Vol. 5, Number 10
cheryl riley, editor & writer
Dr. David Bearman,
Gradi Jordan, Ed Glick,
Sunil K Aggarwal,
Jim Greig, Joan Bello,
AAMC El Dorado County CA
AAMC Rhode Island
Medical Cannabis may prove Effective in Treating Autism - Claire Townsend
A recent study by Stanford University suggests that medical Cannabis may be able to help children with autism. This is because ingredients present in the drug are thought to be able to break through the brain signals of autism sufferers that become blocked, affecting memory and learning.
With the debate over cannabis in the U.S continuing to make headlines, these latest findings are adding fuel to the fire of pro medical Cannabis.
A Positive Link
The paper linking cannabis with the managing of autism was published in Neuron and suggests that the signalling within tonic endocannabinoids could be effective in treating the symptoms of the disease such as learning, memory and pain.
Mice were used in the study to see what physiological effects of two mutations might have in common. One was the deletion of a gene, whilst the other contained a single amino acid substitute. The mutations are considered to be associated with human autism. Electrophysiological recordings were made of the cells in the brains of mice and these were compared with normal brain activity.
Researchers were cautious about the findings, but said they seemed to suggest that endocannabinoid signalling could be connected to autism and therefore medical Cannabis may be an effective treatment.
Families Opt for Medical Marijuana
Families across the U.S are beginning to try medical Marijuana to treat symptoms of autism in their children. Because these symptoms can vary considerably, it is difficult to obtain the right medicine for a particular child and parents are now turning towards alternative medicine.
Whilst the American Medical Association remains sceptical about its uses, parents are finding that giving a careful dose of Cannabis to their child is making a difference to their quality of life. Some families are reporting that their autistic child becomes more attentive, calmer and is able to absorb more information and therefore learn in a much more effective way than before. When the child concerned suffers from dangerous self-injury due to destructive behavior, parents have found that medical Cannabis has a stabilizing effect and the child is able to live a more normal, less stressful life. For these parents, the benefits of this drug outweigh the risks and they are not deterred by the cautionary advice of medical associations. Families who need extra guidance about the treatment of behavioural conditions are able to access guides that give useful advice and peace of mind about the medication and treatments available today.
Effective Treatment without Side Effects
Medical Cannabis is considered less risky than many pharmaceuticals in the treatment of autism because it is not seen to have side effects. Moods can be controlled with an oral dose that can be adjusted according to needs. Parents have stressed that too little is not effective, whilst too much makes a child sleepy and so giving the right dosage is important, although research shows that there is no lethal dose for Cannabis, making it safer to use in self-medication than other drugs and easing anxiety for parents and carers.
At the University of California, it was discovered that Cannabis reacts in a certain way with the human brain and this could lead to treatment for a number of conditions such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as autism. The cannabinoids within the drug work with the body’s own inner cannabinoid system and can prevent brain cells from degrading, as well as regulating emotion.
The latest study is significant because it shows that medical Cannabis affects the bodily processes that are blocked by autism, such as hunger signals or pain. This type of autism is known as Fragile X-induced autism and is thought to be the most common genetic cause of the disease. The synaptic failure in the brain can affect childrens’ motor skills, which teaches them how to behave in situations and also basic walking and talking skills. Cannabinoids are thought to block the enzymes that affect the poor signals that take place in autism sufferers. By giving the body the essential cannabinoids it needs, marijuana helps to restore the brain and communication functions.
Researchers believe that these cannabinoids can relieve the symptoms of autism and of other diseases, while not being able to cure them outright.
The use of medical Cannabis remains a controversial issue in the U.S, but with new research, the health implications are reaching a wide audience and promoting the benefits of this drug throughout society.
Cannabis and the Brain: A User's Guide - Paul Armentano
Preclinical data recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation demonstrating that cannabinoids may spur brain cell growth has reignited the international debate regarding the impact of marijuana on the brain. However, unlike previous pseudo-scientific campaigns that attempted to link pot smoking with a litany of cognitive abnormalities, modern research suggests what many cannabis enthusiasts have speculated all along: ganja is good for you.
