Where’s the Difference?
Even though most people who experience the cannabis high produced by THC find it to be pleasant and stimulating, for some reason medicine that makes you feel good while getting you well is frowned upon. Enter cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, as a way to obtain the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the THC psychoactive effects making CBD an acceptable gateway drug to the world of cannabis.
CBD is a powerful cannabinoid with research showing it to be effective in reducing cancer cell growth, minimizing seizures and convulsions in children, decreasing inflammation, mitigating pain and providing therapeutic relief for many other ailments. This newfound interest in CBD has led to an explosion of CBD oils made from industrial hemp.
In terms of its molecular structure CBD is CBD is CBD—it’s the same molecule whether the CBD comes from hemp, cannabis or a test tube. Hemp generally has a CBD concentration around 3.5 percent CBD which is pretty low but the concentration of THC is even lower, usually less than 1 percent. Hemp meets the criteria of being low in THC, but its level of CBD is relatively low especially in comparison to certain cannabis strains, which have significantly higher amount of CBD than industrial hemp.
Whether the CBD comes from hemp or cannabis flowers is not the ultimate factor. The key factor is the process by which the CBD is extracted, concentrated and formulated. Cannabis strains such as Charlotte’s Web, Avidekel and ACDC are low in THC but high in CBD with up to a 20 percent CBD concentration level. By comparison, hemp’s typical 3.5 percent CBD concentration level is rather paltry.
Since the concentration of CBD is low in hemp, it requires large amounts of hemp to produce a small amount of CBD oil. The most efficient and least expensive way to extract the CBD oil is to use solvents, but dangerous solvent residues can remain in the CBD oil. In 2014, Project CBD, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of CBD, tested several CBD hemp oil products available to the public over the Internet and found significant levels of toxic solvent residues in random samples.
CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp is a thick tar-like substance that needs to be thinned with a compound such as propylene glycol. A widespread additive found in CBD vape oil cartridges, propylene glycol may convert to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, when heated and inhaled.
Hexane, a solvent frequently used to extract CBDs from hemp, has been found by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be neurotoxic producing numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache and fatigue, according to a official statement by the EPA.
Even if it is possible to produce solvent-free CBD oil from hemp, there is another problem in that industrial hemp is a bio-accumulator that naturally absorbs toxic substances from the soil. Hemp is such an efficient bio-accumulator that it was used at the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant after the meltdown because it is excellent at sucking up heavy metals and radiation, according to McGraw Hill Education. Great for healing the earth, but not for healing humans.
“The whole effort to harness CBD from industrial hemp is fraught with challenges that are made more difficult by the fact that fiber hemp plants with high amounts of CBD by dry weight—like the ACDC cannabis strain—are not yet available for industrial grows.”
Martin Lee, co-founder and Director of Project CBD, summarizes the problems of obtaining CBD from hemp. “The whole effort to harness CBD from industrial hemp is fraught with challenges that are made more difficult by the fact that fiber hemp plants with high amounts of CBD by dry weight—like the ACDC cannabis strain—are not yet available for industrial grows.”
There are other considerations as well. One of the most important is that CBD by itself does not work as well as CBD in conjunction with THC. In what is known as the entourage effect, the medical efficacy of CBD is enhanced in the presence of THC. The proper ratio of CBD to THC varies from person to person, but as Martin Lee points out “the best ratio of THC to CBD is often the most THC a person can comfortably handle.”
The bottom line is since hemp is so low in THC and other cannabis components, you don’t get much of an entourage effect when you use hemp oil as when you are using oil derived from a CBD-rich cannabis plant.
If certain cannabis flowers are so much better for producing CBD, then why all this fuss over industrial hemp? Rather than anything to do with medical science, it has everything to do with the illegal status of cannabis.
The manufacturers of CBD oil from hemp claim that it is legal to market their products as a dietary supplement even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to recognize hemp-derived CBD oil as a dietary supplement. The FDA singled out for criticism CBD oil producers for making unsubstantiated medical claims about treating pain, spasms, cancer and other ailments. The FDA has never approved CBD as a supplement for any kind of medical use.
Under current state medical marijuana laws, the only way a CBD-infused oil product—derived from hemp or cannabis—can be used legally for therapeutic purposes would be for it to be grown, harvested, processed and consumed by a certified patient in a state that has legalized medical cannabis. That is not the case with products made from CBD hemp oil imported from abroad which remain illegal under both federal and state laws.
