Anti-Viral Activity in CBD?

Chances are every person reading this has some connection to hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, which can lead to liver failure and death. Unfortunately, there are many potential causes of hepatitis. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation, as well as autoimmune disease, in which the body mistakenly attacks its own liver cells. Currently five major viruses (which happen to be unrelated) have been identified to cause liver failure, referred to as Hepatitis A through Hepatitis E. Due to the contagious and dangerous nature of these diseases, US schools often require Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. Hepatitis A can spread easily through contaminated food and Hepatitis B (HBV) through blood and other bodily fluids. These vaccinations are simple, cheap, and life saving. Unfortunately, Hepatitis C (HCV) lacks a vaccine. Despite a common prevalence and upwards of 200,000 known cases in the US a year, the disease is difficult to ward off. We use the word “known” specifically because thousands of other people may also be infected but show no symptoms while spreading the disease. There is, fortunately, finally a cure to Hepatitis C. A once-a-day pill taken for several months can eradicate Hepatitis C from a sick patient’s body. Sadly, the cost for that treatment ranges from $55,000 to $150,000! As a result, government health care providers can’t shoulder the burden and only tend to allow coverage for end-stage liver failure. In other words, after all the damage is done, and the patient is dying, they are finally eligible for…

Genetics Modify Response to Cannabis: A Look at the COMT Gene

Last week we talked about the need for genetic testing of both the cannabis plant itself and of patients. Speaking in broad terms, we noted that slight alterations in human DNA can lead to noticeable differences in reactions to cannabis. This is something medical cannabis patients can attest to when comparing strains with other medical users. A strain that makes one person feel tired may have little impact on the energy level of another. Today we can introduce one specific mechanism that seems to influence genetic variation in response to cannabis. Interestingly enough, researchers at Warneford Hospital in the UK actually approached this discovery while searching for causes of psychosis (when thought and emotions are so impaired, patients suffer a disconnect from reality). One of the most debated questions in the scientific community is whether cannabis contributes to the development of psychosis. Believers cite that while many people consume cannabis with no lingering health issue, some develop psychotic symptoms immediately after first exposure. Critics do not necessarily disagree with this observation but believe that many different substances and environmental factors can trigger psychotic illness. Regardless, the data would suggest that if only some patients develop symptoms, the cause might be genetic. What gene is causing this? Researchers have identified catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) as a gene that regulates dopamine in the cortex of the brain. Studies show that cognitive function is improved in animals “with reduced COMT activity”. This pattern implies that the gene is some sort of limiter, perhaps designed to…

Cannabigerol, Making Food Appetizing for Cancer Patients

For all of the states that initially passed medical cannabis legislation, cancer was not only an approved condition but also a major data point supporting such legislation. Specifically, cancer patients, forced to undergo exhausting chemotherapy treatments, lose appetite. This drastic, prolonged loss of appetite, similar to anorexia, decreases body weight and in turn, decreases overall health. Cannabis has long been observed to increase appetite in humans (we’ve written several Cornerstone blog posts on the “munchies”), with the most active ingredient identified as THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Unfortunately, not all patients enjoy or can tolerate this psychoactivity. Originally, this posed a serious downside to treatment with cannabis. However, with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, researchers realized that the effects of THC might be achieved, without psychoactivity, via other cannabinoids. Additionally, research has confirmed that cannabis containing no THC can still restore appetite. In line with this thinking, one paper, published last month in the medical research journal, Psychopharmacology, tested a molecule known as cannabigerol (CBG) on rodents to observe changes in feeding patterns. Readers may be surprised to learn that cannabigerol, unlike many other cannabinoids, found mostly in the resin of medicinal plants, exists in higher concentrations in plain hemp. Most medicinal strains, in fact, have concentrations lower than 1%. CBG also binds to the CB1 receptor at a much lower rate than THC and may even serve to temporarily disable the receptor. However, CBG has also been shown to be a 5-HT1A receptor agonist and an alpha2-adrenergic…

