Can Cannabis Help My Chronic Pain???

How Cannabis is Effective for Different Types of Pain Relief

By: Lindsay Howard

For many years, Cannabis has been recognized for its amazing ability to relieve pain. More importantly, cannabis has also been successful in relieving pain from different origins. As in, pain from the Central Nervous System, inflammation from injury and even neuropathic pain caused by dysfunction in the immune system. With proper application and dosing, Natural Healing Care Center (NHCC), has been delighted to learn how cannabis can be effective for pain relief. Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) reported, as of 2018, out of the total 162,528 medical marijuana card holders in Arizona, 86.18% received their cards for ‘Severe and Chronic Pain’.

Types of Pain

Pain can be placed in three general categories; Nociceptive pain: pain, usually from injury, resulting in inflammation and a sharp or aching sensation. Neuropathic Pain: Stemming from damage to the nervous system and destruction of nerve cells, usually feeling pinching or stabbing in a area of the body (i.e M.S, Diabetes, HIV, Pain from Chemo). Central Pain ‘other’: Pain arising from neurological dysfunction. This type of pain can be a result from injury or surgery, it can also be considered the, ‘catch-all’, for pain symptoms.

Identifying the origin of pain, along with the type, is the most important piece for finding the correct dose and method of cannabis consumption.

“Pain is a synergistic reaction in the body, occurring mostly between brain regions, by way of activated brain cells. These cells directly modulate the pain signals sent through the body, in some cases this is from physical injury resulting in, nociceptive pain. When an injury occurs there is damage to the surrounding tissue and inflammatory cells race to repair any damage.” Ingram 2017. Cannabis is responsible for reducing the signal of pain at the injury site and dampening the effects of those signals as they travel up the spinal cord. A properly dosed regimen of CBD and THC has been successful in relieving pain signals from being so strong (CBD), while lessening the signals affect on the brain (THC).

Neuropathic pain is a slightly more broad type of pain caused by damage to the nervous system. This damage can be a result of disease, like diabetic neuropathy, or injury where the nerves become damaged causing a wide spread of multi-symptom pain. This can range from, Phantom Limb Pain, to something as simple as the tingling sensation when you hit your ‘funny bone’. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain most likely leads to chronic pain, as the nerves don’t heal very fast, making it hard to treat.  (Ingram 2017)

How it Works

Cannabis has been shown to be affective on the, ‘often hard to treat’, neuropathic pain in two very distinct ways: Activating the CB1 receptors that exist in the brain’s, endocannabinoid system, to reduce pain. While also increasing the amount of serotonin produced by the brain, dulling the brain’s amount of pain signals traveling up the Central Nervous System.

 Other Types of Pain

Centralized or Algopathic can be described as, chronic pain developed from extensive acute pain, as in: a result from surgery or an often unknown cause which there are dysfunction in the workings of the nervous system, but no known actual damage. We find this type of pain in patients with Fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome. It is the unknown dynamic of centralized pain, which makes treatment difficult.

Despite the lack of knowledge of where central pain originates, cannabis has been proven to be effective for this type of pain by activating certain receptors in the Endocannabinoid system. This has helped relieve and prevent flare up symptoms from Fibromyalgia and other issues stemming from the central nervous system. Cannabis combats the pain by targeting the brains conception of pain signals and by regulating the actual pain receptors themselves, dampening their signal.

Although there has been very limited research on cannabis, and it’s effect on pain, nearly all studies done on mice have resulted in the astounding beneficial research and lean in the favor of Cannabis as an alternative form of medication. We, at NHCC, have personally experienced the benefits cannabis for treatment, and have been able to learn the importance of proper dosing, along with method of consumption. As research continues, we look forward to learning more about the medicinal properties and benefits of Cannabis.

For more information on How to Use Cannabis as Medicine, or to Obtain your Arizona Medical Marijuana Card in Tucson AZ, Please Contact Natural Healing Care Center at 520-323-0069 or Visit our Website WWW.NATURALHEALINGCARECENTER.COM We are located in the Heart of Tucson AZ and We are here to Help our community.

