Posts tagged with “cannabinoids”.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
Congratulations to Canadian hemp food producer Manitoba Harvest for its new Hemp Hearts. Long a supplier of hemp foods, the Winnipeg company has come up with a new product mix for hemp seeds.
I am happy to be able to purchase this highly nutritious food, filled with brain friendly Omega 3s, essential oils, fiber and protein, even at $16/pound. As an Oregonian, though, I am sorry that hemp seeds cannot be grown in my state (and country). Farming is an important state industry and Oregon farmers could doubtless produce a bountiful crop of this food Americans so desperately need. How about an Oregon Harvest, instead of having to import what Oregonians could grow. In 2009, Oregon even passed state legislation, signed by the governor and now state law, allowing Oregonians to grow hemp. But no Oregon farmers are growing hemp because the DEA would crush them and take their land in forfeiture if they did, just one of many ways this bloated agency’s regulatory morass stifles American (and Oregon) capitalism. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.
If the DEA had its way, Americans would have no access to hemp seed foods at all. That’s right, perhaps the most nutritious food on earth would not be a choice available to American consumers. Americans being fattened into diabesity by their obesity-inducing diets could not, by DEA mandate, purchase omega-3 rich hemp seed oils nor seeds until quite recently. Until overturned by court order, this federal bureaucracy restricted the rights of Americans to buy and consume hemp seeds, quite possibly the planet’s most nutritious food. Similarly, the rights are stolen from American farmers and entrepreneurs to grow and monetize one of humankind’s oldest crops.
In addition to supplying sublimely nutritious food, hemp is (or would be) one of American industry’s most useful basic resources. Virtually every part of the plant is usable. Fiber and fuel are two key areas.
Superb hemp-based building materials, comparable and even superior to wood provide vast opportunities in construction and manufacturing. In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of seemingly endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication. Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.
- Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
- Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.
Clothing is a basic human need. Hemp fabric is already a preferred material for providing comfortable, hypoallergenic, UV protective cloth.
Using hemp for fuel offers huge American opportunities. Pure hemp seed oil can be used directly by any diesel engine. For now, hemp oil makes for an expensive fuel, but of course, it is against the law to produce it here in the USA. Maybe that has something to do with the high cost.
Of course, it is probable that medical care is the field where cannabis sativa, if freed of DEA strangulation, could make it grandest contribution to American well being and productivity. With the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system in the 1990s, and subsequent exploration of its many functions in human physiology, and entire new area of medical research was opened. Or at least it would have been, had the entire cannabis plant not suffered DEA Schedule 1 status. Nearly all medical research is stymied by this most restrictive classification.
Recent congressional legislation has enhanced DEA scheduling capabilities. In effect, this bloated federal agency is allowed to write it own laws, on its own, by scheduling any substance it chooses. Bizarrely, legislators running on small government, anti-regulation platforms are quick to burden American capitalists with new regulations that benefit only DEA bureaucrats.
So American capitalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and dozens of other productive professions are being denied a hugely important raw material of food, fiber, fuel, medications, literally thousands of products to serve the real needs of Americans. The prosperity and well being of millions of Americans are sacrificed at the bureaucratic alter of the DEA. This is big government at its very worst.
Glaucoma is a major blinding disease, the second leading cause of loss of sight in the USA. The chief mechanism is excessive pressure inside the eyeball. Treatments focus on reducing this pressure, often through trying to reduce production of the intraocular liquid, aqueous humor, or to increase its drainage
Imagine inflating a basketball to twice its recommended pressure. Not only would it bounce and handle poorly, it would also be in some danger of exploding. In the eye, excess pressure can deform the back of the eyeball where the optic nerve leads deep into the brain. The pressure can cause “cupping,” and with it, irreversible optic nerve damage. The crushing effect causes excitotoxicity in the damaged retinal ganglion cells, and further injury results from this oxidation stress.
The function of cannabinoids in lowering this damaging interocular pressure is well known; the treatment of glaucoma with cannabis is one of the most readily identified medical uses of marijuana.
