research using cannabis, meaning they can continue to block nearly all medical marijuana research in the USA. This is probably the most cruel result.

It will also stifle and delay hemp production and use the USA.

For no good reason, tens of millions of Americans will have to continue to fear their government.

Who now is going to down-schedule or de-schedule  cannabis out of the hands of the DEA?

  • Certainly not the DEA itself. The felonization of cannabis is worth billions to the agency every year, no way they would consider changing it.

  • Barack Obama is highly unlikely to consider this desperately needed change; his presidency has been marked by increasing attacks on medical marijuana dispensaries and he has rejected any change of scheduling.

  • Even after 2016, it is unlikely the new president would make any change. Hillary Clinton has echoed Obama’s hard line. Joe Biden is one of the worst of the drug war criminals, enthusiastically creating the Drug Czar office and supporting harsh and authoritarian programs and policies his entire career. Although some libertarian republicans support ending drug prohibition and defunding the DEA, most republicans are staunch authoritarians who fully cheer and fund the war on drugs.

  • These leaves its to congress to change the scheduling.  Big hope there, huh?  Even if congress was not dysfunctional,  many congresspersons are former prosecutors, drug-war beneficiaries like Senator Jeff  “I love the DEA” Sessions, of the Judiciary Committee. Powerful house dinosaurs like Texas republican Arlen Smith headed off any reduction of federal persecution of medical cannabis in states where legal.

Future Americans will look back at us an wonder how we could have kept such dishonest and cruel laws so long.

Copyright © Don Fitch, 2013

 

 

Cannabinoids Combat Alzheimer’s Disease

It may be that small clumps of beta-amyloid protein begin causing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by destroying the synapses between brain cells well before they form the plaques that have been associated with this memory-eroding and personality-robbing disorder. New research out of Stanford University reported in Science Digest (Scientists Reveal How Beta-Amyloid May Cause Alzheimer’s) found that these small bits of beta-amyloid protein clump together and, as bunches, bind with receptors on neurons.  This displaces connections with other neurons, destroying the synapses between that, in very real ways, make us who we are. Too many synapses destroyed  and soon you can’t remember Uncle Bob. Or your spouse.

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© freshidea – Fotolia.com

Although in a way this is bad news–damage is taking place even before the plaque formation long thought to be the problem–the good news is that the finding may point to ways to help prevent the cruel disease with earlier intervention. Even better news is that a whole new class of preventive and therapeutic agents, cannabinoids, have been found to be very useful in curbing the ravages of Alzheimer”s disease. Cannabinoids are compounds that modulate specific receptors on brain cells, immune cells and other cells in the body. Three types of cannabinoids  exist: They can be produced by our bodies, by the plant cannabis, and synthetically in the laboratory. Last year Spanish researchers documented in the Journal of Neuroinflammation how cannabinoids are neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agents with therapeutic potential,

Their research, entitled Prolonged oral cannabinoid administration prevents neuroinflammation, lowers β-amyloid levels and improves cognitive performance in Tg APP 2576 mice. The Spaniards found that oral dosing with cannabinoids “ameliorates cognitive performance, decreases neuroinflammation and Aβ levels, likely by increasing its transport to the periphery.”  The cannabinoid treatment boosted memory and cognition, reduced brain inflammation and helped carry away the beta-amyloid tangles. What’s not to like! Yet again have cannabinoids been found to have powerful and beneficial medical effects, providing neuroprotection against one of the more cruel diseases to strike modern humans.

The Spanish research investigated synthetic cannabinoids, but earlier research found powerful AD preventive effects from THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Astoundingly, researchers found when “compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.”  The enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) promotes beta-amyloid clumping; THC prevents this clumping by binding with receptors on AChE molecules. Some pharmaceutical drugs use the same tactic, but THC was far more effective! On another AD front, researchers in 2013 declared that deficiency in density of CB1 receptors, the receptors activated by THC to produce psychoactivity along with a host of preventive, curative and palliative effects, resulted in worsened AD symptoms.

Fear of losing their memory and personalities to cruel diseases like Alzheimer’s is the number one anxiety of those over 50 years of age. This group should be aware that cannabinoids, even THC, can provide protection for brain cells help stave off dementia-producing inflammation and beta-amyloid clumping.

Copyright © Don Fitch

Cannabinoid Receptors and Pain Relief with Acupuncture

Acupuncture has long been shown to relieve pain, but medical science lacked a mechanism to explain how it works. Now research out of Shanghai China reported in Evidence-Based Complementary and  Alternative Medicine finds that the cannabinoid system provides an answer.

The new research is entitled Electroacupuncture inhibition of hyperalgesia in rats with adjuvant arthritis: involvement of cannabinoid receptor 1 and dopamine receptor subtypes in striatum. The cannabinoid system is the regulatory system discovered and revealed over the past 25 years to play major roles in homeostasis and pain relief.  The cannabinoid receptor 1 mentioned is usually abbreviated CB1, and is the main receptor activated by cannabis (marijuana) and also by natural endocannabinoids produced by our bodies.

Based on their knowledge that dopamine D1/D2 receptors are involved in electroacupuncture analgesia, they conjectured that the  ” CB1 and dopamine systems sometimes interact and may operate synergistically in rat striatum.”  They found at the sites of two pain relieving acupuncture points “that the levels of CB1 expression in the repeated-EA group were much higher.”  They conclude, “these results suggested that the strong activation of the CB1 receptor after repeated EA resulted in the concomitant phenomenon of the upregulation of D1 and D2 levels of gene expression.” Activating these CB1 receptors turned on the D1/D2 receptor genes.

The authors conjectured, “One unproved but intriguing idea is that endocannabinoids may set the analgesic tone of the

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© StockHouse – Fotolia.com

body, with the level of their production acting as a kind of pain thermostat.” Again, the cannabinoid receptor system shows its huge importance in human physiology. Electroacupuncture and cannabis both activate the CB1 receptor and both result in pain relief.