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

Continue reading “Castor Oil Speeds Up Healing & Improves Your Immunity”

DOSING THCA: LESS IS MORE

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the non-psychoactive acid form of THC found in the plant when raw. THCA converts to THC when it is decarboxylated. Discover the clinical and laboratory research on THCA for epilepsy, chronic pain, digestive disorders, and more.

How much THCA to take
Photo credit: Leafly
Highlights:
  • Cannabis plants don’t produce THC on their own; rather they create cannabinoids in acid form.
  • To turn THCA into psychoactive THC, it must first be heated (for example, by vaping or smoking).
  • THCA shows great promise in the treatment of epilepsy.
  • A higher dose of THCA combined with THC is sometimes effective for seizures, pain, and arthritis.
  • Scientists have shown that low doses of THCA prevent nausea in rats.

Cannabis doesn’t actually produce THC or CBD. The plant produces all cannabinoids in an acid form. Instead of making THC and CBD directly, it synthesizes tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) from their cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) precursor.

THCA is not psychoactive—it does not activate CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. In order to make psychoactive THC from THCA, one needs to heat it. This can be done by smoking or vaporizing raw flower, baking edibles, or heating cannabis in a process known as decarboxylation. When smoking cannabis, it is estimated that more than 95% of the THCA is converted to THC. If so, a cannabis smoker might inhale the small amount of remaining THCA, which could also impart a therapeutic effect.

According to several doctors, THCA shows great promise in the treatment of epilepsy. Preclinical research indicates that THCA may be anti-inflammatory and may reduce nausea. One of the most significant features of THCA is its apparent ability to work at very low doses. The therapeutic potential of THCA is all the more noteworthy given that this compound is more readily available than THC or CBD because of the ubiquity of the raw marijuana plant.

Clinical use of THCA

Clinical experience is the best place to start. Dr. Dustin Sulak and Dr. Bonni Goldstein have both reported on the use of THCA in the treatment of patients. In a recent publication, Sulak, Goldstein, and Dr. Russel Saneto describe four case reports of patients using THCA along with other treatments (conventional antiepileptic drugs as well as cannabis). Among these patients, small doses—around 0.1-1 mg/kg/day THCA1—were used, corresponding to 0.01 to 0.1% of the patient’s body weight in THCA. For a child weighing 50 pounds, this entails between 2-23 milligrams of THCA in a day.

By contrast, studies with Epidiolex, a pure (99.5 percent) CBD sublingual spray, start at a dose of 5 mg/kg/day and usually increase to 25 mg/kg/day. The aforementioned doses of THCA are 10-100 times lower.2

THCA is typically administered along with other components of cannabis in a tincture via an under-the-tongue dropper or spray. Sulak’s article indicates that higher doses of THCA did not generally improve the response, with one patient getting worse after increasing the dose of THCA. Sulak also found that specific terpenes along with THCA in a given cannabis strain can contribute significantly to the antiepileptic effect. (Linalool, in this case, was necessary for the antiepileptic effect.)

Dr. Goldstein told Project CBD that daily consumption of 10-20 mg of THCA was effective in reducing pain in some of her patients with arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. For one patient with Alzheimer’s disease, THCA improved cognitive symptoms and allowed the patient to reduce the use of other drugs.

Dr. Sulak also spoke with Project CBD, saying that a higher dose of 2 mg/kg of THCA combined with THC is sometimes effective for seizures, pain, and arthritis. For neurological issues, about 1 mg of THCA and THCused 2-3 times a day has helped some of his adult patients. In one teenager, a very low dose of THCAprevented severe refractory migraines.

