First, A Short Summary:
Researchers are “just discovering” that Cannabis can control Epileptic seizures (Most recent New England Journal of Medicine)
Researchers have not yet looked at Cannabis for use in Dementia/Alzheimer’s, even though seizures are common and are a leading cause of death in Dementia/Alzheimer’s. (Update 6/19/17) – this has just changed – see this on a new German-Israeli study)
Maybe that’s because while Congress has committed some $5.4 billion this fiscal year to cancer research, about $1.2 billion to heart disease and $3 billion to research on HIV/AIDS, research funding for Alzheimer’s is “only” $566 million. Clearly that’s just not enough for researchers (mostly Big Pharma employees) to look into Cannabis as a treatment.
On a related note, California researchers have just shown that a sleeping sickness drug developed in 1916 can reverse Autism in children; unfortunately, the test group was only 10 kids, and 5 of them were given placebos, and the researchers had to go $500,000 into debt to run the study. Evidently kids with Autism aren’t a big enough deal for Congress. Thoughtful of those researchers to care enough to go ahead though.
And to wrap all this up in a neat little package, I figure it would cost well under $100,000 to show that Coca Leaf can not only control Epileptic seizures (as already well-known and demonstrated in 1881), but probably also Dementia/Alzheimer’s seizures – not even a diagnosed disease in 1881.
So, a drug from 1916 is now “discovered” to cure Autism, after decades of high-dollar research into “new” cures. And Cannabis is discovered to cure Epilepsy, after more decades of research into “new” cures. And an 1881 proven cure for both epilepsy and likely for Dementia/Alzheimers, among many other killer diseases, is illegal. Go figure.
The Full Story
For several years researchers have been zeroing in on Cannabis as a source for potent medicines in treating & preventing epileptic and other kinds of seizures. The latest findings, published May 25, 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that @ 40% of those treated with a CBD-based medicine experienced dramatic improvement in seizure intensity and frequency.
So, let’s put this together with an interesting association between seizures and Dementia/Alzheimer’s. There is plenty of research on this association. Here’s just one example.
“Of the degenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s dementia and amyloid angiopathy are known major causes of seizures. Advanced Alzheimer’s disease has been identified as a risk factor for new-onset generalized tonic-clonic seizures in older adults. It is associated with a 10 percent prevalence of seizures, particularly late in the illness. An increased prevalence of seizures also has been documented with other types of dementia.
So I suppose that it would make sense to investigate whether Cannabis-derived medicines, or perhaps the right strain of Cannabis itself, could be useful in controlling or preventing seizures in Dementia/Alzheimer’s, especially in late-stages of the disease when seizures are a known killer.
I’m sure that researchers are already drafting multi-million dollar grants to study exactly that.
So far, so good. In spite of decades of “Killer Weed” propaganda it looks like scientific minds are finally rising above the lies and finding that, consistent with centuries of well-established knowledge, the natural medicine Cannabis can be helpful in dealing with killer seizures better and with less risk of harm than pharmaceuticals.
But wait! If centuries of medical knowledge regarding the efficacy and safety of Cannabis are now appearing as “new findings” in prestigious medical journals, why not take a look at centuries of medical knowledge regarding the safety and efficacy of Coca Leaf in the same area?
Hmmmm. Could it be that a cup or two of Coca Leaf tea a day might be helpful to people with Dementia/Alzheimer’s – at least in preventing seizures, if not in other ways too. Let’s see. Who would know?
Well, there is a little book entitled “Erythroxylon Coca”, written by By W.S. Searle, MD and published in New York in 1881. (Dr. Searles book is included in its entirety in my ebook “Coca Leaf Papers” available on the sidebar of this post.)
Dr. Searles book is only one of many in which the use of Coca to treat and cure epileptic seizures is covered, but here is what Dr. Searles had to say:
“Coca Leaf & Acute Disease”
“The relations of Coca to acute disease are extremely important. As a physician, I would not be without it under any consideration. How thoroughly will every physician, understand me when I say that we are not seldom compelled to stand by and witness the death of patients who are really better of the disease which destroys them than perhaps at any previous time during their sickness. We are unable to support them, and they die from exhaustion of the vital forces.”
“But in Coca we have a powerful agent, whose disturbing influence over physiological processes is so little felt that it neither interferes with recovery from disease by natural course, nor with the action of remedies. And its sustaining power is so marvelous, that I prophesy that by its help we shall hereafter be able to cure many cases of disease which were otherwise hopeless.”
“I am informed by my colleague, Dr. John L. Moffat, of Brooklyn, that he has had very encouraging results from the use of Coca in hay fever in four instances. Of course, its action here is antipathic, or rather, it probably acts simply by its sustaining power, and by its antipathic relations to asthma. But even an efficient palliative, which can do no harm, will be welcomed by those who are annually visited by this plague.”
“It has been affirmed by some English authorities that Coca is valueless in epilepsy. For myself I can report that, in one instance of the fully-fledged disease, occurring in a middle-aged lady, but in whom the paroxysms did not recur oftener than once in six months, an apparent cure has been effected by means of Coca alone. She has now passed eighteen months without a seizure. I have also more striking reports from some of the members of this society, who report very marked results in several severe cases which would yield to no other remedy.”
“It is too early yet, however, to claim for Coca really curative powers in this terrible disease, which has so long been an “opprobrium medicorum”. Still, it is highly probable that the forms of it used by the English physicians in their trials were inert. This is rendered more than likely by the fact that one of the most expert chemists of New York City carefully searched both France and England during the summer of 1880 for good Coca, and was unable to obtain a single valuable specimen.”
“In view of the fact that all the drugs now ranked as anti-epileptic by the allopathic school of medicine are so injurious to the general health, and in view of the results attained by myself and my colleagues, imperfect as yet though they are, I earnestly urge the faithful trial of Coca in epilepsy.”
Well, about 140 years have passed and where are those “faithful trials” of Coca Leaf for Epilepsy – and incidentally for Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes, Obesity, and a couple of dozen other killer diseases? Nowhere in sight.
Researchers with Ph.D’s and major institutions behind them are getting tens of millions of dollars to “study” Dementia/Alzheimer’s, but not a peep out of the research establishment about Coca Leaf Tea. And, of course, since I’m not in the club I can’t get a grant, even though I could pretty much prove or disprove the efficacy and safety of Coca leaf for Dementia/Alzheimer’s with a few thousand bucks. But as noted, I don’t have a Ph.D. and I’m not a member of the club, so no institution gives a shit what I say.
Hell, maybe I’ll just do a GoFundMe request for a couple of tickets to Bolivia, grab a hundred kilos or so of fresh Coca Leaf, and come home and start handing out Coca Leaf Tea at a church social or two, and maybe a local nursing home. Think I would get past US Customs/DEA? Might actually be a great idea – let them bust me for trying to bring Coca Leaf in for Dementia/Alzheimer’s patients.
I wonder how many members of the US Congress, who make the laws forbidding Coca Leaf coming into the US, have someone in their family with Dementia/Alzheimer’s. (I’m resisting the obvious snide remark here because while it might be accurate it would also be cruel.)
