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.

THCV: A Marijuana Cannabinoid for Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention?

Fotolia

Fotolia

The cannabis sativa plant, marijuana, produces dozens of cannabinoids. The THC cannabinoid that elicits psychoactivity, and numerous medical benefits, is but one of over 60 phyto (plant-based) cannabinoids found in cannabis. Cannabidiol or CBD, is a second, now under intense study for its anti-inflammatory and other health properties. Another of these phytocannabinoids is  tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV. Cannabis strains favoring this cannabinoid might serve as tools for weight loss and preventing diabetes.

Medical research on cannabinoids has flourished in recent years and most research points to health positive effects of medical cannabis for a wide range of conditions. Cannabis has been found to be neuroprotective, anti-painantioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatoryanti-tumor as well as cardioprotective. One area, though, where research is less positive is in the metabolic effects of cannabinoid receptor activation. Activation of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, an effect of THC and human endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG, seemed to correlate with some health-negative metabolic conditions. Conversely, blockage of this activation with synthetic cannabinoid antagonists (e.g. rimonabant) correlated with health positive cardio-metabolic changes. As listed by the European RIO study, some positive changes induced by blocking CB1 receptors include positive changes in body weight, waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, adiponectin, fasting insulin and insulin resistance.

Because of these effects on the endocannabinoid system, it has long been assumed that cannabis consumption would tend to cause weight gain. These metabolic effects and enhanced eating because of amplified taste, i.e. “munchie effects” would theoretically make marijuana users ravenous and fat. To the surprise of many, several studies have now found that cannabis users are actually less fat than their abstaining counterparts. As reported here, marijuana users tend to be less obese and less diabetic than non-users.  Their waists were smaller. These real life observations seem to contradict the supposed munchie effect and predicted effects of CB1 activation. Such health positive indication by cannabis users may even be amplified with development of THCV-heavy cannabis weight loss products e.g. edibles for appetite suppression.

For some people eating does often follow use of THC-heavy marijuana.  Indeed, important medical uses of cannabis include treatment of the wasting syndrome and lack of appetite from chemotherapy. But by no means does everyone using cannabis each time become ravenous. Depending on the person, the setting and the cannabis, consuming cannabis is often a prelude to cardiovascular exercise, not gluttonous indolence. As much as taste enjoyment is enhanced by cannabis for some, for others (or for the same people at other times.) the sensory enjoyment of exercise is enhanced. With cannabis, activities like running can hurt less and feels better, even ecstatic. Might a higher THCV-content cannabis both dampen appetite and create an energetic cannabis experience encouraging exercise?

For a short time in 2005 and 2006, it looked this CB1 receptor antagonist, the synthetic cannabinoid rimonabant, might be a powerful anti-obesity drug. Problems arose for this promising weight loss and metabolic drug, though, from its blockage of the endocannabinoid system. Ananadamide and THC are blissful, because they activate this system. Blockage of the system, it seems, is anti-blissful, with feelings of anxiety and depression common. Also worrisome was blockage of the positive health effects of medical cannabis, e.g. glaucoma reduction and pain relief. For example, cannabis is an anti-nausea drug offering immense relief to chemotherapy patients. And indeed, nausea was another of the symptoms bothering those taking this synthetic “anti-marijuana.” Depression and nausea are probably not part of an effective weigh loss program.

After approval in Europe and other countries, rimonabant was rejected by the FDA. It has since lost favor in Europe. An obese world lost a potentially useful weight control product. Could there be other options? As it turns out one of the phyto-cannabinoids from the cannabis plants, THCV, may have potential. Although its interactions with THC, other cannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptor system are complex, recent research found that THCV is a CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonist. Seemingly, this would make for “downer cannabis,” blocking the CB1 receptors that THC activate, but that does not seem to be the case. It is possible THCV intensive cannabis might offer the appetite reduction and  and positive cardiometabolic effects of Rimonabant without the negatives of the synthetic drug. This is especially true when the THCV is mixed, with other cannabinoids, as found in cannabis. A cannabis with high THCV and low or moderate THC and CBD might be ideal.

Seminal cannabis researcher and discoverer of THC, Raphael Mechoulam, in British Journal of Pharmacology in 2005, discussed the apparent unique properties 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.

THCV’s appetite-reducing and fat loss potential await studies, as do new cannabis cultivars enhancing this cannabinoid. Except, of course, no studies on the medical potential of cannabis are allowed in the USA by the DEA.  Americans, so in need of useful weight loss products, will have to wait until the research is done in places like Israel, Spain and Portugal.

