Harnessing the Powers of the Body’s Endocannabinoid System to Fight Cancer

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Research surrounding the use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer is scarce, but what has been conducted offers hopes into the potential of this alternative therapy to enhance current treatments, reduce the side effects associated with them, and even slow the progression of cancer cells or kill cancer cells without harming the body’s normal cells. One study from St. George’s University of London found the cannabinoids THC and CBD weakened cancer cells and made them more susceptible to radiation treatment.

Another study conducted at the University of Sheffield has found inhibiting enzymes that breakdown endocannabinoids, like monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) which is found in healthy tissues throughout the body, will reduce the growth of a variety of cancer cells in mice. A paper from 2011 concluded MAGL blocking drugs resulted in the increased production of endocannabinoids in healthy cells and in cancer cells, and slowed the progression of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Lead researcher Aymen Idris explains there may be a risk to using such drugs, however, in that they make produce psychotic symptoms similar to those experienced by cannabis users. To reduce this risk, they hope to develop drugs that will only enter and accumulate in tumor cells. Idris is hopeful of their studies, saying, “Treatment with drugs that stop the body breaking down its own cannabis in peripheral tissues, or drugs that mimic the action of natural cannabis outside the brain may be a fruitful way to develop safer cannabis drugs for treating cancer.”

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Marijuana and Your Memory

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Those who discourage marijuana use argue it impairs your memory, but how bad are marijuana's effects on memory? When cannabinoids like THC enter the bloodstream and continue on to the brain, they interact with the endocannabinoid system which can indeed alter memory function. THC interacts with CB1 receptors, which can be found in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for processing and storing memories. Marijuana use makes it difficult to form new long-term memories, but it does not impair the ability to recall already existing memories. Long term users also perform worse on tests of working and verbal memory. Research is still unclear on whether these effects are permanent or if they can resolve over time when abstaining from use. 

While memory impairment is generally seen as negative, this isn't always the case. For example, those who suffer from PTSD may have negative memories that produce anxiety, hypervigilance, panic, and distress. Because of this, they could benefit from the endocannabinoid's ability to extinguish these memories, something that can be facilitated by marijuana use. 

The relationship between marijuana and memory is complex, and there is still so much to be understood about how different factors, like the cannabinoid composition, dosage, and one's genetic makeup or tolerance, can influence this relationship. This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical officer. 

Study Finds the Endocannabinoid System can Manage Endometriosis Pain

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A research review led by Jerome Bouaziz at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Israel and published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research suggests the endocannabinoid system may be able to mitigate the pain associated with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrium extends outside of the uterus, forming endometrial lesions or implants, which in turn results in severe and complex inflammatory, nociceptive, or neuropathic pain. Studies have found the endocannabinoid system aids in the establishment of endometriosis and its pain, and researchers have found the levels and symptoms of endometriosis pain are linked to decreased expression of CB1 receptors and an increase in endocannabinoids within the plasma. Boaziz explains, this “suggests a negative feedback loop regulation, which may impair the capability of these mediators to control pain.”

Some studies in the review associate endometriosis with endocannabinoid deficiency, and women who suffer endometriosis have lower levels of CB1 receptors in their endometrial tissue. Additionally, reduces endocannabinoid system function could contribute to the growth of endometriosis tissue and pain symptoms. This suggests that by targeting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptor agonists, endometriosis-associated pain and inflammation could be mitigated. Researchers conclude, “Targeting endocannabinoid modulation to treat pain is probably more than just treating the pain as it may impact several levels of the pathogenesis and the proliferation of the disease. Special attention and further investigation are needed to evaluate the impact of the potential therapeutic side effects, especially on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.”

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Read the full text of the study here

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Photo Credit: MassRoots

Photo Credit: MassRoots

Medical cannabis appears to have a myriad of therapeutic effects, and the reason it's able to provide such relief is due to its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of cell receptors, enzymes, and endogenous ligands or binding molecules, that are responsible keeping the body stable and in a state of homeostasis. The body naturally produces endocannabinoids, and when the body experiences a deficiency in endocannabinoids it can cause the body to become out of balance, uncomfortable, and even ill.

This is where cannabis can provide its relief. Cannabis consists of hundreds of cannabinoids which can bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, filling the void of an endocannabinoid deficiency, and thereby returning the body to a state of homeostasis. The cannabinoid THC can bind with CB1 receptors, which exist in the brain, muscles, hear, lungs, and more. CB2 receptors are found in the liver, gut, and muscles, and work closely with the body's immune system. As opposed to binding with receptors, CBD focuses no optimizing enzymes like FAAH and MAGL so that they do not break down anandamide and 2-AG, which thereby allows the body's endocannabinoids to increase. 

