Endocannabinoid Deficiency Fibromyalgia: Is CBD the Answer?

Fibromyalgia has plagued the lives of many, both physically and emotionally. It causes disability and depression, making people feel isolated and unproductive. However, its cause, just like that of many other conditions, remains a mystery to sufferers and doctors… Could science be close to figuring it out?

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What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious illness that causes sufferers to feel pain in their body for no apparent reason. It is more prevalent in women, and it is currently the most common rheumatology diagnosis in the United States.

Often, people who suffer from it are dismissed as being over dramatic, or some claim their pain to be psychosomatic, which is why the diagnosis is fairly new, compared to other conditions.

However, in recent years, studies have shown that fibromyalgia is, in fact, a very real medical condition that not only causes unnecessary pain signals to be sent to the brain, but also alters the pain threshold, making people a lot more sensitive to these signals, which is referred to as  hyperalgesia.

In sufferers, fibromyalgia causes stress, anxiety, feelings of guilt, isolation, and even disability. It is part of a group of conditions referred to as subjective pain syndromes, which are difficult to identify, since there are no objective, observable signs and they are often resistant to medical treatment. It is characterized by painful trigger points, mostly in the shoulders and neck, that limit physical activity and generate frustration.

It is associated closely with depression and anxiety, but it isn’t clear if one causes the other or if they coexist because they have the same origin.

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Endocannabinoid Deficiency?

In our bodies, the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, has two basic tasks:

  1. Balance feelings of well-being
  2. Stimulating the body to heal from injury or illness

This system reacts to endocannabinoids (cannabinoids that are naturally produced by our bodies), which interact with it and keep it running as it should.

Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome, CECD, happens when the concentration of these endocannabinoids, called anandamide and 2-AG, are lower than normal. This is a very new discovery, the initial theory having been proposed in 2001, and subsequent studies have backed it up.

Slowly, scientists and doctors are catching on to how this affects us, and have been shocked to discover that the effects are a lot broader and more significant than previously thought.

The origin of the theory came from the fact that many brain disorders are related to neurotransmitter deficiencies, so it was concluded that, considering its main function, chronic endocannabinoid deficiency should result in alterations in the sensations of pain, system imbalance and inflammation, since the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in those.

Conditions whose cause has been unknown for centuries now have a little ray of sunshine. Low levels of anandamide have been reported in people suffering from a number of illnesses whose cause was eluding the medical community.

If endocannabinoid deficiency proves to be the cause, these illnesses will now have better, more effective treatments that will make them more manageable, and they will be less likely to cause disability and depression.

Endocannabinoid Deficiency Fibromyalgia, Migraine, PTSD and IBS

Some of the conditions that have been observed to concur with clinical endocannabinoid deficiency are: fibromyalgia, migraines, PTSD and IBS, among others.

These three conditions have certain common characteristics:

  • Heightened sensitivity to pain, or hyperalgesia, which has been observed to be associated with endocannabinoid hypo-function (decreased function of the ECS).
  • Are accompanied by anxiety and depression
  • Have been labeled as psychosomatic
  • They coexist in the majority of cases, which suggests the same cause

Recently, it was discovered that people who suffer from fibromyalgia have a distinct deficiency of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which our body is supposed to produce naturally. Anandamide generates feelings of well-being and, in high amounts, can cause euphoria. However, if its concentration is too low, it has shown to have incredibly negative effects physically and emotionally.

When looking further into the issue, other illnesses were associated with this deficiency, which was officially named “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome,” or CECD. And the main conditions it has been related to often overlap, supporting the theory that it is the possible cause.

Endocannabinoid Deficiency Fibromyalgia: Is CBD the Answer?

If anandamide deficiency proves to be the cause of some or all cases of fibromyalgia, there is a lot of hope for a successful treatment to be developed and standardized in the near future.

CBD is a phytocannabinoid, a cannabinoid that is produced in plants, which stimulates CB2 receptors, the same type of receptors that react to anandamide and cause feelings of wellness and pain relief. Theoretically speaking, CBD should be able to replace anandamide in people who have low concentrations of it, until eventually the body is able to regulate its production.

Interestingly, in a specific study, CBD showed an improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms that highly surpassed those of the usual medications prescribed for this condition (like duloxetine and milnacipran).  

In fibromyalgia and other CECD related conditions, cannabinoid treatment, mainly CBD treatment, has shown improved sleep, pain relief, and other benefits that support the influence of the deficiency in the symptoms.

In a few trials, THC was studied as a possible treatment, but the results were not as significant as the ones showed for CBD and whole plant cannabis, which showed decreased pain and stiffness almost immediately, as well as improvement in sleep and reduced anxiety.

The use of cannabis-based epilepsy medication, Sativex also proved to be highly effective for pain, which proves that CBD oil for fibromyalgia is the best option.

What is the cause of endocannabinoid deficiency fibromyalgia?

