Cannabis and Autism

Catch 22. That simply means that if you want to get a job as a carpenter – you can’t – unless you join the union. But you can’t join the union – unless you have a job. The Urban Dictionary defines Catch 22 as: A requirement that cannot be met until a prerequisite requirement is met, however, the prerequisite cannot be obtained until the original requirement is met.

And that is precisely what’s happening in the world of autism and medical marijuana. Doctors won’t prescribe cannabis to autistic children because there has been no research and no data to support the efficacy of marijuana on autism. The catch 22 here is, that no doctors will research the effects of pot on autistic children because there hasn’t been any research on the effects of pot on autistic kids. Also because they are afraid that the cannabis may be dangerous to them.

However, there is anecdotal evidence that autistic children who are given small doses of CBD (cannabidiol) are moving toward healthier and happier lives. CBD is one of the main healing cannabinoids in cannabis. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN witnessed the miraculous recovery of a young girl who tried CBD, he came out in favor of legalizing medical cannabis. The girl, Charlotte Figi, didn’t have autism but she was having 300 Grand Mal seizures every week because of Dravet Syndrome.   After being given small doses of CBD oil her seizures were immediately reduced to two to three times a month.

Some other doctors are also opening their minds and their ears and are paying attention to marijuana, the new medicine. “Anecdotes should not be dismissed,” said Dr. Daniele Piomelli, one of the world’s top neuroscientists and endocannabinoid researchers. The University of California-Irvine faculty member won’t consider prescribing cannabis at this time, but is aware of the growing clamor for it. “An anecdote is a pointer. It’s something that suggests something needs to be either proven or disproven.”

There are even some medical professionals out there who are taking action since the mainstream medical researchers and labs are sitting on their hands. Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Puerto Rico, is researching CBD and how it affects kids with autism. He tells how a young non-verbal child, after receiving two small doses of CBD, began to develop language skills. Martinez says, “It’s incredible to see a child go from being non-communicative to achieving a significant improvement in quality of life—for both the child and his family.”

There are many other success stories regarding autism and marijuana’s CBD oil. Hopefully, more doctors and researchers in the medical world will start listening to them and be willing to do what they were trained to do: heal the sick, no matter what the source of the medicine is.

Source:  https://www.leafly.com/news/health/how-does-cannabis-consumption-affect-autism/

 

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

The Cannabinoid Receptors and PTSD

We’ve talked about the endocannabinoid system in a past blog, but only briefly touched on the cannabinoid receptors. In this blog, we’d like to explore the cannabinoid receptors just a bit more before we move on to another topic. Research scientists are always eager to pounce on things that are waiting to be dissected, analyzed, broken down to their smallest component. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is one of those things and it is a malady that affects thousands of military personnel and average citizens alike. According to NYU researcher Alexander Neumeister, “There’s not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD.”

A recent study done at NYU School of Medicine concluded that there might be a connection between the effects of PTSD, marijuana and the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Cannabinoid receptors are mechanisms that are part of the endocannabinoid system. They are uniquely structured to be able to bind only with cannabinoids from the marijuana plant and endocannabionoids that are generated naturally within the body. There are two known cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, numbered in the order in which they were discovered. The cannabinoid receptors play a role in signaling messages from the brain to the body and they transmit information about memory, pain, mood and appetite, among other things.

Previous studies have shown that when CB receptors are combined with cannabis they can reduce anxiety, which is a major element of PTSD. The NYU study had 60 participants; some of them had PTSD, some had experienced trauma but were not diagnosed with PTSD, and some had experienced no trauma but were diagnosed with PTSD. They were all given a tracer to illuminate their CB1 receptors, then they underwent a PET scan. It was found that the PTSD sufferers had more CB1 receptors than the healthy subjects in the parts of the brain that produced anxiety and fear.

Since the PET scan was able to show the abundance of CB1 receptors in the brains of people with PTSD and showed those without the disorder having much less, the study suggested that their findings could lead the way to diagnosing PTSD accurately. Today, PTSD diagnoses are derived only from subjective observations, without any physical techniques, which makes it difficult to diagnose it with accuracy. The NYU research offered a biological interpretation for the disorder by showing the concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which in turn points to the discovery of a way to actually “see” PTSD in patients.