Anyone have any suggestions?
With the ever-present exposure we all get to the modern health care system it’s easy to forget that all this technology is relatively new. Until a few years ago almost all Americans who could do so dealt with disease, illness, injury, impairment and old age in the context of a family and a community of friends and neighbors.
This isn’t a “good old days” fantasy about how things were always better in small-town America where everybody pulled together and cared about each other. In years past there were lots of people without friends or family who suffered and died alone – that’s one of the origins of the centralized health care delivery system, the urgent social need to care for the millions of people, many of them immigrants, who lay sick and dying alone in the city streets of the last centuries. Centralized health care institutions grew out of this core failure of the industrializing American system, when the very closeness of family and community which enfolded those in need was not available so many, for whom there was no alternative but the brutal poorhouse or dying alone in the streets.
But there were also tens of thousands of smaller cities, towns, villages and rural communities where few lay alone, whether sick or injured, where aging people were passed from family member to family member if need be, but were kept, and where the medical profession was an enormously useful adjunct to the family-based health care delivery system but was not the primary caregiver. These days are recalled as quaint by some modern docs who chuckle about the days of house calls, though many doctors still wish that they could make a decent living doing just that.
We live now in an age when care has become interpreted as technical intervention alone. When a person becomes seriously sick or gets badly injured or simply old and frail they are often removed from their family in a manner that brooks no interference. Medical emergencies convey license upon lifesavers who rush you to the central facility where you are handed over to technical specialists, who then take charge as you are transformed into a “case” or “patient”.
Your family or friends, if you have any, are reduced to huddling in a waiting room where they are visited from time to time and provided reassurance that you are in good hands and everything possible is being done.
If and when the emergency subsides you are then passed on to other specialists who apply whatever medical technologies they are familiar with and choose to use in the name of standard medical practice. Their choice of technology and strategy is determined by many considerations, and their motives are usually the highest, but their methods are not to be questioned, and there is literally no room for family or friends to function in the role of caregivers. They can come during visiting hours, and that’s it, because the institution is in total charge of care-taking, and their version of care-taking is how its going to be.
If the institution and the specialists can’t fix the problem you will be designated incurable and sent somewhere called a home, but probably not a home with your family in it, for long-term care. You generally won’t go with your family because they “aren’t able to take care of you”, meaning that there is no system to provide the resources that would enable them to take care of you at home. The systems that exist to provide and allocate society’s health care resources choose to allocate those resources to taking care of you in institutions which they administer and from which they profit, not to home-based alternatives which, while better and more cost effective for you, do not benefit them. They’re not evil, just doing what comes naturally, which means surviving at all cost.
If you recover you are released which means you are free to go, after dealing with the bill of course. You walk out to rejoin your family, if you are very fortunate, and maybe on the ride home in the car someone will ask you – ” So, how do you feel?” Well of course you feel “fine”, and that’s about it. Everybody goes home and goes on with their lives until the next time they crash or drop or break or pass out and then it all begins all over again.
But are you healed by all this? Your disease certainly seems to have passed, your bones mended, your new organ functions perfectly, your heart beats. But what about how vulnerable, how violated, how isolated you feel even behind the pills you are given to “make you feel better”?
Given the institutional cultures of the current health care system, there is no “feeling better”. The isolation and emotional and spiritual deprivation of the severely ill or merely very old person grows until death by loneliness becomes inevitable.
This is the precise point at which families of sick and elderly people ought to begin taking Cannabis seriously, because this marvelous little flower has the capacity, when given with loving hands to a sick or just plain old and worn out person, to not only treat but even to heal, and most certainly to make a difficult life more bearable. There is so much more to say about the Cannabis option, and I will be posting some of my thoughts on this in coming weeks and months.
But for the moment I simply want to say to all those who have already discovered the healing properties of this little flower of the Gods that you are on the right path, and my hope is that if there are others who you care for and love that you will be able to help them walk this same path to a better world. With no fear.
This is not just an Oregon issue. There is nowhere to hide. Nobody is safe.
Anti-Cannabis forces in other states are watching this new tactic to subvert the will of the people, and they can hardly wait to implement it themselves.
We must work together to stop this new anti-Cannabis tactic in its tracks, before it spreads and destroys what we have all worked so hard to achieve.
We can do just that, because if there has ever been a clear case of a State violating citizens’ rights that are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, this is it.
The “Equal Protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution has, for over a hundred years, been the foundation for compelling fair and equal treatment of citizens by powerful anti-social elements in government at all levels.
The “Equal Protection” clause reads:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
That simple clause gives us all the legal tools we need to defeat the anti-Cannabis conspirators in Oregon, and prevent them from from spreading their poison nationwide.
I want to be clear that I don’t believe that the Oregon State Legislature is anti-Cannabis; these regulations may even be well-meaning on the part of many Oregon legislators and regulators. However, given how the anti-Cannabis forces operate across the country I strongly suspect a “back door” effort here. In either case, the threat is real, and must be addressed.
Here’s why the Oregon Cannabis community needs “Equal Protection”.
Oregon is violating the “Equal Protection” clause by imposing pesticide testing regulations on the Cannabis industry that are not imposed on an absolutely equivalent industry – Big Tobacco. Big Tobacco is free to sell its contaminated products without any testing or regulation, but now the Cannabis industry is being forced to comply with regulations designed to make it impossible to stay in business.
Make no mistake – these pesticide testing laws have nothing to do with protecting peoples’ health, and everything to do with destroying the Cannabis industry in Oregon first, and then in every other state where Cannabis has defeated the forces of darkness.
Of course, nobody can doubt that ethical Cannabis growers want to do everything they can to ensure the health, safety and well-being of people who use their beautiful flowers for medical reasons or for pure pleasure. There is also no doubt that Cannabis growers can be self-regulating with regard to quality, just like the wine industry that is the model for so many businesses in this new field.
But the regulations currently being forced on Cannabis growers by the State of Oregon go far beyond what is necessary to promote health and safety, and the fact that they are imposed on Cannabis growers who are for the greatest part ethical, caring people, but not on an industry that is notorious for literally killing millions of people worldwide with its contaminated, poisonous products, cannot be tolerated or ignored.
By imposing pesticide testing on Cannabis growers but not on “Big Tobacco”, Oregon clearly violates the “Equal Protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. These discriminatory, anti-Cannabis laws hurt everyone in the community – Cannabis producers, Medical Cannabis patients, Recreational Cannabis smokers, physicians and clinics, dispensaries and retailers.
The State of Oregon must be forced to grant “Equal Protection” to the Cannabis Industry immediately before further irreversible harm and damage is done.
I believe strongly that the State of Oregon will never be willing (or able) to impose pesticide testing requirements on the Tobacco industry comparable to what they have imposed on the Cannabis industry, and so because of the legal pressure that can be brought to compel the State to apply the “Equal Protection” clause, they will back off of the Cannabis industry and agree that self-regulation is more fair than broad, compulsory testing, and is an equally effective model for Oregon. If we can accomplish this in Oregon, other states will follow.
