Curt’s Cannabis Corner: Cannabis for Inflammation

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 3 in the multi-media educational series Curt’s Cannabis Corner from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network.

This series is intended for cannabis and hemp professionals—and the enterprise organizations that employ them—who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry, volatile business environment, and detailed regulatory oversight of this newly legal herb.

This week, readers learn about how cannabis and its constituent molecules may be of therapeutic value to humans—particularly in the treatment of conditions based in inflammation—from Sunil Pai, MD, a veteran clinical practitioner.

Pai is an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and author of the critically acclaimed 2016 book An Inflammation Nation. He is a lecturer and a contributing author to a number of medical textbooks and scientific journals.

Pai is a practicing doctor who combines an evidence-based approach with 20 years of clinical experience. Each year, he educates thousands of physicians and medical professionals about the nuanced biochemistry involved in the administration of hemp-derived cannabinoids and terpenes for the treatment of a variety of disease states and conditions.


CURT’S

CANNABIS

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Cannabis

for

Inflammation

By Curt Robbins


In August 2021, Higher Learning LV conducted the following exclusive interview with Pai.

Higher Learning LV: “As a medical expert on the management of inflammation and author of the 2016 book An Inflammation Nation, how can the cannabis/hemp plant species help humans in terms of managing their inflammation and achieving improved health?”

Sunil Pai, MD: “The use of cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp can help with the self-regulatory process of lowering inflammation through a variety of biological mechanisms. These include stimulation of certain endocannabinoid system receptors, such as CB1 and CB2, in many organs. These include the brain, all bones and muscles, the GI tract, and many other areas. Cannabinoids provide immunomodulation by repairing and protecting the tissues in these organs. This, in turn and over time, can balance inflammatory conditions and achieve homeostasis, which is critical for overall health improvement.”

HLLV:  “CBD is being touted for treatment of a range of disease states and ailments. Is limiting one’s therapeutic viewpoint to a single phytomolecule wise?”

SP: “Limiting one’s consumption to one phytochemical has both benefits and disadvantages. The benefit is that, sometimes, using a single molecule can provide a stronger clinical response due to the ability to achieve a more potent and focused dose.

“However, the disadvantage is a lack of biochemical balance. Like a pharmaceutical, CBD can feature side effects and a relatively small therapeutic window before side effects begin to occur. The pharmaceutical industry likes single phytomolecules due to the ability to patent them and own the extraction process or resulting compound. It also allows them to make a medical claim because drug studies employ only single molecules. Like pharmaceuticals, the cannabis and hemp industries also like single molecules such as CBD. They allow them to advertise a new product and increase SKUs with new indirect claims to the general public.”

HLLV: “What other cannabinoids, beyond CBD, should wellness professionals and patients be paying attention to, Dr. Pai?”

SP: “That’s a great question. Here’s a few phytocannabinoids that have my attention currently and that I’m integrating into my clinical practice:

  • CBC (cannabichromene): Possibly helpful for brain health via support of the process of neurogenesis. Reduces inflammation and may target more CB2 receptors in gastrointestinal conditions (such as Crohns or IBS) and neuropathy.

  • CBG (cannabigerol): Interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and indirectly elsewhere. May reduce inflammation and tumor growth.

  • CBN (cannabinol): Possible sedative and anti-inflammatory effects.”

HLLV: “There’s been plenty of talk recently about the THC isomer delta-8. What are your thoughts on the medicinal efficacy and utility of this molecule that is being adopted by many patients and lifestyle consumers, especially in states where delta-9 THC remains prohibited?”

SP: “Many companies are providing delta-8 products for two primary reasons. First, the public wants something close to THC, with aspects that deliver euphoria and pain control, with less feeling of being ‘high.’ This is particularly true in states where delta-9 remains illegal.

Delta-8 THC is commonly called ‘weed lite’ or ‘diet weed’ because, for most consumers, it features lower potency and fewer side effects than delta-9 THC. Just as important, the industry is now oversaturated with CBD products, which is causing prices to drop really low. To remain competitive, cannabis and hemp companies need new product segments featuring new items.

“Unfortunately, to obtain adequate amounts of delta-8 from hemp, a process of synthesis must take place. This puts delta-8 in a grey zone in terms of regulation.

“Many delta-8 products on the market have been found to contain either delta-9 THC or other adulterants and chemicals. Until better regulations ensure safety and quality and its legal status is clarified, I prefer not to recommend delta-8 to my patients or colleagues. As you are aware, when it comes to hemp, I prefer to use the plant holistically, taking advantage of as many of the entourage mechanisms of these efficacious compounds as possible.”

HLLV: “Terpenes are often hailed for their medicinal properties, including their anti-inflammatory prowess. What are your thoughts about the usefulness of terpenes, particularly in the realm of their effectiveness for treating inflammation?”

