Castor Oil Speeds Up Healing & Improves Your Immunity

Castor oil - Dr. Axe
Folk healers worldwide have used castor oil to treat a wide variety of health conditions for thousands of years. The use of castor oil goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who used it to treat eye irritations and as a powerful natural skin care remedy. In India, castor oil has been prized for its skin-healing, digestive-soothing, antibacterial properties and is commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine practices.

Not sure about castor oil benefits? Find Out Here.

For centuries, at the first sign of illness, many mothers and grandparents would immediately turn to giving their children castor oil either topically or internally to naturally boost immune function and speed up healing. Derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis), records show that many years ago the plant was referred to as the “Palma Christe” because the shape of the plant’s leaves were said to resemble the palm of Christ.


What Is Castor Oil?

Throughout history, castor oil’s most popular use has been for treating skin infections, lowering constipation and boosting the appearance of hair health, but research has shown that castor oil has even more important applications for supporting the immune system. Castor oil is capable of increasing white blood cells and the count of T-11 cells (a type of special white blood cells that act like antibodies) produced within the body’s lymphocytes that help kill viruses, fungi, bacteria and cancer cells.

Many of castor oil’s benefits come down to its chemical composition. It’s classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and almost 90 percent of its fatty acid content is a specific and rare compound called ricinoleic acid. Castor oil is considered to be pretty unique because ricinoleic acid is not found in many other substances, and it’s such a dense, concentrated source. It is produced by cold-pressing the seeds and subsequent clarification of the oil by heat.

Aside from its primary constituent, ricinoleic acid, castor oil also contains certain beneficial salts and esters that function primarily as skin-conditioning agents. At the same time, they help stabilize the texture and consistency of products, which is why castor oil is used in so many cosmetics, hair and skin-care treatments.

According to the International Journal of Toxicology, castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil reportedly were used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively, during the time of an analysis in 2002! Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil is the name given to the type of castor oil used in cosmetics, which you might find listed on the ingredient label, especially in lipsticks.


Castor Oil Benefits

As an unsaturated fatty acid, ricinoleic acid found in castor oil has many healing abilities, including:

  • supporting the lymphatic system
  • increasing circulation
  • preventing the growth of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds
  • fighting skin disorders and infections
  • helping to kill ringworm, keratoses, skin inflammation, abrasions and fungal infections
  • healing acne
  • helping hair grow
  • reducing itching and swelling on the skin
  • fighting toenail fungus
  • easing constipation
  • hydrating chapped lips
  • reducing painful sunburns
  • helping with pregnancy and inducing labor
  • and many more

One of the major reasons castor oil has strong immune-enhancing effects is because it supports the body’s lymphatic system. The most significant role of the lymphatic system, which is spread throughout the whole body in small tubular structures, is that it absorbs and removes excess fluids, proteins and waste materials from our cells.

Lymph nodes located within these tubes act like the body’s natural filters for toxins, and they also pump out antibodies when we’re sick to keep foreign proteins or bacteria at bay. If you’ve ever had an enlarged lymph node in your neck or near your genitals, for example, this is a sign that a high level of antibodies are being released in order to fight an infection near that area.

When the lymphatic system isn’t working properly, this can eventually lead to the failure of many healthy cells and possibly degeneration and destruction of organs. For example, poor lymphatic drainage of the heart is linked to tissue damage, which can add to or worsen coronary heart diseaseconditions.

Aside from capturing leaking fluid from our tissues that contain waste, increasing function of the circulation system and helping create defensive antibodies for the immune system, the lymphatic system also helps absorb lingering fat molecules within the small intestine. In fact, a large percentage of all the fat absorbed from the gut requires the help of the lymphatic system. Some fat molecules remain unabsorbed because they’re essentially too large to move from the small to large intestine. This means they can be released into the lymphatic system and then into the bloodstream, where they can be carried throughout the body to be used for fuel.


10 Castor Oil Uses

1. Improves Immune Function

Castor oil is believed to improve lymphatic drainage, blood flow, thymus gland health and other immune system functions. Research has shown that patients who use abdominal castor oil packs have significant increases in the production of lymphocytes compared with patients using placebo packs. Lymphocytes are the immune system’s natural “disease-fighters” that attack outside invaders such as toxins, bacteria and other perceived threats.

Castor oil helps with the production of proper levels of lymphocytes, which are released and stored within the lymphatic tissue from the thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and tissue that lines the small intestine. The lymphatic system also impacts the circulatory and digestive systems, which is why castor oil has benefits for helping you detox, supporting heart health and healing digestive issues like constipation, too.

Castor oil is hydrolyzed in the small intestine by pancreatic enzymes, leading to the release of glycerol and ricinoleic acid, along with other beneficial metabolites.

2. Boosts Circulation

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Terpenes: Learn how terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids

Introduction to Terpenes

The cannabis plant consists of a wide variety of chemicals and compounds. About 140 of these belong to a large class of aromatic organic hydrocarbons known as terpenes (pronounced tur-peens). You may have also heard people talk about terpenoids. The words terpene and terpenoid are increasingly used interchangeably, although these terms do have different meanings. The main difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are hydrocarbons (meaning the only elements present are carbon and hydrogen); whereas, terpenoids have been denatured by oxidation (drying and curing the flowers) or chemically modified.

noseTerpenes are synthesized in cannabis in secretory cells inside glandular trichomes, and production is increased with light exposure. These terpenes are mostly found in high concentrations in unfertilized female cannabis flowers prior to senescence (the condition or process of deterioration with age). The essential oil is extracted from the plant material by steam distillation or vaporization. Many terpenes vaporize around the same temperature as THC (which boils at about 157°C), but some terpenes are more volatile than others. Terpenes also play an incredibly important role by providing the plant with natural protection from bacteria and fungus, insects and other environmental stresses.