This information has been provided by MassRoots and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

The Endocannabinoid System: A Beginner’s Guide

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

The physical and psychological effects of cannabis can all be attributed to its interaction with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids are deemed the "chemical messengers" for the ECS, and they interact with cannabinoid receptors (categorized as CB1 or CB2 receptors) to provide a wide array of therapeutic relief. Some cannabinoids are endogenous, called endocannabinoids, and they are occur naturally within the body. Other exogenous cannabinoids, like those provided by cannabis, occur outside of the body but can similarly interact with the body's ECS. The list of functions the ECS is involved in seems endless, and it includes: appetite, metabolism, pain, sleep, mood, movement, temperature, memory and learning, immune function, inflammation, neural development, neuroprotection, cardiovascular function, digestion, and reproduction. In addition to regulating these functions, the ECS responds to illness to return the body to homeostasis. 

Because of its involvement in such a wide variety of bodily function, the endocannabinoid system could help treat a myriad of medical illnesses and conditions. Researchers and physicians are currently using medical marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids to target the system. Medical marijuana is commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain, nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and palliative care. Synthetic cannabinoids are engineered to mimic the effects of natural cannabinoids in a more efficient way, and target specific parts of the system. Some synthetic cannabinoids include a synthetic THC call Marinol, used to reduce nausea and increase appetite for AIDS and cancer patients, and a synthetic cannabinoids similar to THC called Cesamet, which reduces vomiting in cancer patients and manages pain for fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and chronic pain.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Exploring the Mysterious Endocannabinoid System

Photo Credit: VICE Media | http://bit.ly/2wtPF8v

Photo Credit: VICE Media | http://bit.ly/2wtPF8v

One of the reasons cannabis offers such effective therapeutic relief is because it contains cannabinoids that are able to interact with our body's endocannabinoid system. The body's endocannabinoid system provides a framework of cannabinoids receptors that can interact with endocannabinoids (the body's internal cannabinoids), phytocannabinoids (like those found in cannabis), and even synthetic cannabinoids manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. The endocannabinoid system is a regulatory mechanism, and cannabinoid receptors are found in neurotransmitters in our brains, immune systems, nervous systems, cardiovascular systems, reproductive systems, gastrointestinal tracts, and urinary tracts. 

Various ailments seem to result from endocannabinoid deficiency. When we as humans develop endocannabinoid deficiency, and are unable to produce sufficient endocannabinoids, our bodies can utilize phytocannabinoids to fill this void and help our bodies return to homeostasis. Research is showing that as we microdose with cannabis, our endocannabinoid system not only produces more endocannabinoids, but also creates more cannabinoid receptors, which could lead to a stronger and healthier endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids can help fight certain diseases, prevent others, and promote overall health. 

This information has been brought to you by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

What Do We Really Know About the Medical Benefits of Marijuana?

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Because of the hurdles blocking medical marijuana research due to its status as a Schedule I drug, there is relatively little substantial research regarding the medicinal benefits of medical marijuana. That being said, with what research and anecdotal evidence exists, here is what we've learned. The chemical properties, or cannabinoids, like THC and CBD take most of the responsibility for marijuana's medicinal benefits. One National Geographic article discusses anecdotal evidence from parents in Colorado who claim CBD oil with low amounts of THC has helped their children go from experiencing around 300 seizures daily to becoming almost seizure-free. Other anecdotal evidence accounts for cannabis' successful treatment of multiple sclerosis, dementia. osteoporosis, pain, nausea and vomiting, inflammation, stress, and trauma. Research from Manuel Guzman at the University of Madrid found THC eliminated about a third of the cases for rats who developed cancerous growths, and reductions occurred in another third of the subjects. 

The cannabinoids in cannabis are responsible for producing medicinal benefits because of their ability to bind with receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system. When the body has an imbalance of the body's natural endocannabinoids, cannabinoids from cannabis can help the body return to balance. The body's endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in movement and memory, and some studies suggest it can also affect behavioral responses like anxiety, fear, addiction, and help fight epilepsy and neurodegenerative issues.

This information has been provided by Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Medical Marijuana: What the Research Shows. Part 1

Photo Credit:  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/117032936@N08/14634860422)

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files (https://www.flickr.com/photos/117032936@N08/14634860422)

Twenty years ago, scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system, a system in the brain that responds to 60 chemicals found in marijuana. Since then, research has shown the endocannabinoid system plays a major role in various bodily functions, like those of the heart, and the endocrine, digestive, immune, nervous, and reproductive systems. Because of this, marijuana's ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system makes it a viable player in relieving various symptoms, like managing pain, reducing muscle spasms from MS, stimulating appetite, and even acting as a substitute for medications that treat brain disorders like schizophrenia or Tourette's syndrome. While there are various studies to back up these claims, it is important to note that many of the clinical trials were conducted at relatively small scales and weren't double-blinded placebo controlled studies, leaving more extensive research to be desired.