Cannabinoids & Neurogenesis
"Study turns pot wisdom on its head," pronounced the Globe and Mail in October. News wires throughout North America and the world touted similar headlines -- all of which were met with a monumental silence from federal officials and law enforcement. Why all the fuss? Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon found that the administration of synthetic cannabinoids in rats stimulated the proliferation of newborn neurons (nerve cells) in the hippocampus region of the brain and significantly reduced measures of anxiety and depression-like behavior. The results shocked researchers -- who noted that almost all other so-called "drugs of abuse," including alcohol and tobacco, decrease neurogenesis in adults -- and left the "pot kills brain cells" crowd with a platter of long-overdue egg on their faces.
While it would be premature to extrapolate the study's findings to humans, at a minimum, the data reinforce the notion that cannabinoids are unusually non-toxic to the brain and that even long-term use of marijuana likely represents little risk to brain function. The findings also offer further evidence that cannabinoids can play a role in the alleviation of depression and anxiety, and that cannabis-based medicines may one day offer a safer alternative to conventional anti-depressant pharmaceuticals such as Paxil and Prozac.
Cannabis & Neuroprotection
Not only has modern science refuted the notion that marijuana is neurotoxic, recent scientific discoveries have indicated that cannabinoids are, in fact, neuroprotective, particularly against alcohol-induced brain damage. In a recent preclinical study -- the irony of which is obvious to anyone who reads it -- researchers at the US National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that the administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) reduced ethanol-induced cell death in the brain by up to 60 percent. "This study provides the first demonstration of CBD as an in vivo neuroprotectant ... in preventing binge ethanol-induced brain injury," the study's authors wrote in the May 2005 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Alcohol poisoning is linked to hundreds of preventable deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while cannabis cannot cause death by overdose.
Of course, many US neurologists have known about cannabis' neuroprotective prowess for years. NIMH scientists in 1998 first touted the ability of natural cannabinoids to stave off the brain-damaging effects of stroke and acute head trauma. Similar findings were then replicated by investigators in the Netherlands and Italy and, most recently, by a Japanese research in 2005. However, attempts to measure the potential neuroprotective effects of synthetic cannabinoid-derived medications in humans have so far been inconclusive.
Cannabinoids & Glioma
Of all cancers, few are as aggressive and deadly as glioma. Glioma tumors quickly invade healthy brain tissue and are typically unresponsive to surgery and standard medical treatments. One agent they do respond to is cannabis.
Writing in the August 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurooncology, investigators at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute reported that the administration of THC on human glioblastoma multiforme cell lines decreased the proliferation of malignant cells and induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) more rapidly than did the administration of the synthetic cannabis receptor agonist, WIN-55,212-2. Researchers also noted that THC selectively targeted malignant cells while ignoring healthy ones in a more profound manner than the synthetic alternative. Patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme typically die within three months without therapy.
Previous research conducted in Italy has also demonstrated the capacity of CBD to inhibit the growth of glioma cells both in vitro (e.g., a petri dish) and in animals in a dose dependent manner. As a result, a Spanish research team is currently investigating whether the intracranial administration of cannabinoids can prolong the lives of patients diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.
Most recently, a scientific analysis in the October issue of the journal Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry noted that, in addition to THC and CBD's brain cancer-fighting ability, studies have also shown cannabinoids to halt the progression of lung carcinoma, leukemia, skin carcinoma, colectoral cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Cannabinoids & Neurodegeneration
Emerging evidence also indicates that cannabinoids may play a role in slowing the progression of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease). Recent animal studies have shown cannabinoids to delay disease progression and inhibit neurodegeneration in mouse models of ALS, Parkinson's, and MS. As a result, the Journal of Neurological Sciences recently pronounced, "There is accumulating evidence ... to support the hypothesis that the cannabinoid system can limit the neurodegenerative processes that drive progressive disease," and patient trials investigating whether the use of oral THC and cannabis extracts may slow the progression of MS are now underway in the United Kingdom.