Humans have an optimal level of endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG) in the body, which interact with endocannabinoid receptors. When endocannabinoid function is lower than normal,a series of conditions will necessarily follow, such as:

  • Digestive issues
  • Mood alterations
  • Sleep alterations
  • General well-being will be disrupted

It is still unknown why these lower endocannabinoid levels occur, but the CED theory suggests that the cause could be genetic or congenital, or might even be acquired after a significant injury or illness that alters the balance of the endocannabinoid production.

Other illnesses that have been linked to CECD

The ones mentioned above are not the only conditions that seem to be linked to clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. Others that are being evaluated for their possible relation to CECD are:

  • Neonatal failure to thrive
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Infantile colic
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Repetitive, unexplained miscarriages
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder

These are just a few, though there are many others that could be part of this list.

Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is new, but very important discovery being studied currently that could help us understand different conditions that have mostly been a complete mystery to us.

It seems almost obvious when you think about illnesses being caused by the body being unbalanced. A lot of people have spoken about CBD oil and fibromyalgia. However, we are so used to having external causes to our ailments, that we have failed to see what was right under our noses.

Our bodies have lost balance, so we need to return it to them in order to be healthier and feel better. Hopefully CBD treatments are standardized and recognized as valid methods of improving the quality of life of those who suffer from fibromyalgia and have seen their lives altered by it.

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CBD Oil for Seizures: Childhood Epilepsy

Epilepsy can be a devastating diagnosis for children and families alike. Feeling like your child’s life has been interrupted and they can no longer enjoy the activities they once had, or that you thought they would, is heartbreaking.

But parents and doctors all over are making a fuss about cannabis and CBD oil. Most of us have heard something about it.

If you’re still wondering what it’s all about, and how it can help, then here you go…

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High CBD Strains for Epilepsy

There are several high CBD cannabis strains out there; some old, some new. Hemp is the better known one, since it’s been around for centuries, and has been used for different purposes, both medicinal and industrial.

When it comes to epilepsy, some popular high CBD strains are Valentine X, AC/DC, Cannatonic, Therapy A, among many others. But Charlotte’s Web, which was originally called “Hippie’s Disappointment”, is one of the better known ones when it comes to use for minors, due to it being high in CBD and extremely low in THC (30:1 ratio), which means it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects, even in small children. But, hemp and other high CBD strains are very similar to it and more easily obtained. Plus, they also have the beneficial effects that people seek when searching for alternative treatments for epilepsy.

What can CBD do for epilepsy patients?

CBD has anti seizure, antispasmodic and neuroprotective properties, which help epileptic patients reduce the frequency of seizures, loosen the muscle spasms that they are prone to, and slow, or even reverse, the deterioration that the seizures cause in the brain.

There have been several heartwarming success stories of epileptic children who have been treated with CBD oil. And Hippie’s Disappointment, for example, was renamed after a patient that responded very well to it in 2012.

Real Children have benefited from it…

Charlotte Figi, who was five when she started taking CBD, suffers from a very complex type of epilepsy, called Dravet syndrome, which was causing her to have around 300 seizures per week. And, since most children who suffer from this illness die before the age of 10… At this point she was already halfway through her life expectancy.

Her parents eventually came to the realization that traditional medication was not going to do much for their daughter’s condition. And as they looked into alternative treatments, they came across cannabis, which was already being used for epilepsy patients.

They wanted their daughter to enjoy life and have as much quality time as possible, since she was only five. Her illness was not allowing her to be a child and experience life the way she should have been able to.

“During that time, she lost the ability to walk, talk, eat, and really just, like, participate in life at all; she couldn’t do anything, she just sort of laid in my arms, catatonic. And I just thought that was it…” Charlotte’s mom said.

After trying “Hippie’s Disappointment”, Charlotte improved dramatically, only suffering from three or four seizures per month. And, in an impressive turn of events, she was able to completely go off her strong epilepsy medication.

Epilepsy in Children

There are several cases like Charlotte’s. This isn’t an isolated situation, epilepsy affects an alarming number of children and adults in the country, and in the entire world, and it has no cure at the moment, so finding the best, least harmful treatment, should be a priority.

What is it?

Epilepsy is a chronic illness that affects the brain, and is characterized by frequent, unpredictable seizures which are not caused by any other underlying condition (such as fever).

People who suffer from epilepsy can be affected by it in a variety of ways because there are different types of seizures and different causes for the illness. So there’s no way to know how much a person’s quality of life will be altered before they have lived with epilepsy for a while.

In 2015, epilepsy affected more than 3.4 million people in the United States. That is 1.2% of the country’s population. Of these, 470.000 were children, and 3 million were adults.

It is estimated that, today, 0.6% of children suffer from active epilepsy. Though it might not seem like it, it’s a lot.

Causes

Mostly, the cause for epilepsy in children is unknown. However, stroke, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and central nervous system infections can cause epilepsy in people who didn’t previously suffer from it.

