The study’s author, Thomas M. Clark is Professor and Chair of Department of Biology at Indiana University South Bend, His meta-analysis found:
Cannabis use is associated with decreased rates of
mortality from traumatic brain injury,
use of alcohol and prescription drugs,
driving fatalities, and
opioid overdose deaths.
Obesity threatens human well-being across the planet. Especially in the USA, but also now world wide, this plague of pounds drives degenerative diseases and health care costs. Obesity is a chronic low-grade inflammation, inflicting insidious damage daily. Fat cells displace organs and produce cellular toxins. Obesity kills at least one out of eight Americans.
Diabetes is the key metabolic disease killing Americans. Dr. Clark writes:
Evidence strongly supports reduced obesity and diabetes mellitus in people who use Cannabis. The most common finding of studies to date have shown lower BMI, waist circumference, or rates of obesity in Cannabis users.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an all-too-frequent cause of premature death, but a condition responsive to medical marijuana. Clark notes:
Cannabinoids have well known neuroprotective effects, reducing damage from excitotoxicity, Ca++ influx, free radical formation, and neuroinflammation following traumatic brain injury (TBI), ischemia, and neurotoxins.
Dr. Clark reports lowered rates of premature death for alcohol and opioid addiction and death in cannabis users, reduced rates of dangerous deaths, and lives saved from cancer.
Conclusions: Cannabis use prevents thousands of premature deaths each year, and Cannabis prohibition is revealed as a major cause of premature death in the U.S.
Premature death reduction is basic to harm reduction, the strategy smart governments are using to address drug problems. At the same time, the USA is now poised to renew its decade-long war on marijuana, a drug nearly harmless while hugely helpful at reducing premature death.
Prohibition of access to medical cannabis is a violation of human rights. Such prohibition is a moral evil, not only because it subjects people from arbitrary abuse from the state, but also because it denies them a crucially effective medication, leading to premature death.]]>
Dr. Weil, and many others are alarmed by America’s overmedication and by the disabilities and deaths caused by improper use of pharmaceutical drugs. Americans now take ten times the medications they did in 1950. The doctor reminds us that most conditions get better by themselves and advocates a conservative approach to using medical care.
Dr. Weil gets to the central aspects of well-being immediately. Instead of the all-too-common short appointment ending with a prescription, he immediately looks at nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. Breathing is one of his first concerns, typically ignored, except for a quick listen to the lungs, in a normal physical exam. Our behaviors and choices about food, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors are the primary bases of personal well-being. Appropriately, he is big on exercise:
Physical activity, if done prudently, is good for practically all health issues.
Nutrition is given equal importance, along with skills to reduce stress..
When I write a treatment plan for a patient, my first recommendations always concern diet: what not to eat, what to eat more of, how to change eating habits to improve health. As a primary treatment strategy, dietary change can be remarkably effective.
When faced with an illness, Dr. Weil encourages an attitude of self-reliance, prudent use of medical care, especially pharmaceuticals, and exploration of alternative medications. For example, upon catching a common cold, a bad outcome would be to quickly visit the doctor, pressuring him or her for gut-disrupting antibiotics, and infecting other at the medical office with your cold virus in the process.
Antibiotics are useless for colds (caused by viruses which antibiotics don’t) and for many other conditions for which they are over-prescribed. So important is this antibiotic problem that Weil begins his audit of commonly used drugs with these (sometimes lifesaving) pharmaceuticals. He also clarifies when such pharmaceutical drugs are totally appropriate. Other chapters discuss different drugs and people taking them, such as the aging and children.
One area the book slightly disappoints was the scant discussion of medical cannabis for substituting off many of these medications, and for providing effective treatments where pharmaceutical meds do not.
One the whole, this book should be must read for anyone before they use the medical care system, and especially before agreeing to a course of treatment with pharmaceuticals. Any patient will be tremendously empowered, and will be far safer, if they have this excellent knowledge base of how and how not to use medical care.
