Dog Coughing: The Do’s and Don’ts to Treat Your Dog

Dog coughing is no fun. If your dog has experienced it, you know how it goes: coughing, gagging, discomfort, helplessness…

At first glance, it could’ve even looked like your dog was choking on something. And the thought of that happening is terrifying.  

But don’t panic! We have good news for you and your canine. As frustrating and distressing as it can be, dog coughing is usually not a big deal. And it’s not necessarily a life-threatening situation, even though it does require your attention.

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So what’s actually going on when your dog starts coughing, sneezing and making choking noises? Keep on reading to find out what the causes might be, how to recognize different kinds of coughing, and how natural treatment can help you keep your pup comfortable and healthy.

COUGHING IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

Coughing is actually beneficial, though you have probably never thought of it that way.

Defined as a reflex action, coughing is an automatic protective mechanism present in many species. And, as an involuntary action, it works similarly to other reflex-like functions, such as blinking or sweating.

Blinking protects the eyes at a superhuman speed. Sweating regulates body temperature. While coughing actually protects and clears the throat, lungs, and airways from irritating agents, the same way that sneezing does it through the nasal passages.

These irritating agents include dust, smoke, germs, bugs, pollen, viruses and bacteria. And, like humans, many species have respiratory reflexes similar to coughing. For example, hairballs are a common reason for cat coughing.

Elephants, pandas, horses, and mice cough as well. And even fish can cough in their own way to expel particles and matter clotting their gills.

As for dogs, keep in mind they explore and get acquainted with the world by using their wet noses, which, research has shown, can do mind-blowing things.

Dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell allows them to tell time, predict weather changes, notice imminent diabetes complications, anticipate when a pregnant woman is going into labor, and even detect some types of cancer.

But all that sniffing, apart from making these amazing things possible, it’s also the source for respiratory problems resulting in an annoying, and sometimes alarming, cough. Whenever your dog starts making weird noises, think about the following variables; they are the starting point to help you determine what might be wrong with your coughing pooch…

Dog Coughing What do I need to keep in mind?

Obviously, this is not a medical guideline for an official diagnosis, since you should probably leave that up to your vet. But you should also be able to make his or her work quicker by pinpointing what’s been going on.

So, when you notice the beginning of a persistent cough in your four-legged friend, you should first make 100% sure there are no items stuck in their throat. And then keep an eye on these details to give a more accurate description to the vet:

Watch when coughing occurs. Does it happen mostly at night? Is it after drinking water or eating? What about when he gets overly excited? Is it after exercise? Maybe when pulling at the leash? All of these scenarios are significant clues on what might be causing the problems.

Evaluate the nature of the cough and track the evolution of it. Is it chronic? Is it recurring? Does it get progressively worse? Did it happen last year around the same time, and does it seem to be seasonal? Is it occurring several times per day?

All of these factors can also shine a light from the get go when you talk to the vet.

Identifying the type of cough you’re seeing and hearing is probably the trickiest part. But it’s also a crucial one.

The type of sound your dog makes tells you the story that they can’t. So pay close attention and use these general descriptions based on usual types:

  • Is it a deep, dry, hacking cough?
  • Is it a high-pitched, gagging cough?
  • Is it a wet, phlegmy, moist cough?
  • Is it a deep, honking cough?

It’s like a mix and match game, so take your time…

You should also, take note of what happens between coughing episodes. See if they result in difficulty breathing, gasping, lethargy or lack of appetite. In any case, your pet’s vet will appreciate every piece of information, in order to come up with one of these diagnoses:

KENNEL COUGH: A Shared Disease Among Dogs

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection usually caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses. It’s a highly contagious disease in places where a lot of dog converge. Its name comes from the places where it’s more commonly transmitted: kennels, animal shelters, doggy daycares, grooming salons, veterinary waiting rooms, training classes, as well as dog shows.

The sound of it is dry, loud, strong, and hacking, and recognizing it is pretty straight forward: it gives the impression of something being stuck in your dog’s throat. Other symptoms might include a runny nose, sneezing, or eye discharge. But, apart from coughing, your dog shouldn’t have any other signs of illness.

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For that reason, kennel cough treatment its simple: let the disease run its course. The risk of it developing into pneumonia is present in puppies, elderly dogs, and dogs with underlying conditions. But, usually, kennel cough resolves by itself without any treatment. And, if the cough doesn’t go away in about ten days, you should consider checking for other diseases.

Nonetheless, when taking your dog to the vet before this timeframe, chances are you’ll get a cough suppressant prescription. The most common is Robitussin-DM, an over-the-counter medicine used to treat dog and cat coughing. And while it can help reduce the coughing frequency, it can also have dangerous side effects, especially for dogs with other lung and heart conditions.

And how about vaccination?

Well, a vaccine is a possibility too. It’s called the Bordetella vaccine, named after the main bacteria causing kennel cough (Bordetella bronchispetica). The problem is that there is a wide range of agents that can also cause the disease. And the vaccine is not guaranteed to protect your dog from all of them.

TRACHEAL COLLAPSE: The Sometimes Fragile Toy Breeds

Canine tracheal collapse is a debilitating and progressive disease. Labeled as a congenital condition, it affects the cartilage rings supporting the trachea, leading to inflammation and excessive mucus secretion. The sticky result is an obstruction in the airway to the lungs, causing coughing and breathing difficulties.

The condition affects middle-aged and small dogs, particularly Yorkshire terriers, Poodles, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas. The coughing sound you’re looking for in this case is dry, harsh, noisy, and “goose-honking,” which can be even more significant when pulling at the leash.

Obese dogs are at a higher risk. And, while breathing can be difficult while at rest, excitement and distress usually make it worse, and so can humid and hot weather, especially after exercising.

Now, as far as treatment goes, tracheal collapse management involves antitussive medication for coughing reflexes, bronchodilators, sedation, and weight loss regimes. Surgery for ring prosthesis is also an option. But, as it happens with many delicate surgeries, complications can be life threatening.

Other Coughing Related Diseases

Obviously, this is not the place for an in-depth review of every condition that makes dogs cough. However, there are other respiratory diseases you might want to keep on your radar. Even though they are less frequent, they can also be more threatening, leading to severe respiratory complications. Here they are in case you want to dig deeper:

Laryngeal Paralysis

It can be a hereditary or acquired condition, typically seen in older Labrador and Golden Retrievers. Its symptoms include exercise intolerance, breathing distress, fatigue, changes in their usual bark, coughing and gagging.

Chronic Bronchitis

It can be caused by bacterial infections, allergies, parasites, and airway irritants like smoke or dust. Its most common symptoms are coughing episodes mimicking vomiting.

Canine Distemper

This virus is passed through fluids from dog to dog. Its symptoms include sneezing and coughing. But the main clue is excessive thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose.

Lungworm disease

In the outdoors, a dog can eat almost anything. Including larvae found on infected snails, slugs, or frogs. They stay alive, and remain in blood vessels, causing heart and breathing problems.

These are the most common conditions associated with dog coughing.

How do I Keep my Dog Naturally Healthy?

Educating yourself to understand what might be happening to the furry member of the family is crucial. But it’s never enough to get an online diagnosis and give them over-the-counter medication. Always give your veterinarian a visit (or call). And, in general, when managing your dog’s health, try to keep it as natural as possible.

Of course, drugs and vaccines come into play at some point. But over-vaccination is an issue on the rise. And drugs can come with counterproductive and aggressive side effects. So, as a rule of thumb, try to look out for more dog-friendly alternatives that can minimize the risk of further afflictions.

Natural herb remedies, using astragalus, inula, Althea, mullein, licorice root, and Oregon grape, are known to help treat cough in dogs. And, interestingly, alternatives like CBD hemp oil have also shown some promising results in relieving pain. So maybe, *cough, cough*, you should give these natural solutions a try.

Your dog will surely be more than happy to taste and sniff the green…

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Cannabis on Valentine’s Day: an upgraded CBD recipe for couples (and us singles)

First of all, let’s make something clear: This is not just for couples, and not just for Valentine’s Day. As you probably know, CBD is very healthy for human bodies. So, if you are forever alone on this February 14th, keep on reading because this recipe will totally get your Endocannabinoid System working.

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And for the couples out there, this could be a unique way to celebrate Valentines Day. Instead of making a dinner reservation at a fancy and expensive restaurant, try cooking this very healthy and nutritive hemp recipe:

  • For main course, we have CBD pesto pasta with spicy shrimp.
  • And, for Drinks, a CBD Mezcal Margarita.

