Since the 1960s, the major milestones our country has achieved are incredible.
We elected an African-American president, women’s issues have made tremendous progress, and gays and lesbians can marry.
But cannabis is still illegal…? Not for long!
As the tsunami of hard empirical positive medical cannabis research builds, it meets the inevitable changing younger demographics of our country, and with the need for new cannabis- based jobs and new tax revenue.
The cannabis legalization tipping point is close at hand!
“Cannabis is the people’s medicine” and has overwhelming public support.
And to that end…
I would like to highlight several research papers that discuss current findings regarding medical cannabis treatment and disease prevention.
The following medical papers focus on:
• Cancer and colon cancer prevention
• Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease
• Vomiting from chemotherapy
• Traumatic brain injury
• Heart disease /heart attack
The concept of the endocannabinoid system was outlined a mere 14 years ago, and look how far we have come!Today “phytocannabinoid therapeutics” is the newest, fastest growing field in medical research.
As this medical cannabis evidence-based tsunami approaches, its main therapeutic action appears to restoring homeostasis to multiple body systems.
The action by which phytocannabinoids heal is by reestablishing the proper immune set points within CB 1/2 receptors in both brain and body.
Research supports medical cannabis as important a medical discovery as insulin or penicillin were in their day.
Whatever anandamide does in the body, phytocannabinoids mimic. My prediction is that phytocannabinoids will ultimately be found to be an vital to human health.
Phytocannabinoids mimic the same actions of Anandamide in the brain and body, which maintain homeostasis, maintaining wellness and disease prevention!
It’s All About THC
THC is unique, in that it is only found in one plant on earth.The female cannabis plant is a THC-resin factory. THC, which makes up the plant’s resin, has the important job of collecting pollen from the male plant for fertilization. No THC-laced resin, no seed production. Additionally, this resin tastes very bad to herbivores, which leave it alone, and it also offers superior UV protection to the plant at high altitudes.
A cannabis sativa flower is coated with trichomes, which contain more THC than any other part of the plant.
The cannabis plant has only two functions: to make THC and seeds.
THC is the most abundant “phytocannabinoid” within the cannabis plant.
All other THC-like substances in the plant are THC intermediate metabolites being assembled by the plant on their way to becoming THC.
Once the plant is cut down and dies, the THC degrades into cannabinol. Cannabinol (CBN) is the primary product of THC degradation, and there is usually little of it in a fresh plant. CBN content increases as THC degrades in storage, and with exposure to light and air, and it is only mildly psychoactive.
Why would just this one plant, and the phytocannabinoids it produces control not one, but two dedicated molecular receptors for phytocannabinoids, with more predicted to still be discovered?
Did evolution intend for them to be naturally consumed for proper body function? As any other plant-derived antioxidant?
How THC Talks to the Brain and Immune System
All healing, cancer fighting and aging in your body is controlled by the immune system.Phytocannabinoids appear to control the activity level of the immune system up or down, so that it doesn’t attack its host or respond too weakly to cellular dysfunction. Whenever you hear the term “anti-inflammatory activity,” think “cannabis immune system control.”
CB1 cannabigenic receptors are the majority of receptor type in the synaptic clef. THC-activated CB1 brain receptors directly link up and control the microglial cells in the brain; the microglia is the specialized white blood cells that make up the brain’s dedicated immune system.
Cannabidiol is degraded THC. It activates CB2 receptors mostly in the body. In both cases, THC controls both immune systems (brain and body), in one form or another. It seems that CB1 brain receptors link up to CB2 body receptors, which in turn control many autoimmune diseases.
The word used to describe this cannabis brain/body link up is Psychoneuroimmunology.
Mind = neurotransmitter = immune system communication system, or in this case
“Cannabinergic Psychoneuroimmunology” — cannabinoid-induced immune system healing.
Cannabis consciousness repairs your immune system: never underestimate the power of a bong hit!
#1: “The Endocannabinoid System and Cancer: Therapeutic Implication”
Findings: Delta 9 THC as a treatment for breast, prostate, brain and bone cancer.“This review updates the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and anti-tumor actions (inhibition of cell proliferation and migration, induction of apoptosis, reduction of tumor growth) of the cannabinoids in different types of cancer.”
“The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for cancer, as identified in clinical trials, is also discussed. Identification of safe and effective treatments to manage and improve cancer therapy is critical to improve quality of life and reduce unnecessary suffering in cancer patients.”
“In this regard, cannabis-like, compounds offer therapeutic potential for the treatment of breast, prostate and bone cancer in patients. Further basic research on anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids as well as clinical trials of cannabinoid therapeutic efficacy in breast, prostate and bone cancer is therefore warranted.”
“The available literature suggests that the endocannabinoid system may be targeted to suppress the evolution and progression of breast, prostate and bone cancer as well as the accompanying pain syndromes. Although this review focuses on these three types of cancer, activation of the endocannabinoid signaling system produces anti-cancer effects in other types of cancer including skin, brain gliomas and lung.”“Interestingly, cannabis trials in population based studies failed to show any evidence for increased risk of respiratory symptoms/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer (Tashkin, 2005) associated with smoking cannabis.”
