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…

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…

Debunking Reefer Madness “Science”

Most of the Cornerstone blog articles we post are about the future and pending medical advances. However, today, we will instead take a quick look at the present, specifically at the national conversation around medical cannabis. As more states continue to legalize medical and recreational cannabis, the bulk of conversation centers on how to navigate this collective policy change to produce the greatest good and smallest harm for society as a whole. However, while 2016 has certainly been an outstanding year for medical cannabis and cannabinoid research, reefer madness is still alive and well, and opposition remains strong. For exhibit A, the report that is setting the internet abuzz, the University of Western Australia published a press release linking cannabis use to gene mutation. To quote the article: “‘Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person’s DNA,’ Associate Professor Stuart Reece said.” As if this isn’t scary enough, the article then suggests that these mutations are passed to offspring. Yikes. Following this line of thought, by consuming cannabis, individuals may inadvertently be giving their children cancer! Fortunately, cannabis science luminary Ethan Russo stepped in to clarify and debunk the report. In an interview for the East Bay Express, Ethan noted, “This report is based on a foundation of falsehoods. Cannabis is not mutagenic (productive of mutations in DNA)…Countless animal studies and human epidemiological studies support its relative safety in this regard.” Despite…

Soothing Migraine Headaches with Cannabis

Nearly everyone who’s used medical cannabis can relate to its ability to soothe headaches. From easing stress and tight forehead muscles to reducing body pain, cannabis naturally lends itself to being a headache cure. Yet, surprisingly, no clinical tests are being performed at this time to treat migraine patients with medical cannabis. In other words, while some doctors are already prescribing cannabis for recurring headaches, no large clinical studies on actual humans are being conducted. As readers may guess, this may have something to do with the difficulty of getting approval for human studies involving cannabis. In any case, the situation is now remarkably unusual; medical cannabis dispensaries sometimes have more access to medical information than physicians. Specifically, as a general physician, you may have the opportunity to prescribe cannabis to a number of patients, with only a handful of those seeking treatment for headaches. On top of that, after the prescription for medical cannabis, you can’t track what cannabis was used, how potent it was, where it came from, etc. A large part of the treatment data is inherently unknown by the physician, and getting patients to carefully record and report that data is difficult, further reducing the number of people who could realistically be involved in a study. In fact, busy, time-strapped patients may not even return after successfully treating their problems. Contrast this situation with that of a dispensary. At a medical cannabis dispensary, providers can keep a file on each patient, using purchases to record average…

Cannabis and Carcinoma Part II

Today we’re revisiting a topic: the use of the endocannabinoid system as a possible therapeutic target for cancer treatment. Last time, we discussed the ability of some cannabinoid molecules to trigger cell death in cancerous cells. In that article we were careful to note that those results did not necessarily equate to a cancer solution and more testing would need to be conducted. Since then, cancer research has continued to be a focal point of the endocannabinoid research community, so we’re pleased to be able to further the discussion. The leading cause of global cancer death is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC is the most common type of liver cancer and usually brought on by other illness or stress, such as viral infection or alcoholism. The survival rate is generally poor, as by the time tumors are noticed, they are generally too big to remove. In fact, liver transplant is usually the most effective approach. Unfortunately, livers have a waiting list and most cases of HCC occur in undeveloped countries where some sort of solution is desperately needed. At this point in time, researchers are testing all sorts of new chemicals and processes. Endocannabinoids, with receptors all along the immune system, represent a unique approach to a solution In earlier studies, the chemical WIN55,212-2 (WIN55), a synthetic cannabinoid which produces effects similar to the THC found in cannabis, has been shown to cause cell cycle arrest in the cancer cell line BEL7402 (carcinoma cells). Like THC, WIN55 actives CB1 receptors. Researchers…

CBD Salve May Have More Uses than Originally Thought

Topical cannabis preparations have been around since the dawn of civilization and have experienced a resurgence in popularity along with medical cannabis. Usually these salves and creams, which are rubbed into the skin directly, are intended to treat conditions directly below the skin. For instance, cannabis-derived salves are popular among those suffering from arthritis, who apply the cream directly to affected areas to reduce swelling. This method of administration is believed to be more effective for arthritis than oral administration and also avoids many of the otherwise psychoactive effects of cannabis. Of course, manufacturers of cannabis creams and salves are often liberal with claims of conditions the cream can help. For instance, some websites discuss the use of cannabis-derived cream to completely eradicate cancerous tumors or genetic diseases. At this stage of cannabis and cannabinoid research, many unknowns remain, so technically it is possible these claims are true. However, knowing what we know at this point in time, this is probably utter nonsense. To be fair, these manufacturers may have witnessed healing that happened in tandem to salve application and may honestly believe their claims. However, there is a stark difference between several personal observations about using a salve and the extensive laboratory testing needed to scientifically support those claims. Regardless, the question remains: what can cannabinoid salves and creams be used for? As it turns out, there may be an accidental shred of truth to over-zealous claims that the salve can solve more than topical issues. Recently, the DARU…