Cannabidiol Modulates Genes Linked with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is the partial title of a new article accepted for publication by the Journal of Cellular Biology. ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a miserable neuromuscular condition, terribly disabling and nearly always fatal. Like other degenerative, inflammatory diseases, ALS is associated with a demon’s brew of “oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and excitotoxicity.”
Perhaps this century’s best know sufferer of ALS is physicist and cosmologist Steven Hawking. Defying the odds, Hawking has lived with this disease for nearly half a century. The ALS pathology has destroyed nerves controlling his muscles. As the nerves wasted, so did the muscles, confining Hawking to a wheelchair and robbing him of speech. But while these motor neurons have decayed, the cerebral neurons in his brain have soared into realms of thought few other humans have attained. He ponders, and rigorously researches, the biggest questions of space and time, black holes, and possible alien life. He cannot stand, yet he stands on the shoulders of Einstein, Copernicus, and Galileo.
A desire to conquer this cruel disease recently inspired many a Facebook video of a volunteer enduring drenching in the ALS Bucket Challenge. Perhaps they may find another glimmer of hope in this research.
Intriguingly, this in vitro study shows that CBD, or cannabidiol, modulates gene expression in stem cells (human gingiva-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hGMSCs)) “connected with ALS pathology.”
The researchers gave reason for their research choice of CBD in their abstract:
Cannabidiol, a non-psychotrophic cannabinoid, has been demonstrated as a potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agent in neurological preclinical models.
The research demonstrates yet another way CBD and other molecules from cannabis deliver innovative new tools for medical researchers and hope for those suffering neurodegenerative disorders.
New evidence helps establish the usefulness in the plant cannabinoid, THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), in helping control Type 2 diabetes. As reported previously in this blog, THCV appears to help less obesity. A new study, reported by the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, appears soon in Diabetes Care. 2016 Aug 29. pii: dc160650. Titled, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study, shows he beneficial effects on a number of diabetic indices.
Significantly, the authors found that “Compared with placebo, THCV significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose.” This removal of sugar from the blood is a basic goal of diabetes prevention and treatment. Additionally, they found improvements in:
The authors assert in conclusion:
THCV could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes.
Seminal cannabis researcher and discoverer of THC, Raphael Mechoulam, in British Journal of Pharmacology in 2005, discussed the apparent unique properties of THCV and posed several research questions. He notes, as has Scottish researcher Roger G. Pertwee, that THCV content can be very high in hashish from Pakistan. Despite these high levels of the supposed CB1 receptor antagonist THCV, Pakistani hashish has no apparent “downer” aspect depressing the user. Perhaps this is due to the presence of the other 60 cannabinoids.
Use of THCV as medical marijuana for obesity and diabetes prevention and treatment is made difficult by the lack of access to THCV-heavy or predominant strains. Durban Poison is probably the most available. Reviewer Ry Richard gave it kudos for energy.
“Durban is legendary for its almost electric effects package, which fills the user with a buzzing energy and a flurry of mental activity. It is the perfect variety for a productive day, as it is strong but tends to stay out of the way of most mental processes, allowing for a high level of functionality.”
Such high levels of energy could come in handy in assisting with other behavioral and lifestyle factors affecting glucose levels and other metabolic processes. Human bodies overly composed of fat cells and lacking in muscles cells become insulin resistant and cannot remove sufficient blood sugar. Lack of movement, such as prolonged sitting is a major metabolic risk factor on its own, causing “sitting diseases” of which obesity is one and diabetes another.
Physical movement, such as walking at least 10,000 steps a day, provides powerful preventive and treatment effects for pre-diabetics and those with the actual diagnosis. Adequate walking helps control excess fat while building muscle, and provides dozens of preventive health benefits. Jogging a few minutes per day in addition helps even more.
Muscle mass and muscle cells readily accept and burn glucose, removing it from the blood stream and turning it into energy instead of poison. In addition to movement, engaging in weight training or other muscle building regimen for just a few minutes every other day can quickly help build muscle mass to pull glucose from the blood and burn it up. By burning this energy, muscle mass also helps control obesity and, besides, looks darn good!
Help prevent and even treat diabetes and obesity with low sugar intake and high THCV cannabis, along with movement and muscle.