SP: “I like the use of terpenes—either that occur naturally in the product or that are added. However, our knowledge of terpenes is still in its infancy. We understand the range of different types of terpenes and, to a certain degree, the effects derived from them. Some are anti-inflammatory, which I naturally appreciate. I believe we should strive to preserve the natural terpenes that occur in loose-leaf cannabis and hemp flower samples and other products. We also have the opportunity to enhance CBD with terpenes, especially those that possess anti-inflammatory effects.

“That said, I must stress that controlling terpene dosage remains a major challenge. Terpenes are sold to manufacturers and processors for addition to their CBD products. However, this must be performed with expertise and caution.

“Terpenes can be dangerous; some consumers are allergic to certain terpenes! When companies in the industry use them, many lack formulation and manufacturing expertise and treat terpenes as merely another casual ingredient. With the growth of the use of terpenes in CBD and other cannabis and hemp products, there is increased danger of adverse responses from some patient and consumer populations to these compounds.

“Unfortunately, many manufacturers and distributors are focused on selling products in bulk and are not seeking safety and true medicinal efficacy. As an integrative medicine physician, I always consider how we can best use natural products like CBD safely and with maximum efficacy. If used properly, terpenes enhance the overall benefits of the other compounds, both directly and indirectly.”

HLLV: “Thanks for your time and sharing your deep clinical experience with our readers, Dr. Pai.”

SP: “Certainly. Thank you for the opportunity to help clarify the real science of how the phytocannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis may aid some patients and lifestyle consumers.”

WATCH THE FULL PODCAST ON MARIJUANA CHANNEL ONE

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: CBD For Epilepsy

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 2 of Curt’s Cannabis Corner, an education series from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network intended for cannabis and hemp professionalsand the enterprise organizations that employ themwho wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry, volatile business environment, and detailed regulatory oversight of this newly legal herb. 

This week, readers learn about the recent scientific investigative work of Dr. Nicolas Schlienz, a research scientist and clinical psychologist. Schlienz was recently appointed to the position of Research Director for Realm of Caring, a pioneering non-profit cannabinoid research organization based in Colorado Springs with ties to the popular vertically integrated brand Charlotte’s Web.  


CURT’S

CANNABIS

CORNER 

CBD

For

Epilepsy

 

By Curt Robbins

 


 

Dr. Nicolas Schlienz & CBD for Epilepsy

In July 2021, Schlienz coauthored a study entitled “Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Evaluation of Cannabinoid (CBD) Product Use and Health Among People with Epilepsy” that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Epilepsy & Behavior

“This study represents a refreshing collaboration of scientists, clinicians, patients, and advocates,” said Jay Salpekar, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. Salpekar said that the study affirms that “cannabinoid products have value in the treatment of epilepsyas well as associated neuropsychiatric conditions.”

The study observed that cannabis “and select chemicals found in the cannabis plant have received significant clinical attention as evidence accumulates suggesting potential utility for varied health conditions.” It noted that multiple recent studies have “demonstrated the safety and efficacy of CBD in the reduction of seizures for several specific epilepsy syndromes.”

The study stated that the efficacy of CBD for those who suffer epilepsy goes beyond seizure control. “CBD products may prove valuable for their effects on psychosocial function and psychiatric health,” stating that a variety of behavior issues, including psychiatric disorders, are “overrepresented among people with epilepsy.”   

This study is of importance because it was conducted on human participants, not in test tubes or on animal subjects. Participants were “predominantly Caucasian (74 percent) with a roughly even split by gender (55 percent female), an average of 21 years old (51 percent were under 18), and the majority (90 percent) had no history of non-medicinal (‘recreational’) cannabis use.” 

93 percent of the study participants reported epilepsy as their primary medical condition. “The other seven percent reported epilepsy secondary to cancer, autoimmune conditions, neuropsychiatric conditions, chronic pain, insomnia/sleep disorders, or other conditions.” 

How They Did It 

The study participants employed a variety of cannabis-based products in the treatment of their epilepsy, including inflammation-reducing CBD, psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and several other cannabinoids that spanned anti-inflammatory cannabigerol (CBG), relaxant and sedative cannabinol (CBN), anti-nausea agent cannabidiolic acid (CBDA; the acidic precursor to CBD), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV; the varin version of THC), which is known to reduce appetite. 

“For purpose of analysis, it is assumed that these participants were using an artisanal CBD product. A subset of artisanal CBD users reported also using known THC-dominant products containing high concentrations of both CBD and THC or products in which the primary chemical constituent was a minor cannabinoid such as CBG, CBN, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), CBD-A, or THC-V.”