Types of Seizures

According to Epilepsy Ontario, there are two main types of epileptic seizures, and each has its own subtypes respectively:

1. Focal Seizures: limited to one point in the brain.

  • With retained awareness
  • With loss of awareness

 

2. Generalized Seizures: there is seizure activity in both hemispheres of the brain.

  • Absence seizures: the child abruptly becomes unaware for a period of time.
  • Tonic-clonic or convulsive seizures: first, the child loses consciousness, stiffens, and falls to the floor. Then, the extremities begin twitching uncontrollably.
  • Atonic seizures: the child loses consciousness and collapses.  

 

  • Clonic seizures: the person loses control of their body and starts twitching involuntarily; it might involve loss of consciousness, followed by confusion.  
  • Tonic seizures: muscle spasms, flexion or extension of the arms or legs, and impaired consciousness.
  • Myoclonic seizures: abrupt muscle jerks in different parts of the body.

 

Depending on the type of seizure a person suffers from, it will look different to those around them, which is why it’s so scary for parents who witness their child’s first ever seizure; it’s something no parent expects to see, and most don’t recognize it for what it is. It can be extremely alarming.

Why are CBD and Hemp getting so much attention from parents of epileptic children?

Before Charlotte’s Web was popularized for pediatric seizure disorders, strains like hemp and AC/DC were already being used as an alternative treatment for epilepsy patients, including children. And they still are, since CBD has no side effects and no risk of overdose as far as we know.

In the past few years, actual medical studies and trials have been conducted in different countries, with very positive results, which brings a lot of hope to the medical community.

There are a lot of illnesses, epilepsy among them, which have not yet been fully unravelled, and medication for it hasn’t been perfected. Symptoms and complications are tough to deal with, so science is constantly trying to figure out which medication could be developed in order to help without causing side effects that are worse than the actual illness.

Since cannabis has had such a bad reputation due to its known recreational use, looking into it medicinally has been generally frowned upon. This preconception has slowed the research and the studies, especially when it comes to children. However, we’re coming to a point when illnesses are becoming less deadly, but more impairing. Yes: people now have a longer lifespan, but a very poor quality of life.

It is particularly harrowing for parents to see their young children suffering and not enjoying life. This gives them the courage to try options that might be unpopular, because they really have nothing to lose.

This is the reason why, in the past few years, CBD has had a lot more buzz. Parents are looking, the internet is showing, and, when something works, those parents want to share their experience with the world and with other parents.

Concerns

Parents and healthcare professionals have several concerns: does CBD oil affect a child’s development? Does it get them high? Does it make them more likely to develop an addiction in the future?

The answer to all of these is NO.

Brain Development

CBD in no way affects a child’s development. In fact, in cases where a child suffers from epilepsy or autism, where the cognitive development is impaired, CBD treatments have been shown to stop, and even reverse this deterioration and improve psychosocial abilities.

Does the Child get High?

It doesn’t get children “high”. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects, and people who consume it retain their full capacity and awareness.

Does it Generate Addiction?

CBD has been proven to be non-addictive; it does not create habit or make children or adults more likely to develop it in the future.

The benefits, however, have the potential of preventing brain damage which would have been caused by years of frequent and strong seizures.

CBD: Improving the Quality of Life

Today, thousands of parents and doctors swear by CBD. Remember these are families who have known heartbreak closely by seeing a crippling illness reduce their child’s quality of life immensely.

This is the hardest part of chronic illnesses. Surviving, but not living. Or seeing someone survive, but not live.

CBD is able to not only treat an illness, but to return joy and life to a person, child or adult, who has forgotten what it feels like to enjoy day to day activities. It doesn’t just reduce seizures; it gives something back. And it’s not just for epilepsy patients. CBD helps with a number of symptoms, chronic or acute.

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What should I do if someone is having a seizure?

If you see someone having a seizure, it can be very scary. You might feel extremely worried and be afraid to hurt the person by trying to help.

If there’s a doctor in the room, he or she will likely identify themselves and take charge of the situation. Let them! And be ready to assist them if needed, but don’t get in the way.

If there are no doctors in the room, keep calm and here’s a video that shows you what to do!

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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What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome and How to treat it

Cannabis has gone mainstream. Prohibition is no longer an option. Patients, families and organizations all around the world are demanding legalization. Countries all over have legalized medical marijuana, with Canada and Uruguay legalizing it even for recreational purposes.

Cannabinoids, the compounds in marijuana, can be used to treat epilepsy, arthritis, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and as an anti-inflammatory agent.

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There are no reports of cannabis overdose, it produces no dependency and the worst side effect you can get is ordering an extra-large pizza… or two. It appears there is nothing harmful about cannabis. However, recent studies suggest there might be a condition related to long-term use of cannabis. People all around the United States are experiencing nausea, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Patients also have a compulsive tendency to take hot showers when symptoms are intense. Strangely, the symptoms stop when cannabis use is suspended. This condition is called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.

There are a lot of questions that patients, users and doctors have about Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. Is there enough evidence to support the fact that cannabis produces CHS? If so, why is it that cases are just recently being reported? Why does cannabis treat and at the same time, cause a medical condition? And, if cannabis is the cause, is there any treatment? Let’s find out…

What does research say about Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Although THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effect of cannabis, it also has medicinal properties. It is widely used in the medical community to help with nausea, vomiting, as well as abdominal pain. Then why is the cure also the cause of these symptoms?