Anecdotal reports from other sources indicate that a 10:1 CBD:THCA ratio can be effective for some epileptic children when a high CBD/low THC cannabis oil preparation does not deliver satisfactory results. One seven-year-old patient, weighing 42 pounds, has been seizure free for the past two-and-a-half years since he’s been on a dosage regimen of 50 mg/day of CBD and 10 mg/day of THCA.

THCA in the lab

Thus far, preclinical research into THCA has been very confusing. Erin Rock and other scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario have demonstrated that low doses of THCA—about 10-100 times lower than the requisite dose of THC—prevent nausea in rats. In addition, they found that THCA synergizes with CBDA, which is also a potent antiemetic compound. It is possible that the anti-nausea effect of smoking cannabis is partly attributable to the small amount of THCA that remains when cannabis is burned.

Curiously, THCA’s effect in the Guelph study was prevented by blocking the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. This is surprising, given that THCA isn’t known to bind to CB1 and doesn’t cause psychoactive effects like THC does when the latter binds to CB1. Yet Rock et. al. did not observe any effects from THCA that they could attribute to central CB1 activity. A possible explanation for this finding is that Rimonabant, the experimental drug they used to block the CB1 receptor, may have inhibited THCA’s effects through a different channel or receptor, such as GPR55 (which is activated by Rimonabant). When asked by Project CBD, Dr. Rock indicated that they are uncertain as to how THCA prevents nausea, and that it may very well be an off-target or peripheral effect.

A study by Rosenthaler and a group of Austrian scientists surmised that THCA has a greater binding affinity to the CB1 receptor than THC does. It may be that this study was flawed (their data also suggested—likely incorrectly3—that CBN, a breakdown product of THC, binds to CB1 more potently than does THC). But it also might be the case that THCA acts primarily on peripheral CB1 receptors outside the brain and central nervous system. The main difference between THCA and THC could be related to how these compounds are distributed throughout the body. Another explanation might derive from an inconsistency between two molecular isoforms of THCATHCA-A and THCA-B—which could give rise to different results (see sidebar).

How does THCA work?

So how does THCA confer its effects? Through which biochemical channels does THCA act? The only receptor to which THCA is known to potently bind is TRPM8—the receptor that makes mint feel cold. THCA is a strong antagonist of TRPM8. But there is no research to indicate that inhibiting TRPM8 prevents nausea or reduces seizures, so this does not explain the clinically observed effects of THCA.

At higher concentrations, THCA also may activate TRPV4, a heat-sensing receptor, and TRPA1, a receptor that mediates the edginess of spices such as mustard and cinnamon.

THCA may also convey therapeutic effects by inhibiting the metabolic enzyme MAGL that breaks down the endogenous cannabinoid 2-AG; this would result in higher levels of 2-AG, which activates both CB1 and CB2cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body.

In these preclinical tests, THCA was about 10 times more potent when used as a whole-plant extract rather than as an isolate.4 But this evidence is based on only a few studies performed in cell cultures, which does not necessarily translate to clinical experience.

Other data from preclinical work suggests that THCAmay be an anti-inflammatory compound that protects against cancer, but this work is an unconvincing explanation of clinical reports. One study on THCAand breast cancer required a high concentration of THCA, about 1000 times more than the concentration in the blood of Dr. Sulak’s patients. Another study suggested that THCA was a much weaker antioxidant than THC or CBD and that THCA is only slightly neuroprotective at similarly high doses. Two studies on inflammation revealed that THCA does not inhibit COX-2, an inflammatory enzyme blocked by ibuprofen and aspirin, and high doses of THCA were required for an anti-inflammatory effect.

The fact that doctors and patients are reporting significant health-positive effects from THCA at very low concentrations underscores that there is much more to understand about THCA. The properties of THCAindicated by preclinical research may be relevant to cannabinoid medicine in the future, but they do not explain the remarkable results with low doses of THCA that patients are experiencing today.

Source: https://www.projectcbd.org/science/cannabis-dosing/dosing-thca-less-more

What Is Cannabinol (CBN)?

You’ve heard about CBD and THC…but what about CBN?