Now it is clear that the benefits go far beyond this crucial lowering of intraocular pressure. Activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system also now appears to provide robust neuroprotective effects. Not only does cannabis lower eye pressures, it also serves to help protect the visual nerve cells from damage.
Our eyes are well endowed with endocannabinoid receptors of both types, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors have been shown to flourish in the human anterior eye, where the excess pressure is generated, and the retina, where the damage of glaucoma takes place.
Research, reported in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, found CB1 receptors in all the frontal eye anatomy thought important in controlling IOP (intraocular pressure). These include Schlemm’s canal and “ciliary epithelium, trabecular meshwork, and in the blood vessels of the ciliary body.” The authors surmised that evidence of CB1 receptors in the “ciliary pigment epithelium suggests that cannabinoids may have an effect on aqueous humor production.” CB1 presence in the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal “suggests that cannabinoids may influence conventional outflow.” Evidence of effects on uveoscleral outflow are inferred by CB1in the ciliary muscle.
CB1 receptors are also present on the other (back) end of the eye, the all important retina and its attachment to the optic nerve with retinal ganglion cells. Here, the neuroprotective effects of activation of cannabinoid receptors may prevent and reduce damage caused by high IOP. Research out of Finland concluded that “at least some cannabinoids may ameliorate optic neuronal damage through suppression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor hyperexcitability, stimulation of neural microcirculation, and the suppression of both apoptosis and damaging free radical reactions, among other mechanisms.”
Research our of University of Aberdeen, UK remind that not all neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids come from their activation of the endocannabinoid system; cannabinoids are powerful antioxidants in their own right. Writing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the researchers note that “Classic cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC, HU-211, and CBD have antioxidant properties that are not mediated by the CB1 receptor. As a result, they can prevent neuronal death by scavenging toxic reactive oxygen species produced by overstimulation of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamic acid.” The British researchers also note that regarding the CB2 receptor, “The anti-inflammatory properties of CB2 receptor agonists might also prove to be of therapeutic relevance in different forms of inflammatory eye disease.”
Tragically, little of this research has been done in the USA. Even though glaucoma blinds hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, the anti-cannabis bias of the controlling agencies (DEA, NIDA ) has not allowed research with this natural plant substance that can prevent these blindings. They cling to the fiction (and blatant lie) that marijuana has no medical value and disallow all research even while their countrymen and women needlessly lose precious, precious sight.
So strong is this prejudice that even so-called advocacy groups such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation appear uninterested in a natural substance that helps prevent glaucoma. “Information” on medical marijuana at this site appears to have been written by the propaganda officers of the DEA.
Meanwhile, across the globe, research moves forward identifying evermore ways humans can gain health benefits from the cannabis plant. At the forefront are the IOP lowering, optic nerve-protecting effects of THC and other cannabinoids.
Last week, Dr. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts, after a decade of trying to gain permission to grow or procure cannabis for research on its medical value, finally gave up. Unlike any other substance, the government maintains a total monopoly on growing and distributing cannabis for research purposes. Essentially the government allows no research on cannabis, especially investigations into its medical benefits, the focus of Dr. Craker’s research.
For more history of University of Massachusetts professor’s 9 year struggle, see the AP report here. This dismal tale of bureaucratic injustice seemed more hopeful in 2007, when a federal judge ruled in Professor’s Craker’s favor and recommended the DEA grant the request. But then this judgment was overruled by the DEA‘s acting director Michele Leonhart in the waning days of the Bush administration. Obama’s response back-stabbed those who voted for change when he then nominated this DEA hack as director, a position which she now holds after unanimous Senate confirmation. Gag.
