I’m Just Mad About Saffron & Other Spices that Activate the Endocannabinoid System


By Martin A. Lee on August 31, 2016

Modern science is starting to catch on to the wisdom of our ancestors, who knew a lot about using aromatic herbs and spices for medicinal purposes. The use of spices for cooking, healing and dyeing fabric has shaped much of human history. In ancient times these highly precious commodities were traded along well-traveled spice routes throughout Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe. Some spices were literally worth their weight in gold.

Yet it’s only recently that scientists have discovered the bioactive constituents and molecular mechanisms of several common kitchen spices, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation while modulating multiple healing pathways simultaneously. A number of scientific studies confirm that the health-promoting properties of various spices are mediated by the same receptors in the human brain and body that respond pharmacologically to cannabis.

Saffron: Nerve Tonic


A 2013 report by Iranian scientists in Pharmacognosy Review examined the neuroprotective effects of saffron extracts, which inhibited the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain in animal models of Alzheimer’s. The same article noted that saffron extracts could “prevent retinal damage [and] age-related macular degeneration.” An Italian research team subsequently showed that saffron can counteract the effects of continuous bright light exposure in lab rats by enhancing retinal blood flow. Saffron “engages” both the CB1 cannabinoid receptor and the CB2 cannabinoid receptor “in order to afford retinal protection,” the Italian scientists concluded.

Described as “the most expensive cultivated herb in the world,” saffron (Crocus sativus) is a much-revered food seasoning and a natural colorant. Cultivated originally in Persia and Asia Minor, this legendary spice comes from a light purple flower with thread-like red-orange stigma that contains 150 bioactive components, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and other potent polyphenols. A rich source of riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and free-radical scavengers, saffron has a long history of use as a folk medicine for treating cancer, convulsions, headaches, skin conditions, asthma, ulcers, premenstrual distress, and other diseases. The Ebers papyrus (1550 BC) refers to saffron as a “cheering cardiac medicament” and a cure for kidney problems.

Scientific studies indicate that saffron improves learning and memory by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine. Saffron also enhances the functioning of the GABA receptor, which explains in part its efficacy as relaxant and nerve tonic. Clinical trials evaluated the anti-depressant properties of saffron and concluded that it was more effective than a placebo and equivalent to Prozac.

Turmeric: Holy Powder

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a perennial plant of the ginger family, has a safe 6,000-year track record as a medicinal herb, a culinary spice, and a dye for fabric and food. The fleshy rhizome of this all-star botanical is ground into a deep orange-yellow powder and used to season South Asian cuisine. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curries, as well as a staple of Ayurvedic medical practice, which utilizes turmeric (typically in combination with other herbs) to treat indigestion, throat infections, metabolic dysfunction, common colds, and many other ailments. Known as “the holy powder of India,” turmeric is also applied topically as an antibacterial and antifungal remedy for skin sores and to clean wounds.

The Food and Drug Administration, the perennial handmaiden of Big Pharma, recognizes turmeric as a food-coloring agent but not as a therapeutic substance, despite more than 5600 peer-reviewed studies of turmeric and its main polyphenolic component, curcumin, that document numerous healing attributes. There is more evidence-based scientific literature (1500 science articles) supporting the use of curcumin against cancer than any other nutrient, including vitamin D. Much like saffron, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that confers neuroprotective effects through multiple molecular channels. Turmeric protects against alcohol-induced brain damage, improves insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular function, inhibits platelet aggregation, and facilitates the clearing of beta-amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer’s dementia. It's worth noting that the incidence of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases among people living in the Asian subcontinent, where turmeric is ubiquitous, is significantly lower than in North America.

Turmeric’s versatility as a medicinal herb derives in part from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which regulates numerous physiological processes. In May 2012, Neurochemical Research Identified the CB1 cannabinoid receptor as a mediator of curcumin’s antidepressant effect: “treatment with curcumin,” the report notes, “results in the sustained elevation . . . of endocannabinoids.” In December 2013, the European Journal of Pharmacology disclosed that curcumin reduces liver fibrosis by modulating cannabinoid receptor transmission.

Peppercorn: Black Gold


Employed since antiquity as both a food seasoning and a folk cure, black pepper (Piper nigrum) is the world’s most traded spice. Touted as “black gold,” the dried fruit of this woody vine -- the peppercorn -- was considered such a valuable commodity that it served as a substitute for money in business transactions. During the Middle Ages in Europe, black pepper was a luxury item only the wealthy could afford. Today, it is one of most commonly used spices on the planet.

The manifold therapeutic properties of black pepper have been validated by modern science. The essential oil of black pepper reduces nicotine cravings and eases withdrawal symptoms. An anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant, it can also lower blood pressure and relieve digestive distress. Piperine, black pepper’s principal bioactive constituent, has been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in animal models of osteosarcoma. In addition, this black pepper alkaloid potentiates the antitumoral and apoptotic effects of turmeric by enhancing the bioavailability of curcumin. When co-administered, piperine and curcumin interact synergistically to confer a stronger antidepressant effect than either compound delivers on its own.

In addition to piperine, black pepper contains vitamin K, iron and manganese along with a robust array of aromatic terpenes, which should be familiar to cannabis connoisseurs: pinene, limonene, linalool, sabinene . . . Black pepper is particularly well endowed with the sesquiterpene beta-caryophyllene, an important medicinal component of many cannabis strains. Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene known to bind directly to CB2, the cannabinoid receptor that regulates immune function, the peripheral nervous system, metabolic tissue activity, and other physiological processes. Black pepper’s potent anti-inflammatory juju is mediated by the CB2 receptor. THC also binds directly to the CB2 receptor, although this is not what makes a person feel high when he or she consumes cannabis. That’s because CB2 receptors are not present to a significant degree in the brain and central nervous system.

Nutmeg: Cannabinoid Booster

Nutmeg (the dried kernel of Myristica fragrans) does not directly activate the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the brain or the CB2 cannabinoid receptor in immune cells. But this commonly used kitchen spice can have a powerful impact on the endocannabinoid system. A study published earlier this year inPharmaceutical Biology reported that nutmeg interacts with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting certain key enzymes that catabolize (break down) the two main endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2AG. Likened to the brain’s own marijuana, these short-lived endogenous cannabinoid compounds bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This triggers a signaling cascade on a cellular level that protects neurons against toxic insults (stress) and promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new stem cells in adult mammals).

Two catabolic enzymes, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoglycerol lipase (MAGL), are involved in the breakdown of anandamide and 2AG, respectively. Simply put, less FAAH and MAGL means more anandamide and 2AG. So by inhibiting these catabolic enzymes, nutmeg raises the level of anandamide and 2AG in the brain and boosts cannabinoid receptor signaling throughout the body. FAAH and MAGL inhibition has proven to be beneficial for easing pain, anxiety, hypertension and various inflammatory conditions in preclinical research, which lends credence to traditional medical uses of nutmeg.

Ayurvedic healers in India utilize nutmeg as an anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing agent. But there are conflicting accounts of nutmeg’s effect on anxiety and depression -- higher doses cause a biphasic response, exacerbating mood disorders and triggering hallucinations. Nutmeg has long been known for its central nervous system activity. In an article in Nature (1966), Alexander Shulgin identified “myristicin as a psychotropic substance.” Many prison inmates, including Malcolm X before his conversion to Islam, have sniffed and swallowed nutmeg to get high. Now we know how and why nutmeg has a psychoactive effect -- it stimuates cannabinoid receptor transmission by suppressing the enzymes that break down the brain's own marijuana.

Ecological medicine

Herbs and spices are ecological medicines. Seventy-five to ninety percent of the world’s rural people still rely on traditional plant medicine as their primary mode of health care. Numerous plants -- not just cannabis -- are endowed with compounds that interact directly or indirectly with the endocannabinoid system. The health benefits of many common kitchen spices are mediated by the same cannabinoid receptors in the human brain and body that marijuana activates.

Scientific research into marijuana’s effects on the brain has opened the door to whole new vistas of understanding human biology and physiology. As we welcome cannabis back into the pantheon of approved medicinal herbs, perhaps we should rethink our ideas about the endocannabinoid system, so named after the plant that led to its discovery, and stretch its boundaries to encompass an abundance of botanicals.

Martin A. Lee is the director of Project CBD and the author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana -- Medical, Recreational and Scientific.

Selected Sources

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  • Bhutani, MK, et al, “Anti-depressant effect of curcumin and its combination with piperine in unpredictable chronic stress-induced behavioral, biochemical and neurochemical changes,” Pharmocol Biochem Behav, 2009 March.
  • Cordell, Barbara  and Buckle, Jane, “The effects of aromatherapy on nicotine craving on a U.S. campus: a small comparison study.” J Altern Complement Med. 2013 July 31.
  • El-Alfy, Abir T, et al, “Indirect modulation of the endocannabinoid system by specific fractions of nutmeg total extract,” Pharmaceutical Biology, 2016.
  • Gertsch, J, et al, “Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid,” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2008 July.
  • Gohari, Ahmad Reza, et al, “An overview on saffron, phytochemicals, and medicinal properties,” Pharmacogn Rev, 2013 Jan-Jun.
  • Hassan M, et al, “Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of black pepper and piperine in gastrointestinal disorders,” Anticancer Res. 2009 Dec 01.
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  • Javadi, B, et al, “A Survey of Saffron in Major Islamic Traditional Medicine Books,” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 2013.
  • Ji, Sayer, “600 Reasons Turmeric May Be the World’s Most Important Herb,”, July 10, 2013.
  • Ji, Sayer, “Better than Chemo: Turmeric Kills Cancer Not Patients,”, Sept. 12, 2015.
  • Kannappan, Ramaswamy, et al, “Neuroprotection by Spice-Derived Nutraceuticals,” Molecular Neurobiology, 2011 October.
  • Kazem M, et al, “Antispasmodic effect of Piper nigrum fruit hot water extract on rat ileum,” Pak J Biol Sci, 2008 Jun 01.
  • Khazdair, Mohammad Reza, et al, “The effects of Crocus sativus (saffron) and its constituents on nervous system: A review,” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, Sept-Oct 2015.
  • Khorasany, AR, et al, “Therapeutic effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in digestive disorders: a review,” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 2016.
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  • Natoli, R, et al, “Gene and noncoding RNA regulation underlying photoreceptor protection: microarray study of dietary antioxidant saffron and photobiomodulation in rat retina,” Molecular Vision, 2016.
  • Patil, Vaishali M, et al, “Quantum Chemical and Docking Insights Into Bioavailability Enhancement of Curcumin by Piperine in Pepper,” J Phys Chem A, 2016 May 26.
  • Rapino, Cinzia, et al, “Type-1 and Type-2 Cannabinoid Receptor Signaling is Involved in the Neuroprotective Effect of Saffron of Rat Retina,” poster at International Cannabinoid Research Society conference, 2016 June.
  • Rose, J E and Behm FM, “Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms,” Drug Alcohol Depend. 1994 Feb 01.
  • Samarghandian, Saeed, et al, “Anticarcinogenic effect of saffron (crocus sativus L.) and its ingredients,” Pharmacognosy Res, 2014 Apr-Jun.
  • Zhang J, et al, “Piperine inhibits proliferation of human osteosarcoma cells via G2/M phase arrest and metastasis by suppressing MMP-2/-9 expression,” Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Dec 31.
  • Zhang Z, et al, “Curcumin modulates cannabinoid receptors in liver fibrosis in vivo and inhibits extracellular matrix expression in hepatic stellate cells by suppressing cannabinoid receptor type-1 in vitro,” European Journal of Pharmacology, 2013 Dec 5.



5 Experts Weigh in on Cannabis Concentrates and How to Use Them



This article is sponsored by Firefly, a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in the research, design, and manufacturing of vaporizer hardware.

Cannabis concentrates aren’t going anywhere. This segment of the market – which includes waxes, shatters, hash oils, rosinstinctures, and more – is expanding at lightning speed, and may give us the most compelling vision of the future of cannabis consumption. That said, there’s still a lot we don’t know about extracts.

To tap into the knowledge that’s currently out there, we pulled together a panel of five top experts in the field to weigh in on concentrates:

We asked them to speak to a wide variety of questions regarding concentrate use, including what consumers should consider when choosing between flower and concentrates, why vaporization works well for consuming both, and whether it’s possible to approximate a full-plant experience using extracts. Here’s what they had to say.

What considerations should consumers take into account when choosing between flower and concentrates?

(Andres Rodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons)

Mitch Earleywine: We have markedly more data on flowers…concentrates are still new. Concentrates can get a lot more THC into the bloodstream a lot faster. If you’re supremely nauseated or in a lot of pain or about to panic, this can be a huge advantage. The flavors and aromas are detectably different but subject to personal taste.

Mark Williams: The main consideration is getting to know your body and getting to know what each does to you and being able to tease apart those effects so that you can choose something that will suit the mood that you’re trying to achieve.

Dani Green: When you’re looking for discretion, always go with concentrates. [For example,] moms and business ladies don’t want to smell like weed. If you’re at home or out at something like a music show, I would go with flower. Personally I like the cleaner, better terpene profile of concentrates, especially with the Firefly.

How do flower and concentrates differ in terms of aromas, flavors, effects, and medical benefits, especially when vaporized?