We can only do this once we have demonstrated that Tobacco products are contaminated with far more dangerous pesticide and agri-chemical residues than the relatively minor issues found so far with some Cannabis growers. At that point the State will have a clear choice, and Cannabis industry self-regulation will become the clear choice for Oregon legislators.
We Can Do This By Working Together!
We can compel Oregon to comply with the “Equal Protection” clause through legal action, and to accept that there are other, better, voluntary ways for the Oregon Cannabis industry to act together to ensure the health and well-being of the entire Oregon Cannabis community. I am hearing from readers that a solution that they would prefer is for the Oregon Legislature to put in place a properly funded provision that would enable Cannabis growers to voluntarily submit samples for testing and at the same time certify that they have not used any pesticides in growing their crop. This would earn them a provisional OK to go ahead with selling the crop, which could then be certified when testing was completed. Better yet, some suggest, would be for the Legislature to put a surcharge on the entire industry, from grower to consumer, which would be used to pay for all testing rather than imposing the costs just on growers.
The full plan & the strategy for the successful defeat of these obscene laws are explained in detail on a Go Fund Me campaign set up to enable me to work with Oregon growers to make this happen.
Please help to end this travesty in Oregon before it does irreparable harm to the Oregon Cannabis community, and before it spreads like a cancer to other states. You can bet that the anti-Cannabis forces in all those states are watching Oregon carefully, and salivating.
You can also donate right here, without bothering to read the full story on my Go Fund Me website. Every penny will go to this fight. Thank you!
The consciousness that Cannabis is a powerful natural medicine was well-developed in Europe of the 1800s. Knowledge of the medical uses of Cannabis, Coca Leaf and Opium came to Europe from the Andes and Asia first through explorers and traders of the 1600s and 1700s, then increasingly through travelers, writers, adventurers, scholars and missionaries in the 1800s.
Of course Cannabis also came to Europe as Hashish at the same time as it arrived as dried, pressed flowers, so Europeans had a Cannabis concentrate to work with from the earliest days. In the beginning there was some confusion over whether Cannabis flowers and Hashish were the same thing – a confusion soon to be mirrored with Coca Leaf transmuted into Cocaine, and Opium Sap transmuted into Morphine and Heroin.
Americans who find the history of Cannabis fascinating will enjoy browsing the following essay, which I discovered in a public domain EU document. The entire document is mostly about drug control in Europe, but this essay which is intended as background for discussions of control happens to be the best concise history of early medical use of Cannabis in Europe that I have read, and so I’m happy to share it with you here on Panacea Chronicles.
Cannabis as medicine in Europe in the 19th century
As in the previous centuries, hemp was predominantly used in the 19th century as a fibre material. Herbal cannabis played a marginal role as a medicinal plant, although its seeds were used medicinally, mostly in the form of pressed oils or hemp milk as medicine against gonorrhoea or cystitis. In tandem with prevailing interest in plants, products and culture from the Orient, medicinal use of cannabis arrived in Europe from the East during the 18th century.
Much has been written on the historical knowledge in Europe of the psychoactive properties of hemp prior to the 18th century: among readers of Herodotus’ description of Scythian cannabis-incensed burial rites; by alchemists, in particular the herb Pantagruelion lauded by author François Rabelais; via knowledge of Islamic medicine via al-Andalus, and elsewhere (Bennett et al., 1995; Booth, 2003; Mercuri et al., 2002).
However, widespread scientific writings on its psychoactive properties came later. For example, Gmelin wrote in 1777 of the Eastern use of bhang for stupefying (‘etwas Betaeubendes’), mind-clouding (‘Benebelung des Verstandes’) and intoxicating effects (Fankhauser, 2002); and in 1786 the Comte d’Angiviller thanked a certain Boulogne for his sending of Indian hemp plants with the prophetic words ‘Cette plante sera peut- être un présent intéressant pour l’Europe’.
At the end of the 18th century, the French naturalist Sonnerat informed Lamarck’s 1873 Encyclopédique de botanique of Cannabis indica (Emboden, 1974) and brought Indian hemp home to France after a journey to the Orient. Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt and the Near East introduced colonial troops — notably the scientists Silvestre de Sacy, Rouyer and Desgenettes — to hashish (Abel, 1980; Booth, 2003).
European interest in this ‘new’, or rather rediscovered, plant grew only hesitantly. The first comprehensive description of the medical usefulness of Indian hemp in Europe was written in 1830 by the German pharmacist and botanist Friedrich Ludwig Nees von Esenbeck. Until that point in time, use of hemp for medical purposes had remained at a low level.
This situation changed significantly prior to the middle of the 19th century. William B. O’Shaughnessy (1809–1889/90), an Irish medical doctor stationed in Calcutta, India, published in 1839 a comprehensive study on Indian hemp. Thanks mainly to his On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp or Gunjah, Cannabis indica now also became recognised within European-school medicine. O’Shaugnessy used various hemp compounds in his investigations, partly with great success, against the following indications: rheumatism, rabies, cholera, tetanus, convulsions and delirium tremens.
With hashish he had found a well-suited medicine to give his patients relief, and in the case of cramps, even total disappearance of symptoms. For concluding remarks, he wrote: ‘The presented cases are a summary of my experience with cannabis indica, and I believe that this medicine is an anticonvulsivum of great value’ (O’Shaughnessy, 1839).
Europe reacted promptly to this new knowledge from India. This is not surprising as until then no adequate treatment existed against recognised diseases such as rabies, cholera or tetanus. Great hopes were based on O’Shaughnessy’s results. The French were the first to engage themselves intensively with the plant. As early as 1840, the French medical doctor Louis Aubert-Roche (1809–1874), who resided in Egypt, used hashish seemingly successfully against pestilence (Hirsch, 1884–1886). Nearly simultaneously, his compatriot and friend, the psychiatrist Jaques Joseph Moreau de Tours (1804–1884), began to experiment with hashish. He started out with experimenting upon doves and hares, giving them large doses of hashish extracts with their fodder. Then he tested hashish on friends, colleagues, patients and himself. He was convinced that hashish was the supreme medicament for use in psychiatry. His book, Du Hachich et de l’aliénation mentale (1845), caused a great sensation at the time, and is still understood as the origin of experimental psychiatry and psychopharmacology (Weber, 1971).
The works of Moreau de Tours had an impact not only in medical circles, but also among writers and artists. The poet Théophile Gauthier (1811–1872), for instance, received hashish samples from Moreau de Tours. In 1843 he described extensively a self-experienced hashish intoxication in the Paris newspaper La Presse under the title ‘Le Club des Hachichins’. The club of hashish eaters, of which Gauthier was one of the founders, had regular meetings in Hôtel Pimodan on the Seine island of St Louis.
He and Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) shared a penthouse in the hotel for several years. Other prominent club members were Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) and Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) (Moreau, 1904). Further well-known contemporaries such as Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) and Victor Hugo (1802–1885) participated occasionally (Behr, 1982).