What Is Cannibinol (CBN)?

The number of known cannabinoids is over a hundred. Each one has its own set of effects. People with limited knowledge of cannabinol (CBN) have assumed that it is simply a degraded, less potent cannabinoid derived from THC. It’s barely present in cannabis flowers and it is nowhere near as psychoactive as THC. You can find more cannabinol in older, degraded material making anything with its presence less desirable. As a result, this cannabinoid hasn’t received much attention. However, the industry is catching on to the fact that CBN has therapeutic effects that benefit people who are sensitive to THC. Now, more CBN is being found in cannabis products like topicals, edibles, capsules and more.

What Is Cannabinol (CBN)  & What Does It Do?

Any company with a cannabinol product is using the powerful sedative effects as a selling point. According to Steep Hill labs, Cannabinol is the most sedative known cannabinoid. They claim that 5mg of cannabinol is equal to 10mg of diazepam (valium) in terms of body relaxation. There’s a theory that the reason Indica strains make you sleepier is that they have higher CBN levels. So if you don’t like buds that makes you sleepy, look for strains or products with slim to no cannabinol content.

Cannabis plants produce enzymes which turn CBGA into the “raw cannabinoids” like THCA, CBDA and CBCA. THCA when heated turns into THC and THCV. Aged THCA turns into CBNA which converts into CBN. Research has shown cannabinol to have a number of therapeutic benefits.

Researchers studied the feeding patterns of rats after administering cannabinol. What they found was that rats treated with CBN were quicker to eat, ate more and for longer durations of time. The research concluded the less popular cannabinoid was a viable nonpsychoactive appetite stimulant.

2006 study found that CBN and several other cannabinoids have the ability to control the growth of cancer cells. CBN was specifically able to control a type of lung tumor called Lewis carcinoma.

Back in 1974, researchers found that THC, CBD and CBN all had anticonvulsant properties but potency-wise, CBN is less active than the other two.

In 2002, Swedish researchers at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Lund University Hospital found out cannabinol and THC activate the same pain pathways.

More Research On Effects

Studies on male volunteers illustrated that doses of CBN did not provide the psychoactive effects that THC did. The study also noted that subjects felt more “drugged, drunk, dizzy and drowsy” when it was combined to THC. They concluded that, “CBN increases the effect of THC on some aspects of physiological and psychological processes, but that these effects are small.”

On the other hand, some studies didn’t note as much of a synergetic effect when combined with THC. One study found the combination of THC and CBN did nothing to change “the quality, intensity, or duration of the effects of THC alone.”

Research has also shown that cannabinol is capable of slowing the onset of symptoms from ALS.

Additional research shows cannabinol has antibacterial capabilities as a topical. The study showed “potent activity against MRSA.”

Experimental and preclinical studies have shown topical cannabinol’s potential for treating skin conditions like psoriasis or burns.

Where Can You Find It?

Up until lately, the only place you could find CBN was in extremely small concentrations of certain weed strains. The concentrations in flowers are typically 1 percent or less. Until recently, extracts have either focused on isolating THC or CBD. Fortunately, less common cannabinoids like delta 8 THC are starting to be isolated and extracted. CBN is a little different. Since it exists in such small quantities in flower, we haven’t seen CBN in a concentrated form like with THC, delta 8 or THC-O-acetate. However, with CBN a little goes a much longer way than it would with equal quantities of THC or CBD.

Mary’s Medicinals Cannabinol Capsules is one form that is easy to ingest for any type of patient suffering from sleep-deprivation. Capsules make it easy to know exactly how much you’re consuming in a single sitting. Mary’s Medicinals also has high-cannabinol transdermal patches.

