Categories
Cannabinoids Cannabis Events Cannabis Oils Feature Story Marketing Science Uncategorized

A Guide to Cannabinoids – The Science, The Synergy and its Role in Society

People today are more eager than ever to take a more active role in their overall health and wellness. The recent spike in popularity for cannabis and cannabinoid-rich products is a reflection of this movement- one that has led many to want to cultivate a more intentional relationship with this healing herb.

In the last several years there’s been a big spotlight placed on cannabis. It seems as though this medicinal plant is finally getting the recognition it deserves for the many health benefits it offers.  As cannabinoids become one of the most sought-after natural products on the market, we see consumers eager to ask more questions on a personal quest to learn as much as they can about the topic. For this reason, a helpful guide to cannabinoids can assist in educating and clarifying some of the finer points relating to the science of, and the synergy between cannabinoids, as well as some broader questions pertaining to its current place in modern society.

Let’s get started…

The Science-

Cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBN has been shown to act as a sedative, and is helpful in managing anxiety, while CBC has antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties and helps relieve pain and so on. There has been extensive research regarding the internal interplay when cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids all work in concert to abate symptoms of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, fungal, bacterial infections and more.

Each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. Here are some of the more common ones along with their specific function:

  • Cannabinol (CBN): sedative, antibiotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): anticonvulsant, antioxidant, reduces anxiety, treats psychotic disorders, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and relieves spasms
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, induces a euphoric high, relieves pain
  • Cannabigerol (CBG): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain
  • Cannabichromene (CBC): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): induces a euphoric high and relieves anxiety.

 

But how does it work?…

Cannabinoids have a profound and positive impact on the body’s own receptor system. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and within the human body. Although there is increasing evidence that there may be more types, today we know about two receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors are distributed on the surface of many different types of cells in the body. CB1 receptors are found primarily on neurons in the brain- like in the amygdala, which influence emotions such as fear and anxiety. A high density of CB1 receptors are also found in the hippocampus, those influence the learning and absorption of new information as well as memory integration. As for the second class of receptor, CB2, those are more abundant in the central nervous system and in the peripheral tissues and organs, particularly in the immune system cells and thus are thought to act in a primarily protective role.

-The Synergy-

Medicinal plants like cannabis contain a wide variety of potentially beneficial compounds. Choosing between full-spectrum and isolate-type products is an important choice when deciding what products to start using. In full-spectrum phytocannabinoid products, the “whole-plant” is used and nothing is held back or left out. That is because whole-plant or FULL-SPECTRUM products are known to include not just CBD but trace amounts of different cannabinoids which introduce various potential benefits that can address a wide variety of ailments both on their own and in conjunction with one another. An isolate is of course effective but studies show that full spectrum CBD is capable of offering greater levels of relief. That is because full-spectrum oils include a wide range of cannabinoids which work synergistically. People seem to respond better to products which contain multiple cannabinoids opposed to single cannabinoids in isolation. And, unsurprisingly, this finding is in line with how cannabinoids are found in nature as opposed to being produced synthetically in a lab. As we can see, when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user—and this interaction actually has a name, it’s known as the entourage effect.

The term entourage effect was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam upon realizing that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system. Each separate cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between certain cannabinoids but also in how terpenes and flavonoids work synergistically increasing the cerebral blood flow while impacting the blood-brain barrier.  As research continues, our knowledge will collectively broaden. The good news is that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.

Society-

As the popularity of hemp-derived products continue to grow, so has its acceptance across many of the states in America. Just this summer, a major step was taken to pass legislation that would legalize hemp as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Many agree we seem to be moving in the right direction amidst the changing political landscape of today although, “Is it legal?” is still a common question. Many wish the answers were more straightforward but the reason for the current murkiness is because there are different laws in different states, as well as different laws at the state and also federal levels.

CBD oil that is hemp-derived and consists of no illegal amounts of THC is legal in most states. As of this year, there are states where the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is also completely legal. They are Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. That means if you live in these states, you are free to use CBD and other products without a prescription. Unfortunately, it seems as though laws are constantly in flux, which adds to the legal confusion. Hopefully, there will be more clarity and consistency coming from state and federal authorities sometime in the near future.

So the short answer to, “Is it legal?’ is, there is no short answer. You must check the local law in the state where you live- and stay up on any and all changes. If you live in a state where the recreational use of cannabis is legal, you can use CBD that comes from marijuana or hemp without issue (with the exception of California and provided you are at least 21 years of age). If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, and you have a prescription, you are also in the clear. For everyone else in the country, the laws surrounding CBD are stuck in a temporary gray zone. Eventually, many believe that all the states in the country, even the most culturally conservative ones will submit to peoples’ demands and the growing scientific research and legalize cannabis use for medical purposes- once and for all.