Inspired by Moreau de Tours and later by pharmacy professor Eugène Soubeiran (1797–1859), the pharmacist Edmond de Courtive published in 1848 his widely noted dissertation, Haschish. In addition to chemical analysis, he carried out self-experiments with miscellaneous hashish compounds and gave exact descriptions of their physical and psychic effects (De Courtive, 1848).
Many medical doctors took advantage of the promising results of the pioneers O’Shaughnessy, Aubert-Roche and Moreau de Tours and used these new drugs for therapeutic purposes. Initially, primarily doctors from the colonial powers of England and France showed interest in the use of compounds made of Indian hemp. The necessary commodities or compounds were imported in great quantities to Europe from the colonies, especially from India (Smith and Smith, 1847). Hemp was in this period sold to Europe primarily in three commercial variations:
Ganjah: consists solely of the blooming tips of the female, carefully cultivated plant. Mostly 24 blooming tips are bundled in a length of approximately 1 m, and 11 cm thickness.
Charras: consists of the resin, which is extracted foremost from the blossom, but also from leaves and stalks of the female plant. Today, the extracted resin is called hashish.
Bhang: extracted from the leafless stalks of the female hemp plant. Bhang was predominantly exported to Europe in powder form.
In Europe ganjah was the first to be pharmaceutically exploited. Initially, the fields of application known to O’Shaughnessy were adopted. Later on, the therapeutic application of hashish was considerably extended. In particular, the English and French medics applied this new wonder drug against tetanus (Martius, 1844). Encouraged by many positive reports, especially from England, the Bulgarian medic Basilus Beron intensively engaged in this problem in a dissertation. His work concludes:
I was so contented that, after having used almost all known antitetanic drugs without result, the sick person that had been assigned to me was totally cured after use of the Indian hemp (…) wherefore the Indian hemp is strongly recommended against tetanus. (Beron, 1852)
Homeopathy, founded by Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and rapidly advancing in this period, was also quick to include Indian hemp in its medical catalogue. Towards the middle of the 19th century, in addition to the illnesses already mentioned, Indian hemp was mainly used against neuralgia and other pains, chorea, hysteria, insanity, haemorrhage and insomnia. Since prepared products did not yet exist, cannabis extracts and tinctures were mostly used.
The real success story of cannabis as a medicine began in the second half of the 19th century after the publication of Beron’s dissertation in 1852. In the same year, Franz von Kobylanski published a dissertation on the effect of cannabis as an oxytocic (1852). Four years later, the German Georg Martius wrote his comprehensive work Pharmakognostisch-chemische Studien über den Hanf, which attracted much attention.
Interest was also aroused by the experiments of the Viennese Carl Damian Ritter von Schroff (1802–1887). Martius was among the few who did not deem cannabis compounds as harmless. He wrote that:
the Indian hemp and all its compounds show great diversity concerning the degree and type of effect according to individual differences in healthy as well as in pathological conditions. It therefore belongs to the unsafe agents, and the medic should under all circumstances use it with great care.
(Von Schorff, 1858)
At the same time, Ernst Freiherr von Bibra (1806–1878) published his standard work, Die narkotischen Genussmittel und der Mensch. Here, he discussed hashish for over 30 pages. In addition to experiences of others, he describes a self-experiment with hashish. His concluding judgement was as follows: ‘Recent experiments and experiences made on the medical effect of the hemp plant and its compounds very much point to their advantage’ (von Bibra, 1855).
In this period, most European countries, as well as the USA, included Indian hemp in their national pharmacopoeia. The monographs Herba Cannabis indicae, Tinctura Cannabis indicae and Extractum Cannabis indicae enjoyed increased prominence,
whereas Semen/Fructus Cannabis and Oleum Cannabis became more and more rare. It was first of all France and England, and to a lesser extent the USA, that significantly contributed to the definitive breakthrough of the drug into Western medicine.
The study of Indian hemp was even pursued in Germany. A comprehensive work of Bernhard Fronmüller, written in 1869, is frequently cited. He had studied the qualities of the hemp plant for a long time, and carried out cannabis experiments within the framework of ‘clinical studies on the euthanising effect of the narcotic drugs’ with exactly 1 000 test patients. These test patients suffered from heavy insomnia due to various illnesses. The results of his investigation were positive. Thus, he concluded in his work: ‘The Indian hemp is, among the known anaesthetic drugs, the narcosis which most perfectly achieves a replacement of natural sleep, without particular repression of expulsions, without bad repercussions, without paralyses’ (Fronmüller, 1869).
Well-known medical experts or pharmacologists of the time wrote more-or-less comprehensive essays on Cannabis indica. Some of these articles criticise the unreliability of hemp compounds. Indeed, the standardisation problem continued to be an issue for cannabis compounds until they disappeared. Kobert is one of very few who discussed the dangers of long-term consumption: ‘The habitual consumption of any effective hemp compound deprives the human being and brings him to a mental institution’ (Kobert, 1897).
The period 1880 to 1900 can be considered a peak in the medical use of cannabis. The use of hashish compounds had become commonplace in almost all European countries and in the USA. Nonetheless, it was still scientists from England, France, Germany and the USA who persistently continued cannabis research. It is, therefore, not a coincidence that most of the products on the market (‘specialities’) originated in these
countries. It is first of all through the contribution of the company E. Merck of Darmstadt, Germany, that cannabis compounds became more widely used in Europe towards the end of the 19th century. One of the preferred source materials in the production of cannabis compounds in this period was Cannabinum tannicum Merck. In addition, the company Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. in England produced cannabis compounds. In the USA, cannabis compounds were manufactured by Squibb and sons in New York (‘Chlorodyne and Corn Collodium’), and, later, Parke-Davis & Co. in Detroit (‘Utroval’ and ‘Casadein’) and Eli Lilly (‘Dr Brown’s Sedative Tablets’, ‘Neurosine’ and ‘The One Day Cough Cure’). These companies delivered sufficient quantities of high-quality raw materials and produced compounds for the market.
Probably the most-used hemp compound was the sleeping pill Bromidia, of the American company Battle & Co. This was a combined drug, that is, in addition to cannabis extract it contained bromine potassium, chloral hydrate and henbane. While single compounds dominated during the 19th century, combination compounds were preferred in the 20th century. Most cannabis drugs were for internal use, but there existed topical compounds, for instance, creams or the common clavus tinctures.
In the meantime, France continued its 50-year tradition and honoured medical doctors and pharmacists with doctoral degrees based upon works on hashish. In 1891 Georges Meurisse (born 1864) published his work Le Haschich, and five years later Le chanvre indien by Hastings Burroughs (born 1853) appeared. The latter is strongly based on Villard’s work, but also upon his own therapeutic experiments. He summarises: ‘In therapeutic doses, the Indian hemp is safe and would deserve to be more frequently used’ (Burroughs, 1896).