The study also found the safety profile of CBD to be acceptable for patients and consumers, particularly for those using it to treat epilepsy. “Among the 280 baseline artisanal CBD users, the majority did not report an adverse effect.” 

What They Found

For those who suffer epilepsy and are seeking relief from CBD, the results of this scientific investigation reveal potentially limited efficacy of this popular cannabinoid for seizure management specifically. “No group differences were observed in seizure control based on self-reported number of past month seizures,” concluded the study’s authors.

Elaborated the scientists: “Seizure control did not differ based on artisanal CBD product use in this study. This may be related to a number of factors, including those that could not be controlled in [an] observational setting.”

Significant CBD Benefits Identified

However, the researchers noted that participants enjoyed a range of significant benefits from CBD, including “generally higher quality of life, lower psychiatric symptom scores, and improved sleep.” The study also reported that “artisanal CBD users” displayed considerably “better epilepsy medication tolerability.”    

Concluded the study, “Compared with controls, artisanal CBD users had greater health satisfaction.” It also found that the CBD-using epilepsy patients who participated in the research displayed “lower anxiety and depression.”

Despite its efficacy for many of the symptoms that accompany epilepsy, including psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, and insomnia, this particular study did not find that the cannabinoid CBD lowered the incidence or severity of seizure activity as experienced by those with epilepsy. 

Based on the observational and participant self-report nature of the study, the scientists noted that their results may be influenced by the loss of control that is inherent in observation research of this type. For a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, readers are encouraged to enroll in the Higher Learning LV seminar Understanding Cannabis.

Thanks for reading. Remember to #LearnAndTeachOthers at http://HigherLearningLV.co 

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: Medical Cannabis Misinformation

Welcome to the next installment in the series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry of this specialand newly legalherb. 

This week readers learn about medical cannabis misinformation, a problem that has plagued the producers, processors, and consumers of the herb since the early 1900s. At the time, a wave of anti-narcotic legislation spurred by food and drug purity activism (a popular progressive movement after the turn of the century) was sweeping the state governments of the United States (led by, ironically, California in 1913). 

The era, sometimes referred to as “reefer madness,” involved the first generation of American pot prohibitionists, a small cabal of powerful bureaucrats aligned with corporate barons, all motivated by the common goal of cultural and corporate protectionism and characterized by pronounced bigotry.

This first wave of marijuana misinformation managers—who carefully crafted urban legends regarding supposed harms delivered by the herb—operated in sharp contrast to the modern carpetbagging companies that also make false claims about the plant, only theirs proclaim inflated benefits in an effort to spur sales.  


CURT’S

CANNABIS

CORNER 

Medical Cannabis

Misinformation

By Curt Robbins


A study released in March 2021 investigated the validity of medical cannabis information commonly available via the internet. The research examined the occurrence of phrases such as “marijuana health” and “cannabis benefits” in the lay press, as located using the Google search engine and the marketing service Buzzsumo (a fee-based “bank of social engagement data”).

The study sorted the information sources and articles retrieved into 81 categories. It revealed that a staggering 80 percent of the information retrieved was false. In addition, the study’s authors deemed only five percent of it to be “true” and factual.  

“Health claims were compared to…existing [clinical] trial evidence and categorized as not true, partly true, and true. Disagreements were resolved by discussion,” reported the study’s authors regarding their inclusion and evaluation methodology.

The researchers concluded that “the inadequacy of the current evidence enables the proliferation of untrue claims, which inform the current social discourse on the health benefits of cannabis” and warned that patients and wellness professionals “should be cautious consumers of health information on the internet given the current state of the evidence and proliferation of false claims.”

Non-Clinical Data Not Considered

It should be noted that this study compared the health claims that it found on the internet to “existing [clinical] trial evidence.” Much of the body of credible research regarding the medicinal efficacy of marijuana has been revealed not in clinical trials involving humans, but by animal studies (labelled in vivo). Other times, valid results are obtained from “test tube research” involving no living creatures (called in vitro studies). 

Many clinical practitioners and scientists believe that the data revealed by research outside of human trials is of real value, although it is objectively less reliable and yields less practical or usable data than that provided by carefully executed clinical trials. 

Expensive placebo-controlled double- or triple-blind human trials involving dozens or hundreds of carefully qualified test subjects are the gold standard for researchers in any area of medical science. However, the results of studies involving animals such as rodents often provide valuable insight into underlying biochemical mechanisms that are common to a range of mammals, beyond humans. 

The 2021 study, however, strategically did not encompass non-clinical trial evidence, creating what could be argued to be a bias in its data capture methodology (and, by extension, its conclusions). If the study had limited research to peer-reviewed journals involving both clinical and non-clinical published results, a significantly larger percentage of the articles almost certainly would have been categorized as true, beyond the meager 4.9 percent reported.