And do not fret, lovely readers: hemp has high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and very low levels of THC, often less than 1%. So eating this recipe won’t get you high as a kite.

Yum! But before we get started, let’s have a closer look at hemp seeds and why they can be one of the most nutritious foods in the entire planet. It is often called the next “super food”.

Hemp seeds, or should we say, super food

The first thing we should say about hemp is how different this plant is from its sister, marijuana. There is often confusion thinking it’s the same plant. The misconception that hemp and marijuana were one and the same, led to the prohibition that has affected how society thinks about cannabis. Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis varieties. Hemp has very low THC levels: less than 0.3%, so it is not psychoactive. Also, it can easily adapt to extremely cold weathers.

According to records and cannabis historians, hemp has been cultivated for more than then thousand years. China was one of the first civilizations to grow hemp for paper and fiber.  Hemp was very important for the Chinese civilization, as well as others, in order to expand throughout the seas. Hemp’s fiber was used for a long time to make ropes used in ships.

The uses and knowledge of hemp expanded to other continents through trade. Greeks, Moorish Spain and the British started cultivating hemp in vast fields. Later, the British brought hemp to North America. During the colonial period, hemp was cultivated all around the 13 colonies.

In addition, hemp seeds have a huge range of nutritional properties. The USDA National Nutrient Database says hemp seeds are a great source of:

  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Healthy fats, like omega-3 and omega-6.
  • Carbohydrates
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamines C, B, A and E

Impressive, right?

Let’s expand a little bit more on healthy fats. Hemp seeds are a great source of fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and omega-3 fatty acids. The body can’t produce enough essential fatty acids on its own, so you need to get it from external sources. And, besides fish, there is not much to get fatty acids from. Well, fish and hemps seeds.

Hope we have informed you about the health and nutritional properties of hemp.

Now, to the kitchen!

CBD Recipe for Valentine’s Day

Besides all the nutritional value of hemp, CBD also has a lot of benefits for your body. It can help you manage chronic pain, anxiety and it helps you boost your Endocannabinoid System. So this hemp recipe for Valentine’s Day is definitely the right choice. The recipe is for two people. So if you want to cook it just for yourself, or for a group of friends, adjust the measurements accordingly.

CBD Pesto Pasta With Spicy Shrimp

The main course consists of two parts: the pesto sauce and the spicy shrimp pasta. Let’s start with the pesto sauce.

CBD pesto sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup of basil
  • ½ cup of parsley
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 10 ml of CBD Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Wash and clean the spinach and the basil. After doing so, place all of the ingredients in a blender. Don’t forget the CBD Oil! Blend all of the ingredients until you have achieved the desired consistency. Add water if you think the sauce is too thick. Keep the sauce aside for latter.

CBD spicy shrimp penne pasta

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams of penne pasta
  • 250 grams of fresh and peeled shrimp
  • 200 grams asparagus
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. For the pasta, use a large pot to boil the water in. Then, add the uncooked pasta. Boil for eight minutes.
  2. Wash the asparagus, cut them into little pieces and add them to the water along with the pasta for the last 3 or 4 minutos. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat butter and olive oil.
  4. Add the shrimp, previously flavored with salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes. If you like your food spicy, add an extra pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the shrimp is pink on both sides.
  5. When the shrimp are cooked, add the pasta along with the asparagus.
  6. Add the pesto sauce to the pan and cook for five more minutes on low heat. Let that pesto sauce add flavour to the shrimp.
  7. Remove from the heat and add cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese.
  8. Eat up!

CBD Mezcal Margarita

To make the experience complete, why not add a CBD cocktail to accompany that spicy pesto shrimp? This is an easy and quick to prepare cocktail,; the traditional Margarita, but with a little CBD on it. We are using CBD Tincture instead of CBD Oil because tinctures are alcohol based. When mixed with another drink, oil will float on top of the drink. However, for cocktails is better to choose tinctures because alcohol will integrate and mix perfectly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of mezcal
  • 2 ounces of aquavit
  • 1.5 cups of lime juice
  • 1.5 cups of agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 15 mg of CBD tincture
  • If you like, add a cannabis leaf as decoration.

Preparation:

Shake all the ingredients together in a shaker full of ice. Garnish with a cannabis leaf and there you go! Now you have your pasta and your drink full of CBD and, obviously, love. Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy, And spread the love.

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CBD Oil for sleep: what you need to know

You have probably heard that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per day. And you have also thought… no way. Well, it’s true! And this post is going to serve as a digital and eye-opening slap in the face. Furthermore, if you are suffering from insomnia and you have given up on counting sheep, we are going to tell you why you should try CBD oil for sleep. And, if you don’t suffer from any sleeping disorder, well you should just keep reading anyway if you want to have better sleep at night (hope that wasn’t too aggressive).

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Lack of sleep, or an interrupted cycle, is a serious health problem in the United States. According to the Sleep Apnea American Association, sleep related problems affect 50 to 70 million americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. Over 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep “at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night”.

Above all, people who sleep less than 7 hours per day are more likely to become obese, physically inactive and chronic smokers, than people who sleep 7 hours or more. Another interesting fact is that adults who sleep less than the recommended 7 hours are more likely to report chronic health conditions like heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and depression.

But fear not, our devoted readers, for today we give you a possible solution: CBD. But before, let’s first check some studies that suggest a concerning and alarming correlation between lack of sleep and an increase in chronic pain symptoms.

The Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Pain

Sleeping six hours or more, is not just so you can get up for work and be able to function. There is sufficient literature that relates lack of sleep and pain.

In a 2008 study, researchers wanted to prove that pain and sleep are bi-directionally connected. During the study, participants were monitored daily for sleeping hours and pain symptoms during the day. In 78% of the cases, subjects slept between 6 and 9 hours, and reported daily pain as “mild frequent”. However, when subjects reported less than 6 hours of sleep, their pain symptoms the next morning where stronger. “Results suggested that hours of reported sleep on the previous night was a highly significant predictor of the current day’s pain frequency”, researchers concluded.

On the other hand, other studies proved how people who sleep more tend to have less pain sensitivity. A study conducted in 2012 showed data to support that after subjects who had sleeping problems were subjected to a 10 hour sleep routine during four days, experienced a considerable reduction on their pain sensitivity.

An interesting research evaluated whether partial sleep loss altered endogenous pain inhibition in any way, and spontaneous pain in women. In total, 32 healthy women were studied during a 7 night period. The tests consisted in randomly awaking some of the women during sleep time. After conducting the test and later examining the data, they found that women who had more hours of sleep showed reduction in pain. This findings suggest a possible role of sleep disturbance in chronic pain.

Finally, an alarming study was conducted on 2015 with female nurses who worked long shifts at hospitals. It turns out that work-related stress and sleep deficiency increases the risk of having diabetes, heart disease and stroke (cardiometabolic risk).

Still think that lack of sleep is harmless?

CBD oil for sleep

Ethan Russo, cannabis leading scientist, led a clinical trial to see the effects of the cannabis pharmaceutical drug, Sativex, on pain and sleep. He discovered that CBD and THC improved sleeping conditions in patients suffering from neuropathic pain and in some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Russo also found that Sativex improved sleeping parameters in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathic pain, intractable cancer pain and rheumatoid arthritis. If CBD and THC can help patients with chronic pain sleep, it could be a breakthrough in their quality of life.

Another study conducted in adult male rats showed evidence to support that CBD can increase percentage of sleep during daytime. The group of mice that were given 10 and 40 mg/kg of CBD increased the total percentage of sleep compared with the placebo group. Also, the group injected with 40mg/kg showed an increased REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep latency. Researchers concluded that “the systemic acute administration of CBD appears to increase total sleep time, in addition to increasing sleep latency in the light period of the day of administration”. For patients suffering from chronic pain, CBD could be a good treatment for them to sleep during daytime.

Contrarily, there are other studies that suggest that CBD has a more alerting effect, and that it can actually counterpart the sedative effect produced by THC:

“fifteen milligrams thc would appear to be sedative, while 15 mg cbd appears to have alerting properties as it increased awake activity during sleep and counteracted the residual sedative activity of 15 mg thc”.

But how much CBD oil for sleep? Mind your dose

This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you try CBD oil for sleep it will work the other way around and keep you up all night. CBD oil can reduce anxiety, helps deal with stress and facilitates relaxation. This is why many people have found that CBD oil is one of the best choices for sleep. It won’t knock you out like THC, but it will get you in a more relaxed state.