South Australian Research (2004)

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome was first mentioned in a 2004 Australian research. Scientists started investigating patients experiencing cyclical vomiting and their symptoms. They found that all 10 patients who were submitted to the test had one thing in common: chronic cannabis use.

The findings were:

  • Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven cases.
  • Three cases did not abstain and continued to have recurrent episodes of vomiting.
  • Three cases who had abstained, returned to the habit after a significant period of abstinence and suffered a relapse of the illness.
    • Two of these cases abstained again, and became well again.
    • The third case did not abstain and remained ill.

Researchers also found an interesting pattern. Of the 10 patients, nine of them admitted to having taken hot baths when the symptoms were severe. Patients told researchers this practice would lessen the pain. Australian researchers concluded that: “chronic cannabis abuse was the cause of the cyclical vomiting illness in all cases, including the previously described case of psychogenic vomiting”.

Other reported cases

In 2009, a case study conducted in the United Kingdom, researchers described a 22 year old male with a history of chronic cannabis abuse who suffers from severe and recurrent vomiting, intense nausea and abdominal pain. The patient also reported having hot baths to ease his symptoms. The study concluded that if a patient with regular and chronic cannabis intake presents severe nausea and vomiting, together with abdominal pain, and compulsive hot bathing behavior, “a diagnosis of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome should be considered”.

Another study, also published in 2009, reported two cases showing identical symptoms. The first one was a 25-year-old woman who arrived at the ER reporting nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain that worsened throughout several days. Over the past five years, she had experienced the same symptoms on several occasions. And, what was the only thing that could calm those symptoms? A long, hot bath. After 48 hours in the hospital without consuming cannabis, her symptoms stopped and she was discharged.

The 2011 Temple University study

Even though previous studies showed a pattern worth considering, there was no further explanation of the Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome condition itself. A 2011 study from the Temple University explained in detail the stages of CHS and why regular cannabis intake might be a possible cause. Contrary to previous studies, researchers from Temple University established that “chronic cannabis use” is equivalent to a consumption rate of three to five times per day.

They identified 3 stages of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome:

Prodromal Phase

This early stage can begin months before heavy and intense symptoms of nausea and vomiting. In this phase, patients tend to feel morning sickness, mild abdominal pain, and nausea. Researchers found that patients tend to consume more cannabis to relieve nausea.

Hyperemetic Phase

This is where symptoms get serious. Patients star experiencing persistent nausea and vomiting, along with abdominal pain. Patients also suffer from weight loss and dehydration because of loss of appetite. During this phase, people begin taking hot showers compulsively.

Although there is no certain answer to why people suffering from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome take hot showers, researchers had a hypothesis: “hot bathing may act by correcting the cannabis-induced equilibrium of the thermoregulatory system of the hypothalamus”

Recovery Phase

The only treatment researchers found to stop CHS is to stop cannabis use. Patients will start to recover in matter or days or weeks.

Researchers concluded that although cannabis is used successfully to treat nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, there is increasing evidence of its negative effects on the gastrointestinal tract and, therefore, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.

So… does this mean goodbye to cannabis?

Oh, hell no! Cannabis, as other substances like alcohol, has a biphasic effect. Low and high doses have different effects on the body. And every organism reacts differently to cannabis, as well as other substances. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, medical director of Canna-Centers, wrote about this in Project CBD.

He explains that it’s very possible that some people are more predisposed to this condition than others. Only a very small percentage of people who regularly consume high THC strains get this syndrome. He adds that low daily users of low dose THC are “unlikely” to develop CHS. As always, moderation is the way to go.

“In my experience, medical cannabis patients that are thoughtful in their use of THC-rich medicine are at very low risk for developing CHS. I have seen only two cases of CHS in the last decade of practice. That being said, CHS is quite easy to avoid if you are thoughtful about your use of THC and make sure to not over do it”.

And, to add more studies, here’s one to contradict the above. Two years after the 2004 Australian research was published, three fellow countrymen had something to say about it. According to their publication, the study lacks research and biological explanation.

“Cannabis has been consumed for many centuries and is currently used by millions of people in many countries. It is hard to believe that a distinctive syndrome caused by cannabis has never been noted before by users or clinicians”.

Are there other treatments for CHS?

As explained above, patients suffering from symptoms of CHS only find relief with a hot shower. When the pain is extreme, people tend to take hot baths up to six times a day. But there might be a better solution for both your gut and your wallet: red hot chili peppers.

Don’t think that listening to Californication with a hot bath is the only solution. A study published on January 2018 reported the case of a CHS patient whose symptoms improved after applying topical capsaicin (an active component of chili peppers). It appears that the heat produced by the capsaicin has a very similar reaction as the hot water.

Keeping your high low

Nevertheless, the truth is that there is no evidence to support either side of the story. Although there have been documented cases of patients that recover from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome by suspending cannabis intake, it is still unclear how or why cannabis can both relieve and cause nausea and vomiting.