For many reasons, CBD-rich cannabis is a better source of CBD than industrial hemp. The only reason CBD derived from hemp is gaining any notoriety is as an attempted end-run around federal law. When cannabis prohibition is ended and cannabis is treated like any other agricultural product, CBD will be extracted from the best source of cannabidiol—CBD-rich cannabis. The need to derive CBD from industrial hemp will end.
Medical research suggests that cannabis may help improve mood, but users also seem to suffer higher rates of depression.
Marijuana is sometimes referred to as ‘green Prozac’ due to the fact that many users find it helpful in lifting their spirits. But can it actually be an effective treatment for depression?
Interestingly, the idea that cannabis can be used to improve mood goes back hundreds of years. And many people today still agree.
“A lot of people report using cannabis effectively to treat depression,” says Zachary Walsh, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who heads a research lab focused on marijuana and mental health.
But whether cannabis has actually been proven to help with depression can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. The answer is more complicated because there are different types of depression, explains Walsh.
Generally speaking, depression is defined as the feeling of sadness or hopelessness over an extended period of time.
Studies on Marijuana and Depression
For depression that is caused by chronic stress, components of marijuana may be an effective treatment, according to a 2015 study by University of Buffalo scientists. The findings showed that stress caused a decrease in cannabis-like molecules naturally found in the brain, leading to behavior that mimicked depression.
Another study published in 2007 by a team at McGill University showed that administering low doses of THC could work like an antidepressant by increasing serotonin. However, in high dosages, THC decreased serotonin and seemed to worsen depression.
“These findings confirm what has been reported by people who smoke cannabis,” explains Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, who co-authored the McGill study. “Often it produces euphoria, calmness, sociability, but in other circumstances it can produce bad dreams and negative feelings.”
Overall there hasn’t been enough research in the field, Dr. Gobbi says, adding that the type of research needed to confirm whether marijuana can effectively treat depression is quite complex.
“Not only do we have to determine the dose-effect of cannabis on depressive people, but also which kind of cannabinoid may have a positive effect on mood.”
Cannabinoids are a class of molecules found in cannabis, which include THC and CBD. Over 60 different cannabinoids have been identified in marijuana, making it difficult to determine the drug’s overall effect on depression.
Higher Rates of Depression
While medical literature suggests that cannabis can improve mood, studies involving recreational users often show that people who use cannabis are more depressed, says Walsh.
“What those studies have noted is that they can’t really determine what comes first,” he explains. In other words: “Does cannabis cause depression? Do depressed people try to use cannabis to help with depression? Those are questions that are out there.”
An important factor in the answer could be the age of the person consuming cannabis.
According to research conducted by Dr. Gobbi in 2009, daily use of marijuana can cause depression and anxiety in teens.
“Cannabis, when consumed by adolescents, induces depression and anxiety later in adulthood, even if the people did not have any susceptibility for these mental diseases,” she says.
Cannabis vs. Antidepressants
While researchers can’t completely confirm if marijuana is effective for treating depression, Walsh points out that other medicines fall into the same problem.
He says that in some cases, typical antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo and have side effects that may be more severe than those of marijuana.
Dr. Gobbi explains that in order to declare a drug effective for a certain disease, it must go through different stages of clinical trials, which marijuana has not.
“If we want to take a rational approach about medicinal cannabis, we should go through systematic clinical studies and finally determine its efficacy in treating specific diseases and its safety compared to standard antidepressants,” she says.
Walsh agrees that further research should compare cannabis to commonly used antidepressants. “Then I think people can make the choice,” he concludes.
Behind strain names like Charlotte’s Web and Haleigh’s Hope are stories of children whose epileptic seizures were dramatically reduced through medical cannabis. But while evidence so far has been anecdotal, doctors this week are presenting the first scientific studies to back them up.
At the American Epilepsy Society meeting in Philadelphia, researchers are unveiling the results of trials testing the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol. The findings are largely promising. In the biggest study, the number of seizures went down by about half, on average, among children who completed the trial. Benefits for some continued even after the study was over.
“In the subsequent periods, which are very encouraging, 9 percent of all patients and 13 percent of those with Dravet Syndrome epilepsy were seizure-free,” Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the study’s lead author and a neurologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center, told NPR. “Many have never been seizure-free before.”
The data represent a significant step forward in legitimizing use of cannabis to treat epilepsy, a syndrome that in both children and adults causes debilitating seizures and can be especially difficult to treat. Patients sometimes exhaust traditional anti-seizure medications to no effect.