“Moreover, synthetic cannabinoids (Delta 9 THC) and the endocannabinoid system play a role in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and angiogenesis, reducing tumor growth and metastases and inducing apoptosis ( self destruction for cancer cells) in all three types of cancers reviewed here.
“These observations raise the possibility that a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system may promote cancer, by fostering physiological conditions that allow cancer cells to proliferate, migrate and grow.”
IMPORTANT: This is a very intriguing observation. What is being implied here is that some people may be suffering from an anandamide deficiency! Just as a diabetic is insulin deficiencient and must supplement their body with insulin, in this case THC is the vital medicine needed to replace low levels of anandamide.
These observations also raise the exciting possibility that enhancing cannabinoid tone (code for THC locking into the CB1 receptor) through cannabinoid based pharmacotherapies may attenuate these harmful processes to produce anti-cancer effects in humans.
Bottom line: Smoking marijuana prevents cancer body-wide.
#2: “Update on the Endocannabinoid System as an Anticancer Target
Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, March 2011
Findings: antitumor effects, cancer prevention“Recent studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) could offer an attractive antitumor target. Numerous findings suggest the involvement of this system (constituted mainly by cannabinoid receptors, endogenous compounds and the enzymes for their synthesis and degradation) in cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo.”
“This review covers literature from the past decade which highlights the potential of targeting the ECS for cancer treatment. In particular, the levels of endocannabinoids and the expression of their receptors in several types of cancer are discussed, along with the signaling pathways involved in the endocannabinoid antitumor effects.”
“Furthermore, targeting the ECS with agents that activate cannabinoid receptors (This means THC) or inhibitors of endogenous degrading systems such as fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors may have relevant therapeutic impact on tumor growth. Additional studies into the downstream consequences of endocannabinoid treatment are required and may illuminate other potential therapeutic targets.”
#3: “Cannabinoids and the Gut: New Developments and Emerging Concepts”
Pharmacology & Therapeutics, April 2010
Findings: THC and inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, colon cancer, vomiting/chemotherapy“Disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract have been treated with herbal and plant-based remedies for centuries. Prominent amongst these therapeutics are preparations derived from the marijuana plant Cannabis. Cannabis has been used to treat a variety of GI conditions that range from enteric infections and inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to disorders of motility, emesis and abdominal pain.”
“Cannabis has been used to treat gastrointestinal (GI) conditions that range from enteric infections and inflammatory conditions to disorders of motility, emesis and abdominal pain.”
“The mechanistic basis of these treatments emerged after the discovery of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol as the major constituent of Cannabis. Further progress was made when the receptors for Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol were identified as part of an endocannabinoid system, that consists of specific cannabinoid receptors.”
“Anatomical, physiological and pharmacological studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system is widely distributed throughout the gut, with regional variation and organ-specific actions.” (CB2 receptors are embedded within the lining of the intestines in large numbers.)
“They are involved in the regulation of food intake, nausea and emesis, gastric secretion and gastro protection, GI motility, ion transport, visceral sensation, intestinal inflammation and cell proliferation in the gut.”
“As we have shown, the endocannabinoid system is widely distributed throughout the gut, with regional variation and specific regional or organ-specific actions.”
“CB2 receptors are involved in the regulation of food intake, nausea and emesis, gastric secretion and gastro protection, GI motility, ion transport, visceral sensation, intestinal inflammation and cell proliferation (cancer)”
”Preclinical models have shown that modifying the endocannabinoid system can have beneficial effects…. Pharmacological agents that act on these targets have been shown in preclinical models to have therapeutic potential.” [THC is the Pharmacological agent mentioned.]
Colorectal Cancer Prevention Model
Cannabiols via CB1 and possibly CB2 receptor activation, have been shown to exert apoptotic actions in several colorectal cancer cell lines.
See the illustration at left for how THC/cannabidiol activates the CB1/2 receptors to shut down colon cancer by signaling cancer cells to self-destruct.
#4: “Gut Feelings about the Endocannabinoid System”
Journal of Gastrointestinal Motility, May 2011Findings: Stemming from the centuries-old and well known effects of Cannabis on intestinal motility and secretion, research on the role of the endocannabinoid system in gut function and dysfunction has received ever increasing attention since the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids.
In this article, some of the most recent developments in this field are discussed, with particular emphasis on new data, most of which are published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility, on the potential tonic endocannabinoid control of intestinal motility, the function of cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptors in gastric function, visceral pain, inflammation and sepsis, the emerging role of cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptors in the gut, and the pharmacology of endocannabinoid-related molecules and plant cannabinoids not necessarily acting via cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors.
These novel data highlight the multi-faceted aspects of endocannabinoid function in the GI tract, support the feasibility of the future therapeutic exploitation of this signaling system for the treatment of GI disorders, and leave space for some intriguing new hypotheses on the role of endocannabinoids in the gut.
