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As always, at the bottom there’s a Living Glossary of cannabinoid terms along with the weekly music recommendation.
This week, cannabis for dementia patients & insomniacs, a strong review of CBD for mental health & there’s an extra section on the cannabinoids & COVID-19
(or share the Twitter thread here).
My new Advice FAQs!
My big announcement is that on my 1-on-1 Cannabinoid Education page, I put up 5 Advice FAQs for people looking to use CBD, cannabis & the cannabinoids for these health conditions:
Please pass these along to anyone who might be looking for help for these conditions. And if they’d like to book a 1-on-1 consult with me for a deeper more personalized dive, schedule a session here on my online calendar.
Now, here’s your news…
Best of cannabinoid science...
An analysis of Medicaid data shows that cannabis legalization significantly reduced pharmaceutical prescriptions
Recreational cannabis legalizations associated with reductions in prescription drug utilization among Medicaid enrollees
“We find significant reductions in the volume of prescriptions within the drug classes that align with the medical indications for pain, depression, anxiety, sleep, psychosis, and seizures. Our results suggest substitution away from prescription drugs and potential cost savings for state Medicaid programs.”
In dementia patients, a cannabis oil with 30% CBD & 1% THC helped with agitation & aggression
Effects of Broad Spectrum Cannabidiol Oil on Behavioral Disturbances in Patients with Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial
& this review of Alzheimer’s disease looks at how the endocannabinoid system affects the microglial cells (immune cells of the brain)
Microglial Endocannabinoid Signalling in AD
Here's my FAQ for those who want to use CBD & cannabis for neurodegenerative disorders.
In 38 patients with insomnia, cannabis helped 15 of them to reduce or discontinue their sleep medication & 27 reported it helped to improve their sleep
Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review
This is huge. Sleep is such a problem – and the medications are messy & often ineffective. But cannabis for sleep goes way back…
Here’s my FAQ for people who want to try CBD, THC, oleamide or CBN for sleep.
In 83 cancer patients, cannabis helped them with pain, nausea, appetitive improvement & reduced anxiety
Cannabis for Symptom Clusters in Patients with Advanced Illness: What Is the Evidence?
A review of CBD for mental health with a focus on dampening the inflammasome of the microglial cells (immune cells of the brain)
The NLRP3 inflammasome in stress response: another target for the promiscuous cannabidiol?
“The mechanisms are still unclear, but one pathway in microglia has received increased attention in the last 8 years: the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway. Stress response and inflammation, including microglia activation, can be attenuated by Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has antidepressant, anti-stress, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, and other properties. CBD effects are mediated by direct or indirect modulation of many receptors, enzymes, and other targets.”
In a small pilot study, a CBD topical combined with retinol helped with a variety of facial skin imperfections
A Single-Center Study Evaluating the Effects of a Novel Retinol and Cannabidiol Combination Topical on Facial Skin
In a mouse model of PTSD, a comparison of CBD with sertraline (an SSRI) found that CBD reduced the “the consolidation, retrieval, and reconsolidation of trauma-related fear memory” (while sertraline only reduced fear-memory retrieval) & that CBD was effective whether given before, during or after the trauma while sertraline was only effective if given before
Comparison between cannabidiol and sertraline for the modulation of post-traumatic stress disorder-like behaviors and fear memory in mice
Now that’s what I’m talking about: a nanocomplex of CBD & chitosan combined with lasers to kill MRSA
Chi@HMPB@CBD nanocomplexes for laser-assisted therapy of MRSA-infected cutaneous wounds in normal and MKR diabetic mice
Regular readers know how much I bemoan the fact that we’re not utilizing the power of cannabinoids against pathogenic microbes. And regular readers might also guess that when I smoke, I get super into science fiction.
So here’s all of that combined: laser-nano-CBD-MRSA killing machines
Popular articles & videos
(I’m going to start breaking out the best science writers each week & their pieces on cannabinoids for a popular audience)
From the great cannabinoid scientist Manuel Guzmán, an essay on the neuroprotective properties of the cannabinoids & the difficulties of translating preclinical research to humans
It’s very enjoyable when leading scientists in the field can also write about the nuts & bolts of their specialty for a general audience.
The imitable Dr. Miyabe Shields with a video on cannabinoids & sleep
Lorena Cupcake on how CBD helps to temper & soften the high of THC – with money quotes from Dr. Ethan Russo
Dr. Andrea Small-Howard on the isomers of THC
my ad: Work with me & White Whale Creations
Closest to my heart, I also offer individualized sessions for people & their families who want to use cannabis & CBD for serious conditions like pain, insomnia, autoimmune disorders or just to live healthier. I know the products to recommend, how to go about finding what works for you & I have all the science to back it up.