Despite the findings of CBD’s potential benefit in epilepsy treatment, the study results weren’t all good. In Devinsky’s three-month trial, 16 percent of participants withdrew due to adverse side effects or after deciding the treatment was ineffective. And in a yearlong study of 25 patients, one participant actually experienced more frequent seizures.
Participants in the studies didn’t smoke or vaporize cannabis flowers or concentrates. Rather, they consumed cannabidiol in the form of daily doses of purified extracts that had been derived from cannabis plants.
Parents across the country have turned to high-CBD strains after hearing about their sometimes life-changing benefits. Charlotte’s Web, for example, was developed in 2011 and popularized after it was used successfully to treat epileptic seizures in a Colorado girl, Charlotte Figi. While Figi’s story has encouraged lawmakers in some states to loosen regulations on high-CBD strains, many desperate parents still obtain the drug illegally. And because of a lack of scientific evidence to justify their decision, they often face stigma — not to mention the risk of jail time — for giving their children cannabis.
Until recently, clinical trials involving cannabis have been almost nonexistent. As a federally controlled substance, the drug has been impossible to study except with government approval. But as legalization spreads, information about the efficacy of cannabis in treating various ailments will likely become ever more available.
If you’re not familiar with Charlotte’s Web, watch this video about Charlotte Figi and her family:
Earth Science Tech Announces Positive Interim results from Trial with Former Professional Football Athletes Using ETST High Grade Hemp CBD (Cannabidiol)
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About Earth Science Tech, Inc. (ETST): Earth Science Tech (www.earthsciencetech.com) is a publicly traded (symbol: ETST) unique Science based Biotechnology company focused on cutting edge Nutraceuticals, Bioceuticals, Phytoceuticals and Cosmeceuticals for the Health, Wellness and Alternative Medicine Markets to help improve the quality of life for Consumers Worldwide. ETST is also dedicated to providing Natural Alternatives to prescription medications through the use of its cutting edge Nutritional and Dietary Supplements. This may include products such as its High Grade Hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil, Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, Botanicals, Personal Care Products, Homeopathies, Functional Foods and other products. These products may be in various formulations and delivery systems including (but not limited to) capsules, tablets, soft gels, chewables, liquids, creams, sprays, powders, and whole herbs. ETST is focused on researching and developing innovative Hemp extracts and to make them accessible Worldwide. ETST plans to be the premier supplier of the highest quality and purity of High Grade Hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil. ETST’s primary goal is to advance different High Quality Hemp extracts with a broad profile of Cannabinoids and additional natural molecules found in Industrial Hemp and to identify their distinct properties. The company is dedicated in offering its consumers the finest and purest quality All Natural-Organic Hemp CBD Oil while never compromising on quality. ETST High Grade Hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil is classified as “food based” and therefore perfectly permissible in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Cannabinoids (Cannabidiol/CBD) are natural constituents of the Hemp plant and CBD is derived from Hemp stalk and seed. Hemp oil is a well-known dietary supplement and the naturally occurring CBD possesses no psychoactive qualities and presents a continuing stream of overwhelming evidence of significant Wellness benefits. With no psychoactive ingredient, Hemp CBD Oil is a ready-for-market Hemp-based Nutraceutical. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently considers non-THC hemp based cannabinoids, including CBD, to be “food based” and therefore saleable. These new non-psychoactive CBD-rich hemp oil products that ETST has geared up to market and distribute are beyond reproach. CBD (cannabidiol), a naturally occurring constituent of the Industrial Hemp plant, promotes and supports the nutritional health of aging bodies in particular. Source: US Government Patent #6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” ETST does not grow, sell or distribute any substances that violate United States Law or the controlled substance act. ETST does sell and distribute hemp based products.
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By next summer, some North Carolina farm fields could be filled with cannabis plants – not marijuana, but hemp, which is marijuana’s near-twin in appearance but has little of the ingredient that makes people high.
For the first time in decades, hemp will be a legal crop in this state.
Initially it’s to be grown only on an experimental basis. But hemp advocates hope North Carolina will become part of a national revival of a hemp industry that was knocked down in the 20th century when hemp was lumped in with marijuana by national and local laws against illicit drugs.
The 21st-century American hemp revival is somewhat reminiscent of Colonial times. In the 1700s, according to historical records, leaders in North Carolina and other English colonies in North America encouraged farmers to grow hemp. They aimed to generate income with exports.