(Andres Rodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons)

Williams: If flower is like a glass of wine, then concentrates are more like grape juice with some distilled alcohol shot thrown in. Using a music analogy, flowers are more like vinyl records and concentrates are more like digital music: the advantage of the digital format is ease of use and the advantage of the LP format is depth of sensation.

Robert Ferguson: The aromas and flavors of concentrates do differ from the flower, but many concentrates can offer great taste and aroma as well. However, after being vaporized the smell of a concentrate is different then the smell of vaporized flower. The medicinal effects of flower tend to be more wholesome, affecting the entire body and mind, while most concentrates are felt mostly in the mind.

Green: Terpenes [are] really what it comes down to. Concentrates have a higher terpene profile, which is great if you’re looking for a specific need – for creativity or sedation or digestive aid, or if you’re going for a specific aroma and want to target limonene, linalool, myrcene, and get thatentourage effect.

Can consumers recreate or approximate the whole-plant cannabis experience when vaporizing concentrates? How?


Lauren Salgado: No. [Concentrate processing techniques] alter the compounds that make up the final product (wax, shatter, distillate, etc.), therefore they cannot mimic the whole plant experience.

Williams: No, not with the current state of concentrate production. The typical CO2 extracts have a lot less fidelity than a cold-pressed rosin. Less processed concentrates like rosin are closer but also not as convenient to use because of the texture.

Ferguson: Many solvent-based extraction companies will reintegrate cannabis terpenes back into their product post-extraction to recapture the entourage effect of the flower, but in most cases some of the synergistic terpenes and cannabinoids are still absent. Hash and rosin are an excellent way to recapture the whole-plant cannabis experience. No solvents are used when producing hash or rosin so most, if not all cannabinoids and terpenes are still present in their natural ratios.

How can factors that affect vaporization be manipulated to customize a concentrate high?

(Andres Rodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons)

Ferguson: When vaporizing concentrates, lower temperatures (380 to 400 degrees) tend to yield the best taste and flavor while higher temps can burn up terpenes or other compounds in concentrated oils. When using a vape pen for concentrates, it is best to only activate your atomizer for about three seconds and not to exceed five seconds.

Williams: The key to getting the most from your concentrates is not to overheat them. The Firefly’s concentrate mode runs at less than half the temperature that a typical pen runs at. Since most concentrates these days have already been decarboxylated, you don’t need to heat them as much to enjoy the effects that you want.



What is Decarboxylation, and Why Does Your Cannabis Need It?

Green: [With] temperature control you can dial in to the correct temperature to customize it depending on how thick you like the [vapor…but] when you have a lot [of vapor], you’ve burned off terpenes and you won’t get a whole plant experience.

Earleywine: As with other inhalations, a range of temperatures might be required to get optimal effects. Holding a big ‘lung buster’ hit really isn’t necessary … most cannabinoids are absorbed into the blood on contact.

How do the main types of concentrates differ from one another, and do some types work better for vaporization?


Ferguson: [Concentrates] that use solvents such as CO2, ethanol, or hydrocarbons … produce a product with a high concentration of specific cannabinoids like THC or CBD (between 50 and 90% total cannabinoids). Some concentrates, like hash and rosins, use no solvents and maintain the natural ratio of cannabinoids found in flowers … These type of concentrates have an average potency of between 25 and 60% THC.

Williams: Not all concentrates want to vape at the same temperature. From Firefly, people can expect to see multiple concentrate settings in the future.

In your opinion, how is concentrate use changing as the cannabis industry evolves? What improvements or changes can consumers expect to see in the future?

(Andres Rodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons)

Ferguson: There are so many bright, innovative minds in the cannabis industry, constantly pondering ways to create safer, more effective medicine for the various needs of patients … Currently THC, CBD, and terpenes are the main focus of the concentrate industry, but through continued research, the benefits and potential uses of other cannabinoids and compounds like CBNand THCV [may come into play].

Earleywine: We are definitely seeing markedly better assurances that solvents are absent from the final product. I would not be surprised if we start seeing ‘light’ versions of some concentrates where there is actually more CBD and less THC in the product. I think we will have more precise pre-measured products that will allow consumers to break off products in units as small as 0.1 grams and alter their consumption accordingly.



The Many Types of Solventless Cannabis Extracts

Salgado: Single sourcing of material, and regulated lab testing … this will result in a quality increase, and a price decrease, which correlates to the sophistication of technology, lab tech advances being made, and those new processes and technology becoming more ubiquitous.

Williams: We’ll continue to see greater emphasis on CBD and other cannabinoids beyond ∆-9 THC. We’ll see higher fidelity in their representation of the whole plant experience. We’ll see a much more informed and deeper association between the temperature you use to vaporize and a specific concentrate.

Green: We were dealing with a lot of butane soup. We won’t have to worry about that in the future. We’ll see molecular isolation – using CBD-A crystalline and THC-A crystalline. We’ll be able to refine the processes and make really clean extracts and get rid of the stigma of dabbing. It’ll be more the norm. [In some places], flowers won’t even be on the market.

Lead image: Andres Rodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons


Firefly is a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in the research, design, and manufacturing of vaporizer hardware.





Do Mangoes Increase the Effects of Consuming Cannabis?

By Johnny Green

on August 12, 2016


True or false - mangoes increase the effects from consuming cannabis?

There are a lot of urban legends out there when it comes to cannabis. As with just about anything, some of the legends are true and some of them are outright false.

Because cannabis was consumed in the shadows for so long, and information suppressed by opponents, a lot of half-truths have been thrown around over the years.

One thing that I heard about a handful of years ago was that eating mangoes before consuming cannabis increases the effects felt from the cannabis. I was very skeptical because it sounded too good to be true. But it turns out that there is definitely some merit to the claim.

What does the science say?

There are numerous terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are aromatic organic hydrocarbons, and are responsible for the cannabis plants' aroma.

A study in 1997 in Switzerland looked at the 16 most common terpenes found in cannabis. The most abundant of the terpenes was myrcene, followed by pinene, limonene, carene, humulene, bergamotene, terpinolene, and caryophyllene.

Myrcene is an interesting terpene, because of how it increases the effects of cannabis in the brain. Myrcene has been proven to change the permeability of cell membranes in the brain to allow more absorption of cannabinoids, thereby increasing the effects.

Where else can myrcene be found? Myrcene can be found in hops, bay leaves, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and, you guessed it, mangoes. Mangoes have a high concentration of myrcene.

How much mango should one eat before consuming cannabis?

Rumors have been swirling since the 1970s as to the mango's ability to increase the effects of cannabis, but it wasn't until somewhat recently that people began to understand why.

So how much does one person have to eat? Is it just a sliver, or do you have to eat an entire box of mangoes, or something in between?

It's important, because no one wants to be too intoxicated. On the other hand, if you are going to eat mangoes for the purpose of increasing the effects of cannabis, you want to make sure you eat enough, right?

According to Steep Hill Labs, a very reputable cannabis science company, 'For most people, the consumption of a fresh mango, 45 minutes before inhaling cannabis, will result in a faster onset of psycho activity and greater intensity.'

Therapeutic effects of myrcene

Different terpenes serve different functions, and are therefore better at treating certain conditions than others. Terpenes all provide benefits, but some are more plentiful than others.

Consuming strains that are high in myrcene are great at treating pain because those same strains tend to be very strong due to the scientific properties of myrcene. Obviously, eating a mango ahead of time further increases the strength.

Myrcene can also help slow the growth of bacteria, can help people sleep, can help reduce inflammation, and helps mitigate the effects of diabetes.

Read more at GreenFlower Media


Introduction to a cold extraction method for hash oil that preserves carboxylic acid form of cannabinoids THC and CBD

Posted by Skunk Pharm Research,LLC.

Introduction to a cold extraction method for hash oil that preserves carboxylic acid form of cannabinoids THC and CBD

By Kate Welch, Pharm.D

The cannabinoids THCA and CBDA, short for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and cannabidiolic acid, respectively, are precursors to their more well-known and well-studied metabolites, THC (aka delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychotropic cannabinoid found in cannabis, and CBD (cannabidiol), its primary non-psychotropic cannabinoid.

Found most abundantly in fresh cannabis plant material (Eichler et al. 2012; Turner et al. 1980), THCA and CBDA de-carboxylate the acidic part of the molecule into the active molecules THC and CBD. This occurs primarily by exposure to heat via smoking, cooking, or heated extraction of the dried or fresh plant, but also can form more slowly over time via extended exposure to light and atmosphere (Hazekamp 2008).

Until recently, THCA and CBDA were not considered to be able to survive metabolism (i.e. inhalation by the lungs or digestion by the stomach and intestines and processing by the liver); nor were they considered to have any pharmacological activity in and of themselves (Jung et al 2007; Takeda et al 2008).

However, recent in vitro and animal research using extracted THCA or CBDA reveals measurable actions on certain enzymes and receptor sites, suggesting some potential therapeutic effects for these cannabinoids and necessitating the elucidation and refinement of specific extraction techniques that preserve these particular acidic forms of these cannabinoids in order to provide material for further experimentation and research.

CBDA was the earliest discovered cannabinoid acid, in 1955 (Brenneisen 2002). As for THCA, there are actually two forms: THCA-A was isolated in 1965; THCA-B, an analogue, was isolated in 1975. Some plants express more of one or the other for unknown reasons (ElSohly and Gul 2014), but THCA-A is usually the most prominent, and the most studied (Brenneisen 2002). For the purposes of this article, THCA= THCA-A as found in the fresh or dried cannabis plant.

First, it is important to distinguish between the carboxylic acids that are precursors to THC and CBD in the fresh or dried plant material, and those that are the acid metabolites of smoked or ingested THC and CBD, formed in the liver or tissues and found in the bloodstream and filtered through the urine for excretion.

The primary non-psychoactive metabolite of THC is also an acid, 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Foltz 2007). This metabolite forms via the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase from the primary liver-produced metabolite of THC, the equally psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC.

Removal of pure THC occurs rapidly from the bloodstream; 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-THC accumulates and continues to form and be excreted into the urine as the THC in the bloodstream or from tissues that secrete stored THC into the bloodstream. As a result, urine drug assays intended for detection of human cannabis consumption primarily screen for the presence of this particular form of THCA (Chesher and Longo 2002).

Animal research confirms that biological enzymes do not themselves convert THCA to THC: pure THCA given to rats led to acid metabolites of THCA only, not THC or acid metabolites of THC (Jung 2007).

THCA and CBDA lack psychoactive effects (Kwong 2002) even when administered in pure form by IV to animals or humans (Grunfeld et al 1969). There is no evidence at this time that the acidic metabolites produced in vivo share the potential biological effects of it acidic precursors present in the fresh or dried plant.

Quantitative detection of THCA in raw plant material heretofore has primarily been intended to help predict the THC potency of a specific weight or volume of dried plant when it is eventually smoked or heated; liquid chromatography (HPLC) is preferred since it is important that the method of detection must not heat the sample which will immediately convert THCA to THC (Ambach et al 2014).
Furthermore, lab analysis of this decarboxylation reaction provides estimates that smoking cannabis yields approximately a 30% conversion of THCA to active THC; other methods such as cooking or heated solvent extractions will yield 70-90% conversion (Dussy et al 2005).
However, it is important to note that to date there is poor correlation between the percentage of THCA to THC conversion already present in a cannabis product to be consumed and the resulting pharmacokinetics (measurements in the bloodstream) or pharmacodynamics (measurable psychoactive or psychomotor effects) in humans. For example, a small study compared the levels of THC and THC metabolites (both active and inactive) in men who consumed a fixed amount of either a) a heated cannabis sativa extract; b) and unheated cannabis sativa extract; or c) pure pharmaceutical THC (aka dronabinol or Marinol®).

The unheated extract, surprisingly, turned out to provide both the highest CBD and THC blood levels on average, suggesting that whatever CBD and THC was initially ingested from the cold extract was readily absorbed and persisted in the bloodstream the longest. The heated extract, however, provided the highest total exposure to THC activity because of the sum of THC plus active metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC measured in the bloodstream. Both extracts measured blood levels of THC on average higher than in subjects given the pure pharmaceutical THC, even though both the unheated and heated cannabis extracts were CBDA dominant strain (CBDA/THCA ratio >1) (Eichler et al 2012).

While the above study provided some interesting evidence about the fate of CBD and THC after oral consumption from either heated or unheated extracts, it did not examine the pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics of CBDA or THCA, though there were more of these acidic forms of the cannabinoids present and ingested in the unheated extract than the heated one (and none present in the dronabinol). Thus, important questions remain about both the unique biological effects of these acidic cannabinoids on the human body as well as their potential entourage effects either kinetically or dynamically with their better-studied de-carboxylated metabolites.

Here is some of the most compelling evidence that shapes what we know about the carboxylic acid forms to date: both THCA and CBDA independently of any other phytocannabinoid, provide significant anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects. In rats, THCA appears to be a considerable anti-nausea and anti-vomiting compound. In a study conducted in 2013, researchers determined not only that THCA was more potent compound in this regard than THC but also that THCA apparently mediated this response via 5HT1a (aka serotonin) receptors rather than the CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors whereby THC appears to exert its own anti-nausea effects as shown in other animal models (Rock 2013).