For patients that don’t like patches or swallowing pills, SpOILed Patients Collective makes a high-dose CBN drink called Hornet Hibernate. SpOILed says their CBN drink contains a wide spectrum of cannabinoids including CBC, CBD and small amounts of THC for the entourage effects. From their experience with the Hornet Hibernate, CBN amplifies the effects of THC. Smoking a few bowls on top of a teaspoon will “send you to the moon,” SpOILed tells us. Each bottle contains about 10 to 12 percent CBN and you’ll only need a teaspoon without the smoke to get a solid nights sleep, illustrating how far a little goes. They’re working on versions with delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC for patients that need them.

The Hornet Hibernate is approved by the veterans of the Weed For Warriors Project. SpOILed says the combination of CBD and CBN has been helping veterans to get off of fentanyl patches and curb opiate addictions. They claim the healing properties of the CBD combined with the sedative effects of CBN have helped many of their patients through hard times.

Final Hit: What Is Cannabinol?

The thing that sets cannabinol apart from the other cannabinoids in weed is the strong sedative ability. It can also stimulate appetite and curb anxiety without the side effects of a medication like a valium. The research on cannabinol, especially on humans is currently lacking. As more research is conducted on CBN, we may find even more uses for it. Most of the reported effects don’t have much to back them up yet.

Source: https://hightimes.com/guides/what-is-cannibinol-cbn/

 

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

 

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

 

What is Acupuncture? 6 Ways It Can Improve Your Health!

Acupuncture Improves Health Title

Acupuncture is a holistic health technique that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin.

Today acupuncture is one of the most popular practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the West. TCM is a complimentary health approach that first originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago and has been evolving ever since.

To treat a wide variety of diseases, pain and stress-related symptoms, practitioners of TCM use holistic techniques that include acupuncture, herbal medicines, tai chi, qi gong, massage therapy, and various “mind and body practices.”

The use of acupuncture and other TCM techniques has risen steadily in the U.S and other Western countries over the past several decades. According to a large survey done on complementary health approaches by the National Institute of Health in 2007, in the U.S. alone at least 3.1 million people had tried acupuncture in 2007. The survey showed that the number of visits to acupuncturists tripled between 1997 and 2007. (1)

The first question most people ask me is, “Does acupuncture hurt?”

Surprisingly, although needles are used in acupuncture, treatments are relatively pain-free. In fact, one of the most popular uses of acupuncture is to reduce chronic pain throughout the body in a natural way, without the need for medications that can cause unwanted side effects.

Most of the studies investigating acupuncture to date have examined whether acupuncture can safely reduce pain. However, it’s expected that in the next several years, researchers will continue to study whether or not it might help with other conditions, too – including anxiety, depression, inflammation, hot flashes, side effects of chemotherapy and insomnia.


What Is Acupuncture Able to Treat?

Currently, acupuncture is used to treat conditions like:

  • muscle spasms and pain
  • chronic back problems and pain
  • headaches, including reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines
  • neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • allergies
  • digestive problems
  • mood, depression

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services states that,

“… promising results have emerged showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment.” (2)


Is Acupuncture Safe?

The National Institute of Health does consider acupuncture to be “generally considered safe when performed by an experienced, well-trained practitioner using sterile needles.” (3) However, it’s important to always go to a practitioner that is well-trained in acupuncture as well as to a facility that is very careful about using clean needles — improperly performed acupuncture and/or contaminated needles can pose a big risk.

The good news is that the FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices and requires that the needles be “sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.” To date, there have been very few complications reported from the use of acupuncture needles, so the risk is thought to be very low. This doesn’t mean that risk doesn’t exist, however, because some serious side effects have occurred when non-sterile needles have been used.

As far as how much acupuncture is needed before seeing results, firm clinical guidelines have yet to be established. Acupuncture is usually recommended as a complimentary treatment method — as something to try in addition to other pain management techniques, such as physical therapy, exercise and reducing inflammation through a healthy diet.


Acupuncture Benefits

1. Helps Reduce Headaches and Migraines

In 2009, after researchers from the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich reviewed over 11 studies involving 2,137 acupuncture patients, they concluded that acupuncture “could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches.”