In 1766, North Carolina’s legislature voted to open a hemp-inspection warehouse in Campbellton, one of the two towns that later merged and became Fayetteville. A journal of the legislative session says the lawmakers also renewed for four years a bounty paid to hemp farmers.
More than two centuries later, North Carolina and the United States were importing all of their hemp products. After encouraging hemp production during World War II to supply the military with rope and other materials, the government effectively banned hemp farming in 1970. The last known American commercial crop was reported to have been grown in Wisconsin in 1957, according to The Denver Post newspaper.
In early 2014, Congress and the president approved a law to allow experimental hemp farming in states that conduct agricultural research. North Carolina’s lawmakers voted nearly unanimously in late September to join this effort. The legislation, which emerged with little warning or opportunity for vetting or public comment in the final days of the 2015 lawmaking session, creates the opportunity “to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp.”
Including North Carolina, 27 states are pursuing hemp production, says the Vote Hemp Inc. advocacy group.
That’s great news for people such Brenda Harris, who operates the The Apple Crate Natural Market health food stores in Fayetteville and Hope Mills. The hemp seed, hemp-based protein powders and hemp-based soaps, lotions and oils on her shelves are imported from Canada and overseas.
Hemp seed is high in protein, Harris said, and in essential fatty acids that people need for good health.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, is reported to reduce nausea, suppress seizures, help with cancer, tumors, anxiety and depression and other health problems, says the Leaf Science website. But it notes that most of the studies that made these findings were with animals, not people.
In addition, hemp can be used in a number of fiber-based products.
“I’d love to know my dollars were supporting a North Carolina farmer,” Harris said.
“It will definitely mean the product will be more competitively priced,” she said. “And it’s not a terribly expensive product to start with, but still I feel like with bringing that closer to home, it’ll be more sustainable, there’ll be less shipping involved, there’ll be less mark-up involved. That’s usually the way the chain works.”
Organic farmer Lee Edwards of Kinston, about 90 minutes east of Fayetteville, could become one of Harris’ North Carolina suppliers.
Edwards plans to become part of North Carolina’s hemp pilot project and get a crop into the ground in mid-2016. He thinks hemp will make more money than the corn, wheat, soybeans and cereal grains he grows now.
“It’s a lower input cost and a higher profit per acre crop,” Edwards said. He estimated hemp could net him $1,250 per acre after expenses versus the $400 at most “on a real good year” from traditional grains. And he hopes that he can get two hemp crops a year.
Las Vegas-based Hemp Inc. opened a processing plant last year in Spring Hope, between Raleigh and Rocky Mount. It has been extracting fiber from kenaf, which is similar to hemp (and never was banned), and plans to process hemp as it becomes legal and available in the U.S.
The decortication plant extracts fibers that can be used in paper, clothing and other fiber-based products, even car parts and building materials, according to the Hemp Inc. website.
Back in Fayetteville, researcher Shirley Chao and her students at Fayetteville State University might be able to get North Carolina-grown hemp seed for their research into a hemp-derived insecticide. Until now, they have been buying imported seed.
Over the past several years, Chao and her students discovered that chemicals in hemp have a variety of detrimental effects on roaches, carpenter ants and grain-eating beetles.
“We found that it’s very effective in controlling reproduction,” Chao said. “And when they feed on it, they don’t develop normally. And so they, most of them, either die or have these deformations that you can see. And then if they do survive, they don’t reproduce normally.”
Chao hopes that further research will demonstrate that the hemp-based pesticide has no ill effects on people or other vertebrates. That quality could make it preferable to other pesticides in use today.
The school also is seeking a patent for the pesticide.
Before anyone buys hemp legally grown in North Carolina, the state has to set up its system to regulate it and issue hemp-growing licenses to the farmers.
That process is not moving as quickly as advocates would like.
The new hemp law says a state commission must be set up to license and regulate the growers. But first, the industry has to raise $200,000 in private donations to pay for the commission.
As of mid-November, about $20,000 had been raised, said Thomas Shumaker, the executive director of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association.
Shumaker’s group led the effort at the legislature this year to pass the hemp law.
Once the money is raised, a five-person N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission will be appointed to set up the state’s hemp program, the law says. It is to work with federal law enforcement or other federal agencies as appropriate, vet people seeking licenses and set rules for how the program will operate.