Copyright © 2013 Don Fitch

Another study shows cannabis user are thinner and healthier!

Another major study finds cannabis users are thinner and have better cardiometabolic levels than controls. This may surprise many as activation of the endocannabinoid system, which is a function cannabis use, is associated in much of the research by increased feeding (the munchies) and poor cardiometabolic indicators, such as bad lipid levels. Indeed, until shown in 2006 to have negative, even dangerous psychological effects, cannabinoid receptor antagonists which essential have the opposite effects of cannabis were anticipated to be powerful weight loss drugs with positive cardiometabolic effects, mentioned in an earlier post here. The FDA quashed introduction of these drugs, e.g. rimanobant  when they were found to be powerfully depressing. It makes sense; cannabis provides mild feelings of well-being and enjoyment, the antagonist, opposite drug seems to provoke the opposite emotion, depression.

The new study, reported in The American Journal of Medicine, demonstrates a positive impact of marijuana use on key cardiometabolic indicators. Titled The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults, the study shows all these key parameters are healthier in marijuana consumers. The study was written up in The Atlantic by Lindsey Abrams and reveals that the cannabis users were healthier in indices crucial to the health of Americans and billions of other world wide with less obesity, better glucose and insulin levels and less insulin resistance. As diabetes is a major killer and disabler, the fact that cannabis use might help is astounding.

With the USA teetering on the edge of a health care cost crisis, due in good part to obesity and diabetes, one might think that the American medical care system would be eager to explore and research cannabis with controlled studies in the prevention and treatment of these conditions. But this will not take place as the DEA has a lock on all research on marijuana and allows none.

 

Apple-icious – An apple a day can help keep you trim, strong and young.

Apples offer fairly amazing health benefits. As folk wisdom, the term, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” has long reflected this fact, but modern science now fills in intriguing details. As it turns out, that apple a day is boosting your health by keeping you lean, by making you stronger and by slowing aging.

The apple can serve as a centerpiece of a weight control regimen. That’s right, eating apples can be a powerful cornerstone in helping conquer obesity! Doing so does not involve eating just apples; just be sure to eat one a day! Actually, eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables of various types each day is nutritionally wise and hugely beneficial to long term weight control. These low-calorie-density, high-nutrient-density plant foods fill you up. They also provide the phytochemicals and other nutritious molecules utterly missing in typical fast food meals. By making part of this plant-heavy diet, an apple a day, you add a powerful to help you lose weight and maintain weight loss. Although the apple theoretically adds about 100 calories per day to your diet, in practice it will prevent your intake of far more calories. You may, in fact, balk at eating an apple a day. There are many varieties of great apples out there, experiment. Fujis are a favorite for many.

Some of the apple’s capability to cause loss of fat may come from its facility to build muscles. New studies show that the ursolic acid in the apple peel helps prevent muscle atrophy. Loss of muscle causes disability and loss of mobility in old age.  Strong elders function a much higher levels. The presence of muscles serve as calorie furnaces to help burn energy from fat around the clock. In addition, muscles provide the personal mobility for walking, jogging or other activities that so burn calories and promote vitality.

Much of the apple’s nutritional “goodie” comes from the peel. Most of the apple’s fiber is found in the skin.  Such fiber is lacking in obesogenic (obesity-causing) diets, such as those eaten by overweight Americans. Fiber promotes satiety, feeling full, the key in signalling to stop us eating. Fiber rich meals and snacks are eaten more slowly, and help prevent other eating episodes by dimming hunger between meals. Fibrous foods are generally nutrient dense but lean in calories. Apple skin offers more than fiber however. With ursolic acid, apple skin helps boost muscle growth, mass and strength.

The peel can also present a danger as it may contain pesticides. All apples should be washed before being eaten. Buying organic apples free of pesticides may  be money well spent. Apple seeds are mildly poisonous and a few people have allergies to apples, so take a few precautions when adding an apple a day to your diet.

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.

Running speed and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Running speed a great indicator of health.

Running speed a great indicator of health.

The key role of cardiovascular exercise in keeping healthy and hearty has been confirmed in a couple of important studies. They point out the amount of time it takes you to run a mile is a great indicator of cardiovascular health and your danger of heart attack and stroke.