It is well established that cannabis is capable of affecting the mind, emotions and behavior. The main psychotropic cannabinoid, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been intensely studied. However, many of the other cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids found in medical marijuana that play a big role in boosting the therapeutic effect of cannabis remain understudied.

Terpenes are common constituents of flavorings and fragrances. Terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, are responsible for the aroma of cannabis. The FDA and other agencies have generally recognized terpenes as “safe.” Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the “upper”). However, more specific research is needed for improved accuracy in describing and predicting how terpenes in cannabis can be used medicinally to help treat specific ailments / health conditions.

Synergistic Effects

The Carlini et al study demonstrated that there may be potentiation (a form of synaptic plasticity that is known to be important for learning and memory) of the effects of THC by other substances present in cannabis. The double-blind study found that cannabis with equal or higher levels of CBD and CBN to THC induced effects two to four times greater than expected from THC content alone. The effects of smoking twice as much of a THC-only strain were no different than that of the placebo.

This suggestion was reinforced by a study done by Wilkinson et al to determine whether there is any advantage in using cannabis extracts compared with using isolated THC. A standardized cannabis extract of THC, CBD and CBN (SCE), another with pure THC, and also one with a THC-free extract (CBD) were tested on a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS) and a rat brain slice model of epilepsy.

Scientists found that SCE inhibited spasticity in the MS model to a comparable level of THC alone, and caused a more rapid onset of muscle relaxation and a reduction in the time to maximum effect than the THC alone. The CBD caused no inhibition of spasticity. However, in the epilepsy model, SCE was a much more potent and again more rapidly-acting anticonvulsant than isolated THC; however, in this model, the CBD also exhibited anticonvulsant activity. CBD did not inhibit seizures, nor did it modulate the activity of THC in this model. Therefore, as far as some actions of cannabis were concerned (e.g. anti-spasticity), THC was the active constituent, which might be modified by the presence of other components. However, for other effects (e.g. anticonvulsant properties) THC, although active, might not be necessary for the observed effect. Above all, these results demonstrated that not all of the therapeutic actions of cannabis herb is due to the THC content.

Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory with scientific evidence by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,” as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy and even cancer.

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families known to scientists, and include over 6,000 already-identified family members. About 20 of these compounds, including apigenin, quercetin, cannflavin A and cannflavin B (so far unique to cannabis), β-sitosterol, vitexin, isovitexin, kaempferol, luteolin and orientin have been identified in the cannabis plant. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits, as well as their contribution of vibrant color to the many of the foods we eat (the blue in blueberries or the red in raspberries).

Some flavonoids extracted from the cannabis plant have been tested for pharmacological effects. The clinical findings are promising, but further research is needed to fully understand what role flavonoids play in the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis treatment, especially how they interact with cannabinoids by either synergistically enhancing them or reducing their effects.

The Terpene Wheel

Terpenes have been found to be essential building blocks of complex plant hormones and molecules, pigments, sterols and even cannabinoids. Most notably, terpenes are responsible for the pleasant, or not so pleasant, aromas of cannabis and the physiological effects associated with them. Patients will often ask to smell the cannabis when selecting their medicine. The idea is that certain aromas help identify different strains and their effects.

As the Casano et al study shows, medical marijuana strains can vary greatly from one source to another, and even from one harvest to another. Those with relatively high concentrations of specific terpenes do, however, make them easier to identify by their smell than other strains. Most agree that varieties that smell of musk or of clove deliver sedative, relaxing effects (high level of the terpene myrcene); piney smells help promote mental alertness and memory retention (high level of the terpene pinene); and lemony aromas are favored for general uplift in mood and attitude (high level of limonene).

Flavor wheel (source: GreenHouse Seeds Co.)

Flavor wheel (source: GreenHouse Seeds Co.)

In a spectral analysis performed by Green House Seed Co., they were able to identify the terpenes in each of their strains, and developed a “flavor wheel” to help medical marijuana patients decide on their strain of choice based on the effects desired. Although one of the primary purposes of the wheel was to market different seeds for this particular company, the concept and vocabulary used is becoming an invaluable tool for medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and cultivators alike.

Since then, several companies have developed their own terpene and weed wheels, albeit for the same reasons — to market their own products or services — and that’s OK. By mapping out terpene profiles, we are able to predict and even manipulate the effects and medicinal value of varieties, giving breeders endless opportunities for developing new, highly-desired cannabis strains by basing breeding decisions on real analytical data. The more we are able to communicate using the same language, the easier it is for everyone to understand clearly what medicine they are getting.

Terpenes in Cannabis

Myrcene

Myrcene, specifically β-myrcene, is a monoterpene and the most common terpene produced by cannabis (some varieties contain up to 60% of the essential oil). Its aroma has been described as musky, earthy, herbal – akin to cloves. A high myrcene level in cannabis (usually above 0.5%) results in the well-known “couch-lock” effect of classic Indica strains. Myrcene is found in oil of hops, citrus fruits, bay leaves, eucalyptus, wild thyme, lemon grass and many other plants.