Because of law enforcement concerns, the GPS coordinates of every hemp farm will be noted, and the hemp will be subject to testing to ensure that it isn’t actually marijuana. Under the law, hemp plants must have no more than 0.3 percent THC content, the psychoactive chemical that makes marijuana users high.
Marijuana typically has 5 to 20 percent THC and the highest grades carry 25 to 30 percent, Leaf Science says.
It will probably be June before North Carolina’s hemp regulatory system is in place and farmers can start planting, Shumaker said.
Learning from others
In the meantime, the state’s farmers can learn from growers in several other states who have been experimenting with hemp.
Kentucky just finished its second year of its pilot project. It had 922 acres planted in 2015, said Adam Watson, the industrial hemp program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The state is looking at different varieties of hemp for grain (the seeds), fiber and nutraceuticals, which are oils that are thought to have health benefits.
The program has worked with with law enforcement, Watson said. Police know the growers have hemp, not marijuana, he said, but some thieves didn’t know the difference and went into a field and stole some.
Farmers have tested seed from Canada, Australia and Europe, he said. They are allowed to sell their harvest, but it’s too soon to figure out yet the extent of the potential market, he said.
While hemp can be used to make paper, textiles, building materials and other items, it may not necessarily be the best raw material for those products, Watson said. Much depends on whether the hemp-based products prove to be practical and cost-effective, he said.
Watson and other industry observers said the American hemp industry is in a chicken-and-egg situation in getting started: Because there have been no growers, there is no marketplace or infrastructure to buy their product. But without growers, there is no incentive to set up a marketplace.
But there is demand for hemp.
The Congressional Research Service this year estimated that in 2013, the United States imported $36.9 million in hemp products. The Hemp Industries Association estimated that the total U.S. retail value of hemp products in 2013 was $581 million, the research service said.
People like Edwards, the farmer from Kinston, want a piece of that market.
“I hope to start with around 50 acres,” Edwards said. “That’s more of just getting going the first year. Depending on how things go, I’d love to get up to a couple hundred acres.”
Manuel Guzmán lleva 20 años investigando las propiedades terapéuticas del cannabis, lo que le ha dado un estatus de referencia internacional. Son dos décadas estudiando sus múltiples efectos como agente antitumoral o ante enfermedades neurodegenerativas. Recientemente, compagina esta actividad con ser miembro de la junta directiva del Observatorio Español de Cannabis Medicinal. El jueves pasado participó en la presentación de la Plataforma Regulación Responsable, desde la que aboga por la regulación integral de esta sustancia para su uso tanto terapéutico como recreativo.
¿Por qué es partidario de legalizar el cannabis?
Por dos cuestiones. Una es la medicinal. Cuando existe una regulación que se impone sobre la sustancia no va a haber un control de calidad, un acceso seguro, un seguimiento por los especialistas. Tenemos muchos impedimentos legales sobre la planta que impiden que la investigación básica y clínica avancen a la velocidad que me gustaría. Y hay muchos argumentos que apoyan desde el punto de vista científico-médico la apertura de estas posiciones sobre los preparados.
Desde el punto de vista recreativo —pero también de los derechos inalienables de cualquier persona al autoconocimiento e incluso la automedicación— cualquiera, de manera libre y responsable, debería tener la libertad de utilizar preparados de cannabis.
Soy partidario abierto de una regulación que permita la apertura en el consumo, utilización, de sustancias en general y el cannabis en particular. Debe ir asociado a la responsabilidad, a respetar los derechos de los demás y a la información responsable, objetiva y abierta por parte de las autoridades hacia cuáles pueden ser los perjuicios de cualquier sustancia.
¿Cualquier sustancia, no sólo el cannabis?
En una sociedad ideal, sí. Otra cosa es que habría que hacerlo poco a poco. Lo esencial es la información, la transparencia. Habría que ir haciendo programas de formación, pero en cualquier sociedad que se precie de ser libre sería un derecho de las personas, bajo programas de información y concienciación, saber qué se está tomando. Si uno va a fumar cannabis, que sepa qué porcentaje de THC tiene. Si se va a tomar MDMA, que no está mezclado con anfetamina, por ejemplo. Son políticas de acotar riesgos y abrir posibilidades.
¿En qué momento estamos en la investigación con el cannabis?