Researchers repeated similar experiments with CBDA as well, demonstrating that CBDA reduced both toxin and motion-induced nausea and vomiting in rats, via an as-yet-to-be-determined enhancement of 5HT-1A serotonin receptor activation (Bolognini et al 2013). Unlike the THCA experiment– which showed THCA and THC exerting anti-nausea effects via wholly different receptor mechanisms–CBDA appears in vivo and in vitro to work pharmacologically more similarly to CBD (e.g. both via serotonin-receptor activation), though CBDA was shown to be more potent than CBD in its serotonin-receptor-mediated effects.

Additionally, CBDA and THCA have been shown in vitro to block, in varying degrees, both cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes 1 and 2, which are each distinct mediators of inflammation and pain secondary to inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, and diclofenac all work via COX 1 and 2 inhibition, and, like CBDA and THCA, contain a carboxylic acid group in their structures that suggests this part of the molecule is integral to the way they work.

In one assay, CBDA but not THCA significantly inhibited both COX 1 and 2-mediated oxidation activity, with the CBDA showing a strong preference for inhibiting COX 2 specifically (Takeda et al. 2008).

A second study demonstrated that both THCA and CBDA inhibited COX 1 significantly but only THCA inhibited COX 2, and by only a little over 30% (Ruhaak, L. et al 2011).

Both studies showed that the carboxylic acid forms CBDA and THCA had stronger overall COX-inhibiting activity than their de-carboxylated forms CBD and THC, however. More research is needed to clarify the role the acidic cannabinoids play in moderating inflammation and determine whether or not they may be safer alternatives for this than NSAIDs, which have well-known dose-dependent or long-term use detrimental effects on the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems due to their COX inhibition.

Lastly, both CBDA and THCA show in vitro activity at some of the various cation channel receptors collectively known as transient receptor potentials that play important roles in pain and inflammation signal transduction such as TRPV1 and TRPV4(the “vanilloid” type); TRPA1(the “ankyrin” type) and TRPM8 (the “melastatin” type). They can block, activate, or de-sensitize these to activation by another activator (Cascio and Pertwee 2014). These are likely additional mechanisms by which the carboxylic acid forms of the cannabinoids work independently of their de-carboxylated forms to moderate pain and inflammation both centrally and peripherally.

The carboxylic acid cannabinoids CBDA and THCA are likely to be important contributors to the relief of nausea, inflammation, and pain that humans have attributed to the cannabis plant for millennia. What makes them worth studying individually today are not only their individual roles within the entourage of effects that cannabis is so well known for, but also in their ability to relieve nausea or pain alone while bypassing the sometimes debilitating or unwanted psychoactive effects produced by cannabinoids like THC that activate the CB1 receptor.

The recent popularity of websites and electronically-published books extolling the benefits of juicing of fresh cannabis leaf or whole plants to treat a variety of ailments are likely attributable to the role that CBDA and THCA play on various biological targets as enumerated above.

CBDA and THCA can also be extracted and purified out of most any other cannabis extract (Wohlfarth et al 2011) but, short of the capabilities of sophisticated chemical separation of CBDA and THCA from all other cannabinoids in a lab, one will most easily obtain an extract with a much higher percentage of the carboxylic acid cannabinoids via cold-process extracts of the fresh plant. The resulting extract must continue to be stored in a cool, dark place (Taschwer 2015) in order to preserve its unique characteristics, and should be ingested rather than smoked if the goal of therapy includes reducing the psychoactive effects produced by THC.
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Bolognini, D. et al. Cannabidiolic acid prevents vomiting in Suncus murinus and nausea-induced behavior in rats by enhancing 5-HT1A receptor activation. Br Journ Pharmacology (2013) 168; 11456-1470.
Cascio and Pertwee. Known Pharmacological Actions of Nine Nonpsychotropic Phytocannabinoids. Pertwee, ed.. Handbook of Cannabis London: Oxford U Press, 2014.
Chesher, G. and Longo, M. Cannabis and Alcohol in Motor Vehicle Accidents. Grotenhermen and Russo, eds. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential New York: Haworth Press, 2002.
De Petrocellis, L. et al. Effects of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-enriched Cannabis extracts on TRP channels and endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1479-94.

Dussy, F.E. et al. Isolation of Delta9-THCA-A from hemp and analytical aspects concerning the determination of Delta9-THC in cannabis products. Forensic Sci Int. 2005 Apr 20; 149(1):3-10.
Eichler, M. et al. “Heat exposure of Cannabis sativa extracts affects the pharmacokinetic and metabolic profile in healthy male subjects. Planta Med 2012 May; (70)7:686-91.
ElSohly, M. and Gul, W. Constituents of Cannabis Sativa. Handbook of Cannabis, ed. R.Pertwee; Oxford U Press: 2014
Foltz, Rodger. Mass Spectromic Methods for Determination of Cannabinoids to Physiological Specimens. Marijuana and the Cannabinoids, ed. M. ElSohly 2007.
Grunefeld et al. Psychopharmacological Activity of Some Substances Extracted from Cannabis sativa. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophys 27(2);219-220. 1969.
Hazekamp, A. Cannabis Review. Department of Plant Metabolomics, Leiden University, 2008-9.
Jung, J. et al. Detection of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A in human urine and blood serum by LC-MS/MS. J Mass Spectrom 2007: Mar; 42(3): 354-60.
Raikos et al. Determination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (Δ9-THCA-A) in whole blood and plasma by LC-MS/MS and application in authentic samples from drivers suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis. Forens Sci Int 2014 Oct 243:130-6.
Rock, E. and Parker, L. Effect of low doses of cannabidiolic acid and ondansetron on LiCl-induced conditioned gaping (a model of nausea-induced behaviour) in rats. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Jun;169(3):685-92
Rock, E. et al. Tetryahydrocannabinolic acid reduces nausea-induced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in Suncus murinus Br J Pharmacol 2013 170:641-48.
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Takeda, S. et al. Cannabidiolic Acid as a selective Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitory component in cannabis. Drug Metab Disp 2008; 36(9):1917-21.
Taschwer, M. and Schmid, M. Determination of the relative percentage distribution of THCA and Δ(9)-THC in herbal cannabis seized in Austria – Impact of different storage temperatures on stability. Forensic Sci Int. 2015 Sep;254:167-71.
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Cannabis and Breastfeeding: What They Don't Want You To Know

By Allie Beckett on June 14, 2016


We’re about to dive into a polarizing topic: cannabis and breastfeeding. I am not a doctor, so I’m not here to give you medical advice. Instead, I’m going to walk you through the various arguments for and against consuming cannabis while breastfeeding and then relay some first-hand testimonials exclusive to


The trickiest part about seeking solid scientific data on this subject is that it doesn’t exist. It is considered unethical to conduct studies using illegal substances on pregnant or breastfeeding women. Right now cannabis is considered as harmful as heroin, so laboratories are unable to administer cannabis to nursing mothers for scientific data. This means almost all of the data out there on cannabis consumption during nursing are from random breastmilk screenings rather than controlled studies.

All of the negative press on consuming cannabis while nursing originates on websites with names such as Parents Opposed to Pot, so they’re not exactly unbiased. But hey, we’re on a website called, so our bias swings slightly in the other direction. There is a lack of scientific data on cannabis in general because it has been illegal for labs to study the plant, so whether we’re talking about cannabis use for epilepsy or for pregnancy we are gathering information more from personal experience rather than hard scientific facts. Anyone who has seen cannabis heal first-hand knows that once the barriers are lowered and  scientists can study this incredible plant, there will be plenty of scientific data to support the healing properties. But for now we are reliant on personal experience and because everybody is different, these experiences range drastically.

On one end of the spectrum, there are women who believe absolutely no drugs should be consumed during pregnancy and nursing. On the other end of the spectrum, there are women who believe cannabis helps enhance pregnancy and nursing. In the middle, there lies a curious group of people (including the majority of doctors) who prescribe prescription opioids or other damaging painkillers to pregnant or nursing mothers but adamantly oppose medical marijuana use.

One thing is certain, anything the mother ingests during nursing is transferred directly to the baby via breastmilk. This goes as far as if a mother is eating non-organic meat riddled with antibiotics and chemicals, the baby is absorbing these same harmful compounds. Women are often prescribed opiatesby doctors when they are pregnant; yet most people don’t blink an eye at this even though it has been proven that opiate consumption during pregnancy increases addiction rates for the child.  

Most of the arguments against consuming cannabis are specifically directed to the consumption during pregnancy rather than postpartum. It is most common for a mother to wants to use medical cannabis prenatally as a natural alternative to common pregnancy symptoms ranging from severe nausea to pain during labor.  

Two of the studies most often cited against the use of cannabis during pregnancy are the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS) out of Canada and the Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project (MHPCDP) out of Europe. These studies have been testing children, exposed prenatally to cannabis, in areas such as short-term memory, verbal outcomes, aspects of attention, impulsivity, and abstract visual skills. They found that neurocognitive deficits began to appear after age three and continued into young adulthood…which begs the question what else was the child and/or mother consuming during these three years that could’ve led to these deficits? And if it was cannabis causing these deficits, why did it take three years to show symptoms? The studies found that by age six, “children exposed prenatally to marijuana showed more impulsive and hyperactive behavior.” Throughout adolescence the study showed these children also developed problems with abstract and visual reasoning, which the study linked to affecting the child’s good decision-making ability, organizational behavior, and action to accomplish goals.

Now, on the other side of the argument, proponents of responsible cannabis consumption during pregnancy and nursing often cite a study conducted over 40 years ago by Dr. Melanie Dreher in Jamaica. Her 5-year study included 24 babies exposed to cannabis prenatally and 20 babies who were not exposed. The results of this study showed that children exposed prenatally to cannabis actually excelled and were better adjusted than their unexposed counterpart. The babies who were exposed prenatally to cannabis tested better on “all scales of measure” but particularly with reflexes and autonomic stability which is key for maintaining balance in the body. At the 4-year checkup, Dr. Dreher found “absolutely no differences” between the children whose mothers did use cannabis and children whose mothers didn’t use cannabis. However, Dr. Dreher’s primary source of funding was from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and they were very unhappy with her findings. Dreher said in an interview, “It was clear that NIDA was not interested in continuing to fund a study that didn’t produce negative results. I was told not to resubmit. We missed an opportunity to follow the study through adolescence and through adulthood.” However, she continued talking about this issue and released a book titled Women and Cannabis: Medicine: Science and Sociology if you are interested in reading more in depth about her field studies.

The amount of positive results from responsible cannabis use during pregnancy is astounding but difficult to find because many mothers (especially in the U.S.) are terrified of having their child taken away if they publicly admit to their use of the plant prenatal or even postpartum. I found some women willing to share their experiences, however, their names have been changed to protect their identity.

Montana medical patient, Caitlyn, proudly expressed to that she used medical cannabis throughout both of her pregnancies. Cannabis was previously part of her lifestyle so she was aware of its effects and benefits on her body. During her first pregnancy, she experienced terrible hyperemesis (severe nausea) and her doctor prescribed her pharmaceuticals such as promethazine, valium, and zofran to treat her symptoms. Thankfully, she had an OB that understood her situation and allowed Caitlyn to treat her severe nausea with medical marijuana rather than pharmaceuticals. Caitlyn explains the outcome, “Two beautiful, healthy children who were not born small, had perfect Apgar scores, no medical problems, and no delay in any developmental skills…if anything the pediatrician says they are ahead!” This wasn’t without fear, however. Right when Caitlyn gave birth she was visited by Child Protective Services because of the THC in her and the baby’s system. After looking into home life, getting to know Caitlyn and her husband and realizing they were both medical marijuana patients, the CPS agent dropped the issue. Though Caitlyn explains, “There are so many parents who are not as lucky.” The CPS agent also explained to Caitlyn that since the baby was born with THC in his system the agency had the right to test him at any point in the first two years and if he tested positive, he would be removed from her care. Caitlyn said, “They consider it like a child having alcohol in their system!” She warned, “a mother who is openly smoking cannabis while breastfeeding, medical card holder or not, is at risk of having her children taken away.

Another testimonial from Washington medical cannabis patient, Pat, explains “I not only consumed cannabis every day while pregnant but also while nursing him to 6 months. Cannabis helped me with my morning sickness, weight regulation and staying calm although I was 6,000 miles from my mom and surrounded by men serving in the Army in Germany.” She continues, “If there was a negative effect on Kevin, we have yet to observe it throughout the 38 years of his life.” On the contrary, “He was on target or ahead of all milestones, consistently tested well ahead of his peer and has gone on to serve his country, family, and community.”  The only negative effect she has noticed is “a much higher tolerance for cannabis than any of their parents.”

Furthermore, another medical patient out of Washington named Erin told she also used cannabis throughout both of her pregnancies. She says, “Both of our sons are at the top of their classes. We are often told how intelligent and thoughtful they are.” She expressed gratitude and said she “felt lucky to have a doctor that encouraged cannabis use.” During pregnancy, Erin never experienced morning sickness and she continued to work throughout both pregnancies. She admits “I highly recommend it and don’t really care what the general public thinks!” and adds “I have two strong, healthy, smart sons…and in more ways than one, cannabis has kept our family going

I obtained many similar stories from women that expressed gratitude for cannabis during pregnancy and had their children grow up to be healthy, intelligent adults. Jessica from Washington admitted to smoking very heavily while breastfeeding her daughter for two years and says her daughter was “healthier, potty trained two times faster and has had a better vocabulary at three years old than any child in her class.”  Megan from Nevada says she breastfed both her children while smoking cannabis and her kids have “never had an ear infection or any major illness that most children encounter.” Rather, she explains that her son is “smart and at the head of his class.”