Using the Endocannabinoid System to Track Different Types of Tissue

One of the most important concepts that our blog can communicate to readers is that cannabis is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the endocannabinoid system. This chemical system, that happens to respond to cannabis, was not merely an afterthought in the evolution of the human body, but actually exists in many different animals as well (including birds!). Thanks to the resurgence in cannabis and cannabinoid research around the globe, new uses for the system are constantly emerging. So far, the scientific community has shown most interest in direct uses of the endocannabinoid system to formulate new medicines for stress, pain, neuroprotective effects, and metabolism. However, researchers in Finland have identified a new use of the system…as a biomarker! Biomarkers are any indicators used to track and identify the existence of a biological state or condition. While that sounds complicated, many readers may have already benefitted from the use of biomarkers during medical procedures or checkups. For instance, those with chronic heart problems may already be familiar with the “nuclear stress test”. In this test, doctors are attempting to see how blood is being pumped through the body and which areas are not receiving enough blood during vigorous exercise or cardiac stress. Unfortunately, attempting to crack open a patient’s chest to view this directly would be dangerous, time-consuming, and costly. Additionally, even with the chest open, the doctor would have no quantifiable way to measure blood-flow in each small area. To solve this, doctors often inject…

Cannabinoids in Pain Management, A Review

Pain management is one of our most revisited topics here on the Cornerstone blog. Our commitment to reporting studies related to pain management should come as no surprise to readers; pain relief accounts for a substantial portion of all medical cannabis use. Usually we update you on new findings within the field; however, today we are going to take a step back for a more general review, courtesy of Ethan Russo and Andrea Hohmann. Medicine, as Russo points out, really began with plants. Our early ancestors would have noticed the effects of consuming plants within their environments and then learned to use those effects. Though we like to think of mankind as superior creators when compared to plants, humans are comparatively inefficient at producing pharmaceuticals. Plants have the surprising ability to produce complex chemicals like THC from sun, water, and dirt, whereas we have to build labs with precision machinery, electrical power, and contamination control! As a result, the first functional medicines were not human synthesized and instead came from plants. From coca leaves to morphine, these chemicals wove themselves into the history of human civilization. However, in modern times, plant-based chemicals are not generally accepted as medicine. This isn’t necessarily due to a bias against plants, but more importantly because plant-produced compounds are naturally inconsistent. In the case of cannabis, the way the plant is grown can greatly affect the profile of chemicals produced, not to mention the potency. Different buds on the same plant might even have significantly…

The US Race to Catch Up on Cannabis Research

You may have already seen this month’s issue of Time Magazine; it features a lab rat smoking a joint. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that this would be the cover of a fairly conservative magazine aimed at middle-age readers, I would have laughed. However, the feature article is actually a very fair and unbiased look at the global state of cannabis research. This is thanks in part to Bruce Barcott, the article’s principal co-writer and author of the book, “Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America”. As a journalist Barcott has an incredible degree of familiarity with cannabis and seems to take a mostly positive stance. The TIME article echoed this sentiment by suggesting that cannabis does indeed help, and has the potential to help many but is also not harmless and may cause serious damage if used during pregnancy or by adolescents. This is not far from Cornerstone’s stance. To be fair, lately TIME seems to be trading legitimacy for readers in the race to stay relevant against newer media. For instance, making Kanye West the cover of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” – I’m a Yeezy fan, but if he’s really the most influential person in the world (or even top 100), then we’re all in serious trouble. However, other well-respected publications have published similar articles, such as this month’s National Geographic article, “Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana’s Secrets”, and CNN’s 2013 Chief Medical Correspondent feature “Why I Changed My Mind on…

Whole Plant CBD More Effective Than Pure CBD?

At Cornerstone, we talk frequently about dosing, not just because it’s important to members, but also because it’s important to us. The end goal is for every patient to experience the maximum benefit of medical cannabis. Although it seems tempting to think that more medicine always means more healing, that’s just not the reality of how cannabinoids are processed in the body. In truth the body’s response is much more complex. Exhibit A: This is a graph that illustrates anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol (CBD) at various doses.   You’ll notice that the shape is a bell curve, meaning that in many cases, more CBD could actually equate to less anti-inflammatory help. This is not a graph mistake; it’s a common observation of the effects of CBD. In other words, dose matters. As seen, the greatest effect of CBD will occur at the middle of the curve. Because dosage depends on body fat, tolerance, and a host of other individual factors it is very difficult to advise users on “the most effective dose” for them. Cornerstone can offer you suggestions, but ultimately, individual patients are going to have to discover what amounts and what dosing schedules work for them. What is clear to us though, is that patients may get more out of their medicines by showing restraint. All that aside, wouldn’t it be great if CBD could be given in a preparation that was not dose-dependent? Shouldn’t there be a way to beat the dose curve? This is exactly the question Israeli…