Yo pondría tres niveles de evidencia. Uno, con indicaciones más consolidadas y una evidencia sólida. Aquí hay dos aplicaciones: una es el dolor crónico. Es lo más claro y lo que más utilizan los pacientes. Hablamos de cuadros de artritits, fibriomialgia, migraña, dolor crónico, dolor neuropático… hay buenos estudios sobre los buenos efectos de los cannabinoides, tanto solos como combinados con otros analgésicos. En segundo lugar se utiliza para los trastornos del movimiento: espasmos, convulsiones, temblores, etc. En un segundo nivel, para el que hay evidencias aunque también para otros medicamentos, destacaría otros dos usos: el más clásico es la inhibición de nauseas y vómitos asociados a la quimioterapia. También está el aumento del apetito y la pérdida de peso masiva en ciertas enfermedades. Por último hay algunas indicaciones que pueden ser relevantes pero aún están en estudios clínicos tempranos. La que más repercusión ha tenido es el tratamiento de las convulsiones en epilepsias infantiles en niños en los que han fracasado otro tipo de fármacos.
¿Pero cómo se utilizan estos medicamentos? ¿Se dispensan a nivel oficial?
Hay un medicamento llamado Sativex que en España está aprobado oficialmente para la espasticidad asociada a la esclerosis múltiple. En otros países está aprobado para el dolor neuropático y el dolor oncológico, pero aquí no. La mayoría de la gente toma aceite de cannabis. A veces no viene estandarizado, es una de las lacras de la prohibición. Es un problema que la gente no sepa qué está tomando. Es la diferencia entre que se lo compres a un narco o a un Estado. No sabes la composición, estabilidad, pureza, etc. La estandarización es totalmente necesaria. Cuando tomas un paracetamol tienes que saber si tiene 100 mg o 500. Obviamente hay que saber cuando se toma un aceite cuánto principio activo está tomando para tener una previsión de sus efectos.
Como investigador, ¿cómo le afecta la prohibición del cannabis?
La Organización de las Naciones Unidas tiene una serie de listas de sustancias psicotrópicas. En la Lista 1 están incluidos la mayoría de los principios activos de las drogas que consumimos normalmente. La OMS considera que son sustancias peligrosas, adictivas, sin valor terapéutico, y hay unas restricciones muy fuertes a investigar con ellas. Ahí está el THC, lo cual es absurdo en 2015, cuando en cualquier laboratorio u hospital hay cientos de compuestos más peligrosos. Pero la realidad es que hay unas regulaciones muy estrictas que hacen que los investigadores básicos necesitemos una serie de permisos especiales. Es farragoso. A las agencias que nos financian les echa para atrás el papeleo. En la investigación básica se solventa, pero en investigación clínica es complicado.
Luego hay cuestiones relacionadas con el estigma que tienen las plantas. Por estar en la Lista 1 se considera una droga de abuso y se ve con recelo la investigación y es difícil convencer a hospitales, compañías farmacéuticas, instituciones, etc. para que apoyen estos estudios.
¿Se han dedicado más esfuerzos y recursos a demostrar los efectos negativos en vez de a investigar sus propiedades terapéuticas?
Tradicionalmente sí, aunque ahora está balanceado más o menos. Se ha invertido un poco la tendencia. Ahora hay muchos estudios sobre los posibles efectos terapéuticos.
¿Qué papel juegan las grandes farmacéuticas en esta cuestión?
Hay una cierta relación de dos caras. Una farmacéutica quiere sanar para ganar dinero. Si ve que hay una opción de entrar en el mercado en alguna enfermedad con los cannabinoides lo va a intentar. El Sativex obviamente lo hace una farmacéutica, una inglesa llamada GW. No es una multinacional, pero sí una intermedia. Están floreciendo también otras pequeñas en otros países del mundo que empiezan a hacer sus preparados. La Big Pharma tiene por un lado la idea de que pueden ser compuestos interesantes y existe al menos un interés teórico. Problemas: las regulaciones que se manejan sobre el manejo de estos compuestos. En segundo lugar el estigma del cannabis más como droga que como fármaco. Otro problema es que las farmacéuticas quieren tener su compuesto patentado y protegido, y en el caso de la marihuana no se puede patentar porque son compuestos naturales. Las compañías deberían desarrollar sus propios derivados sintéticos, y se está haciendo, pero de momento no hay ninguna que haya superado a los compuestos de la planta.
¿Qué está investigando ahora?