Acne is an inflammation of the sebaceous glands, often on the faces of teenagers. The gland’s duct can become blocked, perhaps from excess sebum produced by teenage hormones. Blocked glands can suffer bacterial infection, producing the common, if distressing, lesions on the skin.
Earlier, this same group found potential for the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) in acne treatment. Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, they concluded,
Collectively, our findings suggest that, due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and antiinflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.”
The researchers followed up by studying five other cannabinoids as possible treatment of acne and related skin conditions. THCV, (-)-Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabivarin, CBC, CBDV, CBGV and CBD. They found different effects: CBG and CBGV may help in the treatment of dry skin. Concerning the opposite problem, excess lipogenesis and acne, the researchers found that:
CBC, CBDV and especially THCV show promise to become highly efficient, novel anti-acne agents. Moreover, based on their remarkable anti-inflammatory actions, phytocannabinoids could be efficient, yet safe novel tools in the management of cutaneous inflammations.
Once again, ground breaking cannabinoid research is announced by researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University. Chronic inflammation anywhere in our bodies is a destructive process; in the brain it is particularly insidious. “Inflammation is an important pathogenic factor in Parkinson’s disease (PD),” remind the Spanish researchers in this new study. Inflammation can “kill dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra and to enhance the dopaminergic denervation of the striatum.”
Among the many functions of your endocannabinoid system is control of inflammation., and more generally, protecting nerve cells (neuroprotection). Your cannabinoid system activates from interaction with your natural endocannabinoids such as anandamide. Plant cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, and synthesized research cannabinoids can also modulate your endocannabinoid system, through its receptors CB1 and CB2, (and other receptors and processes).
Unlike CB1 receptors which are found primarily in the outer layer of neurons in the brain and throughout the body, CB2 receptors are more associated with the immune system. This research looked at CB2 in brain cells, not in neurons, but in microglia support cells. About one out of seven of your total brain cells are these microglia immune cells; macrophage-like, they serve as a sensitive as house-keepers, removing damaged neurons and other waste material. When need be, microglial cells mount a powerful protective force against bacterial and other threats to your neurons.
The Spaniards write:
The cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptor has been investigated as a potential anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective target in different neurodegenerative disorders, but still limited evidence has been collected in PD. Here, we show for the first time that CB2 receptors are elevated in microglial cells recruited and activated at lesioned sites in the substantia nigra of PD patients compared to control subjects.
In an earlier study, some of the same researchers examined the possible use of the cannabinoid THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) . See Symptom-relieving and neuroprotective effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ⁹-THCV in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Again, activation of CB2 receptors was the focus. The researchers concluded:
Given its antioxidant properties and its ability to activate CB(2) but to block CB(1) receptors, Δ(9)-THCV has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms.
The marijuana-law reforming CARERS Act, now languishing at the neglect of Senator Chuck (Ghastly) Grassley, seeks to down-schedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II. This single step has been a long-sought goal of reformers and would be significant; many of the worst legal harms would be removed by that modest rescheduling. Research on health benefits of cannabis would become possible, as marijuana would no longer be defined as medically useless. Mandatory minimum sentences, enforced because of cannabis’ Schedule I status, would no longer apply.
Still, cannabis does not belong in Schedule II, with cocaine and other harsher drugs. Also, the IRS 280e regulation that inflicts severe tax impacts on marijuana businesses, would still be in play. Banking would remain impossible. Cities and counties in legal states could still prohibit, relying on the argument that it is against federal law.
The DEA itself down-scheduled synthetic marijuana in the form of the pharmaceutical pill, to Schedule III. Ironically, Marinol is 100% THC, far stronger than the strongest pot, and taken as a pill without the dose management capabilities of smoking or vaping. This down-scheduling, by the way, belies President Obama’s assertion that he could not reschedule should he so choose. The DEA, after all, is part of the Justice Department, which in turn reports to the president.
Even down-scheduling to Schedule IV or Schedule V would place cannabis with substances far more dangerous. Nearly any drug can kill; cannabis cannot kill. The main problem with cannabis being scheduled at all in the Controlled Substance Act is with that status cannabis remains a federally illegal drug.