According to a doctor at Green Leaf Health Care, quoted on Leafly, the relationship with regular cannabis intake is more a chemical issue: “I’ve traveled through India and Asia extensively and know heavy long-term users without ever having issues regarding hyperemesis. Perhaps long term use and concentrated levels could produce these issues in certain susceptible individuals; however, I feel like it’s more of a chemical issue.”

There’s still a lot of research to be done to understand if there is a direct correlation between CHS symptoms and cannabis. As always, we recommend being responsible with your cannabis intake. Remember that when it comes to cannabis, whether you use it for medical or recreational purposes, less is more.

If you start to experience intense nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, suspend the use of cannabis and consult your doctor.

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21 Recently Discovered Cannabinoids Scientists are Talking About

Marijuana has many different chemical compounds. Each of these handles a particular characteristic of the plant. You’re probably familiar with one of the compounds: chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes plants, including cannabis, green. Another important chemical compound is terpene, which gives plants different aromas and flavors.

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Cannabinoids: The Most Important Chemicals

Cannabinoids are cannabis’ most important chemicals. They are responsible for giving the plant its medical and recreational characteristics. So far, scientists have identified more than 120 cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two cannabinoids that are better known.

Cannabinoids have been used to help with addictions, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis and more. Below, are some of the better known and beneficial compounds:

THC

THC is responsible for the “high” that people experience after consuming marijuana. It has also been found to be a mild painkiller. This cannabinoid has some antioxidant qualities as well.

CBD

CBD, in contrast to THC, does not give you that effect. In fact, using CBD can dilute the high feeling. CBD also has many medical benefits such as managing chronic pain and reducing inflammation. Relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety are other benefits that CBD has been shown to have for those who use cannabis.

CBG

Cannabigerol (CBG) is another cannabinoid that doesn’t give you that “high” feeling. CBG have antibacterial properties. Scientists think that CBG can slow or stop the growth of bacteria. And also reduces inflammation and encourage bone growth.

CBDV

Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is like CBD in its chemical makeup. However, it reacts to different receptors in the body. There has been promising research using CBDV in epilepsy management.

CBC

Cannabichromene (CBC) has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. It also helps slow the growth of cancer and tumor cells. CBC encourages the growth of bone. Cannabis plants that are tropical in nature are the ones that most often have higher levels of CBC.

21 New Cannabinoids Discovered

Research about cannabinoids’ effects has been going on for decades. Researchers have only begun to understand the true benefits of cannabinoids. This was supported recently by a study that researchers from the University of British Columbia carried out.

First, the researchers collected 33 strains of cannabis from licensed Canadian producers. The purpose of the study was to find out the reasons for the different effects of the cannabis strains. The first theory suggests it’s about the levels of THC and CBD consumed. Another theory, assured that it was about the ratio or balance, of CBD and THC.

These scientists actually identified 21 brand new compounds that are like cannabinoids. They also realized that the levels of THC and CBD aren’t very different among the strains of cannabis. This was in contrast to what has been believed for many years.

The differences between the strains of marijuana were due to the levels of CBD and THC only 36 percent of the time. The other 64 percent was because there were other cannabinoids in the strains. It was these unknown cannabinoids that set the strains apart from one another.

Informal breeders focused solely on those strains that offered the highest THC levels. As a result, the plant’s diversity suffered. At present, those strains that have THC levels of more than 20 percent can no longer produce CBD. Those strains were also found to have fewer of the recently discovered cannabinoids.

Today, the industry has taken a more scientific approach to the breeding of cannabis. A structured breeding program is the mark of a quality company. Knowledge of the benefits of cannabinoids is likely to increase. This measured approach is one that will result in a high-quality product that could change your life.

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How Cannabinoids are Responsible for Runner’s High

After running or working out, people experience a number of sensations. This is known as the runner’s high, and studies suggest it is produced because of a cannabinoid found in our own brain.

“Run, Forest! Run!” Remember that scene from that awesome and timeless movie? Forest escaping from those bullies in bikes, rushing to the end-zone or crossing the entire country with a beard while the crowd followed him. “I just felt like running”, he said in that unforgettable accent of his. After those metal supports came off his legs, he never stopped running.

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Well, the truth is that Forest Gump was high as a kite on endocannabinoids. And if you are a regular runner, you probably have experienced the same high as Forest. Psychologically, and according to WebMD, runners experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of pain or discomfort and even loss in sense of time while running.

This concept is known as runner’s high. Biologically speaking, running sets in motion a lot of chemical reactions that give that sensation of being unstoppable. For a long time, scientists thought endorphins were responsible for that high. However, studies found that there is a direct correlation between intense aerobic activity and the endocannabinoid system.

What is the Runner’s High?

Forest just sitting in his dock. Looking at the horizon with his Bubba Gump hat laying in his lap. Then something clicks in that mind of his. He gets up slowly and starts running. “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a run. And for no particular reason, I just kept on going”. He ran all across his loving Alabama and continue all the way to the west coast.