As supporting evidence showing cannabis does in fact contain therapeutic cannabinoids, there are three marijuana-based drugs that have been approved by the FDA. Marinol and Cesamet are two marijuana based pharmaceuticals that treat the nausea and loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy and related to AIDs patients. Both drugs use man-made THC as a major component. Epidiolex was approved by the FDA in 2013, and while it's use is highly restricted, it is used to combat childhood epilepsy. Another cannabis-based drug is Sativex. It is currently undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. for the treatment of pain associated with breast cancer, but it has already been approved in over 20 countries for the treatment of muscle spasms in MS patients and cancer related pain.

This post is part of a two part series, and the information has been provided by Web MD and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Understanding Cannabinoid Receptors: Why Cannabis Affects Humans

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Many medical marijuana patients are familiar with basic cannabinoids and terpenes that are responsible for providing the medical efficacy found in cannabis, but not everyone understands how these molecules function to produce therapeutic relief. Cannabinoids and terpenes bind with and activate special receptors found in the body's endocannabinoid system, a mechanism that helps to modulate various bodily functions like appetite, sleep, anxiety level, and cognition, and it is linked closely with the nervous system and immune system. Humans produce their own endocannabinoids in the brain using the endocannabinoid system. The cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis merely supplement the body's natural endocannabinoids when cannabis is consumed. When the endocannabinoid system lacks sufficient endocannabinoids, it causes a condition called endocannabinoid deficiency, which many medical professionals and researchers theorize can lead to a variety of diseases related to the immune system and nervous system and cause inflammation, pain, and nausea.

Many researchers attribute the level of relief a patient may experience to the level of binding affinity between these molecules and their CB1 or CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain, central nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and related organs, giving them the ability to relieve pain, inflammation, nausea, and depression when they bind with the cannabinoid THC. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and related organs, gastrointestinal system, and even the brain in smaller quantities than CB1 receptors. CB2 receptors commonly bind with CBD and other cannabinoids, and they are responsible for reducing inflammation and treating a variety of different conditions, including but not limited to Crohn's, Lupus, IBD, some cancers, epilepsy, and other seizure disorders. The experience a patient has after consuming cannabis also varies in part due to their own unique expression of receptors, making them more or less sensitive to certain cannabinoids.

This information has been provided by Whaxy and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Everything You Need to Know about Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

The use of medical marijuana for treating epilepsy and other seizure disorders is nothing new. In fact, before the prohibition of marijuana, marijuana was one of the most commonly prescribed treatment options for controlling epileptic seizures. Now, as states trend towards legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes once again, medical marijuana is regaining popularity as a treatment option for epilepsy. A study conducted in 2004 found 20% of epileptic Canadians used cannabis to control their seizure regularly with noticeable improvements in both severity and frequency of their symptoms. No participants reported their symptoms worsening.

Many attribute cannabis' success as a treatment option for controlling seizures to the plant's cannabinoids, which interact with the human endocannabinoid system to produce therapeutic results. Research has shown that the cannabinoid CBD is more effective in controlling seizure episodes than THC due to the fact CBD acts as a strong anticonvulsant without the potential of increasing seizure episodes, which THC has at times reportedly done. Medical marijuana has generally  been deemed as effective in the treatment of epilepsy as traditional pharmaceutical treatments, and in some cases even more so, thus making it a potential treatment option for cases in which traditional medicines have failed. 

This information has been provided by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Learn more about our Endocannabinoid System and how Cannabis Medicine Works in our Bodies

Minnesota Medical Solutions, LLC, a medical cannabis provider operating in Minnesota, recently tweeted this infographic explaining how the endocannabinoid system works in the human body. We think it does an excellent job explaining this complex system in a simple way, so we thought we'd share it with you! You can check out the tweet here, or if you're in Minnesota and want to learn more about the dispensary, visit MinnMed's website

Watch The Scientist: A New Medical Marijuana Documentary

Photo Credit: Medical Jane

Photo Credit: Medical Jane

Zach Klein, alongside Y. Klinik productions, has released another medical marijuana documentary called The Scientist. You may recognize Klein from his documentary Prescribed Grass, which premiered in 2009 and documented the success of medical marijuana therapy so thoroughly that it inspired Israel to launch the largest state-sponsored medical marijuana program. The Scientist follows the life of Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., an Israeli biochemist who has been dubbed the "grandfather of cannabis research."