The lead researcher for the study, Alexander Neumeister had this to say, “There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressant simply do not work.” He also added, “that anecdotal evidence has shown that some PTSD sufferers who use marijuana, a cannabinoid, experience more symptom relief than with antidepressants.”

Cannabinoid receptors are miraculous and integral parts of our bodies. They play a role in our health and well-being and our physical healing. Now they might be able to play a role in healing our heroic military men and women who suffer from PTSD.

Cannabinoids Prove Themselves Yet Again…

If you keep up with marijuana news or if you’re just around people who are always up to speed about what’s happening in the world of cannabis, then you know that many of the cannabinoids in marijuana are extremely beneficial on a medicinal level. Well, now one of the nation’s leading and most highly respected mainstream magazines has recently published a story touting the scientific effectiveness of marijuana and its potential role in preventing and slowing Alzheimer’s disease.

We’ve talked about Alzheimer’s previously and we are always thrilled when a cure or a preventive measure is tied to cannabis. This time, however, we are totally thrilled by the source of the news: Forbes Magazine. Yes, this magazine that reports on who the richest people on the planet are and what your portfolio should really look like is sharing the story of scientific researchers who have made major breakthroughs using marijuana as their focus.

The venerable Salk Institute in San Diego, California, has been seriously looking into THC (terahydrocannabinol) and other marijuana constituents, and how they can remove the amyloid beta proteins from their lab-grown neurons. Now, that didn’t make any sense to me either – at first, because I’m not a scientist. However, I am a human being and the further I read, the more I understood that what that meant was Alzheimer’s patients accumulate the toxic protein named amyloid in their brain. And they’ve been doing it for decades. THC was shown to remove amyloid along with decreasing cellular inflammation, both of which contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Professor David Schubert, senior author of the study, said, “We believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.” This study is an important step forward in understanding some of the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s and perhaps some of the ways to prevent the disease also.

Taking precautionary steps when one is young in order to remove amyloid beta and protecting the nerve cells from inflammation is one key thing to do. Although the study points to THC and other active compounds in cannabis that might be able to assist in removing amyloid beta from nerve cells, the researchers stop short of recommending the use of marijuana to Alzheimer’s prone people. Their next step is going to be clinical trials and they want everyone to know that this marijuana study was “promising but not actionable.” That, of course, is shorthand for “Go to you dispensary now! Do not stop at GO, do not collect $200. We think that’s a grand idea – thanks to Forbes Magazine.

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2016/07/05/marijuana-compounds-show-promise-in-protecting-brain-cells-from-alzheimers/#5996be4375ab

Where Is All The Cannabis Research Coming From?

Since our government still has marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, that is, as dangerous as heroin with no medicinal value, there are only several laboratories that have been given permission to do any type of research on cannabis in this country. While much of our knowledge of the healing properties of marijuana comes from anecdotal evidence in the United States, there have been many bona fide scientific studies that have produced real results and pertinent observations on the effectiveness of the herb’s healing properties outside the country. Some very successful studies have been done in Europe but the ones that are getting the most attention internationally and in the U.S. are from Israel.

Israel has become the world leader in medical marijuana research. Although it is a very small country, it is apparently very open-minded when it comes to medicine.

Israel’s Ministry of Health has been looking closely at the medicinal effects of cannabis for decades. In fact, it was the legendary Israeli scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who convinced the Ministry to start a medicinal cannabis program and in 1992 it was implemented. Today, that medical marijuana program treats over 25,000 Israeli patients with cannabis and cannabis extracts.

Dr. Mechoulam, by the way, became famous in marijuana circles and the scientific community in the 1960s. He was the man who isolated the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). He also identified CBD (cannabidiol), another incredibly potent, but not psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. CBD has been shown to drastically reduce epileptic seizures, decrease pain, it is an anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory and among other things it is an antioxidant and antiemetic.