Healthspan Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer, told Net Doctor why she recommends and uses CBD oil for sleep:  

“It is proven to be particularly helpful for sleep disorders in people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Anecdotally, ever since I started taking CBD at night I have enjoyed really deep sleep and also feel more relaxed”.

A lot of patients are using cannabis infused edibles for sleep. although they take longer to have effects on the body, at the same time its effect is way more potent. Patients have reported sleeping for longer periods of time when consuming edibles.

However, the issue with edibles is dosing. It is very hard to control how much cannabinoids you are ingesting. That’s why it is better, or more recommended, to try CBD oil for sleep instead. Because of cannabis biphasic effect, it is recommended to start at low doses and grow from there. As Project CBD says, “Start low, grow slow”. Always remember that less is more.

We know this all sounds very interesting. And to make it even more awesome, we’ve picked the 3 best cannabis strains for sleep (based on Leafly) and the best 3 CBD oils for sleep (according to Cannainsider).

3 Best Cannabis Strains for Sleep

Grandaddy Purple

This indica dominant strain produces a relaxed and sleepy effect. It can also help with stress and insomnia. You will taste grape, berry and sweet flavor when trying this strain. “Pain is powerless against GP. So is nausea, anxiety, annoyance and insomnia. This strain would probably set you back to good after drinking 32 cups of coffee and getting hit by a bus”, wrote a user about this strain.

God’s Gift

This is also an indica dominant strain. You will also be able to taste the grape and sweet undertones, just like Grandaddy Purple, but with a little earthy flavor. This is one of the best strains to help you deal with insomnia and stress. “I went to bed with no struggle with a clear mind. I feel great today with no care of what ailed me yesterday”, said a review of the strain.

Afghan Kush

“Imagine a very large, fluffy cloud enveloping your body. Then add weights to your eyelids. Be prepared to feel an undeniable need to eat anything you see…and then somehow find yourself in your bed paralyzed. Do not smoke this if you are not prepared to sleep”. This review by a Leafly user pretty much sums it up. Pain, stress and insomnia are all gone when trying this strain.

We hope this was helpful!

Sleep tight…

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A Walk through the History of Chronic Pain Management

Pain and pain management have always been a part of humanity. Pain is a primal constituent of the experience of being alive. And the feeling of pain as a result of disease has been crucial to shape how we understand the universe both in and outside our bodies.

Figuring out the causes of pain, the source of the sensation and the remedies to alleviate its burden on the body and the soul has been a constant journey — one going from divine punishment and religious beliefs to the depths of human anatomy and scientific proof.

Let’s take a look at how we have dealt with chronic pain throughout history. The quest will take us to review important pain theories, dig up ancient pharmacopeia, Highlight exciting scientific discoveries, and see where we are today.

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Chronic Pain Management in Ancient Times

Across ancient civilizations and primitive cultures, chronic pain meant evil spirits, malevolent demons and enraged gods taking over and punishing the body. Alleviating pain was a superhuman endeavor. Shamans, healers, priests, sorcerers, and medicine men were in charge of it. And it took place during ritual practices involving sacrifices, chants, prayers, plants, and magic.

Rattles, gongs, and other noise-making devices frightened evil spirits out of the body.Native-Americans tried to suck pain out of a pipe against a person’s skin. And in the Andes, the Incas cut holes in the head to alleviate pain. The process, which used coca leaf as an analgesic, was known as trepanation.

Sure, you had other options too: rubbing the affected area, applying cold water, draining fluids and, mostly, herbal potions were the norm. Many cultures have known for millennia about natural analgesic remedies derived from plants. And among them, the four most important ones were:

Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum)

The root of mandrake was “probably the most widely used analgesic of antiquity. The Babylonians used it more than 4000 years ago for pain relief”. And its fruits rested on Tutankhamen’s tomb in Ancient Egypt. In addition to its analgesic properties, its soporific effect to induces sleep. But its excessive intake could be fatal.

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

The Sumerians in Mesopotamia cultivated the poppy plant around 3400 BC. The Sumerian clay tablet one of the oldest lists of medical prescriptions, mentions opium among 250 various plants. It use was medicinal. But known as Hul Gil, meaning the joy plant, its use as recreational narcotic is also documented.

Opium was also well known in ancient Egypt. The Eber papyrus, “which contained medical prescriptions and charms” referring up to 700 plant species and drugs for therapy, also recommended preparations including opium. Even the goddess Isis prescribed it for King Ra to ease his severe headaches.

Hemp (Cannabis sativa)

Even though Egyptians and Assyrians knew about the benefits of hemp, the epicenter for its use as a medicine has to be sought for in China. The Pen-Tsao-ching, considered one of the earliest pharmacopeia of herbal medicine, mentions cannabis as being “useful in the treatment of over 100 ailments, including rheumatic pain, gout, and malaria”.

In India, the plant was considered one of the five sacred plants of Hinduism. It was a daily companion in devotional services. And its extensive religious use opened the door to explore its medicinal applications. Among them, cannabis was used “as an analgesic, anticonvulsant, anesthetic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory.” All qualities were valuable to treat diseases like epilepsy, rabies, and anxiety.

Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

It was one of the most important plants in the early history of anesthesia. Henbane was also referenced in Babylonian clay tablets as a remedy for dental pain. Its high toxicity and potent hallucinogenic effects made it a dangerous medication. But despite its deathly consequences, it was frequently used as a sedative and anesthetic.

Hippocrates and a new approach for pain management

In Ancient Greece, physicians, philosophers, and writers alike were concerned about the matter of pain and its mechanisms. But the works of Hippocrates, the most prominent figure amongst Greek physicians, and considered the father of medicine, were perhaps the most significant turning point in our approach and understanding of pain in ancient times.

Beliefs of pain and disease being caused by divine punishment and offended deities still prove popular. But Hippocrates took the first steps towards moving away from superstition and supernatural phenomena. His approach? He focused his work on observation and the search for physical causes of pain.

As part of it, he developed the theory of the four humors–– blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile––.

And he described their effects on the human body and its emotions. For him, pain was produced by the excess or deficiency in one of those fluids. And his mission, along with the rest of Hippocratic physicians, was to rebalance that equilibrium and return it back to health.

To do it, he proposed a holistic approach. In it, he combined the use of animal, plant, and mineral based medicines with baths, diets, and exercise. Four centuries later, around the year 65 BC, Dioscorides, a Greek physician and pharmacologist, wrote De Materia Medica. The work, a go-to manual for 1500 years, listed 600 natural substances. And among them, said to alleviate different pains, were poppy, mandrake, and henbane.

Renaissance and the anatomy of pain

The Middles Ages were stagnant when it comes to chronic pain treatment. For the most part, theories by Hippocrates and Galen remained valid, and herb remedies thrived on monastery gardens. Physicians-monks, experts on the preparation of drugs, grew a myriad of plants. And they used them for healing purposes following Greek and Arab medical guidelines.

Research was limited due to the ban on the dissection of human bodies, and supernatural ideas were once again prevalent. Illness and pain were attributed to sins, demons, witchcraft, and astrology. But the variety of natural remedies instead of ritual practices was remarkable.

Now, on the other hand, the Renaissance was a fertile time for chronic pain management development. Exploration inside the human body sparked significant advancements in anatomy and physiology. And the scientific method gave way to a more accurate understanding of the causes of pain.

Laudanum, an opium-based tincture, was famous across Europe as an effective painkiller. Paracelsus, a Swiss physician, and alchemist credited to introduce the drug called it “the immortality stone.” And he carried it with him all the time.

Chronic Pain Management in Modern Times

The four centuries from 1600 to 1900 marked the emergence of a predominant opium approach to alleviate chronic pain. In the 17th century, “many Europeans doctors gave their patients opium to relieve pain.” But it was in the 19th century when the most significant turning point came with the discovery of morphine.

Obtained by the German pharmacist Friedrich Sertürner, morphine popularity grew fast. But so did the concerns and fears about abuse and addiction when prescribed by doctors.

From then on, medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies have developed opioid analgesic alternatives. These efforts gave way to a broad spectrum of known opioid substances. Hydrocodone, tramadol, oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and methadone supported pain treatment, combined with anti-inflammatory agents like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin.

