More Evidence Cannabinoid THCV Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

The alarming increase in diabetes, especially behavior-linked Type 2 diabetes, threatens this nation’s and the planet’s health care systems. With this disease, the body is unable to process enough sugar from the blood. This excess blood glucose damages nearly every organ and normal health process, causing much misery, and in some cases disabilities, amputations, blindness, and impotence. The disease doubles risk of early death.

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:

  • Pancreatic β-cell function
  • Adiponectin levels
  • Apolipoprotein A

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.

Cannabinoid Receptors Help Reduce Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Inflammation

Our body’s natural cannabinoid receptors may play an important role in reducing inflammation in Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

Parkinson's disease patient showing a flexed w...

Parkinson’s disease patient showing a flexed walking posture pictured in 1892. Photo appeared in Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpètrière, vol. 5. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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).

This new Spanish research focused on receptor CB2.

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.

Cannabis Fights Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Cannabinoids may well be helpful in slowing and preventing the damage to the human brain known as Alzheimer ’s disease and other dementia.

With properties that help protect nerve cells, especially brain cells, it is reasonable that cannabinoids might be useful in preventing and treating insidious AD.

English: Diagram of how microtubules desintegr...

English: Diagram of how microtubules desintegrate with Alzheimer’s disease

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.

Plaques and Tangles

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.

  1. Amyloid plaques – composed of strands of protein, beta-amyloid peptides. These so-called senile plaques are a clear marker for Alzheimer ’s disease.
  2. Neurofibrillary tangles – composed of protein microtubules, tau.

THC Blocking Plaques

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.

 

Look for Part 2 soon at Your Brain on Bliss

 

Cannabis Oil: A Medical Marvel For Your Skin?

Back massageAs medical and personal use of marijuana become increasingly legal, many new ways to intake cannabis are now available. In addition to inhaling smoke, people can benefit from the medical cannabinoids in cannabis by vaporizing, ingesting, and absorption via the skin.

Plant cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD,  are fat soluble and readily absorbed by the skin. These medicinal molecules may well be most perfectly administered, for many conditions, via topical products applied directly to the skin’s surface, such as cannabis-infused massage oil. To clarify, this is not “hemp oil” from the seeds of low cannabinoid hemp, but made from the flowers (buds) themselves, and filled with cannabinoids.

© freshidea - Fotolia.com

© freshidea – Fotolia.com

The importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to the healthy functioning of the skin is only now becoming clear, as the profound ways the ECS effects all our systems are continually discovered. This system,with natural receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in brain, immune and most types of cells, including those in the skin, and natural endocannabinoids our bodies produce, are perhaps the greatest discoveries in human physiology of the last 50 years.

During these same time, researchers discovered the ability for plant based cannabinoids from cannabis, including THC and  CBD, to activate the ECS.  These cannabinoids offer great potential for preventing, treating, and curing common skin diseases. Massages using cannabis infused oil may be an optimal way to address skin maladies. Cannabinoids may be very useful in treating skin cancer.

The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) has been found to play a key role in the health of the skin, prompting these Italian researchers to study cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and  cannabidivarin (CBDV) to study effects on skin cells. The Italian study skipped THC because of its psychoactivity, but THC has been shown to be powerfully therapeutic. THC is actually closer to AEA in function than is CBD, so it would have been interesting if it were included in the study.

Many skin conditions are inflammatory in nature and the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids on skin cells have been demonstrated. Both THC and CBD show anti-inflammatory effects.

Cannabinoids also act on the genetic level to help calm skin diseases. The field of Epigenetics studies how “molecular mechanisms in the environment control gene activity independently of DNA sequence.” Activities such as exercise and factors such as nutrition and stress can change how genes are expressed. Endocannabinoids made by your own cells and phytocannabiniods from cannabis sativa also can change genetic expression in medically useful ways, addressing diseases from psoriasis to cancer.

The report concluded: “These findings show that the phytocannabinoids cannabidiol and cannabigerol are transcriptional repressors that can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This indicates that they (especially cannabidiol) have the potential to be lead compounds for the development of novel therapeutics for skin diseases.”

THC infused oils may offer many benefits missing from potions without this main cannabinoid. One of these benefits might be the “psychoactivity” seemingly dreaded by cannabinoid researchers. Patients may well enjoy the blissful experience, and even consider it part of the cure.

Watch for Part 2 of this series for more on the science, on the new found epigenetic capabilities of cannabinoids, how marijuana’s amazing molecules adjust gene expression to protect skin.