When Dr. Mechoulam began his research, he was skeptical of the various claims made about the "miracle drug." Dr. Mechoulam is responsible for discovering the major cannabinoids THC and CBD. He then found that our bodies and brains have specific receptors for these cannabis molecules, which he would later discover is part of a new bodily system called the endocannabinoid system. 

Medical Jane says of The Scientist's importance, "If enough of the right people see it, and they eventually cause enough countries to legalize the plant, it could fundamentally transform the world in numerous, enormously positive ways- medical, agricultrual, social, and financial among them." This documentary could help revolutionize science, helping us to better understand the endocannabinoid system so we can find new ways to combat chronic illnesses and discover symptom relief. 

Read more about The Scientist and what you will experience when watching the film on Medical Jane.

Cannabis for Anxiety: A Safer Solution

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million people in the U.S. and make up what is considered the most common mental illness in the country. The varying forms of anxiety disorders can lead to other stress-related ailments and physical conditions, and people who suffer from them may feel irritable, feelings of dread, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, chest pains or heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and panic attacks, all of which can severely interfere with someone's daily life. 

There are many common pharmaceuticals available for treating anxiety disorders, but unfortunately these drugs often have negative side effects, are highly addictive, and can lead to overdose. Now, as research on different cannabinoids continues, it seems that marijuana may be an effective treatment option in the fight against anxiety.

When administered in low doses, THC has been shown to reduce anxiety and worry. That being said, when the cannabinoid is taken in high doses it can actually produce the opposite effect, enhancing stress and producing panic attacks. Many researchers point to the entourage effect when talking about the efficacy of THC in treating anxiety, saying the synergistic effects of different cannabinoids working together is more effective than isolating THC or creating a synthetic version of the cannabinoid. 

CBD has also been effective in targeting the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. A 1982 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found CBD was able to counteract the enhanced anxiety felt from high doses of THC. Studies suggest CBD can help combat Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), or cannabis can help erase bad memories, but the explanation for why cannabis may be able to do so can be provided by a joint study in 2014 involving researchers from three different universities. The study revealed that the endocannabinoid system in the human body is responsible for regulating anxiety and responding to stress. The study found "chronic stress and severe emotional trauma can reduce the production of endocannabinoids produced naturally by the human body. Thus, it is believed that the phytocannabinoids provided by cannabis supplement this cannabinoid deficiency."

As Whaxy says, many of the common pharmaceutical drugs currently used to treat anxiety "deliver agonizing side effects that are often worse than the conditions they are prescribed to treat." As research continues on the use of cannabis for treating anxiety disorders, people may have the opportunity to choose a medication that does not produce horrible side effects like insomnia, depression, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts. Read this Whaxy article to learn all you need to know about cannabis for anxiety, including the history of its use, up to date research, and a list of strains that could be appropriate as treatment options. 

Ethan Russo: Endocannabinoid Deficiency & Medical Cannabis

Ganjapreneur recently sat down to interview Dr. Ethan Russo, former Senior Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals, and current Medical Director at Phytecs, a company that produces cannabis-based treatments related to the endocannabinoid system. In this Podcast, Dr. Ethan Russo talks about how cannabis could potentially treat Endocannabinoid Deficiency. "Endocannabinoid Deficiency is just coming into general awareness now as a cause behind several conditions including Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Phantom Limb Pain, Infantile Colic, Glaucoma, PTSD, Bipolar disease, and others." To hear the full Podcast and learn more about the endocannabinoid system, visit this link: http://bit.ly/1BodlIs

The Potential for Cannabis to Support a Healthy Lifestyle

Cannabinoid therapy's potential to offer therapeutic benefits for specific illnesses is becoming to seem like common knowledge. What many people don't realize is that cannabis also has the potential to support an everyday healthy lifestyle.

One important factor of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to exercise in order to keep your body in tip-top physical condition. Contrary to the stereotypical belief that marijuana makes a person lazy and immobile, some research suggests that cannabis can actually enhance physical activity.

This post written by Takoma Wellness discusses how cannabis can help maintain this healthy lifestyle. Cannabis gives runners an extra boost, endocannabinoids ease pain, control appetite, and influence mood and memory, and marijuana supports metabolic function.

Read Takoma Wellness' summary here: http://bit.ly/1FDh9Uw

For a look at the specific studies, check these out:
http://bit.ly/1FgoPK9 (Study, THC and Exercise)
http://bit.ly/1BnUFas (Study, Marijuana and Glucose and Insulin. Metabolic function)