Dealing with Misinformation

Misinformation and urban legend have plagued humans and their businesses since the dawn of organized societies. It’s no secret to consumers that, sometimes, companies and their marketing campaigns make claims that are based not in scientific research, but rather in the greed of their owners or investors.

The internet and social media are rife with urban legends spurred by arguably unethical marketing claims from hemp and cannabis companies throughout North America. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to the issue of misinformation in the modern legal cannabis industry and its real impact on patients and lifestyle consumers.

Savvy entrepreneurs should obviously strive to ensure that their medical cannabis information sources are reputable. Many companies, including the author’s clients, refuse to develop content marketing materialssuch as product descriptions, blog articles, white papers, or other promotional assetsthat cite sources outside of peer-reviewed research studies published in reputable journals. 

While most organizations do not limit themselves to research results from clinical studies involving humans, the reliability of medical claims is obviously considerably greater when based on the results of large-scale, comprehensive human trials (more of which would benefit the industry).

Please remember to #LearnAndTeachOthers™ by sharing this article far and wide!

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: What Are Flavonoids?

Welcome to the next installment of Curt’s Cannabis Corner, a new series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry of this specialand newly legalherb. 

This week readers learn about flavonoids, a third category of wellness molecule produced by the hemp/cannabis/marijuana plantbeyond psychotropic cannabinoids and fragrant terpenes. 

Please remember to #LearnAndTeachOthers™ by sharing this article far and wide!


CURT’S

CANNABIS

CORNER

What are Flavonoids?

By Curt Robbins

 


Most cannabis consumers are familiar with cannabinoids and, more specifically, the two commercially dominant examples produced by the cannabis/hemp plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). However, the herb produces two other families of wellness molecules beyond the set of roughly 146 cannabinoids discovered to date: Terpenes and flavonoids. 

The functional distinction between these two families of phytomolecules is clear. Terpenes employ aroma to protect hemp and cannabis plants from pests and predators while simultaneously attracting pollinators (insects or human cultivators). Likewise, flavonoids perform the same basic evolutionary function, but do so with plentiful pigment rather than abundant aroma. 

Modern peer-reviewed research has revealed that both terpenes and flavonoids possess value in the treatment of literally hundreds of disease states and adverse health conditions. All three families of chemical compounds produced by hemp have exhibited significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This makes these phytomolecules potential therapeutic agents in the treatment of common diseases such as cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, chronic pain, anxiety, and a variety of eating and sleeping disorders. 

The following excerpt from the Higher Learning LV™ course Cannabis Core Concepts will teach you more.


Overview

Flavonoids, sometimes called bioflavonoids, are the third major family of wellness molecules produced by the hemp plant. The lack of attention to flavonoids by hemp industry professionals and the scientific community has inspired some thought leaders to label them “the red headed stepchildren of phytomolecules.” 

Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in a large number of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. These special compounds are responsible for the sometimes vivid colors of the plants that produce them. Perhaps of greater value to humans, they also have demonstrated significant medicinal efficacy—most notably anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Like terpenes, flavonoids are produced by thousands of plant types in nature beyond cannabis. In fact, tens of thousands of plant species collectively make more than 6,000 types of flavonoids. Of these, about 20 appear in the hemp genome (DNA). 

Flavonoids = Pigmentation

The Latin root of “flavonoid” is flavus. Literally interpreted, flavus means “yellow” (it is sometimes translated as “organic/natural yellow”). Despite the understandably common misinterpretation of the root term’s meaning as “flavor” in modern English, flavonoids serve the pigment-driven evolutionary function of attracting pollinators and dissuading pests for the plants that produce them (flavor, for the most part, is provided by terpenes).

In this respect, flavonoids are the visual equivalent of the aroma produced by terpenes. Both serve as sensory siren songs for pollinating insects (of critical value to the propagation of the species) while simultaneously warning predators to stay away and seek their meal elsewhere.

The Butterfly Effect

Interesting, flavonoids provide the color for not only thousands of plants in nature, but also some of the insects that feed on them. In fact, one of the most photographically coveted insects in nature, the butterfly, maintains an intimate relationship with flavonoids and the plants that produce them.  

According to a 1994 article by Nicolas Wade entitled “How Nature Makes a Butterfly Wing” that appeared in The New York Times, flavonoids are responsible for the sometimes vibrant dyes in the wings of butterflies. 

“In the pupil stage, the patterned wing cells develop a rainbow of tones as each crafts a scale of a single hue,” wrote Wade. It seems that butterflies are among insect species that are incapable of producing flavonoids. “The rich palette of dyes in butterflies’ wings are all derived from…flavonoids, which the insects cannot make themselves and must sequester from their food plants,” he continued. 

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