In Germany, the PhD students H. Zeitler (‘On Cannabis indica’, 1885) and M. Starck (‘How to apply the new cannabis compounds’, 1887) first wrote their graduation dissertations, before the pharmacist Leib Lapin in 1894 published his dissertation, ‘A contribution to the knowledge of Cannabis indica’, under the guidance of the leading figures Johan Georg Dragendorff (1836–1898) and Rudolf Kobert (1854–1918). In the first part of his work, he gives an overview of ‘common, manufactured and officinal hemp compounds’ in use at the time. In the second part he describes the pharmacology of ‘cannabindon’, a cannabis derivate first studied by him. In the preamble of his investigation, he makes a remark which shows the uncertainty that existed regarding the medical safety of Indian hemp:
Had it been so simple to solve the hashish question, it would certainly have been solved by one of the numerous previous investigators. I believe that I have contributed to the definitive resolution, and this belief gives me the courage to publish the following as a dissertation.
A scientific contribution of extraordinary importance within the cannabis research of the 19th century was the so-called Indian Hemp Report of 1894. This census, carried out by Great Britain in its colony India, primarily studied the extraction of drugs from cannabis, the trade in these drugs and the implications for the total population. Additionally, the study set out to clarify whether prohibition of the compounds might be justified, and an expert commission was established for this purpose. Its report impressively shows the significance of the stimulant and drug cannabis in India towards the end of the 19th century. The main conclusion of the commission was: ‘Based upon the effects of the hemp drugs, the commission does not find it necessary to forbid the growing of hemp, nor the production of hemp drugs and their distribution’ (Leonhardt, 1970).
Towards the 20th century, Indian hemp enjoyed an important position in the materia medica of Western medicine. Evidence of misuse of cannabis compounds was practically non-existent until then. Kunkel writes:
The chronical misuse of cannabis compounds — cannabism — is believed to be widespread in Asia and Africa. It results in chronic, heavy disruption of the entire organism, especially mental disorder — attacks of raving madness and a subsequent condition of weakness. It is not observed in Europe, Indian doctors report however daily frequent cases of this disease.
To sum up, hashish played a significant role as a medicine in Europe and in the USA towards the end of the 19th century. The most important applications were against pain, especially migraine and dysmenorrhoea, pertussis, asthma and insomnia. Additionally, hashish was relatively frequently used as an additive in clavus supplements. Rare applications were stomach ache, depressions, diarrhoea, diminished appetite, pruritus, haemorrhage, Basedow syndrome and malaria. Cannabis compounds were also used in numerous single cases, partly with good results. These were, however, of smaller significance.
Typically, doctors who worked intensively with cannabis drugs for years would classify them as valuable medicines. Others criticised them, and frequently looked upon them as worthless or even dangerous. However, both groups agreed on the unpredictable effect of cannabis compounds.
After keen use of cannabis compounds around the turn of the century, they disappeared completely in the middle of the 20th century. The main reasons for the disappearance of hashish medicaments are medical developments. Even before the 20th century, new, specific medicines were introduced for all main applications of cannabis compounds.
Vaccines were developed for the treatment of infectious diseases (cholera, tetanus, etc.), which not only fought the symptoms as cannabis did, but also gave protection against infections. Other bacterial illnesses, such as gonorrhoea, that were frequently treated with cannabis could somewhat later be treated successfully with chemotherapeutica.
Cannabis indica received competition as a sleeping and tranquillising drug in the form of chemical substances such as chloral hydrate or barbiturate. Contrary to the numerous opium drugs, cannabis compounds were also replaced as analgesics by chemical substances. In this area, aspirin achieved great importance shortly after its introduction in 1899.
Another reason for the decline of cannabis as medicine was pharmaceutical instability. The varying effectiveness of the hashish compounds has often been noted. Very different factors, such as origin, age, storage and galenic preparation, affected effectiveness of the medicine. Unlike, for instance, alkaloid drugs such as opium, the isolation of active ingredients was not successful until the middle of the 20th century. This resulted in standardisation problems. There were also legal constraints. The use of cannabis compounds became more and more restricted in international and national law.
Hashish compounds were defined as anaesthetics sometime in the 20th century. This complicated their use enormously, until finally a general ban made it impossible to apply them.
Finally, economic aspects contributed to the decline in use of medical cannabis. Import into Europe of high-quality Indian hemp became more and more difficult due to constraints in the producing countries (mainly India) and the influences of the two world wars. Laws of supply and demand also applied to cannabis, resulting in a massive price increase for raw materials (e.g. herba Cannabis indicae) as well as for compounds (e.g. extractum Cannabis indicae).
As a long-time advocate for the medical applications of Cannabis as a natural medicine I’ve noticed that a rather overwhelming number of people these days who suffer from so-called gastro-intestinal ‘diseases’. I say so-called not because I am an expert, or a doctor, or a scientist, but because the person I love most in the world has been on a very long and painful ten-year journey during which she has been continually failed by every expert, scientist and doctor we have asked for help – although there have been a few who sincerely tried to be helpful.
During this journey we have had to basically help ourselves because as I’m sure you know if you have a medical problem that can’t be easily ‘cured’ most doctors quickly lose patience with you and can’t wait for you to disappear and stop ruining their self-image as infallible healers. So for years my wife and I have spent hundreds of hours researching the literatures of medicine, science, nutrition, folk-medicine, healing arts, and anywhere else we could think of looking, trying to discover what makes sense and what doesn’t.
I would like to share some of what we believe are useful discoveries we’ve made that complement the almost magical properties of Cannabis and some of the other medicinal plants that we believe are gifts of the Great Spirit to the People of the world.
Your gut, as you know, is a long tube running from your mouth to your anus. It’s natural to think of your gut as being inside your body, but think about that for a minute and you’ll realize that whatever is inside your gut, that 36′ or so of tube, is actually outside your body. In a very real sense, the walls of your gut are the outside of your body very much like your skin, and whatever is inside your gut is not very different from whatever is on your skin – both are outside your body.
The reason this is important to visualize is that when your gut is compromised, what is inside your gut, much of which is naturally supposed to be kept outside your body, can move into your body in ways that nature did not intend. In other words, the purpose of your gut is to process your food and then allow ONLY the things your body needs to come through the wall of the gut and enter your body. These are mostly nutrients and water, and the rest of what is in your gut – the waste or non-useful materials that are supposed to be excreted – are meant by nature to be kept OUT of your body.
Just like when your skin is broken and you get an infection because foreign materials (and bugs) have moved into your body through the broken barrier of the skin, and your body rallies its defenses, led by inflammation, its #1 defense, when your gut is compromised materials (and bugs) that are supposed to be kept outside can move into your body where they trigger the body’s immune system defenses.
The skin and the walls of the gut are obviously both somewhat permeable. In other words, you can absorb certain kinds of things through your skin, but your gut tissues are designed to be much more absorptive. One big difference between your skin and your gut is that the tissues of the gut are very specialized and are designed to allow nutrients from your food through so that you can be nourished. And that is where the beginnings of so many of our GI ‘diseases’ occur. When the gut tissues are compromised, and the barriers that have previously only allowed fully digested nutrients to move through the gut wall now allow other materials, like undigested proteins, to move through the wall, the body’s immune system is triggered and all kinds of hell break loose.
