Cannabinoid Receptor-1 (CB-1) & THC

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Photo Credit: High Times

We know that the cannabinoids in cannabis are able to produce their therapeutic relief by interacting directly or indirectly with the cannabinoid receptors found within the endocannabinoid system, but how exactly does this work? Well, for the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical can bind directly the cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB-1). The CB-1 receptor is part of a class of proteins called the g-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are responsible for managing cellular signal transduction to communicate between cells. The proteins are so important, in fact, that they account for 60% of drug targets. The CB-1 receptor is involved in combating varying diseases and abnormalities, including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and obesity.

Researchers have recently discovered that their are two types of agonists that bind to and activate the CB-1 receptors, one being very similar in structure to THC. With this information, we will not only be able to better understand how the receptor moves, but also why THC and other cannabinoids are able to produce such positive effects within the body.

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

Marijuana Could Help HIV Patients Maintain Mental Stamina

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Photo Credit: High Times

A new study published in the journal AIDS suggests THC could help those suffering from HIV maintain mental stamina. Researchers from Michigan State University have determined cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties could reduce mental deterioration from the virus by about 50% by preventing white blood cells and their proteins from causing damage in the brain. THC could slow or stop the inflammatory process. Researchers studied the blood of 40 HIV patients, both marijuana users and non-users, and found non-users exhibited a much higher rate of inflammation within their white blood cells when isolate. Co-author Norbert Kaminski explains, “The patients who didn’t smoke marijuana had a very high level of inflammatory cells compared to those who did use… In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV.”

Marijuana could be a beneficial supplemental therapy to the antiretroviral therapies that exist today through its ability to control white blood cells and inflammation. This information has been provided by High Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Can Cannabis Treat Lyme Disease?

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Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Lyme disease develops out of a tick bite, and infects the body with an intractable bacteria. The disease can cause headaches, fever, fatigue, rashes, joint and nerve damage, and damage to the circulatory systems. It can also impact mental health. Because medical cannabis is known to act as an antiseptic and antibiotic, there are questions as to whether or not medical marijuana could be used to treat Lyme disease. There is little research on marijuana for Lyme disease, but one study from 2008 which was published in the Journal of Natural Products found cannabinoids were effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of MRSA, and researchers attested to the plant’s “powerful antibacterial agents.” Cannabis may also have the ability to treat the symptoms associated with the condition.

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

Study Finds Medical Marijuana Is Helping Kids with Cerebral Palsy

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Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

A new study conducted by Tikun Olam at the Wolfson Medical Canter near Tel Aviv, Israel, has found cannabis oil significantly reduced symptoms and improved motor skills, sleep quality, bowel movements and general mood in children suffering from Cerebral Palsy. The study, which started three years ago, involved 4o children between the ages 1-17 with high levels of motor disorders, of which 20 have completed testing, and the majority will continue medical marijuana use as an effective supplement alongside current medications. For the first two months, researchers looked for changes in each child’s condition before allowing them to receive medical marijuana. After two months of stability, the children received cannabis oil orally or through a feeding tube three times a day, as a supplement to their current medications. There were two types of oils containing different proportions of THC and CBD.

Researchers used indexes that evaluated medical marijuana’s effects on spasticity, dystonia, motor changes, mood, sleep, constipation, pain, and quality of life, and found after three to four months, the children’s conditions began to improve. They found medical cannabis to be safe with few side effects, and children experienced the strongest improvements, statistically, in motor function, followed by pain relief and improvements in sleep and bowel movements. They also found THC to be most effective for symptom relief, but because of its psychoactive effects, use CBD to buffer these effects. One of the research managers Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider explains, “The THC’s effect is especially relevant to motor function, whether it’s Parkinson’s disease or other motor symptoms… But the THC is also responsible for the psychoactive effect, so we picked a variety that also has a lot of CBD, which moderates the euphoric effect.”

Researchers now want to determine the most effective vehicle for administering the medication. This information has been provided by High Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

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

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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.

More Studies Prove the Effectiveness of Cannabis in Lowering Blood Pressureww

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Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Preliminary studies suggest CBD may effectively reduce stress. In a double-blind study, researchers from the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Saoirse O’Sullivan, examined nine healthy volunteers. They discovered one treatment of CBD resulted in reduced blood pressure responses in the face of stress. Although CBD lowered blood pressure responses, blood flow was not degrade and circulation continued as normal.