Today, in the wake of the opioid crisis, there is a growing trend towards non-opioid analgesic strategies. Non-opioid pharmacotherapy includes anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. But is the multidisciplinary approach for treating pain that it’s making big waves.

This approach is based on lifestyle changes and low-tech alternatives. They look more like what a doctor would suggest in classical times. And maybe not what you would expect in these days led by the pharmaceutical industry. Actually, the key areas go back in time and seem to circle around to the basics of chronic pain treatment:

Physical therapy. The techniques used are timeless. Think about stretching exercises, hot or cold applications, and massage. And add transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). It sounds sophisticated. But the truth is that the principle existed in Ancient Egypt, where they gave electric shocks to the sufferers using eels and torpedo fish.

Complementary and alternative medicine. The rebirth of these techniques has been increasingly attracting patients. On the one hand, you have promising advancements on the new plant-based natural remedies such as hemp CBD oil. And on the other you have millennial practices making a big comeback.

Look Back and Look Forward when finding the right treatment

We are talking about acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. Used in traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture it’s been a part of pain treatment for over 2000 years. And it has been proven helpful in the treatment of conditions like osteoarthritis, chronic pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic lower back pain.

Finally, the important thing to know today is that you have options. But don’t rely on the idea that the latest scientific and technological advancement is the way to go. Sometimes you want to look back in time. Who knows. Maybe history is where you can find the remedy you have been looking for all your life.

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Cannabis affects Men and Women differently: Here’s why

When it comes to the effects of cannabis, women and men are worlds apart. Though there is scientific research about how cannabis affects and interacts with our bodies, few of those clinical or preclinical studies analyze male and female subjects separately. And trust us, there is a whole universe to discover in how cannabis affects men and women differently.

Spoiler alert: as you will see throughout this post, one of the ways in which cannabis affects men and women differently is appetite. Apparently, and according to research, women don’t get such bad munchies as men. But before we get into the studies, research and tests, let’s talk about sex.

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Cannabis and sexual experience in women

It’s no secret that many ladies out there feel discomfort or even pain during sexual intercourse. And not just that: according to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, “women, regardless of sexual orientation, have less predictable, more varied orgasm experiences than men”. This is why companies are starting to develop products to enhance and improve sexual experience in women.

Foria is a company that develops suppositories for PMS, and also produces a “weed lube” to enhance women’s sexual pleasure. This product, as said on their website, “can increase arousal, promote natural lubrication, and heighten tactile sensation — making orgasms fuller, more intense, or easier to access”.

The endocannabinoid system also plays a major role in sex. Sex therapist Lawrence Siegel said on CNN that THC appears to target a brain area associated with sex arousal in females. “Our body’s natural endocannabinoid system is key in regulating sensations like pleasure, pain, relaxation and homeostasis. When it is activated by the cannabinoids in cannabis, it can leave people feeling relaxation, increased pleasure and decreased pain”.

Women experience cannabis differently because of estrogen, the sex hormone. Though it appears that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD work a whole lot better in women, there’s still a catch…

Cannabis and estrogen

To answer the question of why cannabis affects men and women differently, we have to talk about estrogen. Though all sex hormones, such as testosterone and progesterone, have an impact in how the body processes cannabinoids, the most important sex hormone in this particular area is estrogen. But why estrogen? Because estrogen is the sex hormone that interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system. It determines the strength of cannabinoids’ effect in our bodies.

Though men also have estrogen in their bodies, the levels are much lower. Estrogen plays an important role in women’s sexual development. And, along with another sex hormone called progesterone, it regulates the menstrual cycle, affecting the reproductive system.

Estrogen has a strong connection to the endocannabinoid system. In some brain regions, the amount of CB1 receptors varies with the amount of estrogen in the brain. Additionally, a study found that estrogen increases anandamide levels. Therefore, estrogen also strengthens the endocannabinoid system. Furthermore, another study found that, when estrogen levels are high in rats, the rodents are more affected by the effects of THC. Basically, they get higher! These findings suggest a correlation between CB1 receptor, THC, estrogen and the endocannabinoid system.

THC and estrogen are not such a good match

As we explained above, there is a strong connection between the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids and estrogen. But this connection is not a good one, it appears. When THC and estrogen interact whith each other, CB1 receptors get highly activated. Consequently, the endocannabinoid system becomes unbalanced. This unbalanced ECS can result in alterations in mood and anxiety because of a change in size in the amygdala, a nervous tissue located in the temporal lobe. Adolescent girls who are regular cannabis users have larger amygdalae than male cannabis users, study finds.

This could mean that women who are regular cannabis users are more likely to suffer anxiety in adolescence, as researchers conclude:

“Gender interactions may reflect marijuana-related interruptions to sex-specific neuromaturational processes and staging. Subtle amygdala development abnormalities may underlie particular vulnerabilities to sub-diagnostic depression and anxiety in teenage female marijuana users”.

Studies on how cannabis affects men and women differently

A 2011 study analyzed the effects of marijuana on driving performance. A total of 85 people participated in the study: 50 men and 35 women. Before getting to the driving simulator, researchers divided the group in two. One group received a placebo (0% of THC) while the other one got a 2.9% THC dose of marijuana. Interestingly, eight females and only one male decided not to finish the marijuana cigarette. And after consuming the cannabis (or placebo) cigarette, subjects were told to perform the test. To the driving simulator!

The first result that was different between male and female participants was in their level of “highness”. Scientists observed that women actually rated themselves as feeling “higher” than men, both in active THC dose and with the placebo. Also, women felt more sleepy than men after completing the driving test. And, long story short, it is not recommended to drive under the influence of high THC cannabis strains: “This study supports the existing literature that marijuana does affect simulated driving performance, particularly on complex tasks such as divided attention”.

Another research found that after giving a sublingual dose of THC, women and men had very different effects in spatial working memory performance. While men showed no changes at all, THC actually enhanced spatial working memory in female subjects.

Another study analyzed the differences between males and females in terms of cannabinoid-regulated biology.

The research focused mainly in homeostasis.Remember that the endocannabinoid system is present in every human and works to maintain balance, or, in other words, homeostasis. They found three important ways cannabis affects men and women differently:

  • Sex differences are fundamental to cannabinoid-regulated biology
  • Males are more sensitive to the appetite-stimulating (munchies) properties of cannabinoids
  • Sex steroid hormones have divergent roles in determining cannabinoid sensitivity

Women seek other things in cannabis

As you can see, women, biologically or physically, experience cannabis in a very different way than men. Women experience more intense effects than men because of the interaction between estrogen, CB1 receptors and cannabinoids, specially THC. But there are anthropological and sociological differences, as well.

According to a BDS Analytics report, women are more likely to use products like topicals and spend 35% less on cannabis products than men. According to Jessica Lukas, VP Consumer Insights at BDS, women seek different things when it comes to cannabis:

“there are some differences in the way females think and behave. We do see females a bit more likely to consume because of anxiety and physical ailments.”

There is so much more to investigate about how gender and physiology can affect the cannabis experience. Maybe next time you decide to use cannabis with friends, both male and female, you can analyze what is different and what is similar in terms of behavior or physical responses. Perhaps you can find some of the things you read here to be true among your friends.

But please, do us a favor and don’t get behind the wheel while you’re conducting the experiment.

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CBD oil for cancer: A new cannabis miracle?

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of cannabis. Cannabinoids such as CBD are amazing for treating anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, among others. But recently, researchers have been looking into another important medicinal benefit that cannabis, more specifically CBD, might have; one that could actually change the world of medicine: killing cancer cells.

So far, CBD oil for cancer is a popular alternative treatment for unpleasant symptoms and chemotherapy side effects. But, what do research and studies have to say about it?

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Every February 4th, the world unites in a single voice to raise cancer awareness. World Cancer Day was first introduced in 2000, at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millenium.

#IAm&IWill is the main slogan of 2019’s World Cancer Day. It asks two simple questions: Who are you? And what will you do? The whole idea of this year’s campaign is not only to raise awareness, but to encourage people to take action. Speak up, create change, get informed, love harder.

But, why is there a need to raise awareness?

According to Cancer Research, there were approximately 17 million new cases of cancer worldwide. In 2018, more than nine million people died from cancer. The number of new cases of cancer is 439.2 in 100,000 men and women per year. Also, the number of cancer deaths is 163.5 in 100,000 men and women every year. The National Cancer Institute states that the five most common types of cancer are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung and bronchus cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon and rectum cancer

Furthermore, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.