Not only do many moms have a positive experience with cannabis and its effect on their children, but almost all of the moms I talked to said it enhanced their own life. Meagan from Washington experienced three traumatic stillborns during her first attempts at having a baby and she says that using cannabis after her fourth and successful pregnancy helped calm her PTSD from her previous losses, she explains that “cannabis helped me relax and create a bond.” Jessica from Washington says that using cannabis while breastfeeding helped her get back to pre-baby weight fast. And most importantly, Megan from Nevada explains that cannabis “made me a better Mom and continues to everyday.

While this is often a polarizing subject, it is clear that the threat of cannabis comes not from its actual consumption but rather from the government who enforces its prohibition. In other words, more damage is caused to a child by taking them away from their family than from the mother ingesting medical cannabis. Green Party candidate Jill Stein recently said, “Marijuana is a drug that is dangerous because it’s illegal, it’s not inherently dangerous itself.” The fact that women are prescribed and encouraged to take opiates, if needed, during pregnancy but remain at risk of having their child taken away if they choose a natural pain-relief alternative is absolutely backwards and something we seriously need to address as a society.


Allie Beckett

Allie is a NW-based content curator for and an organic farmer at TKO Reserve. She has been a professional in the marijuana industry since she was 18 years old, spending the first five years of her career working for Dope Magazine as lead photographer. Allie has worked on mainstream projects such as Idiot's Guide: Growing Marijuana, Branding Bud: The Consumerization of Cannabis and her own self-published book, As The Grass Grows.

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Can Cannabis Prevent and Treat Traumatic Brain Injury?

By Jeremy Kossen — 7/24/2016

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, is a serious condition usually caused by an external blow to the head that can cause severe and often chronic symptoms. These symptoms can be cognitive, behavioral, movement related, speech and visual impairing, mood altering, involve painful headaches, and even cause gastrointestinal issues.

Each year in just the U.S., nearly 52,000 people die from TBI and 80,000 sustain severe disabilities. Compare that to car fatalities (32,675) and homicides (14,196), which combined claim fewer lives. Moreover, 5.3 million people in the U.S. live with TBI-related disabilities, a number comparable to thoseliving with Alzheimer's disease.

How Cannabis Can Slow Traumatic Brain Injury Damage


While effective therapies to treat ongoing TBI symptoms have been difficult to come by, thanks to researchers like Prof. Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University, we’ve discovered that cannabis may prevent long-term brain damage by administering THC before or shortly after the injury. In fact, Israel Defense Force (IDF) practitioners administer CBD or low-dose THC as a first-line treatment to IDF soldiers – and even enemy combatants – who suffer brain trauma.

Sarne and his team published their results in 2013, where they demonstrated that administering just a fraction of the amount of THC that would be found in a typical cannabis joint anywhere from one to seven days prior to, or one to three days after an injury, induces the biochemical processes necessary to protect critical brain cells while preserving long-term cognitive function.

Can Cannabis Help People Currently Suffering From TBI?



Given the success found in Israel utilizing cannabis to halt TBI in its tracks, it begs the question: can cannabis help persistent TBI symptoms?

Anecdotally, many patients and their families report success. The daughter of one patient wrote in a Reddit forum:

"My father suffered severe TBI for years. He used to sit around hating his life all day. Once he started using marijuana, he changed a lot. He was able to get off some of his meds, start eating more, go outside, enjoy music, laugh at a movie, sleep at night, less anxiety in the day, less body pain. The list goes on and on."

We hear many success stories like this, but these are, of course, anecdotal. Thus far, there aren’t any notable clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of cannabis to treat ongoing symptoms in TBI patients. Unfortunately, even outside of cannabis research, phase II/III clinical trials of potential treatments haven’t demonstrated any consistent improvements in outcomes.


The lack of cannabinoid-focused trials is likely due in part to the federal government’s long-standing position that cannabis is a “substance [with] no currently accepted medical use” and “a high potential for abuse” – a position that has long frustrated scientists who are forced to navigate significant bureaucratic obstacles to conduct high-quality rigorous studies.

Nonetheless, despite the federal government’s position, there is some evidence that at least lends support to speculation that cannabis-derived treatments may be beneficial:


"Effect of Marijuana Use on Outcomes in Traumatic Brain Injury" (UCLA Medical Center, 2014):

In a three-year retrospective review of 446 separate cases of similarly injured patients, researchers found traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients who had a history of cannabis consumption possessed increased survival rates compared to non-consumers (97.6 percent survived surgery, versus 88.5% of those who didn’t consume cannabis).

"[O]ur data suggest an important link between the presence of a positive THC screen and improved survival after TBI," the researchers concluded. "With continued research, more information will be uncovered regarding the therapeutic potential of THC, and further therapeutic interventions may be established."


“Endocannabinoids and Traumatic Brain Injury” (Mechoulam, 2007):

This Israeli study points to research that demonstrates:

“...the [endocannabinoid] system...has the ability to [positively] affect the functional outcome after TBI by a variety of mechanisms.”


“The Therapeutic Potential of the Cannabinoids in Neuroprotection” (Grundy RI, 2002):

This review shows that in experimental models:

“...various cannabinoids rescue dying neurons in experimental forms of acute neuronal injury, such as cerebral ischaemia and traumatic brain injury.”


Positive results in experimental models don’t always translate to human subjects, hence the desperate need for more research. But, as early research shows promise and we know cannabinoids demonstrate neuroprotective effects in a variety of neurological conditions, there’s no excuse not to prioritize further research.

Further, because TBI is a condition affecting a highly complex, intricate system like the brain, successful strategies will likely involve more than a single “magic bullet.”

CBD Can Be Remarkably Effective for TBI


In the meantime, as we continue to learn more about THC and other cannabinoids to treat traumatic brain injury, many physicians believe CBD can be a safe and effective treatment. CBD, a largely non-psychoactive cannabinoid that possesses neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties, could be as close to a “magic bullet” as we have right now. In fact, CBD may be more beneficial than THC. Japanese researchers found cannabidiol (CBD) exhibited stronger antioxidative power than THC without creating tolerance to its neuroprotective effect.

Dr. Allan Frankel, of GreenBridge Medical in Santa Monica, California, believes incorporating small amounts of CBD as a daily nutritional supplement is a safe and sensible adjunct to therapy. “I had a patient recently, a 45 year mother who was in a bad car accident. She experienced memory loss, and hadn’t been making any progress. I suggested CBD,” recounts Frankel. “Within four to six weeks, she made significant progress – her cognitive function improved and her memory returned to normal.” Frankel notes that this is just one of many patients he’s had who have experienced successful recoveries.

While clearly there’s lots of promise in the limited research to date and anecdotal reports, we need to continue developing our understanding of cannabinoid neurobiology in order to most effectively exploit the numerous therapeutic properties of cannabis. We can then, hopefully, unleash the full spectrum of potential benefits cannabis may be able to provide and discover innovative new treatments that could quite possibly help the millions of people who continue to suffer.

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Kenneth ‘K’ Morrow Discusses The Future Of Dabs & Cannabis Concentrates

by Drake Dorm

From Medical Jane

Editor’s Note: Kenneth “K” Morrow is the Founder of Trichome Technologies and the author of Marijuana Horticulture Fundamentals: A Comprehensive Guide to Cannabis Cultivation and Hashish Production. He’s participated in educational forums at various industry events including the 2013 Emerald Cup.

At the moment, concentrate makers worldwide are producing, or attempting to produce, an absolute – a hard piece of see-through shatter/glass. Essentially, what they are looking for is a stable piece of concentrate that can be held in hand without sticking to it. To achieve this goal, they utilize various methods and equipment such as winterization, vacuum purging, and vacuum drying ovens.

The levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in concentrates overall are getting higher, some exceed 80% THC (either in the raw THCA form or as activated Δ-9 THC). But the pursuit of elevated THC levels has come at the expense of terpenes.

The Role Of Terpenes In Cannabis Concentrates

Terpenes/terpenoids, which are responsible for the aroma and flavor of cannabis, are oil and alcohol based. Thus, the more of them present in a concentrate, the softer and more fluid it will be. The harder it is, the less terpenoids are present.

The act of winterization removes fat and wax from concentrates, but also removes terpenes. Then the act of vacuum purging (or using a vacuum drying oven) removes both the solvent and terpenes. Add heat to the equation, and terpenoids evaporate rapidly.

“Pure THC does not taste pleasant, and adding terpenoids to the equation certainly helps.”

While this results in a final product that is absent of residual solvent, it will also be devoid of many terpenes; not all terpenes – just the lighter oils that are predominately responsible for smell/flavor.

Pure THC does not taste pleasant, and adding terpenoids to the equation certainly helps.

Mind you, all this doesn’t even take into account the “entourage effects” of combining different levels of terpenes and cannabinoids; it has been said that this is largely responsible for the medicinal benefits and slight differences in the perceived “high” from various strains of cannabis.

Preserving Terpenes When Producing Cannabis Extracts

The article entitled Cannabis Oil: Chemical Evaluation of an Upcoming Cannabis Medicine makes clear the issues at hand. A team of researchers led by Dr. Luigi L. Romano and Dr. Arno Hazekamp compared various common extraction methods to determine the effectiveness of each one.

They were unable to figure out how to decarboxylate the concentrate, or how to completely rid it of solvent, without evaporating all the terpenoids. As a result, they were left with cannabinoid-rich concentrates with less than the desired levels of terpenoids.

“Once the terpenoids are separated, they should be sealed in airtight containers and placed in a dark refrigerator to prevent degradation by heat, light, or oxygen.”

Therefore, the logical answer is to first remove and concentrate all essential oils/terpenoids. Then you may reintroduce them to the final product.

By first removing the terpenoids, they are whole in composition and the closest aroma to the original plant. Once the terpenoids are separated, they should be sealed in airtight containers and placed in a dark refrigerator to prevent degradation by heat, light, or oxygen.

From there, the cannabinoids can be extracted without losing or destroying any terpenoids.

The final composition of the extract will be determined by the extraction method and solvents utilized. Forinfused edibles ethanol extraction may be preferred, while extract artists will utilize both ethanol and butane to produce extracts.


Across International Develops A Whole Terpenoid Isolator

It seems that a revolutionary change will be spurred by the introduction of Across International‘s soon-to-be-released Whole Terpenoid Isolator, which was developed in conjunction with Trichome Technologies™ andKenneth Morrow. It took three years to design and develop the component, and Morrow claims it is the single most important cannabis devlopment since Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered the THC molecule in 1964.

Aside from one study conducted by Dr. Alexander Shulgin in 1971, and another that was performed more recently by David Watson & Robert C. Clarke, little research has been done on the topic of cannabis-derived terpenes.

“Plant-based terpenoids are available en masse (e.g. limonene, pinene, etc.), but they are derived from citrus fruit and pine trees.”

Why is this so? Because it has not been feasible to extract whole-composition terpenoids derived from cannabis.

Plant-based terpenoids are available en masse (e.g. limonene, pinene, etc.), but they are derived from citrus fruit and pine trees. It is possible to extract terpenoids utilizing a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS), but only minute amounts that have been exposed to heat, or by distillation and other means.

However, this essential oil is only considered the artifacts of the original composition, as the lighter volatile oils were destroyed by heat or carried off with the water vapor/steam. The resulting product pales in comparison to the whole terpene composition.

Before this nvention it has not been possible to capture cannabis-derived terpenoids in whole composition form. But the Whole Terpenoid Isolator does just that, which could allow us to research the plant like it has never been done before.



By Gooey Rabinskii- Whaxy- Jan 24, 2016

Participants in the cannabis culture may be familiar with a few of the rare varieties of the plant that are categorized as landrace strains, including Colombian GoldDurban PoisonNorthern Lights, and Afghan Kush. “Landrace” simply refers to the small number of surviving strains of cannabis that evolved naturally in the geographic region in which they were initially discovered (by 20th century humans, that is). Some experts believe that about 100 of these rare strains exist today.

Landrace strains hail from global regions such as Jamaica, Afghanistan, India, Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, and Central America. They are believed to have originated in the Hindu Kush region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is one reason that so many strain names incorporate the term “Kush,” such as the always-popular OG Kush (the “OG” means “Ocean Grown,” denoting West Coast breeding and cultivation).

Many cultivators believe that the best examples of cannabis sativa are grown in a region as close to the equator as possible and at a relatively high elevation. Thus, mountainous areas in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia are almost perfectly suited to the cultivation of high-quality cannabis. This is no coincidence; landrace strains hail from most of these regions. Technically, landrace strains are those that have stabilized over time as a result of natural inbreeding.


Other definitions of landrace cannabis include any that hasn’t purposefully been bred or otherwise manipulated by humans. Such indigenous varieties of marijuana, because they have evolved within a particular region, are very precisely acclimated to their local climates — and may offer unique medicinal qualities that are specifically tuned to the native humans of that region. Wrote Rick Pfrommer, Director of Education at Harborside Health Center, one of the nation’s largest dispensaries:

“It’s not that [landrace strains are] necessarily better, [they’re] just different, and perhaps more effective for some patients’ specific conditions or needs.”