More research is left to be desired, and O’Sullivan discusses the next steps, saying, “What we’re doing now, currently, is looking at whether or not we can repeat that, and, also: what happens when you do repeated dosing?”

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

Reasons Patients Might Prefer Medical Marijuana to Prescription Drugs

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Photo Credit: High Times

At a time when Americans are seemingly overprescribed medications, many are beginning to look for alternative treatment methods that are as effective as their prescription medications, but that may contain higher safety profiles and produce fewer side effects. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 119 million Americans (or 45% of the population) over the age of 12 were prescribed medications. Of that, 19 million (or 7.1% of the population) abused their medications. These statistics show that finding alternative treatment options is necessary, and many patients are starting to turn to natural alternatives like medical marijuana, which is known to produce few adverse side effects and can provide relief for a myriad of symptoms.

One of the reasons patients may prefer medical marijuana is that it is as effective, if not more effective, than prescription medications at relieving certain symptoms. Countless studies have found patients attest to cannabis as being as effective or more effective at relieving chronic pain or reducing the severity and frequency of epileptic seizures, which allows them to reduce or eliminate their use of pharmaceutical medications. That said, sometimes medical marijuana cannot provide full symptom relief on its own. In some situations, marijuana can be used in conjunction with other more traditional treatment regimens, like prescription medications or chemotherapy, to enhance the effects of these therapies. Additionally, patients can use medical marijuana without the fear of risking overdose or without the fear of becoming addicted (although some suggest marijuana is habit forming and may stimulate a sort of psychological dependence). Some pharmaceutical medications may provide desirable symptom relief while at the same time producing other unwanted side effects, but with medical marijuana, this is not the case. With medical marijuana, side effects are not severe and are minimal.

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

VA Studies Find Medical Marijuana Good for Nerve Pain

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Photo Credit: High Times

A new research review has determined medical marijuana may be able to reduce chronic nerve pain, or neuropathy, in patients with diabetes. However, in the study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, researchers found less evidence that cannabis helps treat other types of pain or PTSD. Dr. Sachin Patel at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville claims, “That doesn’t mean that it’s not, it just means we don’t have that evidence right now.” The authors also call for more substantial studies to better understand the effects of cannabis for pain or PTSD.

This study follows a report from the National Academy of Sciences that claims marijuana effectively treats chronic pain, manages muscle spasms from MS, and reduces nausea from chemotherapy. This information has been provided by High Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Can Topical Cannabis Heal Wounds?

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Photo Credit: High Times

Cannabis can come in a variety of forms and vehicles, including in the topical form which can be used to treat skin wounds and abrasions and heal muscle pain. In a recent study, CBD in combination with terpenes could help treat malignant wounds when applied topically. The case report, which was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, claims, “Anecdotal accounts of the use of topical extracts from the cannabis plant being used on open wounds date back to antiquity. In modern times, cannabinoid therapies have demonstrated efficacy as analgesic agents in both pharmaceutical and botanical formats.” Other studies have found cannabis topicals may be able to treat acne abrasions, kill harmful bacterias, and relieve muscle pain.

Patients interested in using cannabis topicals should check the ingredients for potentially harmful solvents, and should test the topical on a small area before applying to large portions of the skin or to the affected areas. This information has been provided by Hight Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.


Scientists Zero In On Marijuana Receptor To Figure Out How it Functions

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Photo Credit: High Times

Scientists have long known about the CB1 receptor, the endocannabinoid system, and that THC and other phytocannabinoids have the ability to bind with these receptors. While previously researchers thought CB1 receptors would bind with THC in a "lock and key" sort of scenario, they are now understanding that CB1 receptors are mobile and malleable, giving them the ability to conform to a wide range of molecules. CB1 receptors are flexible spirals composed of amino acids that eave through a cell's membrane. These spirals coalesce around the receptor's binding site upon entry of a cannabinoid. This new research was further substantiated when researchers led by Alexandros Makriyannis, director of Northeastern University's Center for Drug Discovery, were able to crystallize a CB1 receptor as it was in the process of binding with a THC-like molecule, a breakthrough that will help researchers to better understand the binding process so that they can develop synthetic chemicals that reproduce the desirable medicinal effects found in cannabis. 