Cannabis and Cancer

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Throughout the past decade, there has been a growing interest within the scientific community in the possible effects of cannabinoids in cancer cells. Although there is still much debate, there are some studies that not only suggest cannabis, and more specifically CBD oil, could be used in treatments for cancer symptoms, but could also become a cure because of its antitumor properties.

So, on this World Cancer Day, at WellBeing Essence, we want you to take action. We want you to read this article and find out how cannabis could improve the quality life of cancer patients or even, in some cases, eliminate cancer from the body.

Cannabis in Cancer Research: what have studies found?

It is not that hard to find information about cannabis and cancer. But what’s not that easy is to find in cannabis cancer research are clinical and preclinical trials to support how cannabis can be a possible treatment for cancer symptoms and cancer itself. Although there is a lot of promise, as you will see in the following studies, there is still no conclusive data.

Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug (2013)

In this study, published in 2013 by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, italian scientists reviewed the efficacy of CBD on different types of cancer, and highlighted the importance of CBD as an alternative therapeutic agent. They concluded that even though there is still a lot of research ahead to fully understand cannabidiols potential, “evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread”.

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Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms (2012)

Italian scientists are very interested in finding out once and for all that CBD can actually be an alternative cancer treatment in some cases.

Researchers evaluated the effects of CBD in stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord. After conducting several tests, they concluded that “CBD inhibits angiogenesis through multiple mechanisms. Its dual effect on both tumour and endothelial cells supports the hypothesis that CBD has potential as an effective agent in cancer therapy”.

The current state and future perspectives of cannabinoids in cancer biology (2018)

This is the latest scientific review on cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer, published in early 2018. Researchers from Poland reviewed almost all current evidence regarding cancer and cannabis. They also included in their review ongoing clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids as anticancer agents. After going through all that data, they concluded three things.

  • A lack of profound safety and efficacy in clinical trials. They express in their conclusions how difficult or even impossible it is to assess the potential benefits and risks of using cannabis.
  • Lack of detail in ways of administration, dosages, interactions with other drugs and adverse side effects.
  • Lack of easy accessible biomarkers showing the responsiveness of patients to a cannabinoid treatment.

In conclusion, scientists argue that, based on research, up until 2018, cannabinoids do show antitumor activity in cell lines and in animal models. However, there is not enough data “concerning efficacy and safety”.

As it often happens with cannabis, there is need for more thorough research.

What do cancer authorities have to say?

Anecdotal evidence and media have brought cannabis to the map. And when early studies were being published, cancer organizations were obliged to at least take a quick look at what all the fuss was about.

And, believe it or not, some of them actually have a really nice approach to the subject.

The National Cancer Institute describes on their website the benefits of cannabinoids and how they affect cancer cells. “Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite caused by cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies”. They also have on their website that “cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects”. The site also shares some of the studies that were discussed above.

The American Cancer Society also shares a similar point of view. Although they recognize the research available and how promising it is, they also acknowledge the “need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients”. More importantly, they recognize that the classification of cannabis as a Schedule and controlled substance by the DEA makes it really difficult for researchers to access and study phytocannabinoids. They finish with a pretty convincing argument: “Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana”.

On the other hand, World Wide Cancer Research is a little more skeptical. It seems that they don’t want to get involved with such a delicate subject. Although they admit there is some evidence that cannabis might help with cancer symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, “we cannot yet say for sure”.

There is promise, but nothing certain

Anecdotal evidence and media have brought cannabis to the map. And when early studies were being published, cancer organizations were obliged to at least take a quick look at what all the fuss was about.

And, believe it or not, some of them actually have a really nice approach to the subject.

The National Cancer Institute describes on their website the benefits of cannabinoids and how they affect cancer cells. “Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite caused by cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies”. They also have on their website that “cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects”. The site also shares some of the studies that were discussed above.

The American Cancer Society also shares a similar point of view. Although they recognize the research available and how promising it is, they also acknowledge the “need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients”. More importantly, they recognize that the classification of cannabis as a Schedule and controlled substance by the DEA makes it really difficult for researchers to access and study phytocannabinoids. They finish with a pretty convincing argument: “Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana”.

On the other hand, World Wide Cancer Research is a little more skeptical. It seems that they don’t want to get involved with such a delicate subject. Although they admit there is some evidence that cannabis might help with cancer symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, “we cannot yet say for sure”.

There is promise, but nothing certain

Although cannabis and cannabinoids have multiple health benefits, when it comes to cancer there’s still a lot of research to be done. Millions of people and families are trying to find alternative treatments to help deal with the pain and symptoms that come with cancer. And off course cannabis has caught the attention of many.

Sativex, or nabiximols, is a mouth spray and one of the cannabis FDA approved drugs. It was approved in 2010 in the United Kingdom. It helps with neuropathic pain and other multiple sclerosis symptoms. It’s concentration is 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD. On 2017, scientists conducted a research to see if Sativex could be a therapy for advanced cancer patients with chronic pain. The idea was to prove that cannabis could be a replacement for opioid therapy. But after completing the tests, scientists found that “Sativex did not demonstrate superiority to placebo in reducing self-reported pain”.

CBD oil, capsules and tinctures

CBD oil is also used to treat some cancer, symptoms such as nausea. The best way to administer it is under the tongue, which is why most CBD oils come in a sublingual presentation. Also, tinctures can be administered under the tongue. They are usually soaked in alcohol. However, they tend to have less cannabinoid concentration than pure oil. Capsules are also a good option because concentration is so much easier to measure. If you come across capsules, always look for CBD and THC concentration.

Although cannabis, and more specifically CBD, has numerous therapeutic properties, when it comes to cancer there is nothing certain yet. Cannabis may not be able to cure cancer on its own. However, medicinal properties of certain cannabinoids can help deal with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and even pain.

Remember it’s always important to consult with your doctor before starting any cannabis related treatment.

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“For me, Chronic Pain is a Curse” – The Life Story of Saul

Picture this: you’re 17 years old and the best soccer player in school. What most kids can only dream of, you can actually get it. Your whole life is ahead of you. But just before you go to college, you start feeling some pain in your back and joints. From time to time, the pain is so severe you start stooping. Even something as simple as walking becomes a challenge. And then, after visiting almost every doctor in town, you’re diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.

You don’t even know what that means, but the doctors tell you that you will experience chronic pain for the rest of your life.

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This is the story of Saul Galavis, a 30 year old Venezuelan who suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, which is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. According to the Spondylitis Association of America, this disease “causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort”

But, for Saul, it meant the end of a promising soccer career:

“The pain started during the last year of high school, at just 17 years old. I was the best soccer player in my school, I really was”.

Currently, this condition affects more than 2 million people in the United States, and it can affect more than 1% of the male population.

Saul has a degree in psychology, but cooking is his passion. After graduating, he pursued his dream of becoming a chef. Currently, he owns two diners for school kids in Venezuela. He has agreed to tell his story and, more importantly, share his pain.

You were very young when you were diagnosed. How hard was it for you? After all, you were just a teenager?

When the pain started, I thought it was a “normal” pain, that it would go away easily. At first, I didn’t even know I had this particular illness. It is very easy for doctors to confuse it with Crohn’s Disease. I found later that my condition is more common in men than in women.

Did you ever feel that people didn’t believe your pain? That they thought it was all “in your head”?

People like to talk a lot. They thought my pain was physiological. When they started saying these things to me I even started feeling guilty! I started believing that maybe it was all in my head, that the pain wasn’t real.  Sometimes, when my feet started swelling, I believed those people, thought they might be right.

After a few years, when doctors finally found what was wrong with me and diagnosed me with ankylosing spondylitis, I realized that it wasn’t psychological. I realized that this wasn’t all in my head, that I suffered from a medical, physical condition.

What medication are you currently using?

What doctors normally prescribe for ankylosing spondylitis is a medication called Humira. It’s great. It really helps you deal with the symptoms.

“But it is a really expensive treatment, almost 1.500 dollars a month. You need to earn a lot of money to fund a treatment like that. That’s why I had to suspend it, I just couldn’t afford it anymore.”

When I don’t use Humira, I start experiencing these episodes. The pain episodes tend to be more recurrent and last longer. Right now, I’m using cheaper medication. They’re not as good, but sometimes at least they help with the symptoms.

What are the symptoms you experience?