Source of All Modern Strains

Many readers aren’t interested in a history lesson, however. How are landrace strains related to modern varieties and hybrids? Put simply, landraces are the origin of all modern cannabis strains. They are the genesis of cannabis in society and reflect its state of development, or evolution, before modern humans began breeding and cultivating the herb for medicine, lifestyle enhancement, and profit.

Cannabis breeders long ago took original landrace strains and bred, or crossed, them in an effort to create new strains possessing the best characteristics of both parents (and, just as with dogs or humans, hopefully few of their bad traits). Some strains feature shorter growing periods or are more resistant to pests or mold, making them the desire of cultivators. Others, especially sativa varieties, may be more difficult to grow and feature relatively long flowering cycles, but can also deliver unique medicinal and psychoactive effects that are sought by many patients and cannabis consumers.


For all practical purposes, it must be assumed that many landrace strains, in their original, pure form, have been lost forever. Endless crosses over several decades in most areas of the world, especially North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, have resulted in diluted genetics. The sad reality is that many “pure” breeds of cannabis are often mislabeled. Many purported examples of seeds, harvested cannabis flowers, or concentrates from pure landrace strains are inevitably not. Instead, they are sometimes the descendents of multiple landraces that have been bred (either purposefully or accidentally), going back an unknown number of generations — and with possibly very different characteristics. Also, genetic mutations easily emerge, especially under different growing conditions, which can cause great stress to mature plants.

For decades, strains have been bred to bring out their potency, especially in terms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the cannabinoid in the plant that delivers psychoactive effects and is largely responsible for its euphoria — but also is a powerful medicine for dozens of diseases. However, researchers and medical professionals have identified something called the entourage effect that supports the concept of whole flower medicine by observing that cannabinoids and terpenes interact synergistically, in a delicate and nuanced supplementation of the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

The good news is that a significant portion of the cannabis breeding community has been focused on creating strains that deliver the greatest medicinal value. Many modern varieties of cannabis are a far cry from the original strains from which they are descended. Just as a modern human living in Kentucky might be a descendant of American founding father Benjamin Franklin while, in most respects, the two humans are very different, cannabis strain crosses often, in reality, feature a morphology (shape and size), growing characteristics, and high type that is very different from their landrace ancestors. Sometimes, crosses and hybrids are more appropriate and therapeutic than landrace strains for particular diseases or ailments.

Understanding Phenotypes and Heirlooms

When seeds from landrace strains are cultivated outside the zone in which they evolved, they produce what geneticists and breeders label phenotypes. Phenotypes are transmogrifications of the plant that result in similar, but different characteristics. This includes morphology, development (such as the length of flowering cycles), and biochemical properties (potency and cannabinoid/terpene profiles). Phenotypes that are direct descendents of landrace strains, with no breeding or crossbreeding, are known as heirlooms.


In landrace strains grown outside their area of origin, a change occurs in thecannabinoid and terpene profiles of the resinous trichomes found on the female flowers of these heirloom varieties. Because they necessarily receive different light cycles, sometimes artificial light instead of natural, and different soil (not to mention dramatic variances in water, humidity, and nutrition), these strains must modify and adapt to their new environments. This changes the inherent characteristics of these strains, including their medical efficacy and high type.

Because they have evolved over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years, landrace strains are considered to be more “balanced,” with terpene and cannabinoid profiles that are in harmony with the needs of the plant, its environment, and — in theory — the humans and animals living in the region that consumed it. (All mammals have an endocannabinoid system and, therefore, are affected by cannabis in a manner similar to humans.)

Origin of American Cultivation Culture

The cannabis cultivation cultures in Northern California and Hawaii have their genesis in heirloom strains introduced to the United States during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. The climate in Northern California sometimes closely approximates that of parts of Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountains. Because the central West Coast of the United States is roughly similar in the weather it receives, landrace strains brought back from some regions of Indonesia and the Middle East have traditionally thrived in Northern California. With them, the cannabis culture in the United States has also thrived. Both Hawaii and the entire West Coast have become synonymous with high-quality outdoor grown cannabis — just as Columbia is known for producing some of the world’s best coffee beans.

Patients and lifestyle consumers wishing to expand their cannabis horizons should seek out landrace and heirloom strains in an effort to learn more about the roots of cannabis in not only North America, but throughout the world. Cultivators wanting a change of pace should strive to obtain seeds and clones (cuttings) from heirloom strains in an effort to keep them alive for current and future generations and give patients (and medical professionals, including researchers) additional options for cannabis medicine.


Classic Landrace Strains

In the past, landrace strains that happened to be sativas were eschewed by gardeners for indicas and crosses that featured shorter flowering periods. This was simply because these varieties were more profitable for commercial cultivators. However, the recent wave of recreational and medical cannabis laws at the state level in the U.S. has spawned markets for special strains, many of which are landrace sativas (such as Durban Poison).

Examples of popular and classic landrace strains include the following:

  • Afghan Kush: A pure indica strain purported to have originated in the Hindu Kush Mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • G13: A landrace from Afghanistan that typically leans toward indica. However, two phenotypes of this strain exist, the second of which is a sativa.
  • Durban Poison: An unusually potent sativa from the South African port city of Durban.Click here to read an expert review of this strain.
  • Acapulco Gold: The infamous landrace sativa that hails from the Acapulco region of Southwest Mexico and typically features high levels of THC.
  • Northern Lights: A legendary indica, this highly inbred Afghani is purported to hail from British Columbia.
  • Rooibaard: A sativa from the coastal area of the Transkei region of South Africa.
  • Colombian Gold: The fabled cannabis hybrid that is sometimes a bit sativa-dom that originates in the Santa Marta mountains of Colombia in Central America.
  • Hawaiian: A sativa-dom hybrid from the islands of Hawaii.
  • Malawi Gold: A pure sativa is from the Salima region of Malawi in Southeast Africa.
  • Thai: A sativa from, as its name implies, Thailand. Hybrids derived from Thai includeFruity Thai and Juicy Fruit Thai.
  • Panama Red: This sativa from Panama became popular in the late 1960s, during the hippy psychedelic era.
  • Punto Rojo: A sativa from Columbia that is considered by some to be even better than Colombian Gold.


By Gooey Rabinski - Feb 22, 2016

Cannabis is typically consumed via smoking or vaporization. In fact, one of the largest challenges for those in the medical profession who embrace cannabis as a medicine and a wellness agent is convincing patients that they should ditchjoints and pipes for vaporizers. What if, however, a patient has a respiratory ailment or other condition that prevents inhaling smoke or even vapor? Possibly they simply prefer not to smoke or vape.

The proverbial red headed stepchildren of the world of medical cannabisconsumption are topicals. Available as creams, oils, lotions, sprays, balms, or ointments, topicals are applied to the skin and absorb through the epidermis (the outer layer). This relatively unknown avenue of consumption allows patients to treat conditions of the skin, joints, and muscles using topicals infused with whole plant cannabis or an individual cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD.

While most cannabis users are unaware of topicals, even fewer know that examples featuring THC produce no psychoactive effect in patients. Thus,seniorschildren, pilots, and anyone who either cannot or does not desire to experience a psychotropic “high” can use THC-infused topicals with confidence.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a condition involving the relatively rapid buildup of skin cells on the surface of the epidermis. This abnormal accumulation of skin — which develops thick scales that are white, grey, or silver and called plaques — results from a change in the lifecycle of the cells. Psoriasis is believed to be inherited; family history is significant.


The most obvious symptom of psoriasis is red patches of skin that are sometimes relatively large and covered by the thick, silvery scales of plaque (dead skin cells). Other symptoms include dry or cracked skin (which may bleed), abnormal nails, and joint disturbance (inflammation and swelling are common). Despite its appearance, this condition is not contagious. African Americans are about 50 percent less likely to have the disease than Caucasians.

It is estimated that up to three percent of Americans have psoriasis, which results in more than 10 million sufferers in the United States alone. Globally, roughly 125 million people are afflicted with the condition. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this highly uncomfortable and often stigmatized disease, of which eight major categories exist, depending on the body areas affected and nature of the rash-like patches of plaque.

Cannabis for Psoriasis

Because psoriasis is caused by problems with the immune system, cannabis is an especially effective treatment. The cannabinoids in cannabis fit perfectly intospecial receptors in the endocannabinoid system of the human body. These receptors, called CB1 and CB2, are concentrated in the brain/central nervous system and the immune system, respectively. However, the latest science reveals that each receptor type is found throughout almost all organs and tissues of the body, just with different expressions (densities and patterns).

Conventional pharmaceutical drugs used to treat psoriasis, typically systemic immuno-modulating agents, involve many problems that are not associated with the use of cannabis or cannabis topicals. These include fever, diarrhea, liver dysfunction, and increased chance of infection. Thus, cannabis effectively deals with the significant cause of this skin condition, inflammation, and its chief symptoms, pain and discomfort — all while avoiding the negative side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

The Meager Studies

Very few research studies have been conducted to investigate the medical efficacy of cannabis and its components for skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. The little formal and informal research that is available, especially in the form of anecdotal testimonies and case studies, reveals that cannabis is very effective at dealing with this disease that involves the immune system and sometimes produces severe inflammation within the skin.

Cannabis is a nuanced and symbiotic medicine, individual samples of which may contain more than 100 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes, the two categories of major medicinal molecules within the plant. Thus, the specific benefits gained from topical use of this herb are highly dependent on the quality of the cannabis employed by a patient, as well as its particular makeup. Some strains are rich in THC, while others, although more rare, have unusually large volumes of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD.


Because cannabis is most effective at battling pain, inflammation, and nausea, it is especially adept at helping sufferers of psoriasis, arthritis, and other inflammation-based conditions. However, it is important to note that each strain of cannabis offers a distinct cannabinoid and terpene profile and will, thus, have maximum efficacy with a particular disease or only a certain percentage of a patient population.

A study conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Dermatological Science determined that cannabinoids help prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and other symptoms of psoriasis. Concluded the researchers: “Our results show that cannabinoids inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, and therefore support a potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis.”

Although not a formal study, the Gwynedd Cannabis Club in Wales and the United Kingdom conducted a nine-day experiment in which it used cannabis oil to treat acute psoriasis. One subject was treated with a conventional pharmaceutical therapy, a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate. This drug resulted in fever, diarrhea, abnormal liver function, and increased chance of infection.

However, when the same subject was treated with cannabis instead of Methotrexate, she experienced no negative side effects and a complete healing of her skin. In fact, she was able to go swimming with her family — something her severe psoriasis had previously prevented — for the first time following the brief cannabis therapy. This treatment regimen involved three treatments of topical cannabis oil daily for nine days.

More Research Needed

Unfortunately, very little research has been conducted regarding the medical efficacy of cannabis-infused topicals. In the United States, studies are rare and human trials nonexistent due to the Schedule I status of cannabis under theControlled Substances Act. This legal categorization groups cannabis with heroin and considers it highly addictive, dangerous, and possessing zero medical value.

Until cannabis is removed from the Controlled Substances ct, or is moved to Schedule III or lower, robust research studies — especially those involving actual humans and high-quality cannabis that respects the realities of legal states and black markets — will simply not occur in the United States. Until then, the medical establishment and patient advocates who embrace this herb for its significant medical efficacy will be forced to rely upon the studies being conducted in progressive nations like Israel, Spain, and even Mexico.


Israeli Research Identifies Cannabinoids As Beneficial in Battle Against Neuroblastoma

By Monterey Bud on April 22, 2016


Potentially joining hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and chemotherapy as a means of controlling neuroblastoma, Israeli scientists have recently discovered marijuana’s two main cannabinoids help to mitigate the rapid multiplication of the neuroblastoma (nbl) cell.

According to the study, while both THC and CBD were found to “have antitumorigenic activity in vitro and impeded the growth of tumor xenografts in vivo,” the Israeli research noted, “of the two cannabinoids tested, CBD was the more active.” Explaining that, “treatment with CBD reduced the viability and invasiveness of treated tumor cells.”

Most commonly affecting those under the age of 19, neuroblastoma is a particularly vicious type of cancer that attacks the adrenal glands of nearly 20,000 Americans annually.

During the study researchers investigated the anti-nbl effect of the two main compounds in Cannabis; Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Drilling down on the compounds, Israeli scientists set out to systematically determine the precise effects of those cannabinoids on the “viability, invasiveness, cell cycle distribution, and programmed cell death in human nbl SK-N-SH cells.”

CBD to the rescue…

The study concluded, “Because CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that appears to be devoid of side effects, our results support its exploitation as an effective anticancer drug in the management of nbl.”