Myrcene has some very special medicinal properties, including lowering the resistance across the blood to brain barrier, allowing itself and many other chemicals to cross the barrier easier and more quickly. In the case of cannabinoids (like THC), myrcene allows the effects of the cannabinoid to take effect more quickly. More uniquely still, myrcene has been shown to increase the maximum saturation level of the CB1 receptor, allowing for a greater maximum psychoactive effect.

Myrcene is a potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antimutagenic. It blocks the action of cytochrome, aflatoxin B and other pro-mutagenic carcinogens. The Bonamin et al study focused on the role of β-myrcene in preventing peptic ulcer disease. The study revealed that β-myrcene acts as an inhibitor of gastric and duodenal ulcers, suggesting it may be helpful in preventing peptic ulcer disease. Its sedative and relaxing effects also make it ideal for the treatment of insomnia and pain.

Since myrcene is normally found in essential oil from citrus fruit, many claim eating a fresh mango about 45 minutes before consuming cannabis will result in a faster onset of psycho activity and greater intensity. Be sure to choose a mango that is ripe otherwise the myrcene level will be too low to make a difference.

Pinene

Pinene is a bicyclic monoterpenoid. Akin to its name, pinene has distinctive aromas of pine and fir. There are two structural isomers of pinene found in nature: α-pinene and β-pinene. Both forms are important components of pine resin. α-pinene is the most widely encountered terpenoid in nature. Pinene is found in many other conifers, as well as in non-coniferous plants. It is found mostly in balsamic resin, pine woods and some citrus fruits. The two isomers of pinene constitute the main component of wood turpentine. Pinene is one of the principal monoterpenes that is important physiologically in both plants and animals. It tends to react with other chemicals, forming a variety of other terpenes (like limonene) and other compounds.

Pinene is used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator and local antiseptic. α-pinene is a natural compound isolated from pine needle oil which has shown anti-cancer activityand has been used as an anti-cancer agent in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many years. It is also believed that the effects of THC may be lessened if mixed with pinene.

Limonene

Limonene is a monocyclic monoterpenoid and one of two major compounds formed from pinene. As the name suggests, varieties high in limonene have strong citrusy smells like oranges, lemons and limes. Strains high in limonene promote a general uplift in mood and attitude. This citrusy terpene is the major constituent in citrus fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper and peppermint, as well as in several pine needle oils.

Limonene is highly absorbed by inhalation and quickly appears in the bloodstream. It assists in the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and other body tissue. It is well documented that limonene suppresses the growth of many species of fungi and bacteria, making it an ideal antifungal agent for ailments such as toenail fungus. Limonene may be beneficial in protecting against various cancers, and orally administered limonene is currently undergoing clinical trials in the treatment of breast cancer. Limonene has been found to even help promote weight-loss.

Plants use limonene as a natural insecticide to ward off predators. Limonene was primarily used in food and perfumes until a couple of decades ago, when it became better known as the main active ingredient in citrus cleaner. It has very low toxicity and adverse effects are rarely associated with it.

Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found in many plants such as Thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper, and in minor quantities in lavender. It’s aroma has been described as peppery, woody and/or spicy. Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system (CB2). Studies show β–caryophyllene holds promise in cancer treatment plans. Research shows shows that β–caryophyllene selectively binds to the CB2 receptor and that it is a functional CB2 agonist. Further, β–caryophyllene was identified as a functional non-psychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in cannabis.

The Fine/Rosenfeld pain study demonstrates that other phytocannabinoids in combination, especially cannabidiol (CBD) and β-caryophyllene, delivered by the oral route appear to be promising candidates for the treatment of chronic pain due to their high safety and low adverse effects profiles.

The Horváth et al study suggests β-caryophyllene, through a CB2 receptor dependent pathway, may be an excellent therapeutic agent to prevent nephrotoxicity (poisonous effect on the kidneys) caused by anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin.

The Jeena, Liju et al study investigated the chemical composition of essential oil isolated from black pepper, of which caryophyllene is a main constituent, and studied its pharmacological properties. Black pepper oil was found to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties. This suggests that high-caryophyllene strains may be useful in treating a number of medical issues such as arthritis and neuropathy pain.

Beta-caryophyllene is used especially in chewing gum when combined with other spicy mixtures or citrus flavorings.

Linalool

Linalool is a non-cyclic monoterpenoid and has been described as having floral and lavender undertones. Varieties high in linalool promote calming, relaxing effects.

Linalool has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Linalool lessens the anxious emotions provoked by pure THC, thus making it helpful in the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety. Studies also suggest that linalool boosts the immune system; can significantly reduce lung inflammation; and can restore cognitive and emotional function (making it useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease).

As shown by the Ma, J., Xu et al study, linalool may significantly reduce lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke by blocking the carcinogenesis induced by benz[α]anthracene, a component of the tar generated by the combustion of tobacco. This finding indicates limonene may be helpful in reducing the harm caused by inhaling cannabis smoke.

Linalool boosts the immune system as it directly activates immune cells through specific receptors and/or pathways. The Sabogal-Guáqueta et al study suggests linalool may reverse the histopathological (the microscopic examination of biological tissues to observe the appearance of diseased cells and tissues in very fine detail) hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease and could restore cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved its use as a pesticide, flavor agent and scent. It is used in a wide variety of bath and body products and is commonly listed under ingredients for these products as beta linalool, linalyl alcohol, linaloyl oxide, p-linalool and alloocimenol. Its vapors have been shown to be an effective insecticide against fruit flies, fleas and cockroaches.