Good Bugs/Bad Bugs
One of the realities of our gut is that it is absolutely chock full of bugs. All kinds of bacteria thrive in our gut, which as far as the bugs are concerned is divided into two sections – the upper gut and the lower gut. To oversimplify a little – not much – the good bugs live in your upper gut and the bad bugs live in your lower gut. The good bugs are all those species that are involved in keeping you healthy, helping you digest your food, creating hormones that help regulate your body’s functions, communicating back & forth with your brain, and importantly, keeping the bad bugs where they belong by colonizing the upper gut so completely that there is no place for the bad bugs to get a foothold even if they wanted to.
Now you take some antibiotics. It doesn’t really matter what kind – any anti-biotic will do. What happens? Well of course the anti-biotic is designed to kill bacteria and while some (very few) antibiotics kill only bad bugs like those causing an infection somewhere in your body, many antibiotics kill bugs rather indiscriminately. One of the realities of life is that it is harder to kill bad bugs than it is to kill good bugs, so anytime that strong systemic antibiotics are used there is a big die-off of the good bugs in the upper gut, whereas the bad bugs in the lower gut hang in there.
But the story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. After the battle there is lots of open territory in your upper gut where colonies of good bugs used to live, and the bad bugs somehow know that this is the case (remember, these bugs communicate with each other) and they begin migrating upwards, staking out ground as they advance. And keep in mind that the bad bugs doing this are the ones who survived the antibiotics – only now they are resistant and much harder to kill.
One of the reasons that these are bad bugs, or pathogens, is that they don’t live in harmony with their host. When they are kept down in the lower gut, there are strong natural barriers to keep them from breaking down the tissues of the gut wall wherever they establish their colonies, but in the upper gut there are no such defenses and before long these colonies of bad bugs begin creating weak spots in the wall of the upper gut. They do this in various ways – by secreting acids that eat through the tissues, by killing off the specialized cells that regulate nutrient transport, and by slipping through the gut wall themselves to make a new home somewhere comfy like your heart or brain. Medicine even has a name for this situation – SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. And the almost invariably prescribed ‘cure’ for SIBO? Well, you guessed it. More anti-biotics. If the phrase ‘vicious cycle’ is running through your mind at this point, you’re on target.
Many people already know about the importance of taking wide-spectrum Pro-Biotics to help restore the good bugs in your intestines after taking any kind of anti-biotic. Most doctors will not tell you this – they just prescribe or use these ‘medicines’ on you and then let you walk away to deal with the almost inevitable consequences. If I were a more cynical person I might suspect that they do this because it is good for business – they ‘cure’ or ‘protect’ you with anti-biotics and then because your gut has been compromised you are literally forced to come back to them because you now have all kinds of other problems that they can also charge you for ‘curing’. But that would be really cynical of me, wouldn’t it?
Please realize if you don’t already that it isn’t enough to just eat yogurt containing acidophilus bacteria – in nature there are thousands – maybe millions – of different kinds of bacteria and other micro-organisms that live in your gut, and just like in a forest or meadow diversity is the key to ecosystem health, so too in your gut. There are many different brands of wide-spectrum Pro-Biotics, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good one. My advice – for what its worth – is to look for a brand that has at least 3-4 billion bacteria per dose and has at least 6 different species of bacteria.
The Problem With ‘Medicines’
If you are one of millions of people who have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal disease you already know that none of the expensive, often toxic ‘medicines’ and ‘treatments’ actually help much although, as my wife and I can testify, the ‘system’ is set up to keep draining you financially until there is nothing left at which point you are cast aside, with your life ruined and your health unimproved. Medical marijuana advocates also know that not only medical marijuana but other inexpensive natural medicines can help tremendously, and although there is still no cure for these diseases, Cannabis offers a better more natural way of managing the symptoms than what any of the conventional treatments and “medicines” have to offer.
Before I get into some of the things that my wife and have found actually can make a huge difference in your health if you are living with a compromised gut, let me first bring up what we have learned about an undiagnosed problem directly related to a compromised gut that actually can be very effectively diagnosed and managed, and that affects at least 10-15 million people in North America alone without most of them knowing they are slowly being literally eaten alive.
It all begins with your body’s immune system. I don’t pretend to understand this complex system of defenses, but I do know one important thing, and that is that the immune system can sometimes go a little crazy and start doing things it was never supposed to do – like attacking the body itself rather than attacking outside threats to the body that have somehow entered or invaded the body. This is called an auto-immune response, headed by inflammation, and is I believe at the root of a huge undiagnosed problem that I hope anyone who suffers from any kind of gut issues will think about carefully.
Many if not most people who suffer from intestinal diseases also have been diagnosed, or just simply know from their own experience, that they are either sensitive to or intolerant of gluten. Briefly gluten is a naturally occurring protein found concentrated in wheat and related grass seeds – what we call grains in our diet. Without going into detail, which is readily available elsewhere, modern wheat bears little if any resemblance to its natural ancestors. The two biggest ways that modern wheat varies is that it is extremely high on the glycemic index, and it is extremely high in gluten.
But this post isn’t about gluten, so let me move to the key point I want you to know. When the body is gluten-sensitive or intolerant this can only occur because the gluten is moving from inside your gut through the wall of the gut as an undigested protein, and the immune system which is always on high alert for foreign proteins (like foreign bacteria) sees it and attacks. The results are so unpleasant that many people try, and some succeed, in switching to a gluten-free diet. But here is the important point. What these folks, and those who don’t stop eating gluten, don’t realize is that the gluten protein molecule is a precise double for a protein found in the human thyroid, and once the immune system has been triggered to attack a gluten molecule that has migrated through the intestinal wall it is forever on the outlook for precisely that protein. Whenever it detects that protein it will attack and destroy it.
Which means (I know you’re ahead of me here) that once your immune system is trained to attack gluten it will start attacking your thyroid too and will not stop until your thyroid is destroyed. There is a name for this process and it is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and it is estimated that 10-15 million people in North America have it and don’t know it and so, of course, are not treating it. The really strange part of this is that while your immune system is attacking and destroying your thyroid, the most common tests for thyroid function that doctors order – the T3 and T4 tests – will almost always show that your thyroid is normal. Unless your doctor orders two tests for thyroid antibodies there is no way to know whether or not your thyroid is being destroyed by your body’s immune system. Be prepared for your doc to say “You don’t need that test – your Thyroid levels are normal.” I would guess that well over 90% of the docs in America would say just that. Maybe they aren’t idiots, but they are incredibly irresponsible to take that position. Of course it is all driven by insurance companies who are forever pressuring doctors who order “unnecessary” tests. In the case of Thyroid antibody tests, which even if you pay 100% of the cost yourself will run about $60, there is simply no excuse for not ruling out – or in – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
But once you have these simple, inexpensive tests, if they reveal that you do have Hashimoto’s, a small miracle will come your way. Once you begin hormone replacement therapy, which is as simple as a very small dose of thyroid hormone every day, you will be amazed at how much better you begin to feel almost immediately. Many of your gastrointestinal symptoms will in fact begin to diminish and disappear. If you have been going through these painful, unpleasant, debilitating symptoms for many years, and many people have, it will seem almost too good to be true. And while it is not too god to be true, it is still not enough – there is more that you must do. But at least you will now be getting significant relief.