*While this recent study represents great news for all concerned, here is a quick list of  other ailments that can be helped by marijuana’s numerous cannabinoids:

Relieves Pain – Analgesic – (THCCBDCBNCBCCBGa)

Suppresses appetite / Helps with weight loss – Anorectic – (THCv)

Kills or slows bacteria growth – Antibacterial – (CBDCBGCBCa)

Reduces blood sugar levels – Anti-diabetic – (CBD)

Reduces vomiting and nausea – Anti-emetic – (THCCBD)

Reduced seizures and convulsion – Anti-epileptic – (CBDTHCv )

Treats fungal infection – Antifungal – (CBCa)

Reduces inflammation – Anti-inflammatory – (CBDCBGCBCCBGaCGCaTHCaCBDa)

Aids Sleep – Anti-insomnia – (CBN)

Reduces risk of artery blockage – Anti-ischemic – (CBD)

Inhibits cell growth in tumors/cancer cells – Anti-proliferative – (CBDCBGCBCTHCaCBDa)

Treats psoriasis – Anti-psioratic – (CBD)

Tranquilizing, used to manage psychosis – Antipsychotic – (CBD)

Suppresses muscle spasms – Antispasmodic – (THC, CBDCBCTHCa)

Relieves Anxiety – Anxiolitic – (CBD)

Stimulates appetite – Appetite Stimulant – (THC)

Promotes bone growth – Bone Stimulant – (CBDCBGCBCTHCa)

Reduces function in the immune system – Immunosuppresive – (CBD)

Reduces contractions in the small intestines – Intestinal Anti-prokinetic – (CBD)

Protects nervous system degeneration – Neuroprotective – (CBD)

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Posted by Edibles List Team

Date: February 09, 2016

For centuries woman used to rely on marijuana as an effective treatment for everything from swollen breasts to pelvic cramping. Unfortunately, when marijuana became illegal this treatment modality was lost. Now as more states legalize marijuana, both physicians and patients are re-discovering the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana.

The potential for cannabis to enhance women’s sex lives has been well documented. Currently, doctors have begun to recommend medical marijuana for menstrual related issues such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) more commonly called PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).

The benefits are so well documented now that some states, such as California, specifically name PMDD as a qualifying illness for the medical As most of my readers know, I am very big on “what is the mechanism of action?” How does it work? Well, like most therapies there may be multiple levels by which tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), one of the active ingredients in cannabis, can improve PMDD. It can certainly decrease overall pain sensation and it can also decrease anxiety and nausea — all of which may reduce the cramps, headaches, depression, and anxiety associated PMS and PMDD.

Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher emphasizes, “The right dose is the lowest dose that’s going to control the symptoms.”

Essentially when the right dose and right strain are used it’s possible to treat pain and take control of the symptoms without experiencing psychoactivity. Topical cannabis has also been touted as an effective way to disperse swelling and pain in the breasts prior to menses. Near a woman’s cycle, her breast tissue can sometimes swells up to a cup size bigger.

Today, there is a growing market for topical cannabis pain relievers. Marijuana has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce swelling. And the risk of psychoactive side effects is low. Since a transdermal (i.e. topical through the skin) delivery doesn’t get enough THC absorbed into the bloodstream patients are less likely to get “buzzed.” However, topically cannabis has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation.

The potential for pot in managing women’s health is promising, but more research is needed. This can be a daunting problem since cannabis has been illegal in this country for the past eight decades; and even today it is difficult to get funding for this type of research since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. There are bills on Capitol Hill this year proposing that the procurement of federal funding for research from places like the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute of Health (NIH) should be facilitated.

It remains to be seen if they can actually be Many doctors and researchers are hoping interest in cannabis and women’s health will gain momentum as more states legalize cannabis for both recreational and medicinal use. As Russo states, “It is wise for people to be cautious, but cannabis is a potential therapeutic agent and needs to be a part of medicine so we can treat some of the conditions that have not responded to other therapies.”

Dr. Robert Setari is a practicing physician and the creator of



Cannabinoids for our Furry Friends?

By Tianna Winters on April 19, 2016



By Tianna Winters on April 19, 2016

Gladys, a six-year-old Chihuahua-Pug mix was struck by a car. If it weren’t for the good Samaritan who brought her to the local animal hospital, she would have died that day on the side of the road. She was bleeding from her mouth, eye, and toes. The veterinarians did everything they could to save her life, and Gladys survived her accident, but now Gladys has a few disabilities.

After the surgery, she began to experience cluster seizures. She also suffered brain damage which causes her to walk off balance. These issues stayed with her even after her physical wounds healed. When nobody came to claim their pet, Harlee’s Angels, a rescue located in Topeka, Kansas, took responsibility of Gladys.

“The cluster seizures were getting really bad,” said Lee Stevens, president and founder of Harlee’s Angels. The veterinarians tried everything to reduce the seizures. Nothing was working.

Stevens had been looking through a magazine one day when she came across an ad for Canna-Pet, a company that offers cannabinoid-based products for dogs, cats, and horses. After further research on the product, Stevens decided to discuss using the product with Gladys’ veterinarian. Because nothing else seemed to be working, they gave her the okay to try the pills made specifically for dogs under 20 pounds. “Within 24 hours, Gladys’ seizures reduced,” Stevens said. “It’s only been a few weeks, and Gladys has stopped having seizures.”

CannaPet products are very low in THC. They have a high concentration of CBD, which makes them legal in all 50 states. CannaPet says their products are made to give pet owners a more natural choice to be used in conjunction with or without the use of pharmaceuticals.

“Our products are not made with medical marijuana but rather with hemp, which is a critical distinction,” said Dan Goldfarb, an executive for Canna-Pet. “The results have been overwhelmingly positive,” Goldfarb said. “We have had clients that have used our products for several years now, and they’re always sharing updates of their pets with us.”

The argument against medical marijuana for pets gained a lot of attention after Stacy Meola, a Colorado veterinarian, released a five-year study on marijuana indigestion by dogs.  The study also claimed that marijuana exposure to pets has gone up, with the Pet Poison Helpline also claiming they’ve had an increase in calls regarding marijuana indigestion. Over the five years of the study, two dogs died and all other dogs documented survived. Other literature contradicts the research. In a May 2013 article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, claims from both veterinarians and pet owners say that medicinal marijuana can be beneficial to an ailing pet.

CBD works for pets because they have similar endocannabinoid systems like ours, meaning your four-legged buddy can be physically and psychologically affected by the plant. The plant can come in many different forms — oils, biscuits, and pills — just like it can for humans. When given in proper dosage and correctly, these products may have very positive results.

Lisa Daniel, DVM of Austin, Texas has joined others that have seen the benefits of hemp-based medicinal products in pets. Her own 15-year old dog Marley’s case stands out, in particular.

When Marley was 13, her health started to decline rapidly. “She was in severe pain from her arthritis and then went into kidney failure because of an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) I prescribed for her arthritis pain,” Dr. Daniel said. Marley was on a diet of seven different drugs to control her symptoms of pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, and a personality change. Dr. Daniel’s sweet baby girl started to snap and bite at her. “Modern medicine basically failed my dog,” she said. Dr. Daniel had come to a point where she thought she would have to make a pet owner’s most difficult decision. “I began to consider euthanizing her because, in spite of intensive medical management, she was miserable, depressed, barely ate food, and was reluctant to move from her dog bed,” she said.

She had seen a few news stories on the use of CBD on pets and decided to try it with Marley. “Marley went from depressed and lethargic to up and running around the living room, playing and barking all in the span of 45 minutes,” Dr. Daniel said. “It was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen as a veterinarian.” She took Marley off of all prescription medications the next day and said she has been thriving ever since.

This turnaround had Dr. Daniel think of the good it could do for others. Her company, CanineBioDynamic, creates hemp-based medication for pets. CanineBioDynamic is an oral liquid hemp oil extract that is high in cannabidiol (CBD). The product is dosed based on the weight of the dog. “I have given hemp oil to a lot of pets for a variety of conditions including arthritis, seizures, separation anxiety, pain, cancer, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and for hospice care,” Dr. Daniel said.

Many of her colleagues and veterinarian friends have contacted Dr. Daniel about the use of CBD for their cases. She says that they have reported positive results, especially in seizure patients. “Pet owners seem to be very receptive to the idea of hemp oil because they have seen media stories about its use in children and they want it for their pets, too,” Dr. Daniel said. “People like the idea of a holistic, safe, all-natural non-toxic yet effective treatment for their pets.”

Dr. Daniel wants more research on the use and effectiveness of CBD medication on domestic animals, as do other veterinarians, and is doing long-term research herself, tracking each client that uses the treatments. She has also submitted blood samples of patients on CBD to the College of Veterinary Medicine for further study. The CanineBioDynamic website also includes videos and testimonials by pet owners who swear by the product.

“I think CBD will be widely accepted and used in human and veterinary medicine within the next five years,” Dr. Daniel said. “I believe it will be a first line treatment for many diseases…it will be turned into an injectable drug that can be used for pain and inflammation in a veterinary clinic setting.”

While the veterinary world will wait on the results of Dr. Daniel’s research, it is clear that the subject of the safe use of CBD products for pets is something that is finally becoming part of the healing discussion. In the meantime, to pet owners like Dr. Daniel and Stevens, the improved condition of their pets is all the proof that is needed that these products can improve the health and quality of life for their family members.

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Cannabis and Peri-menopause: Help Through “The Transition”

There is a lot of information out there these days about the symptoms of menopause and how cannabis can help. In fact,we posted on this subject several months ago. This makes sense. After all, there are approximately 74.9 million Baby Boomers (age 51 to 69) on the planet right now and if half of them are women, well, you do the math…that’s a lot of people having hot flashes and needing relief!

But what about women ages 35 to 50 who may be experiencing the effects of peri-menopause? Since the number of Gen X’ers in the United States—a whopping 75.3 million adults– outnumbered Baby Boomers for the first time last year, chances are, if you are reading this and you are female, this article could be about you.

What is Peri-menopause?

Peri-menopause is also called Menopause Transition. Like the name implies, it normally occurs in women in their 40’s and 50’s (although for some, it can begin in the 30’s) and signifies the years leading up to menopause.

For most middle-aged women, peri-menopause lasts between 4 to 10 years. However, for some it can last up to 15 years. Peri-menopause ends and menopause begins when a woman goes a full year without having a period.

It is mainly characterized by a slowing down of estrogen by the ovaries. This does not mean, however, that estrogen levels will be lower during peri-menopause.

On the contrary, “estrogen dominance,” where a woman has low progesterone and high estrogen levels in her body, is more common than had previously been thought.

This switch could have more to do with environmental factors than with the natural process of getting older. Pollutants, commercial meats, processed foods and even the water we drink, if not filtered properly, all contain Xenoestrogens, foreign contaminants that mimic aggressive forms of estrogen which have the ability to bind to natural estrogen receptor sites in the body.

And even though the variables for the unique expression of perimenopause is unique for each woman, there are some common denominators:

  • Menstrual Irregularities, such as heavy bleeding, irregular periods, clotting or spotting
  • Mood swings and/or worsening of PMS symptoms
  • Change in Sex Drive, either higher or lower
  • Vaginal pain during sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Excess Vaginal Excretion
  • Pain during ovulation
  • Feeling of heaviness or bloating around the midsection
  • Fibroids
  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bone Loss/Osteoporosis
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue/ Crashing Fatigue
  • Urinary Issues
  • Trouble sleeping

Peri-menopause is More Than Just Physical

Now that you know a little bit about what peri-menopause is and the laundry list of often-conflicting symptoms that are sometimes associated with it, what does this transition really mean for an individual woman?

According to Christine Northrop, MD, peri-menopause is not just a “physical” event. According to her, “it is also the biggest opportunity for personal growth and empowerment since adolescence.”

A woman who was going through peri-menopause put it this way: “At (peri)menopause life can turn into one long pre-menstrual experience. Hormones slap you up against the doors of your unfinished business.”


Suffice it to say that although the symptoms of this major life transition may be different for each woman, the common denominator is CHANGE itself, in particular major hormonal changes within the body.

Cannabis and Your Hormones

The endocrine system regulates the levels and output of the dozens of hormones in your body, including the reproductive hormones that are a part of the changing internal landscape of peri-menopause.

Research as to how cannabis and, in particular, the endocannabinoid system, relates to the endocrine system is still in its infancy. What researchers know for sure, however, is that of the two major cannabis receptors found in the endocannabinoid system, CB 1 and CB2, CB 1 is directly related to the endocrine system and in particular to the relationship between the hypothalamus, the pituitary and other peripheral hormonal regulators, such as the adrenals (this particular relationship is called the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, or “HPA axis”).

The pituitary gland controls key functions within the reproductive system, in particular the release of FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, which is responsible for prompting ovulation. In the years leading up to menopause as the body is attempting to regulate its hormones in a new way, the release of this hormone may be sporadic while it gradually decreases (once a woman reaches menopause, the pituitary stops producing FHS altogether). Some symptoms associated with this reduction during peri-menopause and beyond include vaginitis and osteoporosis.

Synthetic hormone replacement therapy is the conventional way to regulate depleting FSH levels and alleviate symptoms. Traditional HRT comes with its own cadre of side effects, however, including higher risks of breast cancer, heart disease and excessive blood clotting.

Another way is through natural means, including detoxifying, lifestyle changes, bio-identical hormone replacement and maybe even cannabis.

As mentioned in other articles on this site, the endocannabinoid system, which is connected to the endocrine system among others, is responsible for maintaining stability within; its job is to create homeostasis in the body. More and more research is pointing to the fact that cannabis use helps this system by giving it a boost when it is not functioning in an optimum way. By assisting the endocannabinoid system to do its job of maintaining body balance, can certain amounts and kinds of cannabis also help a woman’s endocrine system move gently into the next phase of life? Although no one can say for sure at the moment, current cannabis research definitely seems to be pointing in that direction.

While research continues on the possible long-term benefits of cannabis use on the endocrine-endocannabinoid relationship within the body, two symptoms that women can find relief from by using cannabis is peri-menopausal pain and fatigue.