The government’s actions, and decades of stalling inaction, are crimes against humanity. Dr. Craker says this is only the first battle and the struggle will continue for many decades. Problem is, those who need the new medications the most, the Baby Boomers, don’t have a lot of decades left to wait while bureaucracies stall research that would further undermine their palace of lies. Lies such as the Schedule I assertion that cannabis has no medical value. Baby Boomers will be consumed by cancer, blinded by glaucoma, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, racked by Crohn’s disease and suffer other dire maladies for which cannabis medications show great promise while self-serving government bureaus continue to lie, to stall and to stifle research. Such despicable behavior and horrendous consequences, especially when the anti-cancer promises of cannabinoids remain uninvestigated, truly qualify as crimes against against humanity.
The Obama administration promised a science-based approach. Instead, Obama has allowed politics and bureaucracy to stifle what may well be one of the most productive veins of medical research this century. What if all the tens of billions of dollars wasted on cannabis prohibition and eradication were instead invested in researching medical benefits of cannabinoids? How many jobs could be created? How much suffering could be avoided? For now, Dr. Craker has lost, along with the American people and scientific inquiry. The bureaucrat prohibitionists and their massive budgets have won. Thankfully, this vital cannabis medical research continues on in other countries.
The World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society have compiled in The Tobacco Atlas a damning list of morbidity and mortality inflicted by cigarettes on the world’s people. Cigarettes are powerful drugs, the most addicting and lethal of all drugs. Cigarettes kill far more people than all the illegal drugs combined. In the USA, at least 30 times as many people die from cigarettes than all illicit drugs.
The lists of damage from cigarettes to the health of the world’s people is lengthy:
- Smoking cigarettes contributes to 6 of the 8 leading causes of death.
- “Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide”
- Cigarette smoking killed 100 million people during the last century; it may kill one billion during this century.
- Tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke it. Smokers die, on the average, about 15 years before people who don’t smoke. Chewed tobacco is also often deadly dangerous.
The most popular illicit drug, cannabis, kills zero people. Marijuana does not have a lethal dose and is not associated with morbidity. Actually though, a few people are killed by association with cannabis, usually in SWAT raids. In Malaysia, about one person is hanged each month for cannabis possession. Cannabis smoke, like all smoke, does contain some toxins, but has not been shown to cause cancer. Elements specific to marijuana smoke, especially THC, may be providing protection against tumors. Medical cannabis is now commonly consumed via vaporizer, so all toxins are eliminated.
What if swine flu developed into great plague next year and death swept across the globe leaving behind six million corpses? The world’s people would tremble in fear. We would grimace in mourning and horror among the mountains of the dead. Yet when this mass death is delivered by the artificial plague of cigarettes, the terrible toll is dismissed with a shrug.
Instead, a world-wide crusade is underway, lead by the USA, with the goal of stamping out not cigarettes, but instead the other drugs. Although they cause are the cause one one death for every 30 from cigarettes (in the USA) these other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, even nearly harmless drugs such as cannabis, are labeled poisons. Those possessing them, at least in the USA and places like Malaysia, are treated with penalties harsher than for real criminals with actual victims.
In light of cigarettes deadly toll, should the USA and other countries prohibit cigarettes and add them to the list of illicit drugs, where they clearly belong? Clearly NOT. The prohibition approach has failed spectacularly, as it did alcohol prohibition in the USA of the 1920s. The difference is that with alcohol the mistake was realized. With the war on drugs, into its 5th decade and with the USA quintupling its prison population into the world’s largest, the prohibitionist, hard-line, lock-em-up stance continues with almost no critical examination.
This ineffective and wasteful prohibition/incarceration model has caused immense collateral damage to American society. As has worked so well in Portugal, drugs should be removed from the law enforcement, zero-tolerance model into a harm reduction approach.
Such an approach has actually worked very well for cigarettes in the USA over the last 20 years. With education, segregation of smoking and higher taxes on cigarettes to help pay for their health toll, smoking has lost much of its popularity. Cigarette consumption has markedly declined in the USA with no arrests or violations of civil liberties.
The coroner’s report showed that Michael Jackson, in his overpowering desire to sleep, demanded and received narcotics so powerful they were, obviously, life-threatening. Inability to sleep can be profoundly disturbing. Sleep deprivation is a key CIA torture technique. “It causes people to feel absolutely crazy.” Insomnia in the elderly is a major cause of depression and lack of will to live. Jackson’s insomnia appears profound; he received injections of powerfeul drugs from 2am until 10am.