Categories
Cannabis Science Hemp Oil Latest News Science Top Stories

Terpenes And Flavonoids part of the Synergy

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the positive effects of the hemp plant on everything from insomnia to pain relief to inflammation- and the list keeps growing. People everywhere are curious to learn as much as they can about the healing properties of this plant, and in turn, eager to go back and share what they know. As new research emerges about this plant, its individual components, and how they interact with each other, so too does our own understanding and knowledge on how best to treat, medicate and heal ourselves with it.

Two cannabinoids in particular – THC and CBD – get the most air time but within this complex plant exists other chemicals and compounds that are beneficial and play a unique and integral role.

Bottom line: they all interact synergistically to heal the body and mind.

Let’s start with terpenes (pronounced tur-peens)

What are terpenes?

Imagine for a moment the whiff of freshness that meets the nose when one peels an orange or the sweet, floral scent that announces itself in a tub filled with lavender. What you are smelling are terpenes, a bouquet of oils secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids. They lend their impressive aromaticity, taste and color to a countless number of plant species—but that’s just part of their charm.

The development of terpenes, from an evolutionary perspective, began for adaptive reasons—to repel insects and other predators and to lure pollinators. The plant’s medicinal properties can be traced to this enduring evolutionary feature- the pungency that prevented fungus long ago is still fighting bacteria and respiratory pathogens in people today.  

Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and give rise to various medicinal properties. When cannabinoids and terpenes interact synergistically, they create what scientists refer to as an “entourage effect”  

The most commonly studied terponoids are limonene, myrcene and alpha-pinene but there are over 200 that have been identified in cannabis. For instance, the combination of CBD with terpenes-driven compounds like mint and capsaicin provide targeted relief from joint and muscle pain and soreness. They also work well on tension headaches and migraines.  

Terpenes have also been shown to act on neurotransmitters – dissolving in lipids or fats and relieving anxiety as serotonin uptake inhibitors (if that term sounds familiar it’s because you’ve heard it in commercials about antidepressants like Prozac). They also enhance norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain.

While many of the flavors and aromas of cannabis can be attributed to terpenes flavonoids also play an important role.

Let’s move on to flavonoids: (pronounced flavo-noids)

What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids account for roughly 10% of the compounds produced by cannabis and are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. Many plants including fruits and vegetables owe their bright colors in part to flavonoids.  The 20 or so varieties known to exist in cannabis are called cannaflavins and they don’t just help contribute to the vibrant color we see on the many foods we eat, they also smell good and are pharmacologically active (beneficial). Similar to CBD, flavonoids interact on many different sites in the body through complex biochemical mechanisms, some interacting with estrogen receptors others as potent antioxidants. For instance, the flavonoid quercetin, found in many fruits and vegetables is known for its anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Catechins, a highly active flavonoid found in cannabis (as well as cocoa, teas and pome fruits) is also known to be an effective antioxidant with cardiovascular health benefits. Cannaflavin A has been found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory molecules PGE-2 and it does this 30 times more effectively than aspirin.

Flavonoids are yet another member of the ‘entourage’, binding to CB receptors and interacting synergistically with cannabinoids. In fact, CB receptors bind to all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that are ingested. These compounds trigger a chemical cascade throughout the body. They also bind to opioid receptors- the same sites that activate after binding with painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet or morphine. Flavonoids provide painkilling properties that aren’t available from just terpenes and cannabinoids alone and best of all, they are non-addictive.

The general understanding of this miracle plant can sometimes be overly simplistic. THC and CBD seem to get the most mention but in reality, hundreds of chemical components are working in tandem; the two biggest groups being flavonoids and terpenes. The entourage effect suggests that any one chemical or compound, taken on its own, will have a far less reaching effect than the combined efforts of all its parts. So, while THC and CBD may seem like the show stoppers, especially where this plant is concerned, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Terpenes and flavonoids are two perfect examples.

Categories
Cannabinoids Cannabis Oils Cannabis Science Hemp Oil Latest News Science Top Stories

CDB Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

Whether it’s in the form of oil capsules, tinctures or edibles, CBD products are finally getting the recognition they deserve for the many health benefits they offer. And while it’s become a popular option for people seeking a natural alternative to a variety of ailments, parsing through the data can get challenging. If you’ve done any type of research at all  you’ve probably come across terms like CBD isolate and Full Spectrum –and perhaps are unsure what it all means or more importantly how it relates to your individual buying options and decisions. The good news is that these concepts are fairly simple to grasp and once you do, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision on which products to buy.