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

 

Study: Low-Dose THC Can Relieve Stress, but Too Much May Do the Opposite

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Photo Credit: High Times

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago have determined small amounts of THC may have the ability to relieve stress, but that too much of the cannabinoid can instead exacerbate symptoms. The study involved 42 healthy volunteers between 18 and 40 years old who had previously tried marijuana. They were then divided into three groups and given capsules containing either 7.5 mg THC, 12.5 mg THC, or placebo. Neither participants nor investigators were aware of who was in which dosing group. The doses were said to produce the same effects as taking a few puffs from a joint. The study took place over the course of two four-hour sessions separated by five days, in which each participant took two capsules and then were interviewed and asked to complete a "reliably stress-inducing" math task. In the second session, the participants discussed their favorite movie or book and then played solitaire. During and after, they assessed their own stress levels and feelings while their heart rates and their blood pressure and cortisol levels were monitored and measured at intervals. 

The low dose group reported less stress after the psychosocial test than the placebo groups, and their stress levels dropped faster. The higher dosing THC group reported negative moods both before and after performing their tasks, and they were more likely to rate the psychosocial tasks as challenging or threatening. Lead researcher Emma Childs explained, “We found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect, underscoring the importance of dose when it comes to THC and its effects... Studies like these… are extremely important, considering the widespread use of cannabis for both medical and non-medical purposes.” Still, Child believes there are not enough significant studies due to regulatory obstacles, and hopes to see more scientific foundation behind the medicinal claims surrounding medical marijuana. 

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

Study Aims to Find Out if CBD can Shrink Children's Tumors

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Photo Credit: High Times

Scientists from the Nottingham University's Children's Brain Tumor Research Centre aim o find out whether or not CBD could be beneficial in treating brain tumors in children. The studies that already exist are all preclinical trials, but they have found CBD reduces mitochondrial oxidative metabolism to reduce the viability of cells that make up tumors and inhibit their progression in animal and culture models. The study underway involves administering CBD to to laboratory grown cells made from ependymoma and glioma tumors over the course of seven days. Then, the spreading behavior of the treated and untreated cells will be compared using cell staining. The professor leading the study, Professor Richard Grundy, says, “We expect the cells – brain tumor and normal brain – grown in our standard conditions to be healthy and actively dividing. We expect that normal brain cells grown in cannabidiol will remain healthy. However, we expect the brain tumor cells grown in cannabidiol to stop growing and die.”

With the rates of cancer diagnosed in children has slightly increased in recent decades, finding more effective treatment methods that are not as toxic as chemotherapy and radiotherapy is desired. Grundy explains, “New ways to treat childhood brain tumors are urgently needed to extend and improve the quality of life in malignant brain tumor patients, so we are excited at the prospect of testing the effect of cannabidiol on brain tumor cells.”

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

Will Cannabis Help End the Opioid-Abuse Epidemic?

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Photo Credit: High Times

In the past decade, the use and abuse of opioid prescriptions has grown exponentially, resulting in an explosive rise opioid-related fatal overdoses. Now, handfuls of studies suggest cannabis could be a powerful natural replacement for opioids, and with no risk of fatalities, it could make a significant dent in the amount of opioid related deaths. Research shows medical marijuana can benefit chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity resulting from multiple sclerosis, all of which are conditions where opioids are traditionally prescribed. Some researchers also hypothesize its neuroprotective properties could play a role in reducing dependence on opioids when used in conjunction with marijuana. 

The results are already pointing towards to efficacy of marijuana in the reduction of opioid use. An analysis of Medicare programs in marijuana-legal state found doctors prescribed fewer painkillers than in non legal states. Additionally, chronic pain patients account for the largest portion of medical marijuana patients in states where chronic pain is a qualifying condition, suggesting medical marijuana is effective as an analgesic. 

This information is provided by High Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.  

Study: Cannabis Reverses Aging Processes in Brain

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Photo Credit: High Times

Scientists from the University of Bonn have found daily doses of THC in aging mice actually reverses cognitive decline, so that they were better able to complete cognitive tasks like navigating a maze. That said, THC had the reverse effect in younger mice, and actually hindered their cognitive abilities. The study, which was published in Nature Medicine, has implications for the potential treatment and prevention of dementia. Lead researcher Andras Bilkei-Gorzo says, "If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care, then that is more than we could have imagined.”

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

People Prefer Marijuana to Opiates

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

The studies suggesting marijuana reduces opioid use are piling up, and now we can add another study to the list. Researchers from Bastyr University surveyed 2,774 adults from 50 states and 42 countries who used cannabis at least once in 90 days. Of the respondents, only 59% were medical marijuana users. Of those, 46% used cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. Researchers found, As the researchers wrote, “The most common classes of drugs substituted were narcotics/opioids (35.8%), anxiolytics/benzodiazepines (13.6%) and antidepressants (12.7%)... These patient-reported outcomes support prior research that individuals are using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly, narcotics/opioids, and independent of whether they identify themselves as medical or non-medical users... This is especially true if they suffer from pain, anxiety and depression.”