The review looked at multiple clinical trials comparing the effects of acupuncture sessions to “sham” (placebo-type of acupuncture) sessions and to receiving no treatment at all for the relief of migraine headache pain. In particular, both the group that had needles randomly placed and the group that had strategically placed needles experienced a reduction in headache symptoms.  The control group did not experience any change.

However, in the followup survey, the group that had the real acupuncture treatment continued to have both a decrease in the number of headache days and headache pain intensity. (4)

2. Improves Chronic Pain, Including for the Back, Neck, Knee or Arthritis Pain

Acupuncture was proven to be more effective for improving chronic back pain than no acupuncture treatment in a 2006 study done by the University Medical Center of Berlin. In patients with chronic low back pain, there was a significant difference in pain reported between groups of patients receiving acupuncture over eight weeks versus those not receiving any treatment. (5)

Even more impressive is a 2012 study done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, arthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.

The researchers reviewed clinical trials involving over 17,000 patients, and the results showed that patients receiving acupuncture had less pain than patients in the placebo control group for back and neck muscle aches and pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. (6) The conclusion was that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is “more than just a placebo effect, therefore it’s a reasonable referral option for doctors.”

3. Helps Treat Insomnia

Continue reading “What is Acupuncture? 6 Ways It Can Improve Your Health!”

New Arizona Opioid Hotline Will Recommend Treatments — but Not Medical Marijuana

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won’t recommend it

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won't recommend it.

Using cannabis instead of opiates could save lives, studies say, but Arizona’s new opioid hotline for health care providers — and, soon, for the public — won’t recommend it as an alternative.

The free Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line is set to go live in a few days. It will be “one of the nation’s first real-time, comprehensive hotlines for healthcare providers seeking consultation for complex patients with pain and opioid use disorder,” according to a state news release.

But one treatment option the health care providers and patients won’t hear about on the hotline is medical marijuana.

“It’s not part of the protocol,” said Dr. Dan Brooks, medical director for the Banner Poison and Drug Information Centers. “We don’t have any initial plans to talk about marijuana” as a treatment option.

The hotline is viewed as one possible piece to solving a crisis that has caused bodies to pile up at morgues around the country. More people than ever are dying from the abuse of heroin, pills like OxyContin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Arizona alone had 942 suspected opioid deaths from June 15 to February 22, according to the state’s Opioid Epidemic web page.

“Preventing opioid overdoses and deaths in our state needs a multifaceted approach, and the new hotline is a major step forward as it will give medical providers immediate access to experts who can help to ensure safe prescribing and to identify treatment options for patients, which may or may not include opioids,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, says in the release.

“No two patients are the same and treatments vary based on individual needs, so we need to make sure we are providing tailored resources to our medical community.”

The state DHS and Poison and Drug Information Centers plan to create new advice for health care providers. Recommendations will include “specific opioid-related information for providers, such as safe prescribing limits for opioid-naive patients, identification of potentially dangerous drug combinations, and chronic pain treatment options,” the release says.

For some patients, the hotline experts may advise the use of drugs like methadone or Vivitrol but not marijuana

Not that the nurses, doctors, and pharmacists who answer the 24-hour hotline won’t talk about cannabis at all.

“If they have questions about marijuana, we’ll answer questions,” Brooks said.”I don’t know anyone who’s advising marijuana as an alternative.”

Yet cannabis, some experts point out, has been effective in treating pain, and could be considered an advisable substitute for opiates.

Studies show that states with medical-marijuana and adult-use legalization laws have seen sharp drop-offs in their opiate overdose deaths. (None of the studies have so far included a look at Arizona’s statistics, it seems.)

Will Humble, former state DHS director and executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, stopped short of saying the hotline should recommend cannabis as a specific treatment option for specific patients. But clearly, he said, the staff should talk about its potential benefits as an opiate alternative.

Continue reading “New Arizona Opioid Hotline Will Recommend Treatments — but Not Medical Marijuana”