Marijuana never should have been a federally criminally controlled drug; it must not continue to be so in the future.
Although the fit is far from perfect, cannabis could be more fairly government regulated if it were treated like alcohol and cigarettes. These two supposed non-drugs are in fact the most dangerous, and kill millions around the planet each year. Cannabis kills zero each year world wide. Still, such a classification, out of the Controlled Substance Act and out of the hands of the DEA, would enable intense medical marijuana research and an entrepreneurial boom. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Firearms could be the regulatory agency.
As reported in MarijuanaPolitics.com, the presidential candidate recently proposed the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015. Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert is quoted:
Sen. Sanders is simply proposing that we treat marijuana similarly to how we treat alcohol at the federal level, leaving most of the details to the states. It is a commonsense proposal that is long overdue in the Senate
Lacking passage of this bill, exactly how cannabis gets totally de-scheduled is questionable. Were Bernie Sanders to attain the presidency, he could down-schedule to the least restrictive Schedule V. But whether he could remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act on this own, without congressional agreement, is unclear.
Cannabis reduces traumatic brain injury!
Far too few know this benefit of medical marijuana use and treatment. The general public, the NFL, and coaches across the country may soon get that opportunity.
The SONY movie, “Concussion,” examining brain trauma in the NFL, presents a unique opportunity to educate about benefits of cannabis for traumatic brain injury. Will Smith plays a forensic pathologist who discovers the chilling extent of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players, setting them up for depression, dementia, and early death.
The Christmas 2015 movie has already elevated the issue of traumatic brain injury to the public and NFL players. Although the movie does not address how cannabis can minimize brain injuries, the time will be ripe for such education.
This a retired Harvard psychiatrist and pioneering authority on marijuana’s medical benefits has already specifically addressed the issue of CTE in the NFL, when he petitioned the organization to fund research into cannabis and brain trauma. Dr. Grinspoon has been educating on the positive health effects of cannabis for decades, since it helped his son with cancer in the 1970s. He has written a dozen books, several on medical marijuana, calling it The Forbidden Medicine.” He has editorialized in The New York Times that marijuana is a “wonder drug“, where he lists the truly wondrous medical benefits provided, including relief from neuropathic pain. He writes:
If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug.
Much of the research showing the protective effects of cannabinoids against traumatic brain injury comes from Israel. Studies reported in 2013 in this small, high-tech country showed that THC and similar cannabinoids can reduce injury both before and after trauma.
Irony alert: This research showing the brain-protective benefits was done at the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases. Sheldon Adelson, that is, the American right-wing gambling billionaire and major benefactor to Israel. Ironically, he put several million dollars into a 2014 Florida campaign to PREVENT medical marijuana in that state. With the help of his money, Floridians were denied the benefits of medical cannabis, such as reducing brain injury and dementia, discovered in his own center! WTF?
Other Israeli researchers concentrated on 2-AG, the human body’s own cannabinoid molecule, along with anandamide, that fits lock-and-key into the same receptors activated by plant cannabinoid in marijuana. They discuss how cannabinoids work on the biological and molecular levels to reduce traumatic brain injury (TBI) and with it minimize the disabling disease CTE. The brain trauma of a concussive hit does not all take place and finish with the hit. In the hours following, inflammation is a destructive factor, caused in part by cytokines, cell messengers, such as the dangerous TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-1beta. 2-AG also reduces blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability, another neuroprotective effect.
More ways cannabinoids reduce traumatic brain injury.
Head trauma, such as a massive acceleration/deceleration of a head during helmet to pad collision, common in NFL football, begins a lengthy neurological response process, often inflicting more harm to the brain. This response is primarily inflammatory. For a specific site, even the whole brain, the culprit is “excitotoxicity, the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate and similar substances.” This neurotransmitter overload degrades and kills brain cells, and they die a messy death, creating further toxicity in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), nasty molecules that damage cell structures and your DNA.
So as soon as a football player takes a concussive hit, from then for hours, and longer, the resulting excitotoxicity attacks neurons and other cells:
Amazingly, cannabinoids in cannabis exert a healing calm to excitotoxicity and help reduce neurological damage in all areas.