During the last decade, running has become one of the most popular activities in the United States. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2003, only 15.9% of people 15 and older participated in some form of exercise. That number grew up to 20% in 2015. And if you don’t believe statistics, just take a look at your street or your nearest park in the morning. You are going to see a whole army of people with an armband, headphones and running shoes. And just like Forest, when does people start running, they just keep on going.

But, if you start to think about it, you have to ask the question. Why people like Forest and your neighbors are so into running? We can answer that. And no, the answer is not Jenny!

Endorphins

For decades, scientists have tried to figure out why exercise becomes so addictive for some people like Forest Gump. Some dare to say that it is as addictive as any other drug. Actually, it is not that far from the truth. During the 80’s, some studies concluded that there was a direct link between endorphins and running. Endorphins, in a very superficial definition, are the opioids that our bodies produce naturally.

Endorphins interact with several receptors in the brain that reduce perception of pain. Also, endorphins produce a positive feeling in our bodies. Endorphins can also be released during other physical activities, like sex. So when Jenny got into Forest’s bed, he also got high on endorphins. Naughty Forest.

But let us go back to running. A study published during early 1984 made a review on the evidence on exercise and endorphins. Among other findings, it concluded that there was significant evidence that endorphins “depress ventilation and play a role in ventilatory regulation”. This means that high levels of endorphins can change the perception of fatigue.

Furthermore, in 2009 a study explained how addictive exercise can become. Scientists concluded that, when taken to extremes, exercise can “develop into an addictive-like behavior”. Mice were submitted to exercise on a running wheel. They got so addicted to it that they showed a dependency similar to that observed in morphine dependant patients. Rats who went through high intensity running showed very severe withdrawal symptoms. There where even cases of mice that preferred running over eating to the point of even dying.

Recently, a new study came up. It suggested that endorphins were not the ones in charge of creating runner’s high. Another chemical compound created by our bodies came up: anandamide.

What is Anandamide?

Forest Gump was first released on June 23, 1994. Two years before that, halfway around the world, a couple of scientist discovered a chemical compound created in our brain. This chemical compound was proof that every human body produces its own cannabinoid. On March 24, 1992, Lumír Hanus, a Czech chemist, and William Devane, an American pharmacologist, isolated for the first time a cannabinoid produced in the human brain. They called it anandamide.

Hanus and Devane were working in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They were part of a team lead by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, world’s leading scientist on cannabis.

Hanus and Devane called this new molecule Anandamide because of the Sanskrit word “ananda”, which means “joy, bliss or happiness”. Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule”. It is the mimetic twin of THC, another cannabinoid. Unlike anandamide, it is found in the cannabis plant and produces psychoactive effects. But what they do have in common is that they both activate CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brains. And most importantly, anandamide produces psychological and physical effects like euphoria and pain relief.

Although it is hard to believe director Robert Zemeckis knew anything about anandamide, his lead character is full of it throughout the movie. At the beginning, when we said that Forest was high on cannabinoids, we really meant it. It turns out that when Forest was running or playing ping pong like his life depended on it, anandamide was all over his brain. And remember that part when he was in Vietnam, running through the jungle trying to save Bubba and Lieutenant Dan, he screamed “something bit me!”? Well, maybe the reason why Forest didn’t feel that much pain when that bullet reached his buttucks was because of anandamide flowing through his brain.

Endocannabinoid System, Anandamide and Runner’s High

Because of the discovery of anandamide, scientists started to consider that endorphins were not the reason for the runner’s high. When you start jogging, playing ping pong or running all across the Vietnamese jungle, endorphins are not the reason for that feeling of euphoria. Anandamide is.

Twenty three years after Hanus and Devane isolated anandamide for the first time, German scientists made the link between the endocannabinoid system, anandamide and runner’s high. They proved, among other things, that endorphins had nothing to do with the “high”.

Goodbye endorphins, Hello Anandamide!

These German researchers observed in the study that endorphins can’t pass the blood-brain barrier. However, they also found high levels of an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Contrarily, anandamide could travel from blood to brain. They also found high levels of anandamide in people’s blood after running. Anandamide has two important effects that are directly involved with runner’s high: analgesic and anti anxiety effects.

The researchers proved this with mice that were acquainted to exercise in a running wheel. They divided that group into two: one group would continue to run for 5 hours per day, while the other one remained without exercise.

After this, scientists submitted the mice to different tests to measure and analyze anxiety, pain reception and sedation. Their findings showed that two of the endocannabinoid system receptors played a major role in runner’s high. When anandamide interacts with CB1 receptors, it inhibits anxiety. While CB1 and CB2 receptors both have a response on pain reduction.

To get back to Forest, maybe that’s why he was so calm in the middle of a war and how he managed to keep on running even though he was shot in the buttock.

Other scientists, this time from the Arizona’s School of Anthropology, measured the endocannabinoid system responses in humans, dogs and ferrets, before and after treadmill exercise. They wanted to compare non-cursorial mammals (mammals that don’t have limbs suitable for running) such as ferrets with cursorial mammals, like dogs and humans like Forest.