CBD is the element that brought about the famous “turn around” of Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. He was adamantly opposed to legalizing any part of marijuana until he did a show for CNN on marijuana. He discovered that a little girl named Charlotte Figi, was having over 300 gran mal seizures every week and couldn’t talk, walk or do anything else with her life until her parents, as a last resort, took her to Colorado, where Marijuana use was legal. They too were against the use of cannabis but when they heard that CBD in cannabis helped a patient who had similar seizures then they bought some CBD extract and gave it to Charlotte. The small doses of CBD changed her life immediately. Instead of the 300 seizures each week she had only 3 or 4 each month and they were much less severe. She now lives a normal life and Dr. Gupta is an advocate for legalized medical marijuana.

Israeli scientists who regularly do research on the effects of marijuana think they have found another breakthrough use for cannabis: the prevention of cancer. Israeli cancer patients have been using marijuana for some time to relieve pain and nausea and to stimulate their appetite. Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found that marijuana can possibly be effective in treating brain and breast cancer and also in delaying the progress and expansion of cancer cells. These are only preliminary findings and there is a lot more to look at before firm conclusions can be reached but the researchers are investigating 50 different strains of cannabis and observing their effects on over 200 types of cancer.

The Israeli research on marijuana is proving to be indispensible to patients all over the world. Thanks to Dr, Mechoulam and his associates, we in the United States can clearly see the benefits of marijuana to fight diseases, pain, seizures and many other maladies. There is, however, another party to thank for all these years of dedicated research: The United States government. That’s right, NIH (the National Institutes of Health), an official agency of the federal government, has been funding Dr, Mechoulam’s pet projects for over five decades. We were surprised when we found out also.

The NIH has been sending $100,000 to Dr, Mechoulam each and every year for his cannabis research. The amazing thing is, that with all the great results that the Israeli’s have discovered, apparently the United States government doesn’t do anything with them or cannabis would have been removed from its Schedule 1 classification long ago. We think that much of this extremely positive marijuana information has been packed and sealed into a wooden box and stamped “Top Secret” and then stored in a large warehouse somewhere and stacked next to another wooden box that contains the Holy Grail. Or…the data got lost along the way from Israel to Washington D.C. We just can’t explain it.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

The Endocannabinoid System: Our Body’s Unique System for Maintaining Health

Some scientists and researchers believe that the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the human body is one of the most important finds in recent medical history. That is saying a great deal, especially since there have been thousands of other medical breakthroughs in our time. It’s also very interesting because the endocannabinoid system was named after cannabis sativa, the marijuana plant.
Why is this system so important? The researchers who are involved in the study of this incredible network of receptors say that it has a hand in influencing many of our bodily systems such as, the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and our metabolism. They also tell us that they see great potential in the treatment of insomnia, nausea, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, obesity and other ailments through the modulation of the activity of the endocannabinoid system.
Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher, discovered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s. He was also the scientist who identified THC as marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient. Dr. Mechoulam discovered two endocannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). These receptors (in the nervous system and brain) are uniquely designed for accepting and distributing cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. It was also observed that the human body can produce endocannabinoids very much like the body produces its own endorphins, which cause a euphoric effect. Endocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids that we produce ourselves, inside our own bodies, and cannabinoids come from outside the body and are an important pain relieving and medicinal components in marijuana.
The receptors have different functions. When ingesting marijuana, CB1 receptors are responsible for our perception of being “high” and for the feeling of pain. When the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) reaches the CB1 receptor, the pain is diminished greatly and the “high” is experienced. CB2, on the other hand, is compatible with other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol), which can reduce anxiety and spasms along with reducing the number of epileptic seizures a patient might have. When CBD plugs into the CB2 receptor it also works as an anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic medication among other benefits.
Most of the research on the endocannabinoid system has shown that it is indeed a very important and necessary physiological system that works in conjunction with our own endocannabinoids and with outside cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. The system’s receptors then disseminate all of the cannabinoids’ and marijuana’s healing aspects throughout the body. Research on the endocannabinoid system is ongoing in Israel and several other countries. When our government decides to take marijuana off of the dangerous drug list then more research will take place here. Until then, know that your body has an incredible system that is constantly working to keep you healthy.