Soothing the Stomach: Controlling Intestinal Inflammation with Cannabis

As readers know, we’ve written about IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) multiple times, specifically in response to its high prevalence. IBS occurs more than 200,000 times in the US each year. Partially spurred by processed foods, IBS is naturally more common in developed nations and as readers can guess, continues to grow in incidence. By the numbers, many of our readers will identify with the intestinal pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation brought on by IBS. Unfortunately, the cause of IBS is not well understood, and likewise, no single cure exists; treatment can sometimes ease symptoms. As we’ve reported previously, cannabidiol (CBD), one of the most discussed molecules produced by the cannabis plant, has shown promise at healing inflammation and restoring normal intestinal motility, which is the ability of the intestine to move along/process food. Most studies have utilized rodents with CBD administered via body cavity injections. Currently researchers are seeking to establish whether these results can be duplicated in human subjects, as supported by anecdotal evidence. However, duplication poses an obvious practical issue in humans due to method of administration. Injecting CBD into the stomach each day? Yikes. Toward the goal of transitioning studies to humans, the next logical step is to test oral CBD on mice. Should this method prove to be as effective as injection, researchers will possess a stronger indication of oral CBD as a plausible treatment of IBS in humans. One research group, from Naples, Italy, set out to conduct such research. However, rather than only test…

Cannabis Use and Executive Function

In pop culture, perhaps because cannabis is often placed in the same group as other recreational substances, stoners get a bad rap for being slow, under-performers. In the now-famous film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, one of the main characters, Jeff Spicoli, typifies the surfer/stoner as perceived by a large swath of society; he’s essentially an airhead. This type of media portrayal has given the population at large the idea that cannabis is not beneficial for long term mental health. To this degree, almost every medical cannabis user may experience the concern of a well-meaning friend who asks, “That can’t be good for you over time, right?” This is a good question for someone first exposed to any new medicine. Patients should be aware that even the most documented pharmaceutical medicines can be dangerous and misprescribed. As a result, everyone should be vigilant about the effect of taking a new medicine. However, as we’ve covered in previous articles, we’re seeing no long-term irreversible effects statistically. The idea that cannabis is somehow destroying the machinery of the brain long-term is patently false. A more plausible argument might be that cannabis re-directs mental traffic. Sadly, anti-cannabis proponents have latched onto studies that give incomplete results. For instance, it may be true in one test that cannabis users on average perform more slowly. Researchers may then go on to find that when the same test population is weeded of heroin users, the negative effects disappear and all groups perform equally. In other words,…

Update on MS Treatment: The P13K Pathway

We’re living in exciting times; human knowledge of cannabis, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system is surging. If the sheer number of medical journal papers related to cannabis/cannabinoids is any indication, more researchers than ever are choosing to invest their lives and energy in exploring the subject. This, in turn, has allowed individual threads of research to unfold much more rapidly. As would be expected, the findings of one seemingly unrelated study often inform and develop the findings and questions of another. One such thread is that of MS (multiple sclerosis) treatment. We’ve written previously about the concept of using cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system to treat MS (multiple sclerosis). For readers seeking a full recap, check out the links below: https://cornerstonecollective.com/real-life-cannabinoid-treatment-multiple-sclerosis/ https://cornerstonecollective.com/how-cannabinoids-can-beneficially-interact-with-neurodegenerative-disorder-treatment/ For readers that would rather a digested version, the basic idea is that the endocannabinoid system can control and alleviate inflammation by reducing the number of inflammatory molecules produced by the body. MS, in particular, is a disease in which the body’s immune system becomes confused and starts destroying healthy cells in the brain. If the brain can be pictured as a giant mass of neurons wired together in a network, MS destroys the outer lining of those wires, causing electrical signals to be released improperly or not at all. This process, at the time being, is not reversible or curable but is capable of being slowed. Patients with MS can live long lives, albeit with increasing disability and discomfort. Previous studies have shown that cannabinoids, in particular…

How Adolescent Social Experiences Affect The Endcocannabinoid System

Lately movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and TV shows like Narcos have managed a difficult task: making villains likable. In some cases, despite all morality, we find ourselves rooting against the clear “good guys” and hoping the “bad guys” will continue to cleverly outfox all authority. How can the writers create such a shift in audience support? Back-story. By taking us along the personal development of the character, we understand what the character dreams for himself/herself and what the character is running from. We see fear and hope in the same troubled character, and this gives us a foothold into understanding his/her decision-making. In absolute contrast, in most Disney movies, villains seem to spontaneously show up bad. We have no mixed feelings, because we have nothing to feel that is good. Likewise until recent advances in neuroscience and psychology, we’ve had little explanation for a variety of illnesses and shifts in behavior. Most scientists of the early 1900’s would not have believed that a poor social interaction during adolescence could physically affect brain development. In fact, to suggest that anything non-physical could have a physical consequence years later would have seemed far-fetched. However, as we now know, the brain is very plastic and responds to environmental challenges. In childhood and adolescence, the brain is creating a structure in response to the environment in an attempt to best prepare itself for future needs. However, as we’ve seen in other illnesses, the brain does not always develop ideally. Harmful socialization…