The Role of Diet
I’ve already promised that I won’t try to propose some universal cure for GI “diseases” like IBS, colitis and Crohns. For many readers it is enough that medicinal marijuana provides daily relief, and some may not want to go to the trouble of going further in self-treatment, especially through making dietary changes that can be difficult. But for those who are motivated I would like to make a few recommendations for things you might try. No promises, but these methods have worked for my wife and for others.
We’ve already discussed the role of gluten in triggering your body’s immune system, but for people with a compromised gut, whether from bacterial overgrowth due to misuse of antibiotics or for whatever reason, it is very important to ensure that no proteins can make it through your gut walls into your bloodstream because while the immune system is on guard for many different kinds of things, foreign life forms (except viruses, which may or may not be a life form) are always protein-based, and so any proteins – not just gluten – that get through the gut wall barrier trigger a massive immune response led by whole-body inflammation. This inflammation isn’t easy to understand or diagnose – it can mask itself as weight gain or as a wide range of other symptoms which appear to have no specific origin. Also whole-body inflammation isn’t like an infected finger or toe – it isn’t localized and therefore doesn’t stand out from the surrounding tissue. It is everywhere, and it is so subtle that most of us never spot it the way we would an infected finger.
Fortunately there is a relatively simple change that you can make that will reduce the migration of proteins through the gut wall and therefore greatly reduce the inflammation that always accompanies immune system’s inflammatory auto-immune response and that, in turn, lies at the heart of so much of what we call disease – especially disease that appears to Western medicine to have no specific cause. If it isn’t a bug or virus causing the disease, or an injury, or a cancer, or degeneration of an organ – then Western medicine is pretty much stumped. While many doctors are beginning to appreciate the role of inflammation in these diseases without an obvious origin, allopathic (Western) medicine still has very few effective tools for dealing with inflammation, which means that you are pretty much on your own.
But, here’s what you can do. It is called partitioning your diet, and the principles are simple. You divide your meals into two parts. Part one is the protein, and Part two is everything else. Since undigested proteins are one of the major triggers of immune system’s auto-immune response leading to inflammation, divide your meals into a protein part which you eat first, and then wait 30 minutes for your stomach acid to break it all down into the smallest possible components that can then be processed by the enzymes in your upper gut so that no undigested protein remains to penetrate the compromised wall of your upper gut. It takes about 30 minutes for the protein component of your meal to be broken down. Since so many ‘treatments’ of GI problems involve taking ‘medicines’ like Omeprazole that act to reduce stomach acid, if you are taking any of these drugs you may need to look into natural digestive aids like enzymes to help you break this protein down once it makes it into your upper gut. It is important not to drink liquids during the time your protein meal is in your stomach – this dilutes the stomach acid and defeats the goal of complete breakdown of the proteins.
Once you’re confident that your stomach has emptied go ahead and enjoy the your veggies and, if you can tolerate them, maybe non-gluten grains like rice and quinoa – although some people simply have to get all grains out of their diet. If you have had a compromised gut for a while you may also have developed multiple food allergies. Some of these can seem very strange. My wife, for example, reacts very strongly to all citrus, to pineapple, dairy and simple carbs like potatoes. She has decided that she just has to adjust to life without these things in her diet and is strong-willed enough to stick to her decision. I know that there are times she would kill for a bag of potato chips or a pizza with triple cheese, but she has made the decision that she would rather not be sick and so these things are gone forever. I hope that you, reading this, are not forced to such extremes but if you are I hope and pray that you will find the strength to treat yourself right and do whatever is necessary.
In honor of the central theme of the role of marijuana in self-treatment of a wide range of disease, let me offer three research citations that show that Marijuana plays its therapeutic role by reducing inflammatory responses – in other words, by regulating the immune system to reduce its auto-immune activities. These studies point to why so many people who are using Marijuana to treat their inflammatory diseases, whether of the bowel or elsewhere in the body, are having so much relief.
I’m writing this post to urge you not to stop there, but if you are not already taking some of the other steps covered here to treat the underlying cause of the inflammatory response rather than simply treating it with Marijuana, you might benefit greatly from doing so. The changes that you have to make to get further relief may or may not be drastic – everyone is different. But since you already know that there is at least one natural way to treat a medical problem that has the best minds in Allopathic medicine pretty much stumped, why not consider going even further and acting to remove some, if not all, of the major underlying causes of the problem that arise from what you eat and how you eat.
Israel Med Assoc J. 2011 Aug;13(8):455-8.
Treatment of Crohn’s disease with Cannabis: an observational study.
Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba affiliated with Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel. firstname.lastname@example.org
The marijuana plant cannabis is known to have therapeutic effects, including improvement of inflammatory processes. However, no report of patients using cannabis for Crohn’s disease (CD) was ever published.
To describe the effects of cannabis use in patients suffering from CD.
In this retrospective observational study we examined disease activity, use of medication, need for surgery, and hospitalization before and after cannabis use in 30 patients (26 males) with CD. Disease activity was assessed by the Harvey Bradshaw index for Crohn’s disease.
Of the 30 patients 21 improved significantly after treatment with cannabis. The average Harvey Bradshaw index improved from 14 +/- 6.7 to 7 +/- 4.7 (P < 0.001). The need for other medication was significantly reduced. Fifteen of the patients had 19 surgeries during an average period of 9 years before cannabis use, but only 2 required surgery during an average period of 3 years of cannabis use.
Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin). 2009 Nov; 87(11):1111-21. Epub 2009 Aug 20.
Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, is protective in a murine model of colitis.
Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II, via D Montesano 49, 80131 Naples, Italy.
Inflammatory bowel disease affects millions of individuals; nevertheless, pharmacological treatment is disappointingly unsatisfactory. Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of marijuana, exerts pharmacological effects (e.g., antioxidant) and mechanisms (e.g., inhibition of endocannabinoids enzymatic degradation) potentially beneficial for the inflamed gut. Thus, we investigated the effect of cannabidiol in a murine model of colitis. Colitis was induced in mice by intracolonic administration of dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. Inflammation was assessed both macroscopically and histologically. In the inflamed colon, cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) were evaluated by Western blot, interleukin-1beta and interleukin-10 by ELISA, and endocannabinoids by isotope dilution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Human colon adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells were used to evaluate the effect of cannabidiol on oxidative stress. Cannabidiol reduced colon injury, inducible iNOS (but not cyclooxygenase-2) expression, and interleukin-1beta, interleukin-10, and endocannabinoid changes associated with 2,4,6-dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid administration. In Caco-2 cells, cannabidiol reduced reactive oxygen species production and lipid peroxidation. In conclusion, cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice
Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(2):R43. Epub 2008 Apr 16.
