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…

Is Inhaling Cannabis Bad for You?

As it stands, cannabis has proven beneficial to one's health in too many ways to list. The cannabinoids contained in cannabis exert their myriad of health effects in particularly gentle ways, and unlike most other pharmaceuticals, cannabis appears to have no toxic limit in healthy adults. Even so, frequent consumers of cannabis may wonder: is inhaling the smoke of anything, even cannabis, good for my lungs? Am I causing long-term damage similar to smoking cigarettes? The short answer: yes, you should avoid inhaling smoke or any burning material as much as possible. The lungs were not made to filter smoke continuously or really at all. For this reason, previous articles on the blog have discussed vaporizers and the importance of using non-combustive methods of consumption (edibles anyone?). Vaporizers not only improve taste of cannabis, but also virtually eliminate damage caused by smoking. Furthermore, vaporizers are generally able to glean a greater medicinal effect from a smaller amount of cannabis. Frequent users should find the financial investment a no-brainer. However, clever readers may also wonder: aside from the physical reality of inhaling burning material, what effects do cannabinoids actually have on the lungs? As it happens, cannabinoid research points to an overwhelmingly positive relationship between cannabinoids and lung health. In fact, while we are generally cautious of making strong statements, this is one area where we can be reasonably certain that the long-term effect of cannabis consumption is positive, at least from the properties inherent in cannabinoids themselves. A September article…

The Endocannabinoid System and Reproductive Health

Evolutionarily speaking, if the endocannabinoid system of receptors and ligands were not critical to human life, it would have disappeared early in the course of human development. If the system is not necessary, humans and mammals that genetically mutated to lack endocannabinoid receptors would have existed, and in fact, would have had better luck as a result of not wasting energy. Although we tend to forget, the body consumes energy by building receptors, producing enzymes, and creating natural endocannabinoids. This energy might otherwise be used for important functions such as repairing muscle or fortifying the immune system. Of course, a clever reader may ask, “What about the appendix? If what you’re saying is true, why hasn’t that disappeared?” Although the appendix no longer serves a function, it did at one point during human development. The appendix is like an old bridge that was once critical and is now unused. It is entirely possible that the endocannabinoid system once played a greater function, however, we’ve already confirmed multiple current functions and our understanding of its importance continues to grow. This month, we’re taking a look at the various ways in which the endocannabinoid system affects the human reproductive system. In the past, we’ve covered the interaction with estrogen and the female reproductive cycle. However, lately we’ve learned that sperm motility and production is associated with the endocannabinoid system as well. In the first area of interaction, cannabinoids affect hypothalamic-pituitary control of reproduction in the brain. In normal sex hormone production, gonadotropin-releasing-hormone…

Endocannabinoids for Endometriosis?

Endometriosis, although not frequently discussed by news media, affects more than 200,000 women in the US every year! During endometriosis, endometrial tissue, which usually grows inside the uterus, manages to transplant itself outside the uterus and continue growing. This growth can cause fibers of cells to form, making organs stick together, which results in severe pain. However, perhaps worse, the cells continue to behave as a healthy uterine lining would; they continue to swell, break down, and release blood along with the natural menstrual cycle. This activity can result in cysts forming, which leads to more pain, infertility, and eventually death. Sadly, while we have medicines that alleviate symptoms and decrease frequency of menstruation, we have nothing that eradicates the growths directly. In most severe cases, therefore, doctors are forced to operate to remove areas where endometrial tissue has bonded outside the uterus. Surgery, however, is always risky. Removing such growths comes with “significant morbidity”. In past articles we’ve discussed how cannabinoids are being used to halt tumor growth in cell culture experiments and sometimes in actual rodent tumors. What essentially occurs is that cells with high growth profiles are encouraged to deactivate, leaving “healthy” cells alone. Although endometriosis does not involve cancerous growth, it does involve rapidly growing cells adhering outside of normal locations. As a result, researchers have postulated for some time that cannabinoids might also pose a treatment solution to endometriosis or at least be used to slow its development. One study from The American Journal of…