It normally affects my back, feet and joints. I know every patient is different, but for me, the worst part is when the pain hits the Sciatic Nerve. That is the worst pain of all. There’s no way to tune it out. These episodes, as I call them, can last for months if you don’t treat them on time. As the illness starts to progress, it starts calcifying your bones, and your joints get rigid. I have a friend with the same condition, he’s in his mid-40s. He is at a stage where he’s unable to turn his neck and his torso. He’s almost like a robot. It’s just awful. Maybe he started treatment when the illness was really advanced, because for me it’s not that serious. In his case, the illness developed faster. 

Lately, I’ve had some trouble with my feet because they get really big and swollen, another symptom of the condition. The pain got so bad I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even put my feet on the ground. You never think about it, but standing up means your feet have to bear all of your body weight. For me, that is unbearable. 

For you, what is the most difficult part of living with this illness?

For me, the most difficult part is coming back after an episode. Returning to the day to day routine is a real challenge. The pain knocks me out for days, during which I have to stay in bed.

So when the pain finally goes away, getting up, walking, going to work it’s really hard for me. And this thing doesn’t just affect you physically, it breaks your spirit, too.

After an episode, I feel even worse emotionally.

“It feels like someone just beat the crap out of you and then you have to get up and act like nothing happened. I get into a heavy state of depression after an episode”.

For you, what is the most difficult part of living with this illness?

For me, the most difficult part is coming back after an episode. Returning to the day to day routine is a real challenge. The pain knocks me out for days, during which I have to stay in bed.

So when the pain finally goes away, getting up, walking, going to work it’s really hard for me. And this thing doesn’t just affect you physically, it breaks your spirit, too.

After an episode, I feel even worse emotionally.

“It feels like someone just beat the crap out of you and then you have to get up and act like nothing happened. I get into a heavy state of depression after an episode”.

And how is everything going with the diners? Are you still working full time?

I had to get partners to help me with the diners. As the condition got worse, I was unable to be “on top” of the business like I should. They are the ones in charge of the diners now. When the pain started to get really bad, I just couldn’t keep up. Last year was extremely hard for me, physically speaking. I started to feel really bad pain on my feet, heels and also one of my wrists started to swell. I couldn’t keep up with all the work and had to step back a little. Last year I switched my medication. I couldn’t afford the Humira so I had to get a cheaper one. Consequently, my feet and wrist where swollen almost throughout the whole year.

Have you ever tried cannabis for chronic pain?

Yes, I’m a regular user. It really helps me at night to calm the pain and for sleep. If I smoke some at night, then the next morning I don’t get up that tired or swollen. I’ve even noticed that it works as an anti-inflammatory. It reduces inflammation on my feet and wrist. I can’t say it takes away the inflammation, but it reduces it a little bit. I also use cannabis to reduce some of the anxiety that comes with the condition. Because I spend so much time lying in bed, I usually get really anxious.

“When I smoke cannabis, it helps me relax. I get so anxious being in bed all day I just want to get up and do things, but I can’t because of the pain”.

So, cannabis helps me calm down and relax.

If you could describe what living with chronic pain means to you, in one word, which word would you use?

A curse. For me, living with chronic pain is really a curse. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a soccer player, a professional soccer player. And, as I told you before, I was really good at it. But this thing, this condition, this pain, it changes everything. One day you dream of playing soccer on a professional level and the next day you can’t even get out of bed because of the pain.

Looking forward despite chronic pain

Saul is now planning to move to Madrid, Spain. He wants to restart his treatment with Humira and get his life back together.

“I want to keep walking, hiking, exercise and travel more. I want to have a normal life again”,

he says. One of the most difficult parts of having chronic pain is losing hope. “It’s really hard for me to see or visualize a future. But going to another country could mean a fresh start. A new beginning”.

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CBD Oil for Parkinson’s: Can it really Improve Symptoms?

If you are a regular cannabis user, whether it’s medicinal, recreational or both, you might’ve heard about it being recommended for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are among these illnesses;  and it is very common to hear or read testimonies about success in cases where CBD was used for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But, how true are these claims? What is the effect of CBD oil in our brains?

First of all, there is a general, slightly misinformed, idea that cannabis consumption affects short and long term memory. It is very common to hear people say that marijuana smokers have a tendency to “forget everything they do”.

A study published in 2016, by JAMA International Medicine, proved that there could be a strong correlation between cannabis use and memory recall. Researchers documented that people who smoked marijuana on a daily basis, for five or more years, had poorer verbal memory than people who didn’t smoke, or smoked less.

However, there is no need to panic. What scientists didn’t specify in their paper is that THC might be the sneaky cannabinoid responsible for that “memory loss”. Frequent high-THC cannabis intake can produce a reduction in the size of the hippocampus. This can affect cognitive performance.  But luckily for us, THC is not the only medicinal compound found in the cannabis plant. It turns out that cannabidiol, or CBD, can help reverse the negative long-term effects of THC.

In 2018, scientists in Australia published an interesting study about how CBD can eleiminate that hippocampus problem caused by THC. They chose regular cannabis smokers to measure their hippocampus. Then, they gave the subjects four 50mg CBD capsules per day. 10 weeks later, their hippocampus was considerably larger in size. Furthermore, they suggested that CBD could be a “useful treatment for brain degenerative diseases.” Among those, Parkinson’s Disease.

Let’s find out if CBD oil could be a good complementary treatment for Parkinson’s

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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, this illness is a “neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra”.

Parkinson’s Disease affects more than 10 million people around the world. In the United States, almost 60.000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease every year. It is a condition that mostly affects older people. Only four percent of people who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease are diagnosed before the age of 50. Interestingly, Parkinson’s Disease affects men 1.5 times more than women. Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that by 2020, there will be nearly one million people living with Parkinson’s Disease in the United States.

What are the Symptoms?

What makes Parkinson’s Disease hard to diagnose is that symptoms appear very slowly throughout the patient’s life. However, early Parkinson’s symptoms might include:

  • Tremors:  Involuntary shaking of the hands, arms legs or jaw. The typical Parkinson’s tremor is called “pill-rolling”. This is because when people are experiencing tremors, it looks like they are holding a pill between their thumb and forefinger, with a continuous movement of rolling it around. Tremors in Parkinson’s are called “resting tremors”, because it mostly happens when the muscle is relaxed.
  • Bradykinesia: In more common words, this means slowness of movement.
  • Limb rigidity or tightness.
  • Gait and balance problems.

Other early Parkinson’s symptoms can be small handwriting, loss o lessening of the sense of smell, trouble moving or walking, and often dizziness and recurrent fainting episodes. There is not an exact test to diagnose Parkinson’s. The most common ones used to identify if a patient suffers from this illness are neurological tests, including DAT scans.

If you begin to feel the symptoms described above, consult a physician before coming to rushed conclusions on your own. But do keep an eye on your health! Better safe than sorry.

What causes Parkinson’s Disease?

There is no known direct cause for Parkinson’s disease. As we previously explained, this condition is directly related to the substantia nigra. This part of the brain is in charge, among other things, of controlling movement.

In parkinson’s disease, the substantia nigra stops making dopamine, which helps cells communicate.  As a result, the brains stops receiving messages regarding movement.

Scientific literature often addresses the possibility of genetics being somehow involved in Parkinson’s incidence. There are indications that Parkinson’s can run in families. Also, environmental conditions might increase the risk of suffering from it.

Finally, Parkinson’s disease has, to this day, no cure. However, some studies indicate that CBD, among other treatment options, might be a possible treatment for this condition.

CBD oil for Parkinson’s: what do the studies say?

For the past few years, the scientific community has started investigating the effects of CBD in the brain. Studies suggest that CBD can prevent, and even reverse, cognitive impairments. In addition, one published study explains that:

Cbd can reduce “alcohol-induced cell death in the brain” by more than 60%.

National institute of mental health (nimh)

Researchers are also trying to identify how CBD can act as a neuroprotectant. If definitive evidence is found, this will mean a breakthrough on how cannabis, more specifically CBD, can be an alternate, non invasive treatment for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.

Consequently, there have been numerous reports of patients that experience a reduction in their tremors after cannabis intake. Also, there are early reports that cannabis can help Parkinson’s symptoms like bradykinesia and dyskinesia (excess movement caused by levodopa). Nevertheless, The Parkinson’s Foundation suggests caution when it comes to cannabis use for Parkinson’s patients:

“Despite some promising preclinical findings, researchers have not found any meaningful or conclusive benefits of cannabis for people with PD”. On the contrary, Project CBD has something else to say about that.