Characterisation of the cannabinoid receptor system in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Centre for Analytical Bioscience, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. email@example.com
Cannabis-based medicines have a number of therapeutic indications, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. The endocannabinoid receptor system, including the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and receptor 2 (CB2) and the endocannabinoids, are implicated in a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Pre-clinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that cannabis-based drugs have therapeutic potential in inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether the key elements of the endocannabinoid signalling system, which produces immunosuppression and analgesia, are expressed in the synovia of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) or RA.
Thirty-two OA and 13 RA patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty were included in this study. Clinical staging was conducted from x-rays scored according to Kellgren-Lawrence and Larsen scales, and synovitis of synovial biopsies was graded. Endocannabinoid levels were quantified in synovial fluid by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The expression of CB1 and CB2 protein and RNA in synovial biopsies was investigated. Functional activity of these receptors was determined with mitogen-activated protein kinase assays. To assess the impact of OA and RA on this receptor system, levels of endocannabinoids in the synovial fluid of patients and non-inflamed healthy volunteers were compared. The activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the predominant catabolic endocannabinoid enzyme, was measured in synovium.
CB1 and CB2 protein and RNA were present in the synovia of OA and RA patients. Cannabinoid receptor stimulation of fibroblast-like cells from OA and RA patients produced a time-dependent phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1 and ERK-2 which was significantly blocked by the CB1 antagonist SR141716A. The endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) were identified in the synovial fluid of OA and RA patients. However, neither AEA nor 2-AG was detected in synovial fluid from normal volunteers. FAAH was active in the synovia of OA and RA patients and was sensitive to inhibition by URB597 (3′-(aminocarbonyl) [1,1′-biphenyl]-3-yl)-cyclohexylcarbamate).
Our data predict that the cannabinoid receptor system present in the synovium may be an important therapeutic target for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with OA and RA.
“The Intercept” has just run an excellent piece outlining the lobbying efforts of the Opioid Manufacturing sector of the Pharmaceutical Industry to scuttle new Federal regulations that would attempt to make it harder for doctors to prescribe Opioid drugs like Oxycontin. The major manufacturers involved in the lobbying are Purdue, Cephalon, Endo, and Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
The efforts of these parasitical manufacturers to maintain open season on the wholesale addicting of new “patients” while at the same time keeping up the flow of millions of tablets of these drugs that somehow manage to leak into the street market ( who, us?), is symptomatic of the thug-like nature of virtually the entire pharmaceutical industry.
When you look at the numbers you see that pills are the main “Opioid” killers, not Heroin, not Morphine, and certainly not Opium from the Poppy, and for all the hype about synthetic Opium pills like Oxy, the job they do of relieving pain is no better than a pipe of good opium. Of the 47,000+ drug overdose deaths counted by the CDC in 2014, 8800 were due to Heroin, which leaves +38,000 due largely to pills.
The single justification for the “Opioid” pill industry’s existence is that their products are claimed to be safer than natural Opium, Morphine, or Heroin. If you want to find the reason for the industry’s panic at the increase in Opioid pill deaths, look at the ratio between deaths from the dreaded slayer of youth Heroin and the supposedly safe if used as directed wonder pill.
If a huge part of your industry’s claim to fame is that your product is safer than the juice of the poppy then you have to be pretty upset when people are finally realizing that your pills are killing users nearly 5:1 compared to the fruits of the little flower.
Consider for a moment two possible tracks for our society – the one we are on and the one that could have been, and yet might be.
The track our society has taken is to turn our health, just like we’ve turned most of the other key aspects of our lives, over to highly intrusive institutional management. Most of us no longer have any management role in our food, our children’s education, our family and community security, our finances, or our privacy. One of the results of our capitulation to pervasive institutional management of our lives is that the exponentially-growing health industry, always quick to spot (or make) an opportunity, responded by creating vast numbers of expensive, enormously profitable drugs for all those astounding new diseases of modern society that patients are required to take by their doctors who give no natural options in place of the medical management system’s proprietary pharmaceuticals.
The second track, which might have been, is that all of the medical knowledge gained by doctors, patients and society at large in the 1700s and especially the 1800s regarding three of the great natural drugs – Opium, Coca and Cannabis – might have been kept and nurtured rather than discarded and largely forgotten. Had those three natural medicinal drugs not been demonized and outlawed as part of the warped spiritual movement of the early 1900s that gave birth first to Prohibition and later to the War On Drugs, these three great natural drugs would be available today as a part of the :People’s Pharmacy” just like hundreds of other herbal, natural medicines.
The industrial pharma industry would still have developed, and a lot of people would still be victims of their concoctions, but without the legal framework lovingly erected over decades by authoritarian conspirators there would be a whole segment of the Medical industry devoted to the use of all natural medicines, not just those permitted by the state as part of its role in enforcing the monopoly of Industrial Pharma over medicinal products.
Even more important, a nationwide, community-bases network of natural medicine practitioners would have evolved – people in every community who knew how to grow all of the ancient medical herbs and who utilized the advances of technology to produce ever-more effective but still natural medicines.
Of course we have a great model for this system in the network of Medical Cannabis growers and patients who are finally emerging after the long night of Prohibition – which is still in the very earliest stages of dawning – to point to and see what might have been for ALL the great natural medicines and not just Cannabis, and not just in a few states in the US and a few countries in the world.
In a society where those who wanted any form of any natural drug could grow and prepare it for themselves, or could go to a reputable dispensary or belong to a regulated collective, then we would certainly have some addicts among these people, but they would be able to lead as normal a life as they chose to live without the constant suffering, pain, and jeopardy of addiction to “illegal drugs” and all the horrors that go with that scene.
People with little income would not be driven to prostitute themselves and do violence to feed a drug habit if the drugs they wanted were freely available in safe, natural forms. It is possible, is it not, that given access to natural drugs in a climate free of violence and exploitation many if not most people could use drugs and still lead a normal life even if trapped in circumstances of poverty.
I believe that centuries of recorded experience in societies worldwide shows that the overwhelming problem with addiction is how society treats addicts. If an addict is free to lead an otherwise productive and normal life, many will do so, and those who won’t would have been lost whether drug laws made them criminals or not.
Perhaps what makes addiction so awful for so many people isn’t what the drug does to them, it’s what society does to them as a consequence of their addiction. The popular image of addiction is what is used to sell all the prevention/intervention programs that flourish around addicted people. Human degradation in every form is shown as a consequence of drug addiction, and many people buy that and think no further. But consider the number of people who are technically addicted who lead normal, productive lives in comparison with those whose lives are supposedly ruined by addiction, you begin to realize that plenty of people are addicted to drugs and other substances and don’t descend to street prostitution, emaciation, bleeding scabs and sleeping in alleys. It seems that one begins to see that maybe it is circumstances and not the drugs themselves that determine the direction that addiction takes. Remove all the harsh punishments for addiction and I wonder – what would happen to addiction?
If the illegal status of drugs and the consequences for addiction were removed, at least drug addiction would no longer be part of the trap that ensnares millions of people in the US. Poverty and exploitation would continue in other ways – unless of course (you never know) some kind of new dynamic was released in poor communities by removing the key role of criminalized drug addiction in keeping the iron collar of poverty and exploitation firmly clamped around their necks.