Linalool has been isolated in several hundred different plants. The Lamiaceae plant and herb family, which includes mints and other scented herbs, are common sources. The Lauraceae plant family, which includes laurels, cinnamon, and rosewood, is also a readily available source. The Rutaceae family, which contains citrus plants, is another viable source. Birch trees and several different plant species that are found in tropical and boreal climate zones also produce linalool. Although technically not plants, some fungi produce linalool, as well. Linalool is a critical precursor in the formation of Vitamin E.

Terpinolene

Terpinolene is a common component of sage and rosemary and is found in the oil derived from Monterey cypress. Its largest use in the United States is in soaps and perfumes. It is also a great insect repellent. Terpinolene is known to have a piney aroma with slight herbal and floral nuances. It tends to have a sweet flavor reminiscent of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

Terpinolene has been found to be a central nervous system depressant used to induce drowsiness or sleep or to reduce psychological excitement or anxiety. Further, terpinolene was found to markedly reduce the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibited cell proliferation involved in a variety of human cancers.

Camphene

Camphene, a plant-derived monoterpene, emits pungent odors of damp woodlands and fir needles. Camphene may play a critical role in cardiovascular disease.

The Vallianou et al study found camphene reduces plasma cholesterol and triglycerides in hyperlipidemic rats. Given the importance that the control of hyperlipidemia plays in heart disease, the results of this study provide insight into to how camphene might be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical lipid lowering agents which are proven to cause intestinal problems, liver damage and muscle inflammation. This finding alone warrants further investigation.

Camphene is a minor component of many essential oils such as turpentine, camphor oil, citronella oil and ginger oil. It is used as a food additive for flavoring, and also used in the preparation of fragrances. It is produced industrially by catalytic isomerization of the more common α-pinene.

Terpineol

α-Terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, and 4-terpineol are three closely related monoterpenoids. The aroma of terpineol has been compared to lilacs and flower blossoms. Terpineol is often found in cannabis varieties that have high pinene levels, which unfortunately mask the fragrant aromas of terpineol.

Terpineol, specifically α-terpineol, is known to have calming, relaxing effects. It also exhibits antibiotic, AChe inhibitor and antioxidant antimalarial properties.

Phellandrene

Phellandrene is described as pepperminty, with a slight scent of citrus. Phellandrene is believed to have special medicinal values. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat digestive disorders. It is one of the main compounds in turmeric leaf oil, which is used to prevent and treat systemic fungal infections.

Phellandrene is perhaps the easiest terpene to identify in the lab. When a solution of phellandrene in a solvent (or an oil containing phellandrene) is treated with a concentrated solution of sodium nitrate and then with a few drops of glacial acetic acid, very large crystals of phellandrene nitrate speedily form.

Phellandrene was first discovered in eucalyptus oil. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that it was actually constituted and shown that phellandrene from eucalyptus oil contained two isomeric phellandrene (usually referred to as α-phellandrene and β-phellandrene), and on oxidation with potassium permanganate gave distinct acids, concluding that the acids had been derived from two different isomeric phellandrene. Before that, phellandrene was mistaken for pinene or limonene. Today, we are aware of many essential oils where phellandrene is present. It is, however, a somewhat uncertain terpene as it can only be detected in the oils of some species, especially in Eucalypts, at particular times of the year.

Phellandrene can be found in a number of herbs and spices, including cinnamon, garlic, dill, ginger and parsley. A number of plants produce β-phellandrene as a constituent of their essential oils, including lavender and grand fir. The recognizable odors of some essential oils depend almost entirely upon the presence of phellandrene. Oil of pepper and dill oil are composed almost entirely of phellandrene. The principal constituent in oil of ginger is phellandrene. Phellandrene, particularly α-phellandrene, is absorbed through the skin, making it attractive for use in perfumes. It is also used as a flavoring for food products.

Carene

Delta-3-carene is a bicyclic monoterpene with a sweet, pungent odor. It is found naturally in many healthy, beneficial essential oils, including cypress oil, juniper berry oil and fir needle essential oils. In higher concentrations, delta-3-carene can be a central nervous system depressant. It is often used to dry out excess body fluids, such as tears, mucus, and sweat.

It is nontoxic, but may cause irritation when inhaled. Perhaps high concentrations of delta-3-carene in some strains may be partially responsible for symptoms of coughing, itchy throat and eye afflictions when smoking cannabis.

Delta-3-carene is also naturally present in pine extract, bell pepper, basil oil, grapefruit and orange juices, citrus peel oils from fruits like lemons, limes, mandarins, tangerines, oranges and kumquats.

Carene is a major component of turpentine and is used as a flavoring in many products.

Humulene

Humulene is a sesquiterpene also known as α-humulene and α–caryophyllene; an isomer of β–caryophyllene. Humulene is found in hops, cannabis sativa strains, and Vietnamese coriander, among other naturally occurring substances. Humulene is what gives beer its distinct ‘hoppy’ aroma.

Humulene is considered to be anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (suppresses appetite). It has commonly been blended with β–caryophyllene and used as a major remedy for inflammation. Humulene has been used for generations in Chinese medicine. It aids in weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant.

Pulegone

Pulegone, a monocyclic monoterpenoid, is a minor component of cannabis. Higher concentrations of pulegone are found in rosemary. Rosemary breaks down acetylcholine in the brain, allowing nerve cells to communicate more effectively with one another.

