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.

 

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

 

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 Entourage Medically Superior to CBD Alone

Medical CannabisCBD is a remarkably medically potent component of marijuana. One of over 60 cannabinoids, CBD, short for ‘cannabidiol,‘ has dozens of medical uses, including anti-seizure, anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, anti-tumor and as treatment for pain. But new research confirms what has long been thought: CBD in addition to other entourage cannabinoids like THC is far superior medically to pure CBD.

Cannabidiol does not produce the ‘high’ associated with THC, another medically useful cannabinoid. This lack of psychotropic effect from CBD is highly esteemed by researchers (and politicians), if not necessarily by the patient.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta brought to awareness for many Americans his conversion to supporting medical cannabis and research and reporting on CBD treatment of intractable seizures in children.  The effectiveness of CBD to quiet seizures heretofore unstoppable by a flood of truly toxic drugs has led to the spectacle of, in America, of medical refugees having to leave their harsh home states and head to legal Colorado.

In the USA many state legislators, although often abhorrent to marijuana, have been unable to resist the logic of supplying this safe but effective anti-seizure medication to children in their states. Sometimes shamed by families testifying with their seizure-inflicted chidren many states have passed CBD-only (or low THC) availability laws. (Bizarrely, by doing so, states are violating federal law, as CBD remains a  Schedule I substance, deemed harmful and without medical value, and most worthy of harsh control. But that remains topic for another day.)

The danger here is that state legislators may then feel that they have done their part in supplying medical marijuana by giving CBD the OK, will resist widening choices even in light of evidence that “entourage” cannabis medications are superior.

The Israeli research, with important implications for dosing medical cannabis is linked below. It will soon be detailed in another post:

Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol

 

 

Medical Cannabis Refugees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2013 by Don Fitch

So Sayeth Sanjay! On cannabis, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years.”

Medical Marihuana

Medical Marihuana
© goshiva – Fotolia.com

This writer called it a heart-breaker at the time in early 2009 when neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta said he “would vote no on pot.”  Dr. Gupta’s dismissal of medical marijuana was disappointing because, as I noted, he was “brilliant, telegenic, a neurosurgeon, had huge recognition and an is excellent communicator.” Now forward 4 1/2 years and Sanjay Gupta’s views have come around 180 degrees. Incredibly, he now says, “Well, I am here to apologize. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof.”

Sanjay now knows, after long investigation, that “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”  He pretty much calls out the DEA as the liars that they are.  One may question why such a brilliant man could have ever believed DEA lies, but the important thing now is that he knows better, and is communicating the truth.

He should have called his documentary Cannabis, rather than Weed,  the term preferred by cops. But for now, truth wins out as Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks out.  See it on CNN August 11, 2013.

2011: Another big year for idiotic war on some drugs

Seemingly, 2011 would have good year for the federal government to be engaged in increasing employment and securing the financial system from further meltdown. Unfortunately, the government did neither of these. Astoundingly, federal bureaucrats instead re-energized the idiotic and failed war on drugs, especially medical marijuana.

DEA jackboots raid a house.

DEA jackboots raid a house.

The year began dismally with a unanimous senate confirmation of Bush/Obama appointee Michele Leonhart to head the DEA.  Any hope for cannabis rescheduling, or even research, are dashed by her choke hold on medical marijuana as administrator of this bloated agency. During confirmation hearing her anti-medical cannabis ravings were praised by powerful senators, such as Senate Judiciary Leader Jeff (“I love the DEA”) Sessions, R-Alabama. The bureaucrat Leonhart is now empowered to essentially single-handedly determine US doctrine on medical marijuana, predictably hard-line. Schedule I classification of marijuana has been very, very good to the agency and to the bloated pensions of thousands of needless, useless federal employees. This erroneous Schedule I classification for cannabis is the cause of life-crushing harshness of twenty million arrests during this senseless and on-going war on marijuana.

One possible bright ray of hope came with legislation offered by the retiring Barney Frank and presidential hopeful Ron Paul. H.R. 2306 would have repealed federal penalties for production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for medical use. This one piece of freedom-promoting legislation was quick quashed by a single powerful representative, Lamar Smith R-Texas. He simply refused to give the legislation a hearing and the desperately needed legislation died on the spot, tyranny in action.

Encouraged by this drug war zealotry, freedom-harming initiatives sprouted from seemingly every branch of the federal government.

As George W. Bush would say, “they attack us because they hate our freedoms.” But the attackers in 2011 are our own taxpayer-supported federal bureaucrats. They attack fellow citizens benefiting medically from cannabis and the health care industry that was quickly growing, to protect and expand the rosy drug-warrior careers and pensions this failed war on Americans has provided these lordly bureaucrats.

Rescheduling cannabis and drastically downsizing the counterproductive war on drugs were easy steps that Barack Obama could have taken.  He could have chosen a leader, such as Norm Stamper, rather than a drug war crazed self-server to head the DEA. Instead, as in so many ways, he has chosen to play out George W. Bush’ third term. Far more Americans support ending cannabis prohibition than support Obama’s reelection.

Sigh, 2012 does not look much better. Unless maybe Ron Paul were elected president.

Patients with medical freedom substitute cannabis for prescription drugs

When given the choice, Americans suffering from a wide variety of medical afflictions substitute safer cannabis instead of increasingly lethal prescription drugs.

Supposedly, freedom of choice is a key American value, especially with regards to personal decisions such as one’s own health care. Yet the federal government and most states deny their citizens the right to include the medical herb cannabis as part of their personal health care options. When “given” this choice in states with voter-mandated medical exemptions patients substitute medical marijuana for prescription drugs.

Increasingly, prescription drugs are costly, debilitating and dangerous. Far more Americans now die from effects of prescription drugs than from the DEA scheduled drugs, such as heroin, meth and cocaine. Prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers are the biggest killers, usually ending lives by suppressing breathing. When considering drug policy and medical options, it must be noted that zero persons, none, die from medical cannabis. As stated by DEA law judge Francis Young, “Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.

Evidence pointing to this harm reducing substitution has again been validated by survey of patients using medical cannabis. Two-thirds of the responses showed the patients choosing to substitute cannabis for powerful, disorienting and sometimes addictive and lethal prescription drugs. In particular, patients in pain are able to use less narcotic, opioid pain reliever when medical cannabis was used in adjunct.

Cannabis is one of the least toxic of all drugs. Meanwhile, it offers clear medical benefits to those suffering from a variety of diseases and maladies, including glaucoma, pain and MS. One of its most medically beneficial properties may be in allowing users to use less of dangerous medications and pain relievers.

End moronic Schedule I persecution of medical cannabis!