This study has been published in the Journal of Pain Research. Read more about it on High Times. This post has been approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study Shows MMJ Drastically Cuts Patients’ Use of Benzos

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

A study conducted by the Canadian company Canabo Medical, Inc., has found 40% of its patients have been able to eliminate their use of benzodiazepines within 90 days of beginning medical marijuana treatment. After a year, 45% of its patients were able to quit their use of prescription medications. Canabo and a team of researchers looked at data from 1,500 patients to establish a link between medical marijuana and the need for pharmaceutical medications. Early results, which were confirmed by ongoing research, found medical cannabis treatments that were supervised by a physician resulted in a significant drop in benzodiazepine reliance. This study then followed a group 146 patients suffering pain and other disorders for one year. Canabo chairman Dr. Neil Smith says of the study, “To say that we’re encouraged is an understatement, but there’s a lot of work still left to be done... We hope to conduct formal trials both in-house and in collaboration with others, pending further analysis of what we believe to be one of the most promising advancements in many years.”

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

MMJ Breakthrough Might Be Miracle Treatment for Autism

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Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

There's an exciting study underway in Israel testing the effects of medical marijuana on autism. Nearly half of the participants of the study had responded negatively to anti-psychotic medications. There has been substantial anecdotal data to support the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for autism, and this clinical study led by Dr. Adi Aran intends to determine if there is in fact a link between CBD and autism symptoms. There are 120 children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 29 who are participating in the study, all of which have a form of autism ranging between mild and severe. Participants receive drops of either a placebo, or one of two different CBD variations, which they mix into food. The study is on track to conclude this year. 

Stay tuned to see what is to come of this study. This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Marijuana Compound Is Crucial for Stomach Health

Researchers from the University of Connecticut Health School have found the chemical compound capsaicin, which can be found in chili peppers, produces a chemical compound called anandamide that is comparable to the compounds found in marijuana. These compounds have proven effective in reducing stomach inflammation. In the study, researchers gave capsaicin to mice with type 1 diabetes and found that it targets and binds to a receptor in the gastrointestinal tracts called TRPV1. This resulted in the creation of anandamide and the stimulation of anti-inflammatory white blood cells, which in turn calmed the gut inflammation. Because anandamide is chemically similar to cannabis compounds that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, researchers believe edible marijuana could have similar effects and reduce gut inflammation.

Co-author of the study Pramod Srivastava suggests their findings have implications for treating type 1 diabetes and colitis, and this discovery regarding anandamide points to the interplay that occurs among the immune system, stomach, and brain. Srivastava hopes to further study cannabis' effects on gut inflammation in the future. He says, “I’m hoping to work with the public health authority in Colorado to see if there has been an effect on the severity of colitis among regular users of edible weed... If the epidemiological data shows a significant change [since marijuana legalization in 2012], that would make a testable case that anandamide or other cannabinoids could be used as therapeutic drugs to treat certain disorders of the stomach, pancreas, intestines and colon.”

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

Cannabinoid Receptor-1

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Scientists recently identified the structure of the cannabinoid-1 receptor, which is the receptor of the endocannabinoid system responsible for binding with THC. The CB1 receptor is classified as a GPCR protein, which is the most common class of receptor proteins in our body and of which 40% of drugs are developed to target. Technological advancements in X-Ray crystallography have allowed scientists to develop CB1 crystals. With this new information, scientists will be able to understand how THC binding affects the protein differently from other binding partners, and how the receptor functions at an atomic scale so that they can better understand its role in the treatment of diseases like epilepsy and obesity.

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

New Report: CBD Is Good for Anxiety

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Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Neuroscientist and researcher Carl Stevenson from the University of Nottingham recently reviewed existing marijuana-related research and found evidence suggesting cannabidiol (CBD) may be able to reduce anxiety. Live Science reported data compiled from human trials suggests CBD reduces fear, resulting in a reduction of anxiety, by changing brain activity. One reviewed study from 1993 that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found subjects who received CBD were less anxious when subjected to social phobia. Another study from 2011 found CBD helped people who became anxious in public speaking situations. These reviews are based on the few studies that have been performed on humans, as opposed to most trials which have been conducted on animal models like rodents. 

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