If you know anyone who would be interested – especially people getting older, please send them here: Cannabinoid Education Sessions.
the Headlines & Fav Articles
Unfortunately & unsurprisingly, access to legal cannabis in NYC is smallest in Black neighborhoods
Availability of medical cannabis services by racial, social, and geographic characteristics of neighborhoods in New York: a cross-sectional study
As the authors state, the “benefits of legal cannabis must be shared by communities disproportionately harmed by illegal cannabis.”
In a fascinating, yet sad, roundup of brands & orgs tweeting about 4/20, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the only ones to talk about freeing the prisoners
& then they took it to the next level by teaming up with the ACLU for cannabis reforms
The DEA says that Mexican cannabis has been largely supplanted by US homegrown
In international news,
- In Mexico, medical cannabis permits were given to 26 organizations
- In Taiwan, activists pushing for cannabis decriminalization
- The Swiss approved a plan for local pharmacies to sell recreational cannabis
In NYC, a new exhibit on the history of Jews & cannabis (hattip to Stuart Tomc)
This story goes all the way back to Sula Benet & her work determining that ‘kaneh bosem’ in the Old Testament probably means cannabis. If true, this means that the prescription for new kings & prophets was to douse themselves in a holy anointing oil filled with so much cannabis that it would surely have caused a psychedelic experience [see Exodus 30:22-25].
As any cancer patient using cannabis bath balms will tell you, one takes away the pain & two gets you stoned. THC quite easily crosses from the skin to the blood to the brain. And a topical with the amount of cannabis prescribed in the Bible would cause anyone to see bizarre angels & hear voices in burning bushes. All of this dovetails with the exciting recent findings of cannabinoids found on the 2,700 year old altar at the shrine of Arad.
My buddy Kat with the best IG post of the week:
“Roses are red,
cannabis is green.
Stop the War on Drugs,
wipe records clean.”
Law & Business
New Mexico issues first social use license
This is great. A tricky part of the regulations is how to allow adults to consume cannabis together – but with luck, we’ll be back to 500 hashish houses in NYC again.
In 11 of the adult-use cannabis states, cannabis taxes exceeded that of alcohol
Cannabis investors have little to celebrate on 4/20
Just like hemp was no panacea for the farmers, cannabis has been no bonanza for the average cannabis investor.
The Better Business Bureau finds many CBD scams involving a free trial that you can’t easily opt out of
Leafly rings the Nasdaq opening bell
DoorDash working on cannabis delivery
<swoon> Hark. The Brave New Weed World approacheth.
Shopify shutting down legal delta-8 THC sales
THC8 is the new bath salts.
Mayor of Amsterdam wants to ban tourists from the cannabis coffee shops
Can you blame her? Have you seen the stoned tourists there? Embarrassing.
But rightly, many view the ban as a move that would turbocharge the black market. And there really is a link between the cannabis sales, the harder drugs, and the prostitution being run by the local gangs. I advocate for the legalization of all drugs & the enshrinement of sex workers as simply another segment of the labor market deserving of protections.
Medical Cannabis & Culture
JR Smith says cannabis use is rampant among NBA players
The NBA continues to hold the title as the most progressive major sports league.
And the NFL continues to be a regressive cartel.
In a move universally decried as ‘lame’, Denver stresses how you can’t smoke cannabis at their 420 event
My friends in attendance said it was all merchandise sales, no activism.
This study examines the different ways to package cannabis edibles to help novices understand how much is a standard dose
THC labeling on cannabis products: an experimental study of approaches for labeling THC servings on cannabis edibles
It's always the Canadians who fund the sensible research.
On how the next generation of cannabis edibles will be local & chef-driven
The overdosing of pets on cannabis edibles is on the rise – and includes two iguanas, two ferrets, a horse & a cockatoo
It almost never kills them – but it’s very unpleasant for everyone involved.
The Plant & the History
The USDA funding research on hemp
In hemp meal & hemp hulls (byproducts from hemp seeds), lots of good lipids found to be present
Triacylglycerols and Other Lipids Profiling of Hemp By-Products
In soil contaminated by pyrene (a toxic hydrocarbon), planting hemp helped to remove it from the soil
Phytoremediation of a pyrene-contaminated soil by Cannabis sativa L. at different initial pyrene concentrations
Beneficial bacteria around the roots help a hemp plant to deal with salinity
Impact of Pseudomonas sp. SVB-B33 on Stress- and Cell Wall-Related Genes in Roots and Leaves of Hemp under Salinity
For better harvesting of uranium found in the sea, these hemp ropes strengthened with microspheres inspired by mussels might help us to reach those depths
Mussel-inspired polydopamine microspheres self-adhered on natural hemp fibers for marine uranium harvesting and photothermal-enhanced antifouling properties
The ability of hemp to resist the terrifically corrosive power of seawater is why it was the primary fiber used for humans to explore the globe.
