CBD Clues for ALS Treatment

Yet another study shows the potential usefulness of marijuana’s cannabinoids to treat ALS.

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.

 

The Cannabinoid THCV May Treat Acne

Cannabis is a treasure trove of medicines. The plant’s 80+ cannabinoids offer treatment and relief from a long list of maladies: acne may now be included. The cannabinoid TCHV may offer a powerful treatment for acne, according to new European research.

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.

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.

CBD Better With Other Entourage Cannabinoids

Cannabidiol (CBD) ©-designer491 Fotolia

Cannabidiol (CBD) ©-designer491 Fotolia

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?

Related articles

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.

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.

Global warming as planetary inflammatory disease.

The biosphere of planet earth is in great peril from global warming. In many ways this on-rushing planetary disaster is like an inflammatory disease.

Red deserts of Africa

Red deserts of Africa

Inflammation was described 2,000 years ago in Roman medicine, recognizable as calor, rubor, tumor, and dolor, heat, redness, swelling and pain.  Later the historic physician Galen added loss of function. Although inflammation can be a healthy response to threats such a bacterial infections, it is always stressful and accompanied by cell damage.

Chronic inflammation is key to cellular damage caused by autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis. Inappropriate chronic inflammation is currently seen as basic to a host of modern diseases. Any source of long term inflammation, any condition ending in -itus, such as gingivitis, should be avoided. Obesity is some real ways an inflammatory disease.

The planet Earth now seems afflicted with an inflammatory-like disease.

  • Heat is a prime manifestation of inflammation. Excess heat is also the prime driver of the on-going climate change. The atmosphere of earth, plagued with historically high levels of carbon, is retaining more of the heat energy pouring in from the sun. The earth’s biosphere, the only sphere of life that we know to exist in the entire universe, is suffering from a dangerous warming. Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, are heating up like an injured limb.
  • Redness is a second manifestation of inflammation. Startlingly, new sources of redness have emerged on the earth’s surface and water. Red tides stain the oceans with zones of death. Great rivers carry red earth, eroded from dry hillsides, far out to sea. Dust storms visible from space carry red dust clouds from Africa to spread over Europe. Red dots of flame, visible from space, glow in oil producing areas as gas bi-products are burned off. Other areas of red flame issue from the remains of the world’s rain forests being torched in an equatorial zone of fire stretching around the globe.
  • Swelling is another inflammatory symptom that is reflected in the rising oceans. Sea levels climb not only as great glaciers melt, but also the oceans bulge with warmth. CO2 counts swell in ever higher parts per million of the atmosphere.
  • Pain is an unwelcome manifestation of inflammation. A human feels pain as an injury or autoimmune condition causes inflammatory pressure on nerves and release of pain biochemicals. Unfortunately, people and other lifeforms on the planet are in for a lot of pain as warming shrinks habitats, both from sea level rise and desertification. The melting of river-filling glaciers will cause the pain of great thirst across much of the globe.
  • Loss of function is the last symptom of inflammation. With a significant portion of the world’s human population and economy living and working near the oceans, rising sea levels will inflict incalculable damage and hardship. This at the same time as hundreds of millions displaced by drought seek refuge.

It is a bit startling to compare the inflammation symptoms of the planet with the function of inflammation in the human body. Acute inflammation is a life-saving response. Bacteria entering any small flesh wound would soon multiply enough to kill a human if the person’s body did not answer quickly with an immune response using inflammation. Invading bacteria are killed by this response before their number can rise to the point of danger to life.

Is the planet’s inflammation also a life-saving response, in this case the life of the biosphere? The result of global climate change may be end up reducing the number of carbon producing units on its surface. Six and a half billion people is probably far more than the biosphere can support; the nine billion predicted in 2040 will compete, and probably fight, for ever diminishing land and fresh water.

Continuation of his heating would/will result in catastrophes of colossal proportions. The Copenhagen conference has done little to change things.

Interestingly, the cure, or at least reduction for inflammation on the planetary level might be similar to an effective treatment for humans suffering inflammation. A subsequent post will explore how cannabis can moderate inflammation, not just in the human body, but also for the planet Earth.