To start with, what do terms like “Isolate”, “Full Spectrum”, “Pure CBD” or “Whole Plant” mean? Good question!

CBD Isolate:

As the name suggests, a CBD isolate (also labeled “Pure CBD” or “CBD oil”) is a purified extract that has been separated from other cannabinoids, acids and chemicals found in the hemp plant.  In this pure and isolated form it is extremely well tolerated and effective in helping with pain, inflammation, mood and general health.

There are several extraction methods but generally the CBD is extracted using some type of solvent (this can be a liquid solvent, CO2, or an oil solvent), then filtered, heated and then isolated and processed into a powder. Isolate products such as these are usually 99% CBD and deliver the most amount of CBD to your system at once.

Initially it was thought that CBD isolates were more potent and effective on the whole but recent discoveries have shown that this may not be the case.  While CBD isolate packs a potent punch and remains the preferred treatment for many patients, many now believe that the pairing of the cannabinoids and terpenes (Full Spectrum) offers the most benefits of all.  

 

Full Spectrum:

Unlike the CBD isolate that’s been stripped of everything, a full-spectrum product contains all the therapeutic compounds cannabis has to offer; this include terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and even some THC. Usually these will be in naturally occurring ratios and extracted from the plant and specific strain. This is where a multitude of flavonoids and polyphenols, which are vital micro nutrients, work together in synergy—the advantage of something called the entourage effect. For a large majority of average users, this high quality spectrum CBD oil will be the better and more efficient option.

In a 2015 study done at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem, research showed that in mice, CBD was much more effective when used along other compounds of the cannabis plant. Although they haven’t figured out exactly why, a full-spectrum CBD oil proved more effective at treating a majority of medical conditions than its isolated counterpart. The study concluded that CBD isolate becomes less effective over time, while the Full Spectrum continues its effectiveness. It was also concluded that a CBD isolate is only as effective as its dose, while the Full Spectrum extract continues its effectiveness as the dosage increases.

So why isolate molecules from this incredible plant in the first place? Great question. The answer is that CBD isolate is not only very effective on its own but also offers some convenient benefits. For instance, CBD isolate is easily measured so it lends itself well to mixing with oils or baking into edibles. Since it offers a high degree of control and is usually tasteless, it’s the preferred choice for flavored products.  Another advantage to products labeled as isolate is the fact that since nothing but CBD is in them, those who may be drug tested need not worry. When looking at an isolate product, one thing to keep in mind is the purity standard. While many products are in the 99.9% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones that may still have trace amounts that can show up in lab tests. This small amount is typically negligible and is nowhere near the amounts found in Full Spectrum products, but it is still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest form.

While some people find they respond better to an isolate—others appreciate the benefits of full-spectrum products– with over 100+ Cannabinoids and 100+ Terpenes, the possible combinations and blends are potentially endless! Still others prefer to use both the full plant extracts and isolates concurrently. Figuring out the best option for you will take a little time so be patient. Since everyone is different, trying out both will give you an idea of how each feels for you as an individual.  

  

Categories
Cannabinoids Cannabis Science Hemp Oil Latest News Medical Science Top Stories

The Entourage Effect: the Essence of Synergy

There are hundreds of natural components found in cannabis, 66 alone which are classified as unique to the plant. And although there is no disputing the profound and positive impact on the body’s receptor system, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and with the human body. What we do know is that cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBDV has been shown to be helpful in the management of epileptic seizures and CBC has antifungal and anticonvulsant properties– and so on. Most fascinating though is the research around the cannabis plant’s interaction with itself and how when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user. This interactive synergy is known as the entourage effect.

The synergistic effect between compounds is nothing new. Traditional Chinese practitioners have been treating specific problems with herb concoctions for centuries. The concept, while not exact, is similar to the way the entourage effect works. The term “entourage effect” was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam. They realized that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system- which is to say that each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. In this specific study it was the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which was responsible for those benefits but the same patients also reported a heightened psychotropic effect which made them feel “stoned”.  Since Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to modulate the effect of THC on the human body, the same dose was blended with it resulting in that same patient group reporting the same benefits minus the unwanted side effect of the THC.

While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between CBD and THC but also in how terpenes and flavonoids increase the cerebral blood flow, impacting the blood-brain barrier; another way in which cannabinoids work together.  Everyone agrees that as a whole we have only begun to scratch the surface and that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.