A deep study of hemp & how the retting process can be tweaked to increase its strength
The morphological and anatomical variability of the stems of an industrial hemp collection and the properties of its fibres
Using neutron analysis to figure out where Jamaican weed comes from
A pilot study on the use of neutron activation analysis and multivariate statistics for the provenance of Jamaican Cannabis sativa L (Marijuana)
I’m not positive that this is being done to help prohibitionistic cops track weed sources – but I suspect it.
A new book: ‘Cannabis/Hemp for Sustainable Agriculture & Materials’
Apparently it contains reviews on industrial hemp, sustainable agriculture applicated & hemp-derived materials.
But I can’t afford it so I don’t know for sure. If any patron out there wanted to buy it for me, I’ll give you free access to my OnlyFans.
(I actually don’t have an OnlyFans yet – but if I did start one, it would be all cannabinoid science content, which apparently is the new way to recruit students)
I don’t normally post thesis projects from students (though there are more & more every year) but this one on how savoring cannabis can be an important harm reduction tool is quite sweet & quite true
Savoring as a Protective Behavioral Strategy for Cannabis Use
Plus, the dedication to Mitch Earleywine is a pleasure to read. He’s a lion of the cannabinoid field & it’s nice to see what a treat it must be to work with him.
Love this! For end-of-life caretakers, these clinicians developed a Jeopardy-style game show to learn about using medical cannabis for their patients
Medical Cannabis Jeopardy! Safe and Effective Integration of Medical Cannabis in Palliative Care
“I’ll choose ‘Let ‘Er Rip’ for $200 Alex”
“Answer: Better than bong smoke, these tasty treats help the dying with pain & anxiety.”
“What is cannabis edibles?”
“That’s right. And the board is yours…”
Clinical Studies & Surveys
In patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, they had higher levels of endocannabinoids as well as small brain volumes in the regions associated with smell & taste
Possible role of endocannabinoids in olfactory and taste dysfunctions in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients and volumetric changes in the brain
Relatedly, in a worm model of Alzheimer’s, CBD protected the brain via its antioxidation activities
Effect of Cannabidiol on the Neural Glyoxalase Pathway Function and Longevity of Several C. elegans Strains Including a C. elegans Alzheimer's Disease Model
A study of survey data from ReLeaf showed consuming cannabis flower helped people with fatigue
The Effects of Consuming Cannabis Flower for Treatment of Fatigue
Believe you me, that’s how this writer deals with his fatigue every Monday night after he gets this newsletter out the door…
In humans with Celiac disease, they had a reduced gut expression of CB2 receptors - and an in vitro study showed that activating the CB2 receptor shifted their guts towards a more anti-inflammatory phenotype which helped with gut dysfunction
Effects of CB2 Receptor Modulation on Macrophage Polarization in Pediatric Celiac Disease
A survey of eczema patients finds that most would be interested in learning about medical cannabis
Evaluation of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Product Use, Knowledge, and Attitudes in the Eczema Community
The anecdotal results I’ve heard on eczema are mixed. It helps some people a good bit – but for others, does nothing.
In teens, personality types predict whether they’ll use cannabis
Cognitions mediate the influence of personality on adolescent cannabis use initiation
Turns out that it is the cool kids who do it.
Recommended for You
The Amish & CBD!
A Pilot Study: Using the Health Belief Model to Understand Cannabidiol Use in One Amish Community
This survey didn’t actually find out much besides that some of the Amish are into CBD & that they find price to be a barrier.
But it’s close to my heart because I grew up in Amish country Lancaster, PA (hi mom!). I met a lot of Plain & Anabaptist folk over the years & their take on medicine is intriguing. They have no health insurance because they share the costs within the community. They tend to eschew traditional doctors for practitioners like chiropractors & herbalists. And the last time that I met two Amish men on a Greyhound bus, they were on their way to an herbalism conference a few states over & we spent all night talking about plants. They were big time into hemp. And since it’s an easy crop to grow, I hope now that it’s legal, they’re making their own homegrown CBD.
Harms & No Help
This review finds an association between cannabis use & suicide that is stronger at younger ages & with more intense use
Association between cannabis use and suicidal behavior: A systematic review of cohort studies
Of course, some of this association would be caused by kids who are suicidal turning to cannabis as one more medicine that might help them. But on the flip side, as someone who has used cannabis to deepen my depressions, it’s easy to understand how for some, extreme cannabis use will push them over the edge.