Insomnia is one of the conditions legally treatable with medical cannabis in some states. Prohibitionist lampoon such applications for medical marijuana as trivial. Actually, the effectiveness of cannabis for treating insomia points to how the plant provides nearly a universal medication. What percentage of the population sometimes has trouble sleeping? If seeking medication for the problem, why should they be forced into drugs stronger than cannabis, those with real dangers, including addiction and death? Likewise should those suffering pain be forced into medications less safe than cannabis by drug laws formed in ignorance and prejudice?
Strangely, it is a misplaced sense of morality that seems to motivate prohibitionists. Those wishing to restrict the use of medical cannabis on moral grounds should realized that Queen Victoria herself made use of medical cannabis for menstrual cramps. Mitch Earlywine in Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientic Evidence, on page 113 mentions that the Queen’s chief physician, Dr. J. R. Reynolds, “recommended the drug for insomnia.” Reynolds wrote of the therapeutic effects of the drug in Lancet in 1890. So, despite the restrictions Victorian morality, the Queen and her subjects enjoyed medical freedoms deemed illegal in the USA over a century later.
Apparently the cannabinoid best suited for aided sleep is CBD, cannabidiol. High CBD cannabis medications in the form of edibles and tinctures are available in dispensaries not far from Michael Jackson’s LA home. What a shame the entertainer and his doctor focused on high-risk narcotics instead of the far safer cannabis medications available nearby. As DEA law judge Francis Young noted back in 1988, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”
Those interested in medical cannabis will remember that the CB1 receptors, discovered less than 20 years ago, are activated by THC and other cannabinoids in cannabis. This activation provides the psychoactive effects of cannabis and also some of its other health enhancing properties. CB receptors also respond to endocannabinoids produced by own bodies, primarily in our nerve cells. The receptors are part of the endocannabinoid receptor (or regulatory) system, now seen as a major physiological system, with important roles in pain relief, neuroprotection and anti-inflammation, even digestion and vision.
Such CB1 activation by THC from the plant world or anandamide from our own cells, along with other cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant or our own bodies, can provide profound health benefits. Cannabinoids also work by activating CB2 receptors (primarily found on immune cells). Independent of their actions on receptors, cannabinoids are anti-oxidants, protecting nerve cells and other tissue from oxidation stress.
In the photo below, the CB1 receptors are being marked by the inverse agonist, 18F]MK-9470, a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer for in vivo human PET brain imaging of the cannabinoid-1 receptor. Inverse agonists tend to cause receptors to respond in ways opposite their response to agonists such as THC and anandamide. In the case of cannabinoid receptors, hope that inverse agonists might serve as obesity control agents has faded with problems from nausea and mood disturbances.
The physics of what goes on during such as PET scan it astounding. The process would appear to be highly hazardous to health, yet the procedure is commonplace and apparently without risk. Markers with affinities for certain cell types, such as the compounds used above, MK-9470, emit anti-matter. A positron is the anti-matter equivalent of an electron. When it is emitted from the source, in this case on a CB1 receptor in the brain, it travels only a short distance, a millimeter or so, before encountering its matter equivalent, an electron.
When matter electron and antimatter positron meet, the result is annihilation. Such an encounter releases a short burst of highly energetic photons in the form of gamma rays. Why matter/antimatter annihilation with accompanying gamma ray burst inside the brain is not fatal is not exactly clear. Perhaps a high-energy physicist could comment. Or even a low-energy physicist after coffee.
During this positron emission tomography, sensors detect where the gamma rays are coming from and map these in a 3D representation of brain anatomy and activity. In the images above the patterns of gamma rays being emitted from this matter/antimatter annihilation show the relative distributions of CB1 receptors in various parts of the human brain. See the original research for more detail. Although they are most highly concentrated in the brain, CB1 receptors are also found throughout the entire human body, mainly on nerve cell membranes.