Cannabis & Cognition
But what about claims of cannabis' damaging effect of cognition? A review of the scientific literature indicates that rumors regarding the "stoner stupid" stereotype are unfounded. According to clinical trial data published this past spring in the American Journal of Addictions, cannabis use -- including heavy, long-term use of the drug -- has, at most, only a negligible impact on cognition and memory. Researchers at Harvard Medical School performed magnetic resonance imaging on the brains of 22 long-term cannabis users (reporting a mean of 20,100 lifetime episodes of smoking) and 26 controls (subjects with no history of cannabis use). Imaging displayed "no significant differences" between heavy cannabis smokers compared to controls, the study found.
Previous trials tell a similar tale. An October 2004 study published in the journal Psychological Medicine examining the potential long-term residual effects of cannabis on cognition in monozygotic male twins reported "an absence of marked long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognitive abilities." A 2003 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society also "failed to reveal a substantial, systematic effect of long-term, regular cannabis consumption on the neurocognitive functioning of users who were not acutely intoxicated," and a 2002 clinical trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal determined, "Marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence."
Finally, a 2001 study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that long-term cannabis smokers who abstained from the drug for one week "showed virtually no significant differences from control subjects (those who had smoked marijuana less than 50 times in their lives) on a battery of 10 neuropsychological tests." Investigators further added, "Former heavy users, who had consumed little or no cannabis in the three months before testing, [also] showed no significant differences from control subjects on any of these tests on any of the testing days."
Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Illinois: Passed a medical marijuana law.
Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
New Hampshire: Passed a medical marijuana law.
New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Featured Recipe - Oils Well That Ends Well - A guide to Canny Cooking Oils
You may know all about cannabutter, tincture, and even elixir but how about oil? We’re talking now about oil extracts from whole cannabis (bud, trim, and leaf) that are wonderful in baking, sauces, and marinades.
Most folks think of hash oil when the term oil is mentioned. That is the subject of another entirely different preparation that this author still thinks is problematic.
Just as Cannabinoids go into solution in dairy fat (cannabutter and "mothers milk"), they also go into solution into a variety of oils, most particularly olive oil and canola. These oils are healthy all by themselves. Olive oil is a mono saturated fat while canola is largely unsaturated. Olive oil will give any dish a "flower" like aroma and taste while canola is largely tasteless. I prefer olive oil in stews, sauces, and marinades while canola works best for any baking recipe that calls for oil. Look soon for "Zoot Suit Zucchini Bread" using Canny Canola. Both oils make for a great spread substitute for butter. Ever tried "Canny Toast"? Just dip a small brush into the cannaoil, "paint" your bread and pop into the toaster!
The principles of making "cannaoil" are the same as with making cannabutter. Low and slow is the key. I use a crock pot set on low. I would not try to make oil on the stove since the temperatures get too high and the risk of ruining the Cannabinoids is too great.
500 ml of extra virgin olive oil or canola
100-300 grams of chopped bud trim or 300-600 grams of chopped leaf depending upon the potency and availability of the cannabis.
Using more cannabis can produce stronger oil. The oil will both taste more "canny" and be more potent.
10-20 grams fresh chopped basil and/or thyme (optional for stews and marinades). Be creative. Depending upon the intended use of the oil you can customize your oil. Personally, I love to add dried New Mexico Red Chili flakes.
Heat the oil in a crock pot set on low. Once the oil is mildly hot add the cannabis (and other herbs like basil or thyme) with frequent stirring. Keep the lid covered and continue to stir with a wood spoon every 15 minutes for the next 4-6 hours.
Strain the oil through two layers of cheese cloth into your container squeezing the oil through the cloth. Repeat one or two more times to make sure most if not all of the plant material is gone.
Store the cannaoil in an airtight glass oil jar with a cork stopper or screw top. Keep out of sunlight. Use just as you’d use regular oil. Enjoy!
April 26-28, 2012
Tucson, AZ USA
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