Trabajamos en tres líneas. Una es sobre el cáncer: intentamos dilucidar si el THC y el CBD son compuestos antitumorales. Hemos visto que pueden tener efectos estos efectos en ratones y ratas, estamos haciendo estudios clínicos en algunos tipos de tumores para dilucidar si los cannabinoides aparte de paliar atacar los tumores. La segunda línea de trabajo es la posible utilidad de estos compuestos como agentes neuroprotectores en algunas enfermedades neurodegenerativas. Es una de las vías más activas en la investigación del cannabis. Y en tercer lugar estamos intentando estudiar los efectos negativos del THC en el desarrollo embrionario cuando se fuman grandes cantidades de cannabis en el embarazo.
El cannabis entra en campaña
“Vamos a regular el cannabis en 2017”. Así de rotundo se manifestó el pasado jueves Ramón Morcillo, portavoz de la plataforma Regulación Responsable, sobre la evolución de la situación legal de esta sustancia en España. “La legislación actual no ha conseguido sus objetivos: no ha reducido el número de consumidores, ni protege la salud pública al dejar el cannabis en un mercado negro en manos de las mafias sin control que propicia, precisamente, que los menores accedan a él”, argumentó Morcillo. La plataforma aboga por una regulación integral que incluya el consumo, la producción y la distribución para evitar errores de otros países. La regulación cuenta con el apoyo expreso de Podemos, Ciudadanos, UPyD y sobre todo IU, que la incluye en sus programas hace años. El PSOE está dispuesto a debatir la cuestión. El PP, adalid de las políticas represoras en esta materia en los últimos años, está en contra. “No se trata de dar barra libre, hablamos de que la sustancia la suministre el Estado con todas las garantías y no el Chapo Guzmán”, aclaró Araceli Manjón-Cabezas, exmagistrada y exdirectora del gabinete del Plan Nacional sobre Drogas. En España un 9% de la población consume cannabis de forma habitual, porcentaje que sube hasta el 17% en la cohorte de edad entre 17 y 35 años.
Fuente: El diario
New research on the cannabinoid THCV shows that it may reduce the effects of THC.
While almost all marijuana users are familiar with the effects of THC, new findings show why you may want to pay attention to another compound known as tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
THCV is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis and is often measured during laboratory testing. But up until now, little was known about the effects of THCV — both psychological and otherwise.
Interestingly, a new study published Nov. 17 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology seems to show that THCV works against THC to dampen the high.
While the sample size was small — the study only involved 10 participants — the results showed that combining doses of THCV with THC overwhelmingly resulted in a high that felt “less intense” compared to THC alone.
THCV also seemed to protect against other common effects of THC, including memory impairment and increased heart rate.
Interestingly, THCV seemed to have no psychoactive effect when taken alone. In fact, participants in the study were unable to distinguish doses of THCV from a placebo.
The authors — a group of scientists from King’s College London — say that this seems to contradict older research published in the 1970s, which suggested THCV might have weak psychoactive properties.
Nevertheless, the latest findings suggest that THCV may offer a similar sort of protection as CBDwhen it comes to reducing the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
According to testing results from the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup in Seattle, many sativa strains have noticeable levels of THCV. In fact, this may explain the uplifting and energizing effect that sativa strains are known for.
So, for the growing number of people seeking marijuana with a less potent high, strains with significant THCV levels may be a good place to start.
A controlled animal study published in Daru: Journal of Faculty and Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences found that topical treatment with 1% purified (i.e. >98%) CBD topical cream may help to reduce damage caused by a disease that results in brain inflammation. This holds relevance for humans with autoimmune diseases that lead to demyelination (damage to the fatty covering around neurons that helps them to transmit signals faster) like multiple sclerosis.
Topical CBD vs. Multiple Sclerosis Experiment
Using healthy mice and mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis[(EAE)- encephalo= brain, myel= myelin= fatty nerve covering, itis= inflammation] as models for humans with multiple sclerosis, researchers applied either 1% purified CBD cream, inactive cream, or no cream to the skin of the healthy mice, and to the skin of diseased mice once symptoms of EAE began to appear. The mice were observed daily, and 28 days after EAE had been induced, spinal cord and spleen cell samples were taken.
Results of the Study
The researchers found that treatment with CBD cream helped to reduce damage caused by EAE, characterized by:
- reversal of back leg paralysis (i.e. loss of muscle function)
- reduction in indicators of spinal cord damage like demyelination and white blood cell count
- reduction in release of lymphocytes from spleen cells
- reduction in inflammatory signals
The results of this study provide further support for the potential of cannabinoids in reducing damage caused by autoimmune/inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis. More uniquely, however, they show that cannabinoids may produce beneficial biological effects even when only applied to the skin, as opposed to typical internal administration (e.g. edibles, vaping, smoking).