Managing Peri-menopause Pain and Fatigue with Cannabis

For those going through peri-menopause, pain can come in many forms, including cramping and soreness during flow or ovulation, GI upset and bloating, migraine headaches, a feeling of “fullness” in the abdomen area and overall body aches.

Cannabis has been shown time and again, both anecdotally and through clinical trials, to be a powerful resource for managing chronic pain, easing intestinal upset and even lessening the effect of migraine headaches.

Interestingly, it is also one of the “fundamental herbs” found in traditional Chinese medicine and was at one time specifically prescribed for menstrual pain.

An indica or an indica-sativa blend is best to ingest for peri-menopausal pain. In addition, edibles and oils can be a good smoke-free choice for managing PMS-type pain and cramping since, when dosed correctly, they will provide longer analgesic benefit. Warm medicated baths and CBD topicals that can be applied directly to the abdomen are great options for less psychoactive effects.

Peri-menopause can also come with periods of fatigue and sometimes what is known as “crashing fatigue” as out-of-whack hormones search to regain stability, stressing adrenals and other systems in the process.

Cannabis has proven helpful for a variety of fatigue-related conditions, including Lyme Disease, Crohn’s, fibromyalgiaand lupus. Fibromyalgia in particular effects women during the peri-menopause years. A recent joint clinical study in Spain saw a dramatic reduction in pain and stiffness and more measured relaxation in fibromyalgia sufferers after two hours of cannabis use, using both smoking and non-smoking ingestion means.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2002 found that while fibromyalgia comes with it a lowering of “HPA axis” functioning (mentioned earlier), cannabis use can actually increase HPA axis function, leading the researchers to conclude that this may be one of the mechanisms through which cannabis helps with fibromyalgia.

On a purely speculative note, could the HPA axis connection to fibromyalgia also point to the condition being also connected to hormonal imbalances during peri-menopause?

Finally, most medical cannabis card holders use cannabis for pain management; if you are in pain because of any of the symptoms of peri-menopause, this should qualify you for a medical cannabis card if you live in a state where that option is available. Find out the medical marijuana laws in your state here:

Cannabis for Empowerment

Cannabis use during peri-menopause can be a source of empowerment for a woman going through this vast change of life. Once a person has pinpointed their unique peri-menopausal symptoms and has made any lifestyle changes needed to detox the body, lessen chemical exposure to Xeno-estrogen and get the exercise, nutrients and supplements her body needs, the addition of cannabis for pain and fatigue management as well as general well-being can be an important part of a smooth transition.



Posted by Edibles List Team

Date: May 14, 2016


Though hemp has been used in cosmetics for ages, more and more companies are integrating THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) into their skincare lines.

The Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology found that cannabinoids are responsible for lipid production and, therefore, for regulating conditions such as dry skin or acne. “Our preclinical data encourage one to explore whether endocannabinoid system-acting agents can be exploited in the management of common skin disorders,” said Tamás Biró, a scientist on the team.

In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, cannabis has been more recently noted as an antioxidant. Some studies have shown that THC itself possesses more anti-aging qualities than cannabidiol. The antioxidants assist in neutralizing the damaging effects of free radical oxygen particles.

The balance between detrimental and defensive biological processes, such as oxidative stress and anti-oxidation, determines the ageing process. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a fundamental role to play in various aspects of the aging process, both mental and somatic.

On a cellular level, the ECS regulates expression of the important neurotransmitter, brain-derived neurotropic factor, an important protein responsible for the development and maintenance of healthy neurons, which underlies its ability to assist in neurogenesis (growth of new neurons).

It is now known that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the maintenance of healthy skin in various ways. Cannabis topicals may also be used to treat inflammatory skin diseases.

Dermatologists note that smoking cannabis is not the
healthiest form of consumption for your skin. If you are a cannabis user, oral consumption is the best method for protecting your skin. Smoking cannabis has the same effects on skin as smoking cigarettes would. Doctors urge that if you insist in smoking you have a heavy-duty moisturizer on, but if you insist on smoking, use a vaporizer.



Posted by Edibles List Team

Date: May 14, 2016

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Over 60 million worldwide suffer from glaucoma. It is a complicated disease in which the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss.

There are several types of glaucoma including the most common two; primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). Medical marijuana has been used as a treatment for glaucoma by patients for many years in the United States, however due to the stigmas and legalities surrounding cannabis, aging Americans have not widely accepted it as a treatment, yet.

Medical marijuana has always been promoted as a treatment for a laundry list of diseases and symptoms including glaucoma. Though the plant is currently classified as a schedule I drug citing that is has no medical benefits to it – this is simply not true.

The primary goal in treating glaucoma is to reduce the levels of intraocular pressure (IOP). Currently, the main techniques in accomplishing this are medications and eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery. However, smoking cannabis has been definitively proven to lower IOP as well. The idea that marijuana can be helpful in treating glaucoma dates to the 1970s. Studies conducted then showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma.

Unfortunately, glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day and the effects of cannabis only last 3-4 hours, meaning that one would need to consume cannabis 6-8 times a day. The problem with this is that right now there is very little actual data on how much cannabis must be consumed each time for it to effectively lower IOP levels.

Researchers are working to find a more effective method for cannabis to be used in treating glaucoma. In fact, Canasol a cannabis derived eye drop was created in Jamaica by developers including ophthalmologist Dr. Albert Lockhart.

As technology improves, no doubt we will see a far more effective method of treating glaucoma using cannabis.


Why regulating cannabis for PTSD is important

Researchers in Canada are studying the effects of marijuana the treatments of a number of medical conditions, including PTSD

By Special to Lift

May 11, 2016

Whenever we hear about PTSD, we usually think about military soldiers, or people with jobs that expose them to extreme situations, like police officers or firefighters. But it can also affect anyone who has been exposed to any kind of severe traumatic situation. Currently, doctors prescribe treatment in the form of pharmaceuticals, but other options, such as marijuana, may be more beneficial for those suffering from PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms include flashbacks of the traumatic experience, angry outbursts, avoidance, and self-destructive behaviour. Unlike other emotional or physical traumas, PTSD doesn’t go away with time, and those suffering may have to deal with the condition their entire lives.

Current treatments

For a long time there was little done to combat PTSD, especially among soldiers, because of the associated stigma. However, recognition of the condition has changed over time, and medical practitioners have begun to prescribe powerful pharmaceuticals like Xanax and Zoloft. While these drugs may help to relieve some symptoms (such as anxiety and depression), they also have the side effect of leaving many patients feeling numb and emotionless.

These treatments have had little effect on the crisis afflicting members of thearmed forces and civilians suffering from PTSD. In fact, the suicide rate for the Canadian army is more than double the rate for average citizens, due to the troubling combat experiences that can resurface regularly.

Aid of marijuana

Some have turned to marijuana as a remedy, which they find to have less serious side effects. They also find the plant to be more effective at helping them cope with the anxiety and fear that comes with PTSD. The trouble is, marijuana can still be difficult to access legally for many Canadians, leaving them with limited legal access. As a result, they are forced to seek alternative (illegal) means of acquisition.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of research on how marijuana can be used as an effective treatment. Because researchers have difficulty accessing cannabis, conducting proper studies has proven to be a challenge.

In Canada, however, researchers are seeking to add some scientific weight to existing anecdotal evidence. As one example, Apollo Applied Research is a research company formed to study the effects of marijuana for treating a number of conditions, including PTSD.

The initial study, which began in March of 2016, is currently underway. It will enroll 352 patients with the disorder. Over the next four months, the team will work to determine how useful marijuana is for treating PTSD and which strains are best for helping patients relieve their suffering. The study is backed by Col. Pat Stogran, who suffers from PTSD himself and has been championing better treatment for others who served in the armed forces.

If the anecdotal evidence is any indication, marijuana could be a much safer treatment for those suffering from PTSD. Ultimately, this is one example of how regulated marijuana could help save lives.


On caffeine and cannabis

The relationship between caffeine and cannabis and the effects on brain chemistry are examined in the Journal of Neuroscience

By Peter Chen

May 7, 2016

Coffee and cannabis go together like wine and cheese. So much so, that in the Netherlands, establishments where the sale and use of cannabis is permitted are customarily referred to as coffeehouses. Capitalizing on the relationship between cannabis and coffee, a Canadian company has even created cannabis infused coffee pods, allowing users to brew up a pot of coffee.

Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the complementary nature of the two substances, but there is now scientific evidence that further substantiates this claim, and even provides insight into how brain chemistry is affected by the combination.

Caffeine is widely known as the world’s most used drug. Caffeine doesn’t simply inject your body with more energy as some may believe. Instead, caffeine works by blocking adenosine neurotransmitter receptors in your brain and prevents adenosine from activating receptors which can, in turn, cause fatigue.

This is to say that caffeine acts as a receptor antagonist and prevents fatigue rather than provide energy. Structural similarity between adenosine and caffeine is what enables caffeine to step in and block adenosine’s access to its own receptor. It is worth noting that these neurotransmitter receptors are present on both sides of the synapse. A synapse is the connection point between two neurons and is what allows a signal to be passed on to the next neuron. Think of a synapse as a crevasse between two glaciers with a bridge anchored to both sides of the gap; these represent pre- and post-synaptic receptors.

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience used monkeys that were primed for addiction to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Justinova, Redhi, Goldberg, & Ferre, 2014). They were allowed to freely administer THC as much or as little as they’d like.

The study found that when a synthetic analogue compound responsible for blocking the pre-synaptic adenosine receptors was introduced, the monkeys stopped self-administering THC. In contrast, when the post-synaptic adenosine receptors were blocked by a different synthetic compound, the moneys increased self-administering of THC.

Caffeine, however, does not discriminate between post- and pre-synaptic adenosine receptors. The researchers used an adenosine receptor antagonist that behaves similar to caffeine called MSX-3. The results suggest that at low doses of caffeine, the monkeys decreased the amount of self-administered THC and at high doses of caffeine, the amount of self-administered THC increased.

The interpretation of the results from this study goes as follows. When a person is first exposed to coffee and caffeine, the effects of feeling energised and excited satisfy their needs and therefore they are less likely to over indulge in cannabis. As tolerance begins to build, each subsequent cup of coffee begins stimulating other parts of the brain, namely the endogenous endocannabinoid system. Therefore, at high doses of caffeine, cannabis reinforces the euphoria and enhances the effects of both substances but also makes cessation of coffee and cannabis consumption all the more difficult.

A few caveats remains to be explained. The results of the study were obtained from monkey test subjects and it is still not clear if the same effects occur in humans. The study also relates to cannabis addiction in that it provides insight into how it can be triggered and also countered with the use of adenosine receptor antagonists or coffee. Lastly, other studies have suggested that the mixture of these two substances can lead to cognitive impairments and memory loss.

While the two substances appear to be intrinsically linked, their relationship seems to increase dependence on both substances. Although the long term side effects of this in humans are still unclear, it should not discourage you from taking your coffee with sugar, cream and cannabis.

Works Cited

Justinova, Z., Redhi, G., Goldberg, S., & Ferre, S. (2014). Differential Effects of Presynaptic versus Postsynaptic Adenosine A2A Receptor Blockade on Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Self-Administration in Squirrel Monkeys. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(19): 6480-6484.


Runner’s high: the athletes who use marijuana to improve their training

Stoned marathon runners may seem like walking contradictions, but there are hints the drug and long-distance running could go hand-in-hand

Josiah Hesse in Denver from The Guardian

Avery Collins is one of the many runners who say smoking or ingesting marijuana reduced pain, fatigue and anxiety during long runs. Photograph: Courtesy of Avery Collins

Avery Collins is one of the many runners who say smoking or ingesting marijuana reduced pain, fatigue and anxiety during long runs. Photograph: Courtesy of Avery Collins

Avery Collins speaks with the snow-bro drawl typical of many young Coloradans.

With his bloodshot, blue eyes peeking out from under blond curls and a low-slung hat, he could easily fit in with the stoners at a 4/20 festival.

“For me, it’s a spiritual happening,” he said recently. “Everything is perfect, everything is pure bliss.”




 Avery Collins promotes Mary’s Medicinals. Photograph: Courtesy of Avery Collins

But Collins isn’t talking about the effects of marijuana. He’s talking about the runner’s high. The 25-year-old ultramarathoner is a marijuana user, just not the stereotypical couch-locked stoner living on junk food and video games. In the last three years, he’s completed 30ultramarathons – five of which were a hundred miles each – and a 200-mile race through the Rocky Mountains, which he won with a time of 65 hours.

Avery says that eating cannabis edibles before and during a run, instead of slowing him down, as one might think, actually enhances the experience.

“It was amazing,” he recalls of his first time combining pot and running. “It helps me stay in the moment and embrace what’s going on right then and there.”

Collins is quick to state that while he enjoys running high, he never uses it during races and doesn’t think his success should be credited to pot. Currently, the World Anti-Doping Agency lists marijuana as a banned substance in competitions, and many high-profile marathons test runners for pot. Which raises the question: is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug?

Despite the prohibition, running on weed has become an increasingly popular trend among athletes, who use it either as a way to avoid fatigue, boredom or anxiety during long runs, or as a pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory medication during recovery periods. Another leading ultramarathoner, Jenn Shelton, told the Wall Street Journal that she uses cannabis in her training, as does triathleteClifford Drusinsky. And who could forget Arnold Schwarzenegger ripping a jointin the documentary Pumping Iron.