CBD, The Endocannabinoid System and Parkinson’s

Project CBD suggests that there is a strong evidence that CBD activates a protein receptor called GPR6. It turns out this receptor can induce an increase of dopamine levels in the brain. As a result, GPR6 could have an important role in Parkinson’s treatment because the main cause of the disease is the loss of dopamine producing neurons. And, therefore, CBD can act as an “inverse agonist” to the GPR6 receptor and, consequently, boost dopamine levels.

In addition, there is a strong correlation between gut bacteria (enteric nervous system) and worsening of Parkinson’s patients’ motor function. And there is a strong connection between the endocannabinoid system and microbiome (collection of all microorganisms living in association within the human body).

The endocannabinoid system mediates communications between “the central and the enteric nervous systems, which comprise the gut-brain axis”, Project CBD explains. Thus, CBD, by working with the endocannabinoid system, can moderate the communications between gut and brain, showing great potential for Parkinson’s treatment.

Dr. Bonni Goldstein, author of Cannabis Revealed, explains that cannabis works differently in every patient, and that more research is needed to fully understand which cannabinoids and dosage is right for each one:

“a number of my patients with pd have reported the benefits of using different methods of delivery and different cannabinoid profiles. Some patients have found relief of tremors with inhaled thc and other have not. A few patients have found relief with high doses of cbd-rich cannabis taken sublingually. Some patients are using a combination of cbd and thc … trial and error is needed to find what cannabinoid profile and method will work best”.

In conclusion, and like it often happens with cannabis, anecdotal evidence and some studies suggest CBD as a possible treatment. However, the medical community still needs more research.

Other studies

  • Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: Published in 2014, this study reported that300 mg/day of CBD significantly improved quality of life but had no positive effect on the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale.
  • Survey on cannabis use in Parkinson’s disease: This study showed that 0.5g of smoked cannabis resulted in “significant improvement in tremor and bradykinesia as well as sleep”.
  • Cannabinoids reduce levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease: This 2001 research suggests that nabilone, a cannabinoid receptor, reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease.
  • The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids for Movement DisordersResearchers found that after clinical observations of cannabinoid therapies, patients reported benefits related to lessening of tics, but no improvement in tremors or dyskinesias.

Other lifestyle changes that might alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms

Though there is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease, there are some lifestyle changes that patients can make in order to improve their quality of life. As we often insist, it is always recommended to eat healthy and exercise.

Exercise:

Depending on how advanced symptoms are, it is always recommended to do cardio aerobic exercise within possibilities,. It stimulates the production of endocannabinoids, increases oxygen and increases levels of BDNF production, a chemical found in our brain that is very low in Parkinson’s patients.

More fruits, vegetables and probiotics:

Parkinson’s patients often suffer from constipation. We explained above how the gut has a major role in the disease. Thus, changing to a high fiber diet improves gut motility and bowel movements. Also, probiotic foods such as garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus, among others, are good for the benign bacteria in our intestine.

Meditation and yoga are always a good idea:

These two activities can enhance our endocannabinoid system, therefore helping with our mobility and homeostasis. Evenmore, yoga can improve balance, flexibility and posture, which is crucial for Parkinson’s patients. Also, yoga and meditation can increase grey matter density in areas that are associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

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CBD And Other DRUG INTERACTIONS: What you NEED to know

Pharmaceutical drugs have become omnipresent in developed countries. Take a look around: the opioid epidemic caused by prescription opioid painkillers is an everyday headline in the US. The UK National Health Service (NHS) recently prescribed a record number of antidepressants. And the contamination of a blood pressure medicine batch can have global implications.

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For millions of people, medicine is crucial to manage chronic pain, mental health conditions and blood pressure. Areas where CBD medical research have had exciting breakthroughs.

This raises an important question: what happens when you want to bring CBD and its health benefits into the equation? What CBD-drug interactions should you be aware of? Keep on reading as we navigate the crossroad where CBD and other medicinal drugs meet on the human body.

UNDERSTAND CBD AND MEDICATION INTERACTIONS

According to The Pharmacology Education Project, drug interaction “occurs when the administration of one drug alters the clinical effects of another”, disrupting its absorption, distribution, metabolism or excretion capacities inside the body.

The effects, as pointed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can have three potential outcomes:

1. Prevent a medicine from working the way it should.

A very problematic scenario. Drugs and dosages work in very specific ways, but interactions can either enhance or reduce their effect. The result then is either a dangerous increase of the drug in the system or an ineffective treatment.

2. Cause a side effect from medicine to get worse or better.

A fascinating matter, meaning that the effects have the potential to be both positive and negative. Medicines are all about finding equilibrium. And interactions can either brake or or make it.

3. Cause a new side effect.

Think an adverse reaction, which prompts treatments to derail, sometimes in unknown directions.

Now, when it comes to hemp oil, the epicenter for CBD-drug interactions is in the liver. There is where a fundamental family of liver enzymes known as cytochrome P450 do their work. And here is when it all gets exciting.

Enter The CYTOCHROME P450

The pivotal importance of this enzyme family is easy to assess. As the folks at Project CBD note, “this key enzyme group metabolizes most of the drugs we consume, including more than 60% of marketed meds”.

Cannabidiol, of course, is no stranger to this pathway. Along with more than half of medical drugs, cytochrome P450 enzymes also metabolize CBD. And CBD, research has shown, is a potent inhibitor for most of those enzymes.

That means that CBD can affect their capacity to process other medications. Which, by displacing chemical competitors, cause what we already define as drug-drug interactions.

READJUSTING MEDICINE DOSAGE WHEN USING CBD

Drugs are designed to enter and leave the body on very specific timeframes. That’s why dosages exist. But when a drug interaction occurs, that doesn’t always happen.

In the presence of an inhibitor like CBD, drugs have to compete to be broken down. And when competition takes place some drugs go first, while others have to wait or leave.

The body can’t metabolize them all in time, at the same time. So when they leave too quickly, medications are less effective. And when they stay for too long, they accumulate in the system, elevating overdose risk.

But those dangers are one side of the story. Besides the potential adverse effects, CBD-drug interactions can also have a beneficial impact.

How? By enhancing the drug effect. Some drugs come with aggressive side effects, so the less you have to take, the better. By enhancing drug potency, dosages can be lowered and side effects reduced.

The key is maintaining a balance, so the drug can still be effective while side effects decrease. In this scenario, hemp oil emerges as an excellent alternative for adjunct therapy. Let’s see some examples.

CBD and Blood Pressure Medication

Cannabidiol has shown some promising potential for the cardiovascular system. Data suggest that a single dose can reduce resting blood pressure. It can also be a vasodilator, allowing for greater blood flow. And some studies have noted that it reduces cardiovascular response to anxiety and stress situations.

As for drug interactions, links between CBD and anticoagulants have also been studied. This case report involves warfarin, the most commonly used oral anticoagulant worldwide.

This case report involves warfarin, the most commonly used oral anticoagulant worldwide. And as we mentioned before, the benefits come from enhancing the drug effect. In this particular case, CBD rapidly increased warfarin levels. As a result, warfarin dose was reduced 30%, cutting back on side effects like the threat of severe bleeding.

CBD AND IBUPROFEN INTERACTION

Do a “hemp oil benefits” Google search and its anti-inflammatory properties will surely pop up. There is plenty of evidence on the potential of CBD for anti-inflammatory and chronic pain treatments.  Even to the point where athletes and sports leagues are starting to embrace the benefits.

And what’s the deal with CBD and Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)? When it comes to interactions, it’s similar to that of blood pressure medication.

Think drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. When taken at the same time as CBD, they can stay in the body for a longer time, increasing drug concentration.

That can have potential adverse affects. But as you already know, it can also be beneficial for cutting back on dosage, and potentiating its anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects.

CBD and Antidepressants

In both human and animal studies, CBD has shown promise when it comes to reducing anxiety and depression. This study provided evidence of its benefits in the reduction of anxiety for public speaking. And this one documented its effectiveness for treating anxiety and insomnia in children with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As for CBD-antidepressant interaction, CBD can unlock both positive and negative effects. This article points out benzadiapedines, for which CBD products can increase sedation. But it can also improve mood on bipolar disorder when taken with mood stabilizers.

Go Check you medicines and their possible interactions

So, which drugs should not be taken with CBD? Cannabidiol already appears on some online interaction checkers. And there are a couple of lists you should also check out before taking CBD if you’re already using other medications.