Does your endocannabinoid system impact social behavior? A recent study from the University California-Irvine examines how the ECS may interact with the hormone oxytocin to positively impact the rewards associated with social interaction.
What is Oxytocin?
For today’s Science 101 lesson, let’s have a brief refresher on what exactly oxytocin is. Mammals make a key neuro-hormone called oxytocin that’s produced in the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland of the brain/central nervous system.
Oxytocin plays a role in intimacy, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and the socially rewarding effects of hugging, trust related behaviors, pleasant touch, emotions of love, and social interaction. In fact, a study published in 2012 out of Singapore demonstrated that individuals with more extreme levels of oxytocin in the blood were likely to be more trusting than those with lower levels.
The Endocannabinoid System and Its Physiological Impact
One of the most common experiences described by cannabis users include enhanced social interactions, interpersonal communication, and social bonding. This clear overlap in cannabis consumption and pro-social behavior has led scientists to begin exploring the potential link between endocannabinoid signaling and oxytocin.
To briefly review, the endocannabinoid system is a group of specialized fatty acid-based signaling chemicals (think “keys”), their receptors (think “locks”), and the metabolic enzymes that produce and break them down. These endocannabinoid chemical signals act on similar brain cell receptors as the active compounds found in cannabis – cannabidiol (CBD), and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Don’t confuse endocannabinoids with phytocannabinoids – the latter, of which well over 90 have been found to exist, are chemical plant derivatives (found mostly within cannabis species) such as CBD and THC that interact with the endocannabinoid system of hormones, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are known to influence a variety of physiological systems, including appetite, pain/sensation and inflammation, body temperature regulation, intra-ocular pressure, muscle control, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation/reward, memory, and mood, the latter of which brings us to the UC-Irvine study. What link exists, if any, between the ECS and social behaviors?
The Relationship Between the ECS and Sociability
According to UC-Irvine’s recent pre-clinical research study, there is a strong link between the “love” and “trust” hormone oxytocin and the naturally occurring endocannabinoid “bliss” and “delight” molecule known as anadamide. This is the first study of its kind to show a direct link in the brain of mice between these systems.
The animal study set out to measure levels of anadamide in the brain of mice that had either been allowed normal social interaction with other mice or kept in isolation. Researchers found that in mice with social interaction, the levels of anadamide increased in an area of the brain that’s critical for motivation, pleasure, and reward. When the mice were given drugs that enhanced anadamide signaling, their pleasure associated with socialization increased. However, when the cannabinoid receptors were blocked, the mice were prevented from experiencing the rewards of social interactions. This part of the experiment confirmed the importance of anadamide and the endocannabinoid system to social behaviors.
The second part of the study reinforced oxytocin’s role in social bonding and the pleasure derived from social interactions in the same mice when they stimulated oxytocin-releasing brain cells. Researchers found that oxytocin also enhanced the mobilization and production of anadamide within the same area of the brain responsible for motivation and reward.
Not surprisingly, when oxytocin receptors were blocked, it also stopped the normal pleasure and reward sensation obtained by social interactions. Amazingly, when anadamide was prevented from being degraded in this area of the brain, it completely offset the loss of social reward and pleasure observed when blocking the oxytocin receptor.
So what does this all mean? The study and data indicate that social reward and the effects of the “love, trust, and social hormone” oxytocin is driven by anadamide and the endocannabinoid system as an underlying keystone to optimizing social behavior. It’s an exciting revelation, as the underlying dependence of social reward on the endocannabinoid system provides a potential therapeutic strategy in the future to help individuals with social dysfunction, anxiety disorders, pervasive developmental, and autism spectrum disorders.
Zhong S, Monakhov M, Mok HP, et al. U-Shaped Relation between Plasma Oxytocin Levels and Behavior in the Trust Game. Slattery DA, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(12):e51095.
Don Wei, DaYeon Lee, Conor D. Cox, Carley A. Karsten, Olga Peñagarikano, Daniel H. Geschwind, Christine M. Gall, and Daniele Piomelli Endocannabinoid signaling mediates oxytocin-driven social reward PNAS 2015;112 (45):14084-14089.