An ethnopharmacology study indicates pulegone may have significant sedative and fever-reducing properties. It may also alleviate the side effects of short-term memory loss sometimes associated with higher levels of THC.

Pulegone has a pleasant peppermint aroma and is considered to be a strong insecticide.

Sabinene

Sabinene is a bicyclic monoterpene whose aromas are reminiscent of the holidays (pines, oranges, spices). Results of an ongoing study by Valente et al suggest that sabinene should be explored further as a natural source of new antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs for the development of food supplements, nutraceuticals or plant-based medicines.

Sabinene occurs in many plants, including Norway spruce, black pepper, basil and Myristica fragrans (an evergreen indigenous to the Moluccas)—the Spice Islands of Indonesia. The seeds of the Myristica fragrans are the world’s main source of nutmeg. Sabinene exists as (+)- and (–)-enantiomers.

Geraniol

Geraniol produces a sweet, delightful smell similar to roses. This makes geraniol a popular choice for many bath and body products. It is also known to be an effective mosquito repellant. Medically, geraniol shows promise in the treatment of neuropathy.

Source: https://www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/terpenes/#terpenes-in-cannabis

 

What Is the GPR55 Receptor and Why Is It Important in CBD’s Benefits?

(imaginima/iStock)

Most people who have dipped their toe in cannabis science understand that cannabinoids like THC and CBD bind to traditional cannabinoid type I and II (CB1 and CB2) receptors. However, these are not the only receptors that cannabinoids target.

A “newly discovered” target called GPR55 has emerged as a major contributor to many of cannabis’ actions in the brain and body.

CBD in particular has a wide range of therapeutic benefits because of its numerous targets other than CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the brain and body. For instance, it reduces anxiety by boosting the brain’s serotoninsystem, and CBD activation of TRPV1 channels helps reduce pain. But a “newly discovered” target called the G-protein coupled receptor 55, commonly referred to as GPR55, has emerged as a major contributor to many of cannabis’ actions in the brain and body, including CBD’s benefits in preventing seizures and combating cancerous tumors.

The Discovery of GPR55

GPR55 was first identified in 1999. At the time, no one knew what its function was or how it was activated. But in 2007, it was revealed that CBD and other cannabinoids can affect its activity. Both the high-inducing chemical, THC, and the endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG, can activate GPR55. CBD, on the other hand, blocks GPR55 activity. All of these cannabinoid actions on GPR55 has made some in the research community consider it as a novel cannabinoid receptor and perhaps the third in the set (i.e., CB3).

There hasn’t been a firm commitment to this new nomenclature. GPR55 only shares 14% similar identity to CB1 and CB2 receptors (for comparison, CB1 and CB2 are 64% similar), and looks a bit different from CB1 and CB2 receptors in the region that interacts with cannabinoids, creating some controversy over how certain cannabinoids affect GPR55. But nonetheless, it seems to have an important role in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, particularly CBD.

GPR55’s Role in Epilepsy

CBD has emerged as a promising anti-epileptic treatment strategy in seizuredisorders that don’t respond well to traditional medications. In cases like Dravet syndrome, mutations in DNA cause a reduction in the level of brain inhibition which manifests as epileptic seizures. (You may have heard of Charlotte Figi, the young girl with Dravet syndrome whose seizures were successfully treated with CBD-rich cannabis and is now the namesake of the popular Charlotte’s Web.)

Despite the exciting anecdotal and clinical trials demonstrating CBD’s effectiveness, they don’t reveal how the drug works. To understand the mechanism by which CBD may reduce seizures, our research team tested a genetic mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We revealed that CBD restores brain inhibition and reduces seizures largely by blocking the activity of GPR55 in the hippocampus, a critical brain region for seizure activity.

GPR55 and Cancer

GPR55 has an increasingly appreciated role in cancer. Because of GPR55’s novelty, many of these studies are in their early stages and haven’t been translated to animals or humans yet.

However, in verified cell lines—which is often the first stage of cancer research—GPR55 activation is thought to have pro-tumor effects while blockade of GPR55 activity (i.e., the effects of CBD) has anti-tumor effects in colorectal cancerbreast cancerpancreatic cancer, and brain cancer. CBD’s direct effect on these cancers remains an exciting yet untested future direction of cancer research.

GPR55 and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is the inflammation of the colon and intestines. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common, and patients who suffer from these diseases have elevated GPR55 levels. This suggests that GPR55 may be having a pro-inflammatory role in the intestines. Indeed, blocking GPR55 activity in mice reduces gastrointestinal inflammation, perhaps underlying why CBD is becoming an increasingly popular treatment strategy for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

CBD’s blockage of GPR55 activity may also contribute to its ability to reduce inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Mice that are genetically unable to produce GPR55 receptors have lower levels of inflammation, inflammation-induced pain, and neuropathic pain after nerve constriction.

How Does GPR55 Affect Cells?

GPR55 is a member of the class of receptors called metabotropic receptors. When these receptors are activated, they lead to a variety of downstream effects in the cell that often depend on what cell type is being tested. For GPR55, the extent of these downstream actions remains unclear across different cell types.

But because of its therapeutic relevance in CBD’s effects, it is a burgeoning area of scientific investigation which will provide an even stronger foundation for CBD’s medicinal benefits. You’ll undoubtedly be hearing more about GPR55 in the future!