This list can give you insight into four categories: nedication that may increase CBD levels,  medications that may decrease CBD levels, medicines that can have their levels increased by CBD, and medicine that can decrease their levels when used along CBD.

Now, if you want to see a more specific list, we recommend that you check out the Drug Interactions Flockhart Table. It’s a fantastic compilation by the Indiana University School of Medicine, in which you can find drugs metabolized by the cytochrome P450.

The list includes a wide selection of drugs, including:

  • NSAIDs
  • Oral hypoglycemics
  • Angiotensin II blockers
  • Anti-epileptics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • HIV antivirals
  • Antihistamines
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • They can all potentially interact with CBD.

So, on top of identifying them, consulting with your doctor before replacing your medication with CBD, or complementing your treatment with it, is indispensable. That way you can take the best out of both worlds, be aware of possible interactions and be well informed.

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How CBD and THC can Enhance each other

“So happy together!” Yes, just like that classic Turtles song, sometimes CBD and THC work better together than they do apart. It is very common to hear people say that CBD is medicinal, while THC’s just for fun. We are going to explain how this is an inaccurate generalization and how CBD, THC and other cannabinoids work perfectly well together.

Together, cannabinoids and terpenes have better performance in our bodies than they do as isolated compounds.

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In today’s post, we will introduce the concept of “whole plant medicine”, commonly known in the cannabis medical community as the Entourage Effect. Scientists have found that when it comes to medicine, cannabis works better when all of its compounds work as a single unit. With the increasing interest in CBD, many users have set aside THC only for recreational purposes. But even in these cases, adding a little CBD to your THC will make your experience so much better.

Before diving into the Entourage Effect and “whole plant medicine”, let’s take a quick reprise on the medicinal benefits of both THC and CBD.

What is CBD and what are its medicinal benefits?

There are hundreds of cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of them. It is the most abundant cannabinoid in the plant, representing up to 40% of the chemical compounds. Cannabidiol is not psychoactive, which means that this chemical compound won’t get you “high”. Furthermore, CBD has a broad range of medicinal benefits. This is why CBD has become very popular when it comes to treating certain conditions. It won’t get you high and it helps you deal with a lot of ailments.

But how exactly does CBD work in our bodies? Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t interact directly with CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is why cannabidiol doesn’t make you feel “high” like THC does. However, CBD interacts indirectly with these receptors. Why indirectly? Because even though CBD cannot bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors, it activates our Endocannabinoid System. CBD can boost our bodies to produce more endocannabinoids, cannabinoids produced by our own bodies, such as anandamide.

CB1 also has the intriguing and amazing ability to bind with other non-cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Consequently, this cannabinoid interacts with parts of our brain related with pain and other ailments.

CBD can help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Chronic Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy

Impressive, right? Now that we know, in a very superficial way, how CBD works, let’s see what it’s funny brother has to offer besides the giggles.

What is THC and what are its medicinal benefits?

Most people think that THC is only psychoactive while CBD is the medicinal cannabinoid. That is not entirely true. Although THC has a psychoactive effect, it also has medicinal properties. In other words, THC can do so much more than just get you high.

Tetrahydrocannabinol was first discovered by Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam during the 1960s. Dr. Mechoulam and his team in Tel Aviv discovered that THC can bind with specific receptor in our brain: CB1 and CB2. Later, what we explained above was discovered, that CBD cannot directly bind with this receptors. When unlocking this receptors, THC unchains a series of chemical reactions that eventually get you “high”. When THC enters your body and those chemical reactions start, you will experience relaxation, sedation, pain relief, drowsiness, dry mouth and even laughter.

On the contrary, THC can sometimes produce some negative feelings or reactions. Some examples are increased heart rate, anxiety and paranoia. But it also has a lot of medicinal benefits. Since Dr. Mechoulam synthesized for the first time, scientists all around the world started exploring and diving into its complex chemical composition.

Some of the medicinal benefits of THC can be applied to:

  • Neuropathic and chronic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Appetite loss

Sounds familiar? Take a quick look at some of the medicinal benefits of CBD. Some of them are actually the same. As a matter of fact, they do complement each other. And the cannabis plant as a whole is far more powerful than its separate compounds. This is what is known as the Entourage Effect.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The cannabis plant has multiple chemical compounds such as cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) and terpenes. The entourage effect is known as an interactive synergy between the chemical compounds present within the cannabis plant to create a more powerful effect.

Dr. Ethan Russo, cannabis expert, explains it in a very easy and musical way:

“For example, cannabidiol treats pain. But there are other ingredients in cannabis that also treat pain or may limit the side effects of other components. So it is sort of like an ensemble of musical instruments where you might think if THC as the soloist with an important part provided by cannabidiol, but you also have these other components producing a harmony that really increases the overall effect and makes hopefully the best possible medicine[1].

The concept of “entourage effect” was first introduced in 1998 in a scientific research from the The Hebrew University Medical Faculty, Jerusalem, Israel. One year later, Dr. Mechoulam continued the research. In his study, he concluded that: “in some cases plants are better drugs than the natural products isolated from them”.

Based on this, let’s try to make a recipe for chronic pain based on the medicinal properties that we know from terpenes and cannabinoids:

  • Linalool: A terpene found in lavender and laurel with a sedating and calming effect.
  • Caryophyllene: A terpene found in basil, oregano and pepper.
  • CBC: cannabichromene, a cannabinoid that binds with receptors TRPV1 and TRPA1, linked to pain perception
  • Last but not least, THC and CBD

Obviously is not that easy. You will have to be careful with how much of each component you add to the recipe. But just imagine the thousands of possibilities of medicinal properties that can be derived if we understand cannabinoids and terpenes.

How CBD and THC complement each other

CBD and THC, because of the entourage effect, can become a really good power couple. It turns out that medicinal benefits of both compounds can be enhanced. In that same way, some effects can also be canceled out.

Have you ever felt anxious or even paranoid after smoking marijuana? These are some of the effects than THC can produce, such as anxiety and increased heart rate. But if you recall the text above, one of the medicinal benefits of CBD is dealing with anxiety. So, what happens if you add some CBD to your THC? Well, CBD can mitigate or diminish some of the effects of THC. This means that, in this example, you won’t feel so much anxiety and your heart rate won’t increase. In other words, you get a less psychoactive experience.

In the book Smoke Signals, author Martin A. Lee explains how THC and CBD can create a very different experience: “Cannabidiol balances the buzz and softens the euphoria – or, in some cases, the dysphoria – induced by THC, which, in concentrated form, can make people feel very loopy and weird. CBD is the yin of THC’s yang.”

But taking a closer look, the notion that CBD can mitigate THC intoxicating effects means that it could also enhance its medicinal properties. This is explained by Dr. Ethan Russo in a 2011 research: “Scientific evidence is presented for non-cannabinoid plant components as putative antidotes to intoxicating effects of THC that could increase its therapeutic index”.

Medicinal benefits of combining CBD and THC

If you look at what the cannabis market has to offer in terms of CBD and THC strains, you can have three types of doses:

  • THC dominant: The “chosen one” for recreational smokers. Contains High THC and low CBD levels.
  • Balanced THC and CBD: Will not give you not such a psychoactive effect as a THC dominant.
  • CBD dominant: Non psychoactive cannabis, with high amounts of CBD and low amounts of THC. Hemp, for example, is a CBD dominant species.

The most significant medicinal benefits in a balanced CBD and THC strain are anti-inflammatory and pain treatment.  Jessica Peters, founder of Moxie Meds, told Leafly how CBD together with THC is the best treatment for pain: “The range of the volume of THC in relation to CBD will feature different properties. An equal amount of THC to CBD for example is often the best pain reliever”. Because CBD and THC act on different receptors in the body, the effects can be broadened.

The best proof of how CBD and THC work better together for pain relief is a cannabis medications approved by the FDA: Sativex.

Sativex was the first prescription medicine based on the cannabis plant. It is composed of a 1:1 ratio of both CBD and THC. Administered orally by a spray, Sativex is prescribed to treat conditions like spasticity in multiple sclerosis, cancer pain, and neuropathic pain.

In conclusion, understanding cannabis as a “whole medicine plant” can unlock hidden benefits. Combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids with different ratios can result in hundreds of medicinal possibilities. Whether it is to lessen the psychoactive effects of THC or to get the most powerful strain for pain relief, CBD and THC can no longer be considered to be opposite parts of the plant.

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