So, obviously, the investigation of cannabis in reducing traumatic brain injury and CTE in football players and sports participants who suffer concussions presents a life-saving opportunity. Their are ample reasons for undertaking this research and hopefully the NFL will take up Dr. Grinspoon’s challenge to fund it.
First, do no harm. The NFL’s knee jerk mandate of prohibiting cannabis use by players may be doing huge harms by denying them the medicine that can help prevent, treat, and minimize injuries from the brain trauma they suffer as players.
Beyond that, what can we do as fans of football, and for some, as parent of young players, to help get the NFL to sponsor this vitally needed research into concussion and cannabis?.
Copyright © 2015 Don Fitch
With properties that help protect nerve cells, especially brain cells, it is reasonable that cannabinoids might be useful in preventing and treating insidious AD.
As with other degenerative diseases associated with aging, AD is of special importance to baby boomers and aging populations throughout the world.The number of people so afflicted may triple over the next half century. All the degenerative diseases are cruel, but AD can inflict soul-robbing pathology into families and relationships. With AD comes a slow breakdown of memories and then personality.
Central to this damage seems to be the formation of fibrous, knotted senile plaques in the brain. Inside these plaques, inflammation festers. Chronic inflammation is dangerous anywhere; it is especially destructive when microglial cells, the brain’s protectors, themselves become sources of inflammation right in the brain.
Two protein substances clog the brains of those afflicted with AD. Remarkably, cannabinoids appear to provide protection against both these threats to our brains and minds.
Fresh research reported in late 2006 clarifies some of the mechanisms that make THC such a powerful anti-Alzheimer’s disease agent. San Diego’s Scripps Research Institute, specifically its Worm Institute of Research and Medicine is the source of new findings about the ability of THC to block the formation of plaques in the brain. In test tube trials, THC shows a remarkable ability to stop the formation of these personality-robbing plaques. THC, the San Diego researchers found, inhibited the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, a substance that plays a key role in inducing β amyloid plaques.
Side-by-side comparisons with two pharmaceutical drugs currently on the market (and inexorably advertised during television news) are startling. THC, the primary cannabinoid from the source plant cannabis. was over four times more effective than one of the drugs, and roughly 14 times more effective than the other.
At the molecular level, THC bound to the acetylcholinesterase molecule, preventing the enzyme’s key role in creation of amyloid aggregation. Institute director and study coauthor Kim Janda was quite effusive at a 2006 release:
Although our study is far from final, it does show that there is a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead researcher Janda went on to say,
While we are certainly not advocating the use of illegal drugs, these findings offer convincing evidence that THC possesses remarkable inhibitory qualities, especially when compared to [Alzheimer’s drugs] currently available to patients.
CBD, the medically remarkable cannabinoid from marijuana works much better with other cannabinoids in ‘entourage.’ My last post covered some of the political wrangling, with some states passing CBD-only laws and thinking they are done with medical marijuana. This entourage effect proves them wrong, and show that whole plant extracts with multiple cannabinoids, especially THC, work far better than CBD-only medications.
A major problem with CBD-only medication is a bell-shaped dose-response. The authors of the new Israeli study point out that CBD, short for cannabidiol, provided powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relief when delivered orally or intraperitoneally, but the effect seemed highly dose-dependent. Too high or too low a dose of purified CBD provided less effect against inflammation and pain, making establishing dosing very difficult.
This problem was solved by using “plant extracts derived from the Cannabis sativa L., clone 202, which is highly enriched in CBD,” in other words, high CBD marijuana. The effects were spectacular:
In stark contrast to purified CBD, the clone 202 extract, when given either intraperitoneally or orally, provided a clear correlation between the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive responses and the dose, with increasing responses upon increasing doses, which makes this plant medicine ideal for clinical uses.
Such powerful, predictable, and reproducible pain and inflammation relief enable clinicians to set dosages, a key need in using cannabis medicine.
Have you tried CBD or CBD with entourage cannabinoids for any condition? What were your results?