Source: https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/health-benefits-cbd-on-g-protein-coupled-receptor-55

 

Binge Drinking Drops In States With Recreational Marijuana

(Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Binge drinking across the United States is at an all time high. Yet, a new report from the Wall Street investment firm Cowen & Company shows that this dangerous alcoholic behavior is on the decline in states that have legalized the leaf in a manner similar to alcohol.

It was just a month ago that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data suggesting that more Americans are now engaging in regular binge drinking. What was once considered a foolish exploit of College students has now apparently infiltrated citizens from every demographic and all walks of life.

The CDC found that Americans sucked down 17 billion alcoholic beverages in 2015. By definition, the term “binge drinking,” is five or more drinks for men, and four or more for women in a span of around two hours. Thirty-seven million adults (about 1 in 6 people) engage in this activity at least once a week, the report finds.

But the investment analysts at Cowen published a document earlier this week that provides a little hope for an America headed for cirrhosis of the liver. It seems that binge drinking is on the decline in states that have legal marijuana laws on the books. More specifically, it is those states like Colorado and Washington, some of the first U.S. jurisdictions to legalize for recreational use, where binge drinking is now less prominent.

“In legal adult use cannabis states,” the analysts wrote, “the number binge drinking sessions per month (for states legal through 2016) was -9% below the national average.”

What’s more is legal marijuana states, where adults 21 and older can walk into a dispensary and purchase a variety of cannabis products, experienced 13 percent less binge drinking than areas of prohibition. The writing is on the wall – people with legal access to recreational marijuana are opting to spend either all or a portion of their booze budget on a substance that has been deemed “a safer alternative.”

 Marijuana may never run the booze business out on a rail, Cowen says, but there are some interesting dynamics that could throw a wrench in the gears of this inebriation leader.

“We have consistently argued that cannabis and alcohol are substitute social lubricants,” the report reads. “To be sure, we do not dispute that alcohol will continue to be quite popular in the U.S. (generating over $210 bn in annual retail sales today). We are, however, focused on the marginal alcohol unit, which given the cannabis category’s much smaller size, creates a sizable opportunity for the cannabis industry.”

As more states move into legalization, the report says, making mention of Michigan and Illinois as being the two most likely, the firm believes binge drinking rates will drop even more. This is mostly due to the fact that cannabis keeps gaining popularity and beer sales continue to decline.

As it stands, those states without recreational marijuana laws are experiencing an increase in binge drinking. “Non-cannabis states averaged 7.4 drinks per binge, ~12% higher than the 6.6 drinks per binge seen in adult use cannabis states,” the report reads.

In addition, the report also finds that Cowen’s previous prediction over the size of the national cannabis market was low. In the past, the firm estimated that if the federal government ended prohibition today, the cannabis industry would be worth $50 billion by 2026. Cowen now says the industry has already hit that mark. It now expects the U.S. cannabis market to grow to around $75 billion within the next 12 years.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gradsoflife/2018/03/29/rebuilding-puerto-rico-one-youth-at-a-time/#394f22e2dba5

 

Report: Arizona Has 159,000 Patients and Sold 8,194 Lbs. of Marijuana

Tucson Marijuana Dispensaries

The Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) latest medical marijuana program report, which covers through the month of February 2018, reveals that there are 158,488 active medical marijuana patients in Arizona.

Maricopa County has the largest number of patients with 101,023. Pima County was second with 21,999 patients, then Pinal County with 8,860 and Yavapai County with 8,088.

Arizona medical marijuana patients’ ages range from adolescents to seniors:

  • Under 18 – 218 patients
  • 18 to 30 – 39,177
  • 31 to 40 – 32,528
  • 41 to 50 – 24,786
  • 51 to 60 – 26,469
  • 61 to 70 – 25,794
  • 71 to 80 – 7,862
  • 81 and older – 1,654

According to the data, there are 96,744 males (61.04%) and 61,744 females (38.96%) with medical marijuana cards, and the most common qualifying condition in Arizona is chronic pain.

Arizona patients’ medical marijuana qualifying conditions:

  • Chronic Pain – 135,863 patients (85.72%)
  • Cancer – 3,750
  • PTSD – 2,036
  • Seizures – 1,197
  • Muscle Spams – 1,182
  • Glaucoma – 1,041
  • Hepatitis C – 868
  • Nausea – 800
  • HIV/AIDS – 636
  • Crohn’s disease – 524
  • Cachexia – 117
  • Alzheimer’s disease – 63
  • Sclerosis – 47
  • Two or more conditions – 10,364

In February, dispensaries sold a total of 8,194 pounds (131,112 ounces) of marijuana. Here’s an itemized list of marijuana sold:

  • Marijuana flower – 7,497 pounds (119,965 ounces)
  • Marijuana edibles – 363 pounds
  • Other marijuana – 333 pounds

Source: https://azmarijuana.com/arizona-medical-marijuana-news/arizonas-medical-marijuana-program-nearing-160000-patients/

 

 

Part 1, How Cannabis Relieves Different Types of Pain

Cannabis is known to relieve pain, but pain can arise for a variety of reasons which makes choosing the right cannabis product tricky. Knowing which cannabinoids (e.g. THCCBD) have been shown to treat different pain types is useful information to take with you on your next dispensary visit.

The different types of pain fall into three general categories:

  • Nociceptive pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Central pain (there’s no firm agreement on the name for this type of pain; fibromyalgia is a common example).

Since each type of pain has a different origin, each type has an optimal treatment strategy.

