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.…

Getting Familiar with THCA

It’s Sunday evening. You’re a first time patient hoping to experiment with making cannabis infused edible preparations. After reading information online, you’ve decided on a recipe and selected the right cannabis strain. You patiently mix and time the baking; the product emerges from the oven and has a distinct herbal taste. Time passes as you wait for the medicine to take effect. Yet, several hours later, no effect or attenuation of the symptoms you are seeking relief from has arrived. …What happened? Why was the preparation unsuccessful? Unfortunately, almost every patient who has experimented with making cannabis infused edible preparations can attest to the need for careful temperature observation during extraction and cooking. This is a result of the chemical process that is necessary for THC to be available for use by the body. As it turns out, much of the THC naturally available in cannabis is actually originally produced in the form THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. This molecule is the standard THC molecule with the addition of a carboxyl group, which is a molecule composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Although this addition seems relatively minor to the structure, it has a very significant impact on the ability for the body to use THC, as it blocks the molecule from binding with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Cannabis prepared for ingestion must first undergo a decarboxylation process to convert the molecule to normal, usable THC. The method for this process requires giving the THCA molecule extra energy, in the…