In this large genome-wide association study of people with glaucoma, they find that cannabis probably lowers the eye’s intraocular pressure ( a good thing) not via the CB1 receptor but by GAS7 (growth arrest-specific 7) & that lends credence to the growing notion that cannabis may not be the best thing for treating glaucoma
Cannabis, Intraocular Pressure, and the Growth Arrest-Specific 7 (GAS7) Gene: A Retrospective Analysis
Listen, I know it works for a lot of people – most especially Robert Randall, the first patient to sue to use medical cannabis under a medical necessity defense – but it is starting to seem that with its transient nature, THC is not the best drug to be using for glaucoma & CBD might actually slightly worsen the situation. But as always with the cannabinoids, the individual results can differ widely.
Allergies to cannabis are rare but here’s a case report of 3 workers with itchy skin from cannabis
Occupational contact urticaria to cannabis sativa
When I was on the road interviewing, I heard about this frequently from bud trimmers who handled the plant a lot & eventually developed skin allergies. But you hear about it only rarely in the medical literature.
In a double-blind trial of patients with urinary stents, 20 mg of isolated CBD oil (Epidiolex) did not improve their pain scores
LBA02-01 EFFECT OF CANNABIDIOL OIL ON POST-URETEROSCOPY PAIN FOR URINARY CALCULI: A RANDOMIZED DOUBLE-BLIND PLACEBO CONTROLLED TRIAL
I’m not surprised. Pain patients should be experimenting with at least 50 to 100 mg of CBD in a hemp extract (those microdoses of THC found in hemp probably help). See more advice on my pain FAQ page here.
A review of cannabis use disorder treatments finds few strong options
What is the most effective pharmacotherapy treatment for CUD?
In a 5 year period in Europe, this review lists all the reasons that ~4,000 young adults went to the ER after ingesting cannabis (though in half of these cases, they also were ingesting alcohol – a recipe for the dreaded “spins”)
Differences in clinical features associated with cannabis intoxication in presentations to European emergency departments according to patient age and sex
“The frequency of clinical features was: anxiety 28%, vomiting 24%, agitation 23%, palpitations 14%, reduced consciousness 13%, acute psychosis 9%, hallucinations 9%, chest pain 7%, headache 6%, hypotension 4%, hypertension 3% and seizures 2%.”
In one sense, yes, cannabis is very safe & no one has ever overdosed on it. On the other hand, each one of these people had a really shitty night.
And in the cases of psychosis, perhaps shitty weeks, months or years.
A girl went to the ER & was misdiagnosed with serotonin syndrome when really she had used a cannabis dab pen
Serotonin Syndrome Misdiagnosed in a Patient Who Used a Cannabis Dab Pen
In mouse embryos, exposure to CBD impaired the closing of the neural tube (a predisposition to spina bifida)
Cannabidiol impairs neural tube closure in mouse whole embryo culture
In monkeys, chronic exposure to THC caused smaller testicles & less sperm of poorer quality
Chronic exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol impacts testicular volume and male reproductive health in rhesus macaques
The data is clear: if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, you should both lay off the bud.
Is it terrible for reproductive health? No. (I mean, I have two kids)
But cannabis clearly causes a slight to moderate drag on your reproductive success.
In a mouse model of kidney injury, anandamide did not protect the kidneys & increased the damage when the mouse was being fed a high salt diet
Acute and long-term effects of cannabinoids on hypertension and kidney injury
That being said, I’m not sure if these are clinically relevant doses. The thing about anandamide is that it probably won’t ever be a human drug because it dissipates & breaks down too fast.
This review article proposes that in COVID-19, the cannabinoids might be neuroprotective
Potential Neuroprotective Effect of Cannabinoids in Covid-19 Patients
In a survey, it’s suggested that using cannabis prevents the contagion of SARS-COV2
Cannabis potential effects to prevent or attenuate SARS-COV2 contagion
This review looks at using the anti-inflammatory & antiviral effects of the cannabinoids to inhibit & prevent COVID-19
Anti-Inflammatory and Antiviral Effects of Cannabinoids in Inhibiting and Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection
This review suggests CBD for COVID’s impairment of angiogenesis (new blood cell formation) & the function of endothelial cells (which line the surface of blood vessels)
Endothelial dysfunction and angiogenesis: what is missing from COVID-19 and cannabidiol story?