#5: Cannabinoids and the Skeleton: From Marijuana to Reversal of Bone Loss”
Annals of Medicine, 2009
Findings: CB2 receptors maintain bone remodeling balance, thus protecting the skeleton against age-related bone loss.The active component of marijuana, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, activates the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, thus mimicking the action of endogenous cannabinoids.
CB1 is predominantly neuronal and mediates the cannabinoid psychotropic effects. CB2 is predominantly expressed in peripheral tissues, mainly in pathological conditions. So far the main endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, have been found in bone at ‘brain’ levels.
The CB1 receptor is present mainly in skeletal sympathetic nerve terminals, thus regulating the adrenergic tonic restrain of bone formation. CB2 is expressed in osteoblasts and osteoclasts, stimulates bone formation, and inhibits bone resorption.
Because low bone mass is the only spontaneous phenotype so far reported in CB2 mutant mice, it appears that the main physiologic involvement of CB2 is associated with maintaining bone remodeling at balance, thus protecting the skeleton against age-related bone loss.
Indeed, in humans, polymorphisms in CNR2, the gene encoding CB2, are strongly associated with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Preclinical studies have shown that a synthetic CB2-specific agonist rescues ovariectomy-induced bone loss.
Taken together, the reports on cannabinoid receptors in mice and humans pave the way for the development of 1) diagnostic measures to identify osteoporosis-susceptible polymorphisms in CNR2, and 2) cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis.
#6: “Endocannabinoids and Traumatic Brain Injury”
British Journal of Pharmacology, August 2011
Findings: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents the leading cause of death in young individuals. THC activation of the CB1 receptor is the same as the action of anandamide on CB1.This article discusses how anandamide increases in the brain after injury, so THC may have the potential to become a front line emergency medicine in the future.
“There is a large body of evidence showing that eCB are markedly increased in response to pathogenic traumatic head injury events.”
“This fact, as well as numerous studies on experimental models of brain toxicity, neuroinflammation and trauma supports the notion that the eCB are part of the brain’s compensatory or repair mechanisms.”
These are mediated via CB receptors signalling pathways that are linked to neuronal survival and repair. The levels of 2-AG, the most highly abundant eCB, are significantly elevated after TBI and when administered to TBI mice, 2-AG decreases brain edema, inflammation and infarct volume and improves clinical recovery.( So would THC.)
This review is focused on the role the eCB system plays as a self-neuroprotective mechanism and its potential as a basis for the development of novel therapeutic modality for the treatment of CNS pathologies with special emphasis on TBI.
Bottom line: For proof see U.S government 2003 patent
#7: “Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischaemia-induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion”
British Journal of Pharmacology, August 2011
Findings: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid, with anti-apoptotic, (the process of programmed cell death) anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and has recently been shown to exert a tissue sparing effect during chronic myocardial ischaemia and reperfusion (I/R).However, it is not known whether CBD is cardioprotective in the acute phase of I/R injury and the present studies tested this hypothesis.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Male Sprague-Dawley rats received either vehicle or CBD (10 or 50 microg kg(-1) i.v.) 10 min before 30 min coronary artery occlusion or CBD (50 microg kg(-1) i.v.) 10 min before reperfusion (2 h). The appearance of ventricular arrhythmias during the ischaemic and immediate post-reperfusion periods were recorded and the hearts excised for infarct size determination and assessment of mast cell degranulation. Arterial blood was withdrawn at the end of the reperfusion period to assess platelet aggregation in response to collagen.
KEY RESULTS: “CBD reduced both the total number of ischaemia-induced arrhythmias and infarct size when administered prior to ischaemia, an effect that was dose-dependent. Infarct size was also reduced when CBD was given prior to reperfusion. CBD (50 microg kg(-1) i.v.) given prior to ischaemia, but not at reperfusion, attenuated collagen-induced platelet aggregation compared with control, but had no effect on ischaemia-induced mast cell degranulation.”
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: “This study demonstrates that CBD is cardioprotective in the acute phase of I/R by both reducing ventricular arrhythmias and attenuating infarct size. The anti-arrhythmic effect, but not the tissue sparing effect, may be mediated through an inhibitory effect on platelet activation.”
Remember to exercise your ganja rights! Every day is a Ganja day!
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Editor’s note: Ron Marczyk is a retired high school health eduation teacher who taught Wellness and Disease Prevention, Drug and Sex Ed, and AIDS education to teens aged 13-17.
He also taught a high school International Baccalaureate psychology course. He taught in a New York City public school as a Drug Prevention Specialist.
He is a Registered Nurse with six years of ER/Critical Care experience in NYC hospitals, earned an M.S. in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology, and worked as a New York City police officer for two years.
Currently he is focused on how evolutionary psychology explains human behavior.
To see all of Ron Marczyk’s “Worth Repeating” articles for Toke Signals, click here.