Their study showed that humans and dogs show an increase signaling of the Endocannabinoid System after exercise. On the contrary, ferrets don’t experience much change in their endocannabinoid system after running. These findings can explain why “humans and other cursorial mammals habitually engage in aerobic exercise despite the higher associated energy costs and injury risks”.

Forest Gump is high on anandamide

Running made Forest very happy. It got him from playing football to winning a congressional medal of honor. He crossed the whole country and, most importantly, made his mama really proud. And while he did all of that, his endocannabinoid system was working as hard as he did. Every time Forest runs, anandamide levels start rising in his brain, nervous system and endocannabinoid system.

It is not endorphins but cannabinoids the ones that provide that runner’s high. Studies prove that anandamide, our very own and self-produced cannabinoid, gives Forest and the millions of runners in the world that bliss, that joy and that high after exercising.

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What is a Terpene and the Entourage Effect?

When you’re trying to learn about cannabis, many people think all they need to buy is whatever is strongest. In the pre-legal days, this was often all buyers wanted and sellers focused on delivering. But today, in states where cannabis is legal, there are a lot more types of cannabis products to enjoy. At the same time, many still think that the ‘good stuff’ needs to be high in THC, a molecular compound called a cannabinoid.

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Cannabinoids and the Entourage Effect

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it’s what causes the mental and physical effects that can last a few minutes to a few hours. People who aren’t very familiar with all the types of marijuana believe that this is the only effect of using it. In a cannabis flower, like a pre-roll joint, the amount of THC is usually between 10-30 percent.

Extracts and concentrates like hash or oil can provide a higher number, giving you even more satisfaction. But these actually strip away everything in the plant except the THC. This gives people a quick high but without any flavor.

That’s where the problem lies, and it’s something not a lot of people are aware of.

THC is actually one of more than 100 cannabinoids. All can combine to give you a better experience. Another common compound in marijuana is CBD. While THC provides the mind and body ‘high’ that people are familiar with, CBD‘s main effect is pain relief.

CBD products can include oil, lotions and other topical items. CBD oil benefits can mean even more relief. Oil is often made from hemp, a form of the cannabis plant that’s high in CBD, but low in THC.

You can enhance your cannabis experience by looking for ways to try all the compounds together — this is called the entourage effect. Along with benefits from all the compounds, the entourage effect makes CBD and THC work better.

Beyond the entourage effect, there are other methods to further enjoy your experience. One is by focusing on individual flavors, called terpenes.

What is a terpene?

Terpenes are natural ingredients in every plant that produce specific tastes and aromas.

For instance, terpene profiles make oranges smell different than apples. Terpene profiles also show how oranges are different from other citrus like limes or lemons, and different types of oranges.

There are wide ranges of cannabis terpenes, which all add flavors and effects.

Some include:

  • Myrcene: Mango, hops, thyme and cannabis all have this terpene. It has a fruity taste and can cut down on inflammation.
  • Pinene: The A and B varieties have a piney smell, and are in cannabis and pine needles, plus parsley and dill. It’s used in air fresheners and plastic Christmas trees. Pinene improves alertness and memory, reduces pain and reduces the effect of THC. It also helps the lungs work better and people breathe better.
  • Limonene: This citrus smell is in mint, juniper and rosemary. It helps people feel less pain, anxiety and inflammation.
  • Beta-Caryophyllene: BCP helps moods, reduces pain and inflammation and boosts appetite. It’s known for a peppery, spicy taste and examples of it include black pepper and cloves. BCP is also known for anti-anxiety properties.
  • Linalool: Citrus, rosewood and lavender all have this spicy, floral smell. It calms and relaxes, whether in cannabis or other plants.

Different Terpenes can give you different effects

These combinations of flavors, terpenoids and compounds can create all sorts of opportunities to find the ideal flavor and effects of cannabis strains that are most appealing to you. Are you looking to get mellow? Do you want more energy? Would you like to sleep better? Do you want to get creative? There’s plenty to try and sample. It’s also easy to compare high THC to high alcohol count. If someone seeks only high alcohol, like those who want the highest THC, all you’ll get is high-octane stuff.

Or you can opt for a nice craft beer or good wine. Sit and sip several with your friends, savoring each sip and having a few throughout the evening.

Today’s variety of cannabis, creates all sorts of options for people who are in search for what’s right for them.

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6 Things you should know before giving cannabis to your pet

Have you ever wondered what you can give to your dog or cat for pain? Planning on giving medicinal marijuana to your pet?

There are a few things you need to take into account before you do, such as the right cannabinoid and dosage. Here, we break it down for you.

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Here’s something you probably didn’t know about cannabis: all vertebrate animals naturally produce their own cannabinoids.

Now, don’t get scared. It’s not like your dog is going to get high out of the blue. Most animals, naturally produce molecules (2-AG and Anandamide) that resemble the effect of THC, but in a very small proportion. But that’s a story for another time. The point is, all of this is possible because of something called the Endocannabinoid System.

It should be kept in mind that, although cannabis therapy is believed by many in the scientific community to have significant value, studies are still in the initial stage and have not provided definitive answers.