Pain results from the coordinated activation of brain cells. While these brain regions lead to the sensation of pain, they can also modulate the strength of the pain signals. In some instances, you can have physical injury (i.e., nociceptive pain) without the sensation of pain (imagine a car accident victim who can walk around pain-free in the initial moments after the accident).

But the opposite is also possible, where you can have pain in the absence of physical injury (i.e., central pain). This highlights the importance that factors like mood, context, and attention-to-injury play in the sensation of pain, which can also be used to inform optimal cannabis-based treatment strategies.

Cannabis and Nociceptive Pain

Nociceptive pain (i.e., inflammatory pain) results from tissue damage. It is subjectively described as sharp, aching, or throbbing pain that follows physical damage. When you get injured, the damaged tissues recruit numerous inflammatory and immune cells to repair the damage. These cellsrelease proteins and chemicals that activate receptors on nerves that make their way into the spinal cord and up to the brain, causing the sensation of pain.

To retain pain-relieving efficacy while reducing tolerance risk, one should consider balanced THC and CBD products for long-term pain treatment.

Nociceptive pain can be weakened by reducing the pain signals at the site of injury by blocking the inflammatory process itself or the signals they elicit. Another strategy is to dampen their effects as they make their way up the spinal cord to the brain. Cannabis can target both of these processes to reduce pain.

The abundant cannabinoids, THC and CBD, can reduce pain at the site of injury. Both have potent anti-inflammatory effects. THC’s anti-inflammatory properties are primarily driven through activation of CB2receptors on immune cells which dampens the body’s pain-inducing response to injury. CBD also reduces inflammation by blocking inflammatory mediators and shifting the activation macrophage repair cells from the pro-inflammatory type to the anti-inflammatory type. Indeed, the benefits of THC and CBD on relieving nociceptive pain have been well-documented in rodent models of inflammation and in human clinical trials.

THC can modulate pain at the level of spinal cord and brain by directly activating CB1 receptors, and indirectly by increasing opioid receptor activation (more on that in part two of this series). CBD similarly impacts pain processing by increasing levels of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide, which acts like THC to activate CB1 receptors.

CBD also has a host of targets beyond the endogenous cannabinoid system(ECS) that can relieve pain. Of particular relevance, CBD enhances Continue reading “Part 1, How Cannabis Relieves Different Types of Pain”

Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

(CNN)Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

The studies, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, compared opioid prescription patterns in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws with those that have not. One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, while the other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016.
The researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.
“This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications,” said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study.
“And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective.”
Medicare Part D, the optional prescription drug benefit plan for those enrolled in Medicare, covers more than 42 million Americans, including those 65 or older. Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 73 million low-income individuals in the US, according to the program’s website.
“Medicare and Medicaid publishes this data, and we’re free to use it, and anyone who’s interested can download the data,” Bradford said. “But that means that we don’t know what’s going on with the privately insured and the uninsured population, and for that, I’m afraid the data sets are proprietary and expensive.”

‘This crisis is very real’

The new research comes as the United States remains entangled in the worst opioid epidemic the world has ever seen. Opioid overdose has risen dramatically over the past 15 years and has been implicated in over 500,000 deaths since 2000 — more than the number of Americans killed in World War II.
“As somebody who treats patients with opioid use disorders, this crisis is

Arizona Legislature Ready to Approve Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Opioid Abuse

Arizona Legislature Ready to Approve Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Opioid Abuse

Medical marijuana will soon be recommended as a treatment for opioid addiction if a Republican-sponsored bill quietly progressing through the Arizona Legislature is successful.

House Bill 2064, introduced by Representative Vince Leach, was originally intended only to ban dispensaries from selling edibles in packaging that could be appealing to children. But a little-noticed amendment to the bill would also add opioid use disorder to the list of medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana.

“HB 2064 went from being something that I found, in its original language and apparent intent, annoying,” said Mikel Weisser, the executive director at the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, (NORML). “Now, with the opioid use disorder added, it’s something I want to see happen.”

Using marijuana to treat opioid addiction is highly controversial. But, surprisingly enough, what would amount to a major change in state policy has received virtually no opposition so far.

When the bill came before the Senate Commerce and Public Safety committee on Monday, Ed Gogek — author of Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization — was the only one to testify against it.

As soon as he was done talking, the committee passed the bill unanimously, without any further discussion. It has already cleared the House of Representatives.

Equally surprising is the bill’s sponsor. Leach, a Republican from Saddlebrooke, isn’t exactly known for being a friend of the medical marijuana industry. Ever year, he introduces a long list of legislation that targets dispensaries and cardholders.

He didn’t immediately respond to a request to a comment on Thursday afternoon about his change of heart. But Representative Randy Friese, a Democrat from Tucson, said that the Democratic caucus had negotiated with Leach to get the amendment added to the bill.

 

Making any changes to voter-approved ballot initiative like Arizona’s medical marijuana law requires a three-fourths majority. So this was a rare instance where Democrats had some leverage, since the bill wouldn’t have been able to pass through the House of Representatives without their support.

“When the votes weren’t there, Mr. Leach went back to the drawing board and apparently concluded that debilitating medical conditions should now include opioid use disorder,” said Kevin DeMenna, a lobbyist for the Arizona Dispensary Association.

Though his client had originally opposed the bill, it’s now “a much improved piece of legislation,” DeMenna said.

Currently, state law allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who suffer from conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, or anything that causes muscle spasms, severe nausea, or chronic pain. Post-traumatic stress disorder was added to the list in 2014, after some debate.