Reported in Red Orbit and elsewhere, two studies of this behavioral indicator of cardiovascular health, showed that for middle-aged men, the length of time required to run one mile (1,609 meters) predicted heart attack and stroke better than did blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Faster times predict fewer heart and brain attacks. A 55 year old male who requires 15 minutes to walk/run a mile (only 4 miles per hour) faces a 30% chance of suffering cardiovascular disease. A man of the same age who can run a mile in just 8 minutes (7.5 miles per hour) faces far lower danger of cardiovascular disease, less than 10 percent.

One way to increase running speed is with interval training, brief bursts at higher speed. After warm up jogging, a common interval is one minute slow jogging speed followed by one minute high intensity running, then repeating the sequence up to 10 times. This writer has been experimenting with slow jog/fast walk for 90 seconds, interspersed with 30 seconds high speed. This rhythm seems well suited for a non-punishing work-out made plenty intense with the periods at high speed. These high speed intervals quickly boost heart rate and sweating, both goals of a good conditioning, fat-burning workout.

High levels of physical activity such as running seem to correspond with activation of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, the receptor based system also activated by the THC in cannabis. Indeed, the fabled “runner’s high” might be the result of this system, rather than (or in addition to) to endorphins. More about this in a future post.

Caution: For those poorly conditioned, increasing activity and especially trying to push up maximum speed can present some dangers. A consultation with your (fit) medical practitioner and taking a stress EKG test is a good precaution.

Caution: Being poorly conditioned and not participating in physical activity presents an enormous risk of cardiovascular disease, along with obesity, diabetes and a host of other diseases.

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.

Medical cannabis consumers should avoid high fructose corn syrup.

Medical cannabis consumers (and everybody else) should limit high fructose corn syrup. Obesity and metabolic disease menace Americans (and much of the world’s people). Consuming high fructose corn syrup is a risk factor in these degenerative diseases. And it may well be that medical cannabis consumers are at even greater risk.

New research out of Princeton University found that High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels. As the title indicates, rats fed water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) got fatter; heavier and had more fatty triglycerides in their blood than those whose water was sweetened with sugar. Even when consuming equal calories, the HFCS rats got fatter. Worse yet, the researchers note, “This increase in body weight with HFCS was accompanied by an increase in adipose fat, notably in the abdominal region, and elevated circulating triglyceride levels.” So in addition to obesity, these last two symptoms characterize Metabolic Syndrome, a dangerous but common medical condition associated with cardiovascular disease.

The Princeton study is only the last to implicate HFCS as a special villain in the ongoing obesity epidemic. Michael Pollan, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma documents how American propensity to grow corn, the Farm Bill, and fuel-based fertilizers produce a river of corn calories from the country’s farmlands. A convenient, profitable and vast market is enabled when the corn calories are converted into HFCS and added to any number of foods, greatly upping the caloric intake of the average person, especially Americans. If, as the Princeton and other research suggests, consuming more HFCS not only just ups calories but also has special properties for causing fat tissue, especially abdominal fat, then it must be minimized in the diet.

Medical marijuana users should closely monitor their own weight and physical condition, and work to avoid over weight and excess fat. Cannabis is known to stimulate appetite, and is very useful against wasting diseases. But that is the opposite problem for most of us. All people living in an obesogenic environment of little physical labor and easy access to calorie dense food are at risk of excess fat. Cannabis consumers might be at extra risk.

A possible problem is that activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system is associated with some negative cardio-metabolic indicators. This receptor system is activated in response to consumption of cannabis, especially by THC. Although many of THC’s actions as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and perhaps anti-tumor properties are welcome, some of its cardio-metabolic effects are more in question. This topic will be covered more in future posts. In any case the medical cannabis user is wise to guard against obesity and abdominal fat.

Specific ways medical cannabis users and anyone else interested in avoiding (or reducing) obesity and metabolic syndrome are:

  • Consume no soft drink calories. Soft drinks sweetened with HFCS are especially damaging, but sugared beverages are chocked with calories. If you drink soft drinks, drink only 0 calorie drinks.
  • Eliminate fast food. Nearly all fast food is filled with extra calories from HFCS.
  • Eat nutrient dense food, especially nuts, fruits and vegetables. Walnuts are incredibly nutritious; so are hemp seeds.
  • Walk at least 10,000 steps per day, measured with a pedometer. Interval training with some faster steps, such as running, is optimal.
  • Don’t sit too much or too long. Activity breaks are essential for your metabolic health.