Cats, dogs, horses, humans, and every other pet you can imagine (except insects, if they are even considered pets), have something called Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which controls key aspects in the biology of all vertebrate species.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Everything needs to be in balance. For cells to work and function in an optimal way, the body has to maintain perfect internal conditions. This is called homeostasis. The word comes from ancient greek, and it combines two concepts that mean “staying the same”. Homeostasis is “any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival”. And ECS is a biological system present in every vertebrate animal that plays an important role in homeostasis.

Consequently, the ECS and endocannabinoids help regulate appetite, pain, inflammation, thermoregulation, sensation, muscle control, energy balance, sleep, stress, mood, memory, among others.

This happens because the body has special receptors that interact with endocannabinoids, working like key and lock.

CB1 and CB2 receptors

Even though there are a lot of endocannabinoid receptors, there are two that remain the most important: CB1 and CB2. These receptors are locked and need a specific key to set ECS into motion. Those keys are endocannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, among others. Even though CB1 and CB2 receptors are present in most parts of the body, each one is more present in some more than others.

CB1 is one of the most abundant receptors in the brain and nervous system. This particular receptor is the one to blame for the “high” effect of cannabis. When THC flows into your body, it works as a key to unlock the CB1 receptor, triggering the psychoactive effect of this particular cannabinoid. However, CB1 also liberates the THC medical benefits, such as pain relief.

On the other hand, CB2 is found mainly in the immune system. And this particular receptor is the one that is compatible with CBD, the cannabinoid that doesn’t have the psychoactive effect of cannabis. When CBD unlocks CB2 receptor, it produces medical responses related to appetite and pain. The connections between CB2 receptor and CBD are widely used to treat animal illnesses. If you have pets at home, you should continue reading.

Medical benefits of CBD in pets

When THC was first synthesized in the early 60s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, it set in motion a wave of scientific studies to discover and find more evidence to prove the medical benefits of cannabinoids in humans. However, reports and studies in animals, specifically pets (such as dogs and cats), have become a more interesting subject in recent years.

Early studies were conducted in small rodents, mostly mice. As a result, scientists found that cannabinoids are beneficial for several disorders such as pain, cardiovascular disorders, asthma, diabetes and vomiting, among others.

But when it comes to medicinal marijuana, dogs are not like mice, or even like humans. These furry companions react very differently when exposed to THC. According to Dr. Robert J. Silver, author of the book Medical Marihuana & Your Pet: The Definite Guide, a dog’s metabolism reacts very differently to THC: “Of all species in the world, dogs have a much higher density of THC receptors, which makes them very sensitive to its adverse effects”.

Hemp, the perfect variety for pets

On the contrary, Dr. Silver explains that CBD doesn’t have the adverse effects in dogs and cats that THC does. In conclusion, he recommends hemp as the ideal plant for treating pets, mostly because it has low levels of THC and a high presence of CBD.

Hemp, and therefore CBD, can be used to treat the same conditions in pets and in humans.This conditions may include anxiety, stress, arthritis and seizures. However, it works best and in a more effective way in anxiety, noise phobia and lack of appetite. It’s a funny thing that the most common side effect is an increased appetite.

Yes, dogs also get the munchies.

But experts always warn that there is something that you have to be very careful about when treating your pet with medicinal cannabis. If you really want to see the the benefits of CBD and not hurt you pet in the process, always keep the dosage in mind.

Dosage: not the same in humans and pets

First of all, when it comes to dosage, you can’t consider your dog or cat  a “small human” and just adjust it to the weight.

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, a lot of cases have been reported were pets accidentally eat their owner’s edibles. This is extremely dangerous because of the low tolerance dogs have of THC. Also, dogs don’t process chocolate very well, so a chocolate based edible is considered potentially lethal.

Specifically, the THC receptors in dogs are located in a part of the brain called cerebellum. This area is in charge of balance and equilibrium. And, as you read above, these THC receptors are abundant in dogs. So when your curious and faithful friend ingests a high amount of this cannabinoid, it will start to lose its balance and fall uncontrollably. This is called, as said by Dr. Silver, “Static Ataxia”.

However, Dr. Silver recommends that a very, very small dose of THC can be a good place to start: 0.05 milligrams per pound of your pet’s body weight. But you have to be careful and be alert to see the side effects. If after two hours your dog starts acting dizzy, its eyes get red and loses its balance, the dose is too high. If these symptoms don’t show, then you’re good to go.

In hemp derivatives, high in CBD, the correct dose Dr. Silver recommends is 0.05mg/pound twice a day. It’s better to start with a small dose and then start increasing it over the weeks.

CBD for Pets: The right dossage

As you can see, cannabinoids can have medicinal uses for pets as well as humans. CB1 and CB2 receptors, when unlocked by THC or CBD, trigger a series of responses in the body only possible because of the ECS, present in all vertebrates. Although THC can be extremely lethal to your dog, CBD has a lot of medical benefits and almost no side effects (other than the munchies). But, if you are considering CBD as a treatment for your pet, you have to be very careful with dosage. Consult your vet, and start with small proportions and increase gradually.

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