Obesity:cannabis consumers slimmer.

People who use cannabis are less likely to be obese than those that do not. This intriguing finding was just revealed in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Two large epidemiological studies found far lower rates of obesity and BMI in cannabis consumers versus abstainers.

Such finding are particularly important when 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. Fat cells displace organs and produce cellular toxins. Obesity kills at least one out of eight Americans.

Should cannabis use worsen this obesity problem, it might be an important contraindication for medical cannabis use. Cannabis consumption is, after all, commonly associated with “the munchies.” Medically it is useful in helping those with wasting syndrome gain weight. The cardiometabolic aspects of enhancing the endocannabinoid response be activating CB1 and CB2 receptors do not seem very beneficial. If anything, they seem negative from several cardiometabolic parameters, such as adiponectin levels.

Remember, it was the cannabinoid receptor antagonist, Rimonabant, that was just a few years ago thought to have a major future as an anti-obesity drug.  This “anti-marijuana” was supposed to give you the “anti-munchies.” But human trials showed it also caused an “anti-high”, exhibited by anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. It was never approved by the FDA.

The new study, however, shows higher consumption of cannabis with reduced rates of obesity. The authors conclude, “that the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.” The study was controlled for cigarette smoking. The authors did not speculate by what mechanism cannabis consumers were more free from obesity than people not consuming cannabis.

Generally, the best method to freedom from obesity is to be physically active, walk at least 10,000 steps per day, and maintain a nutritious, calorie-lean diet.

Cannabinoids in glaucoma prevention and treatment.

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.

Cinnamon, spices and cannabis for anti-inflammation.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon

Both the spice, cinnamon and the medicinal herb, cannabis, provide beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. At least some of these healthy effects are from stimulation of the same receptors in your endocannabinoid receptor system.

Although useful and beneficial when protecting the body against bacterial intruders and other perils, inflammation becomes a medical problem if it becomes chronic. Diseases ending in “itis,” such as arthritis and gingivitis are just two of dozens of such maladies, laden with toxic effects to the tissues affected and destructive to the body in general. Indeed, chronic inflammation has become a key medical villain in the degenerative diseases that bedevil modern society. Such inflammation is now seen as a generator of atherosclerosis and is a potent cardiovascular risk factor.

Cinnamon has long been recognized for health-enhancing properties, including providing anti-inflammatory effects. The spice’s component coumarin, in cinnamomum aromaticum thins the blood. Increasingly, cinnamon appears to be very useful in addressing insulin resistance and diabetes.

At least some of the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties come from its another component shared with other spices, beta-caryophyllene. Cloves, black pepper, rosemary, hops and other spices all provide this component of essential oils.

The plant cannabis also provides anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD provide anti-inflammatory effects, but at least some of the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis also come from the plant terpene, beta-caryophyllene.

Research published in 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA, an international team of researchers show that beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. A cannabinoid is a substance that activates (or otherwise modulates) our endocannabinoid receptor system. This newly discovered and ubiquitous system has been shown be be a key regulatory system for many of our body’s functions. Activation of the key components of this system, cannabinoid receptors, has been shown to provide health benefits. These receptors come in at least two types, CB1, found mainly on neurons but also elsewhere and CB2, found mainly on immune cells. Activation of CB1 receptors, primarily by THC, provides cannabis its psychotropic effect.

Activation of CB2 receptors, on the other hand, provokes no psychotropic response but does seem to provide useful modulation of the immune response. CB2 receptors are activated by THC, CBD (cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids, and the terpene beta-caryophyllene. CB2 receptor activation triggers an anti-inflammatory, neuron protecting response. The NSA research concludes it abstract with, “These results identify (E)-BCP (beta-caryophyllene) as a functional nonpsychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic antiinflammatory cannabinoid in Cannabis.

As a general anti-inflammatory tactic, consider adding or increasing cinnamon in your diet. Few foods are more nutritious and heart healthy than say, oatmeal flavored with natural cinnamon. Those battling insulin resistance and diabetes might find special benefit. A great move is to replace reduced salt in food with additional beta-caryophyllene bearing spices of several types.

Just be sure to eat your spices, not smoke them.

Parkinson’s Disease and the THCV in cannabis.

New British and Spanish research on one of cannabis’ cannabinoids show its great potential for treating Parkinson’s disease. The cannabinoid is the lesser known but hugely interesting THCV, aka Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. The molecule is present to varying decrees in different strains of cannabis, from trace amounts to a hefty proportion.