A Practical Look at Cannabis Extract and Sleep

Estimating the number of individuals suffering from sleep disorder is difficult if only because of the variety of sources. While sleep can be interrupted by chronic pain, as is often the case for arthritis patients, other sources such as gastrointestinal activity, breathing difficulties, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, etc. can also prevent restful sleep. To date, while multiple over-the-counter sleep medications exist, all have large flaws. Benadryl and other anti-histamines, usually diphenhydramine, are known to have the side effect of sleepiness and are often taken as sleeping pills. However, diphenhydramine can be habit-forming. Melatonin, on the other hand, can help re-enforce natural sleep cycle/rhythm, but can’t overcome serious sleeping barriers. Finally, prescription sleeping medications, such as Ambien, which are much stronger and more resilient, often have semi-psychotic side effects and can produce uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous experiences. While cannabis and cannabinoids may not provide a complete answer, they represent another potential avenue for eliciting sleep, and as a result, the relationship between sleep and the endocannabinoid system should be a priority of researchers. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we all need sleep, we actually understand little about it. We’ve managed to determine that sleep plays an important role in restoring and healing both the body and mind, with the brain passing through several stages of sleep characterized by the pattern of brain waves in each stage. Truly restful sleep seems to be characterized by attainment of the last stage in the sleep cycle, REM. However, much of the specific brain chemistry remains unclear,…

A Lot To “Digest”: Cannabinoids in the Gastrointestinal System

As a society, we are indebted to researchers who’ve dedicated entire lives to investigating less popular subjects. Early on, medical researchers heightened interest in cannabis miffed a lot of the scientific community as a whole, who thought of cannabis as a recreational drug unworthy of study. However, the study of cannabis and its active ingredients lead directly to the discovery of the mammalian endocannabinoid system. While we initially saw this system as an unessential group of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoids, and enzymes involved in regulating that system, we now understand just how vital it is to the body. Likewise, while we initially thought cannabinoid receptors only played a direct role in bowel inflammation, we now understand that the entire endocannabinoid system plays a major role in the digestive process. Recently, researchers at UC Riverside released an aggregate review of studies involving the endocannabinoid system in relation to the gastrointestinal system. We found this review especially helpful and have summarized important highlights for readers. The full article is free to the public at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940133/   Gut Motility To function, the intestine must absorb nutrients but also send food onward. The ability to move food onward is called “motility” and is driven by timed contraction of the intestinal muscle. The gut interacts with the brain to determine the pace of contraction and therefore, food motility. Unfortunately, sometimes the timing of contractions can go haywire. Cannabinoids, whether naturally occurring endocannabinoids or externally administered cannabinoids, have been shown to reduce motility in a dose-dependent matter.…

Keeping It Together: Cannabinoid Receptors Found In Connective Tissue Regions

Cannabinoid receptors are known to be located all throughout the body. Although most abundant in the central and peripheral nervous system and in immune system cells, cannabinoid receptors are also thought to reside in other types of tissues. However, due to the number of possible locations and the number of experiments necessary to establish localization of those receptors, new areas are still being discovered more than two decades after the discovery of the receptors themselves. Why do we care? If we are interested in the medicinal effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, research focusing on the actual effects of cannabinoids and inhibitors may seem more to the point. Regardless of the localization of the receptors, the bottom line is whether the endocannabinoid system can or cannot be a pharmaceutical target for a given medical condition. This assumes that we already know the conditions we are seeking to cure or treat. Building a functional map of the distribution of receptors throughout the body, while time and labor-intensive, will also likely reveal new conditions that may be associated or even be a direct result of endocannabinoid system operation. This year, a research group from the University of Padua in Italy decided to use samples of myofascial tissue to test for the presence of endocannabinoid receptors. Myofascial tissue is essentially an organic mesh of collagen that has a great strength while at the same time is highly flexible. This type of tissue is employed all throughout the body to keep organs compartmentalized as well…