Meanwhile, the legal cannabis industry has been carving out a place in the world of long-distance running. Marijuana edibles company Incredibles and bong manufacturer Roll-uh-Bowl have sponsored Collins, and the cannabis cultivation company Cresco Labs recently sponsored the Chicago marathon.

Altered State: tracing marijuana's long, strange trip through California


Read more

Two years ago the 4/20 Games began touring the US, hosting runs and concerts to promote athletics among marijuana users. Online communities such as Cannafit and Norml athletics are connecting stoner athletes, along with running groups like Run On Grass in Denver.

Neurobiological research

While this dynamic may contradict the stoner stereotype, recent research in neurobiology suggests that marijuana and long-distance running may have more to do with each other than many think.

“The runner’s high, as it’s been traditionally described, has been presumed to be caused by opioid peptides like endorphins,” says Gregory Gerdeman, assistant professor of biology at Eckerd College who has studied the effect of exercise on mood and brain chemistry. But endorphins don’t cross into the blood-brain barrier, he explains, so the natural euphoria that long-distance runners experience is likely not caused by endorphins, but by the brain’s endocannabinoid system.

When Collins (or anyone) consumes marijuana, it is the brain’s cannabinoid receptors that receive the THC in marijuana and deliver the psychoactive effect. This endocannabinoid system also plays a part in regulating appetite, pain-sensation, emotions, memory, and much more.

Dr Johannes Fuss, researcher at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, authored a study that, as he puts it, “investigated the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate the emotional benefits after acute exercise, often termed as a runner’s high”. Fuss’s work found that the endocannabinoid system plays a central role in the emotional aspects of running.

“Some researchers argue that long distance running might have evolved in our ancestors when forests were replaced by open savannas in Africa,” Fuss said. “This land conversion allowed the chasing of prey by endurance running. Reduced sensation of pain and less anxiety through long-distance running would have been a benefit for running hunters.”


Is the euphoria long-distance runners experience linked to the brain’s endocannabinoid system? Photograph: Robert F Bukaty/AP

“When volunteers exercise for 30 minutes, the level of the endocannabinoid anandamide in their bloodstream goes up,” says Gerdeman. “In one study, we found that the increase of feelings of wellbeing in patients was tightly correlated to levels of anandamide in their bloodstream. So we started talking about anandamide as a neurobiological reward for running. It makes you feel good ... And anandamide acts like THC in many ways. It gets its name from ananda, which means bliss in sanskrit.”

A performance-enhancing drug?


So far there have been no definitive studies on how marijuana and long-distance running work in concert. In her Wall Street Journal interview, Jenn Shelton said she never consumed marijuana during competition, because she believed it did enhance performance. It’s not inconceivable that if the human brain’s endocannabinoid system regulates fatigue, that an artificial stimulation of this system with marijuana could further reduce both physical and mental exhaustion, thereby bringing it ever closer to the designation of a performance enhancing drug.

The World Anti-Doping Agency declined to be interviewed for this story, but said in a statement that in 2013 they raised the levels of acceptable marijuana in an athlete’s system so that out-of-competition use would not disqualify them. Yet any use just before a sporting event remains prohibited.

The Anti-Doping Agency are not alone in their distaste for pot. The NFL have often been criticized for their ban on bud, as many football players argue it’s a healthy alternative to painkillers. Last week Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee was immediately drug tested after tweeting out a few pot jokes on 4/20. The NCAA also has long-held a zero tolerance policy with marijuana, but is currently looking at softening their approach, under the argument that it is not a performance enhancing drug.

50% of the runners I meet are avid cannabis users ... I’d say almost none of them are open about it

Avery Collins

Gerdeman warned that for anyone new to running (or marijuana, for that matter), it would probably be unwise to go mixing the two.

“It’s conceivable that cannabis could benefit someone who is just starting an exercise routine,” he said, but “cannabis use elevates the heart rate, so for someone who isn’t used to exercising, it could make them lightheaded and have a spike in blood pressure. It could be dangerous for someone who is older with emergent cardiovascular disease.”

Whether marijuana is harmful, a performance enhancement, or somewhere in between, there is still a social stigma against cannabis that makes athletes reluctant to be associated with it.

“I’d say 50% of the runners I meet are avid cannabis users, whether it’s at night or all day or just during or after runs,” Collins said. “I’d say almost none of them are open about it.”

“I know a lot of long-distance runners that are in the closet about their cannabis use,” says Chris Barnicle, a former professional runner turned marijuana advocate who promotes himself as “The World’s Fastest Stoner”.

“There is an ignorant stereotype about people who use marijuana not being athletic, but that’s because they aren’t often represented. The public only sees a misrepresentation of people who do [hash] dabs all day long and aren’t active.”


What You Need to Know About Cannabis and Male Fertility

May 5, 2016

Our understanding of cannabis and how it interacts with our bodies continues to evolve at a rapid pace – bringing countless urban legends into question.

From cannabis causing lung cancer to cannabis causing laziness, researchers have debunked myth after myth.

But what about the belief that using cannabis leads to sperm burnout?

Is there any truth to this claim about cannabis and sperm motility, or is it yet another result of misinformation in a federally illegal climate?

We decided to assess the facts and see what researchers, as well as experts, had to say on the subject.

Putting male fertility into perspective

When it comes to any aspect of our health, an informed perspective is always valuable.

In the United States alone, 10-15% of couples experience trouble conceiving.

And 30% of these issues relating to infertility can be attributed to sperm production, structural abnormalities, and ejaculatory issues.

However, few men tend to be “in tune” with their own fertility.

Unless a problem occurs, men are unlikely to give this issue more than a second thought.

Whether a man uses cannabis or not, the health of their sperm can be affected by a slew of other factors:

And we also know that the health of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) also plays a role in fertility.

Role of the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system has a direct link to human fertility.

The ECS helps govern pretty much every metabolic process in our body. This important network of neurotransmitters, located in the brain and throughout the entire body, depends on cannabinoids to do its thing.

These could be endocannabinoids produced by our own body, or when those aren’t enough we turn to the cannabinoids in cannabis to supplement the ECS, which keeps everything in balance.

Cannabis’s binding effect with the cannabinoid receptors (called CB1 and CB2) that make up the ECS explains the plant’s efficacy for so many different ailments and illnesses, both physical and mental.

Some of the many systems in our body that the ECS helps keep in balance include the:

Because the reproductive system is populated with CB2 receptors, we know that cannabis has a direct impact. The true question is what kind of impact.

What Does Research Indicate?

The connection between cannabis and sperm is more complex than researchers previously realized.

This study, published in 2015, revealed that CB2 receptors indeed contribute to the physiological regulation of spermatogenesis (aka – the production of sperm).

In order to understand this phenomenon, the researchers examined three groups of mice.

The first group of mice was given a CB2 agonist (turns a process on) while the second group of mice was given a CB2 antagonist (turns a process off) the third group of mice was given a saline solution.

The results?

Over the course of 14 to 21 days, scientists discovered the mice given the CB2 agonist, or activator, demonstrated an increase in spermatogenesis.

The results while promising are also conflicting with other studies indicating the negative impact of cannabis on sperm production.

So, what’s the real answer here?

CB2, Spermatogenesis, and Male Fertility

Cannabinoid signaling is a vital component of every process in our body.

We consulted a specialist on the topic to see if we could find out more about the relationship between CB2, spermatogenesis, and male fertility.

Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained Holistic Care expert with a focus on cannabis therapeutics, stress management, insomnia, and human sexuality is a leading expert in the field of Medical Cannabis therapeutics.

“To simply say that THC binds to the CB2 receptor as an antagonist or agonist, which in fact is typically what we call a partial-agonist, is not a sophisticated enough look,” Dr. Tishler says.

“What we really need to know is if the receptor is activated or deactivated and what it actually does to spermatogenesis,” he continues. “And I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.”

What is clear, Tishler explains, is that cannabis causes about a 25% decrease in the function and number of sperm.

“It triggers a hyperactivity that is associated with the sperm trying to break into the egg. If this happens too early in the journey then the sperm tires out and dies,” Dr. Tishler says.

“Further, the tip of the sperm called the Acrosome, has been shown not to work properly (it helps get the sperm into the egg) under the influence of cannabis.”

Tishler emphasizes, however, that we still have a long way to go before making any definitive statements about whether or not males – when trying to conceive – should completely avoid cannabis or even stick to certain strains.

“No one seems to have studied if those lab findings on cannabis triggering hyperactivity in sperm actually lead to decreased fertility in the real world,” he says.

Should you stop cannabis or not?

If you’re trying to conceive, giving up cannabis might help. And there are other factors to consider as well.

While findings have revealed both a positive and negative correlation between cannabis and male fertility, the results are limited.

We need to see more real world implications in order to truly understand what’s taking place here, Tishler says.

“Although studies indicate sperm loss associated with cannabis use, the reduction of sperm is only likely to be meaningful in men who are already predisposed to fertility troubles for other causes,” Tishler adds.

The truth is male infertility can be attributed to many factors and to immediately blame cannabis might be a bit too presumptive.

And many cannabis patients, people who depend on this herb to treat any number of illnesses, may have difficulty giving up this medicine for a while.

“Serious scientific research on fertility, and in particular the male side of fertility is woefully neglected to begin with,” Dr. Tishler says.

“And when we add the cannabis aspect to it, we clearly need more research,” he adds. “But saying we need more research does not equate to people not using the medicine. There is plenty of good evidence for using cannabis. The science needs to get done, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of our current use of the medication.”

In other words, although you may decide to cut cannabis while trying to make a baby, be sure to consider all the other variables that may be affecting reproduction.

Any readers want to weigh in? Any positive or negative experiences with cannabis and fertility in general? Read the full article here


What is Decarboxylation, and Why Does Your Cannabis Need It?

By Patrick Bennett — 4/30/2016

Here's a scenario we have all seen in film before: Somebody consumes an entire bag of raw cannabis in order to avoid getting caught with it. Eyes pop wide open and gasps ensue. “You just ate that whole bag!” somebody shouts. However, the aftermath of this scene usually involves a very different representation of what actually happens when you consume raw cannabis. Spoiler alert: The effects will be lackluster at best. Why is this the case?


The answer to this mystery lies in a process called decarboxylation, one that is necessary for us to enjoy the psychoactive effects of the cannabinoids we consume.



Decarboxylation Explained


All cannabinoids contained within the trichomes of raw cannabis flowers have an extra carboxyl ring or group (COOH) attached to their chain. For example, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is synthesized in prevalence within the trichome heads of freshly harvested cannabis flowers. In most regulated markets, cannabis distributed in dispensaries contains labels detailing the product’s cannabinoid contents. THCA, in many cases, prevails as the highest cannabinoid present in items that have not been decarboxylated (e.g., cannabis flowers and concentrates).

THCA has a number of known benefits when consumed, including having anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities. But THCA is not psychoactive, and must be converted into THC through decarboxylation before any effects can be felt.



What Causes Decarboxylation?


The two main catalysts for decarboxylation to occur are heat and time. Drying and curing cannabis over time will cause a partial decarboxylation to occur. This is why some cannabis flowers also test for a presence of small amounts of THC along with THCA. Smoking andvaporizing will instantaneously decarboxylate cannabinoids due to the extremely high temperatures present, making them instantly available for absorption through inhalation.

While decarboxylated cannabinoids in vapor form can be easily absorbed in our lungs, ediblesrequire these cannabinoids present in what we consume in order for our bodies to absorb them throughout digestion. Heating cannabinoids at a lower temperature over time allows us to decarboxylate the cannabinoids while preserving the integrity of the material we use so that we may infuse it into what we consume.



At What Temperature Does Decarboxylation Occur?


The THCA in cannabis begins to decarboxylate at approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit after around 30-45 minutes of exposure. Full decarboxylation may require more time to occur. Many people choose to decarboxylate their cannabis at slightly lower temperatures for a much longer period of time in attempts to preserve terpenes. Many mono and sesquiterpenes are volatile and will evaporate at higher temperatures, leaving potentially undesirable flavors and aromas behind. The integrity of both cannabinoids and terpenoids are compromised by using temperatures that exceed 300 degrees F, which is why temperatures in the 200’s are recommended.

Heat and time can also cause other forms of cannabinoid degradation to occur. For example,CBN (cannabinol) is formed through the degradation and oxidization of THC, a process that can occur alongside decarboxylation. CBN accounts for a much more sedative and less directly psychoactive experience.



How to Decarboxylate Cannabis at Home


In order to decarboxylate cannabis at home, all you need is some starting material, an oven set to 220-235 degrees F (depending on your location and oven model), some parchment paper, and a baking tray. Finely grind your cannabis until the material can be spread thin over parchment and placed on your baking sheet. Allow the cannabis to bake for 30-45 minutes, or longer if desired.

Cannabis can also be decarboxylated in a slow cooker by introducing solvents such as cooking oils or lecithin.These methods create infusions that can be used in a variety of cooking recipes,topicals, and even cannabis capsules. Since they contain decarboxylated cannabinoids, they will be effective any way you choose to consume them.

Now that you know how decarboxylation works, the next time you see somebody on television falling over onto the ground after eating an entire bag of shake, you’ll be able to laugh it off over a batch of your very own freshly baked and infused, fully decarboxylated cannabis cookies. Bon appetit!