Eventually, the Arizona Dispensary Association would eventually like to get rid of that list of qualifying conditions altogether, leaving it up to doctors to determine who should get a medical marijuana card. In the meantime, DeMenna said, adding opioid addiction to the list is a step in the right direction.

Whether Governor Doug Ducey — who, like Leach, is no fan of medical marijuana — will sign the bill is another question. The idea of using cannabis to treat opioid addiction had been floated during this year’s special session, but was rejected outright, Mikel Weisser of NORML pointed out.

“I’m not sure that will get the reception that we want on the Ninth Floor,” he said. “But I think it’s a real step forward to be a state that’s considering addressing opioid dependency by looking at medical marijuana.”

Source: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/medical-cannabis-extracts-legal-in-arizona-or-not-10232352

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

 

Study: Marijuana Decriminalization Leads To Decreased Arrests, No Increase In Youth Use

Marijuana Decriminalization

St. Louis, MO: State laws reducing minor marijuana possession offenses from criminal to civil violations (aka decriminalization) are associated with dramatic reductions in drug-related arrests, and are not linked to any uptick in youth cannabis use, according to data published by researchers affiliated with Washington University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators examined the impact of cannabis decriminalization on arrests and youth cannabis use in five states that passed decriminalization measures between the years 2008 and 2014: Massachusetts (decriminalized in 2008), Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maryland (2014). Data on cannabis use were obtained from state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys; arrest data were obtained from federal crime statistics.

Authors reported: “Decriminalization of cannabis in five states between the years 2009 and 2014 was associated with large and immediate decreases in drug-related arrests for both youth and adults. … The sharp drop in arrest rates suggests that implementation of these policies likely changed police behavior as intended.”

They further reported: “Decriminalization was not associated with increased cannabis use either in aggregate or in any of the five states analyzed separately, nor did we see any delayed effects in a lag analysis, which allowed for the possibility of a two-year (one period) delay in policy impact. In fact, the lag analysis suggested a potential protective effect of decriminalization.” In two of the five states assessed, Rhode Island and Vermont, researchers determined that the prevalence of youth cannabis use declined following the enactment of decriminalization.

Investigators concluded: “[I]mplementation of cannabis decriminalization likely leads to a large decrease in the number of arrests among youth (as well as adults) and we see no evidence of increases in youth cannabis use. On the contrary, cannabis use rates declined after decriminalization. … These findings are consistent with the interpretation that decriminalization policies likely succeed with respect to their intended effects and that their short-term unintended consequences are minimal.”

Thirteen states currently impose either partial or full decriminalization. Nine additional states and Washington, DC have subsequently amended their decriminalization laws in a manner that fully legalizes the use of marijuana by adults.

Source: http://norml.org/news/2018/03/22/study-marijuana-decriminalization-leads-to-decreased-arrests-no-increase-in-youth-use

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

 

5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health

Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner says yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, and more.

 Ashley Turner

 

Ever notice how good you feel — mentally — when you’re practicing yoga regularly?

Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner, who is launching a groundbreaking new Yoga Psychology 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training, says yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, family of origin issues, and more.

“Yoga is a psychology — the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behavior and our minds,” says Turner, who reveals that yoga helped her recognize and cope with her own low self-esteem. “This course is reclaiming the deeper roots of the practice, not just asana — the mental and emotional benefits.”

Below are 5 ways that yoga can benefit your mental health and well-being and even improve your relationships, according to Turner.

5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health

1. It moves you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, or from flight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. You typically have less anxiety and enter a more relaxed state. As soon as you start breathing deeply, you slow down out of fight or flight and calm your nervous system.

2. It helps you build your sense of self. Through yoga, you get to know yourself and cultivate a more nonjudgmental relationship with yourself. You are building self-trust. You exercise more and eat healthier, because your unconscious mind tells you, “I’m worthy of this me time, this effort.” At the end of the day, everything comes down to your relationship with yourself. When you get more confident and become more rooted in your sense of self and your center, you develop a healthy, balanced ego, where you have nothing to prove and nothing to hide. You become courageous, with high willpower. You’re not afraid of difficult conversations — you know you’re still going to be OK at the end of the day.

3. It improves your romantic relationship. When you’re more centered and more peaceful with yourself, you’ll be the same way with your partner — you’ll view them through the same lens of compassionate, unconditional love. You’re less reactive — for example, you may know that snapping at your partner is not a wise choice.

4. It helps you become aware of your “shadow” qualities. The yoking of solar and lunar (light and dark) in yoga makes us recognize qualities in ourselves that we were not aware of, helping us be more mindful. A lot of my work centers on the shadow concept from Carl Jung. How do we look at those places in our bodies where we hold tension, tightness, knots of energy? That’s typically where we are holding our psychological or emotional energy. We work from the outside in, so asana is so important. A backbend will open your heart and release the stiffness between the shoulder blades — at some point, you will have some sort of emotional release, which you may or may not be conscious of. It’s about doing the inner work to shift or change and be open to doing your best with your weaknesses and faults.

5. It helps you deal with family of origin issues. Essentially that’s our karma — we can’t give back our family, we’re born into it and that’s what you get. It’s about owning what I call sacred wounds (rather than blaming) and taking them on more mindfully. You’re the only one that can change — the only thing you can do is control your actions and your behavior. Other people will inevitably be forced to show up in a different way you’re showing up in a different way. Think of the Warrior poses — yoga helps you rise up and do your best.

Source: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/5-ways-yoga-is-good-for-your-mental-health