Unlike your own body’s cannabinoid anandamide, or its phyto(plant based)-cannabinoid cousin, THC, THCV does not activate CB1 receptors in your endocannbinoid regulatory system. Activation of these CB1 receptors, found mainly on nerve cells, is responsible for most of THC’s psychoactive effects and medical benefits. THC also activates CB2 receptors, found more on immune cells and thought responsible for some of cannabis’ beneficial effects on some autoimmune disorders. Like THC, THCV also binds with and activates these CB2 receptors. Like THC, THCV is a powerful antioxidant, capable of sopping up cell-killing free radicals. Unlike THC, THCV does not activate CB1 receptors. Instead, it blocks (serves as an antagonist to) the activation of the CB1 system. It may play a major role in future treatments of cardiometabolic diseases and obesity.

The International Association of Cannabinoid Medicine reported the research as follows:

Parkinson’s disease
Spanish and British researchers investigated the effects of Delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) in an animal model of Parkinson’s
disease
. They concluded that “given its antioxidant properties and
its ability to activate CB2 but to block CB1 receptors, Delta-9-THCV
has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease
progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms.”
(Source: García C, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Feb 16. [in press]).

The fact that the research was British and Spanish, not American, is telling. Americans are not allowed to research cannabis and are denied access to marijuana for research. The pathetic paucity of medical cannabis research in the USA is a literal crime against humanity, a function of politics of prohibition. Americans by the millions suffer untreated pain, blinding glaucoma and immobilizing Parkinson’s disease while all research is denied, decade after decade. Instead of following a science-based assessment (which would demand a rush to research medical cannabis), American science has been held hostage to authoritarian bureaucrats.

Your brain on anti-matter. Positron/gamma ray images of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain.

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.

Anandamide Why did they call it bliss?

In Jerusalem in the year 1992, Ananda, the Sanskrit word for bliss, named a newly identified molecule. Anandamide was given as name to the cannabinoid molecule first discovered being produced in the human body, that is, the first endocannabinoid. This revelation solved a decade’s old mystery. The discovery of anandamide and the receptor system it stimulates has greatly changed and grown our knowledge of the structure and functioning of our human bodies. What has been learned already offers to better our health and well-being.

A mystery and a great discovery.

The great discovery begins wrapped in a mystery: In the mid 1960’s researchers in Israel identified the active component of the plant Cannabis Sativa. Then, over a quarter century later, in 1990, researchers indentified natural receptors activated by this plant cannabinoid. The discovery of these receptors found them first in the brain, then throughout the human body.

The mystery: Why should human beings have a natural receptor system triggered by molecules from the flowers of a plant?

The discovery of the human cannabinoid receptor system and the natural substances that activate this system extends our knowledge of human body and its workings. The beneficial properties associated with the activation and modulation of this newly found system are profound: They offer a whole host of beneficial physiological functions including preventative and curative effects for many commonly afflicting diseases. Medicine in the 21st century will be fundamentally altered by the discovery of this system and the natural molecules we produce to manage it.

Jerusalem Journey

Jerusalem is sacred ground in many ways. It is central to three of the world’s most influential religions, and home to many of their key relics, both present and long past. The Wailing Wall, The Dome of the Rock and the Garden Tomb keep uneasy company with each other and with the ghosts of ancient structures, such as the Second Temple, twenty centuries ago burned to ash by the legions of Rome.

During all these thousands of years of Jerusalem history, back 1,000 years to the Crusades, back 2.000 years to the time Christ walked the city’s streets, and much further back, thousands of more years back, something else was constant in the land. Down these long centuries, humans were cultivating, trading and using a weedy plant across the Middle East of which Jerusalem is the center. The fast growing cannabis sativa provided its cultivators with useful fiber, nutritious seeds, potent medications and perhaps even helped stoke their spirituality.

Dr. Raphael  Mechoulam’s discoveries began when he undertook the investigation of the active components of cannabis sativa, the plant so long used in the Middle East for relieving aches and pains, inflammation and a score of other ails, and for enjoying its bliss-giving properties. He began by securing a chunk of hashish, concentrated products of the flowering female plant. In 1964 at the Weissmann Institute of Science at the Rehovoth campus of Hebrew University, he and his team discovered the major active ingredient in cannabis, THC.[i]
But that is the story of a later post.


[i] Gaoni, Y.; Mechoulam, R. Isolation, structure, and partial synthesis of an active constituent of hashish. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1964, 86, 1646-1650.