Since then several other so-called endocannabinoids and their receptors have been discovered. Scientists have come to recognize that endocannabinoids interact with a specific neurological network—much the way that endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine do. Exercise, Mechoulam notes, has been shown to elevate endocannabinoid levels in the brain, and “this probably accounts for what jogging enthusiasts call runner’s high.” These compounds, he explains, apparently play an important role in such basic functions as memory, balance, movement, immune health, and neuroprotection.
Natural, legal and with no major side effects (so far), CBD is a marketer’s dream. Hemp-based health products are launching left, right and centre, cashing in while the research is in its first flush of hazy potential. As well as ingestible CBD (also sold as hemp or cannabis oils or capsules) the compound has become a buzzword among upmarket skincare brands such as CBD of London. Predictably, Gwyneth Paltrow is a proponent of the trend, and has said that taking CBD oil helps her through hard times: “It doesn’t make you stoned or anything, just a little relaxed,” she told one beauty website.
The body produces its own chemicals called endocannabinoids that modulate biological processes throughout the entire body. As such, these endocannabinoids have wide-ranging effects on everything from fertility to pain. Phytocannabinoids are compounds found in nature that influence and support the ECS. They are the compounds responsible for the health benefits of Thorne’s Hemp Oil +.
But it’s Guzmán’s brain tumor research that has captured headlines—and the interest of pharmaceutical companies. Through his years of research he has ascertained that a combination of THC, CBD, and temozolomide (a moderately successful conventional drug) works best in treating brain tumors in mice. A cocktail composed of these three compounds appears to attack brain cancer cells in multiple ways, preventing their spread but also triggering them, in effect, to commit suicide.
Over the past few decades, most strains have been bred to increase the amount of the main psychoactive component, (-)-trans-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, within the past decade, researchers have become increasingly interested in the medical benefits of another compound found in both plants, known as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant but is reputed to help with a myriad of medical conditions.
Cross-sectional studies have found a direct correlation between more severe PTSD symptomatology and increased motivation to use cannabis for coping purposes, especially among patients with difficulties in emotional regulation or stress tolerance. When using cannabis treatment, military veterans with PTSD reported reduced anxiety and insomnia and improved coping ability.
Hemp and Marijuana come form the same plant family, but are completely different in function, cultivation and application. Marijuana generally has a high level of THC (a psychoactive compound that makes you feel “high”) and is used for medicinal or recreational purpose. Hemp contains a negligible amount of THC (but is high in CBD) and is used in dietary supplements, skin products, clothing and paper.
Still, as the saying goes, absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence, and there’s a reason we don’t have a ton of solid research on CBDs yet — “to study it, we need a good source, ” said Ziva Cooper, who is an associate professor at Columbia University and was on the National Academies committee. CBD is hard to get because it’s still technically a Schedule I drug, which limits its availability, Cooper said.
"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia.
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved treatment in the U.S. that contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana -- CBD -- and the first treatment for Dravet syndrome. In September 2018 the FDA rescheduled cannabidiol from a C-I controlled substance to a C-V controlled substance, meaning it has a proven medical use but a low risk of abuse. This change allows Epidiolex to be marketed in the U.S.
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Medical marijuana in the U.S. is controlled at the state level. Per federal law, cannabis is illegal as noted in the Controlled Substances Act, but the federal government has stated they will not actively prosecute patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws. However, use of medical marijuana outside of the state laws for illegal use or trafficking will not be tolerated by state or federal government.
Hague joined Colorado’s green revolution nearly at the beginning. When the U.S. Justice Department announced in 2009 that it would not focus on prosecuting people who complied with state medical marijuana laws, he looked at his wife and said, “We’re moving to Denver.” Now he runs one of the world’s most prominent “grows,” where more than 20,000 cannabis plants thrive.
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.
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