In human lung cells & white blood cells that modeled the cytokine storm of COVID-19, CBD & THC alleviated the cytokine storm by modulation of the inflammasome (a great word! A part of the innate immune system that activates inflammation)
Cannabinoids Alleviate the LPS-Induced Cytokine Storm via Attenuating NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling and TYK2-Mediated STAT3 Signaling Pathways In Vitro
A review of cannabinoids in dermatology along with a case report of successfully using (the cheesiest looking) CBD oil against a patient’s dermatitis & skin cancer
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Lichen Simplex Chronicus Successfully Treated with Topical Cannabinoid Oil: A Case Report and Summary of Cannabinoids in Dermatology
In cells of neuroblastoma (cancer of immature nerve cells), CBN slowed their proliferation, invasion & angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels)
Cannabinol Inhibits Cellular Proliferation, Invasion, and Angiogenesis of Neuroblastoma via Novel miR-34a/tRiMetF31/PFKFB3 Axis
A set of guidelines for cannabis use for any doctor who treats women
Guideline No. 425a: Cannabis Use Throughout Women's Lifespans - Part 1: Fertility, Contraception, Menopause, and Pelvic Pain
This is one that I wish I could get access to…
Great review of the medical history of cannabis by Dr. Helena Freitas of the University of Lisbon
Medical Cannabis - A Historical Perspective
A review of how the brain’s oligodendrocytes (which synthesize the myelin sheaths around the axons) use the full range of endocannabinoid machinery & may be a target to promote remyelination for diseases like MS, ALS or Parkinson’s
Endocannabinoid signaling in oligodendroglia
This review looks at the possibility of using endocannabinoid biomarkers as diagnostic tools for depression – but concludes it’s still too early to do so despite the promising results so far
The Endocannabinoid System as a Biomarker for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications in Depression and Anxiety
This review looks at how we should be exploring the endocannabinoid system for treating liver steatosis (a result of obesity & nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
Expanding Research on Cannabis-Based Medicines for Liver Steatosis: A Low-Risk High-Reward Way Out of the Present Deadlock?
A review of how the endocannabinoid system is involved in the retina & protects it from inflammation
Endogenous Mediators of Neuroinflammation: The Endocannabinoid System at the Retina
A review of CBD for dogs & horses
Cannabidiol and possibilities of its use in veterinary medicine of dogs and horses: A brief review
In a mouse model of anxiety & depression, CBD seemed to help via the CB1 receptor as well as by increasing the genetic expression of GABA & cannabinoid receptors
Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Involvement in the Actions of CBD on Anxiety and Coping Behaviors in Mice
In rats addicted to meth, CBD (but not CBDA) helped them to self-administer less
Cannabidiol but not cannabidiolic acid reduces behavioural sensitisation to methamphetamine in rats, at pharmacologically effective doses
The rats also visited Andy Warhol in his Factory & joined the movement of making lousy repetitive art.
(once you realize that meth-fueled the artists coming out of Warhol’s Factory, you can’t unsee it in the style of the art they produced. But I know the feeling. You should see the extensive book research notes for my cannabinoid graphic novels)
Speaking of meth, its ability to lessen recognition & social memory in rats could be helped by activating the CB1 receptor
Role of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor in methamphetamine-induced social and recognition memory impairment
In a mouse model of pain, the power of activating both cannabinoid receptors & opioid receptors together for better pain control seems to be mediated by GIRKs (G protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channels – ion channels that help regulate excitation in the brain)
Involvement of spinal G-protein inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels in the enhanced antinociceptive effects of the activation of both μ-opioid and cannabinoid CB1 receptors
In the hippocampus of rats, anandamide helped to consolidate memories along with a co-modulatory effect from the acetylcholine system (the primary neurotransmitter of nerve impulses in the parasympathetic nervous system)
Memory consolidation depends on endogenous hippocampal levels of anandamide: CB1 and M4, but possibly not TRPV1 receptors mediate AM404 effects
In rats exposed to opioids in the womb, they had impaired endocannabinoid transmission in their dorsal striatum (a decision-making center of the brain often involved in addiction)
Prenatal opioid exposure impairs endocannabinoid and glutamate transmission in the dorsal striatum
In a human knee cell model of arthritis, the ability of the devil’s claw plant to reduce inflammation seems to work via the CB2 receptor
Harpagophytum procumbens Root Extract Mediates Anti-Inflammatory Effects in Osteoarthritis Synoviocytes through CB2 Activation
Apparently, devil’s claw is a common plant used for arthritis – and apparently it’s one more plant who utilizes the endocannabinoid system to do its healing.
Using a computer to aid in looking for CB2 allosteric binding sites
In Silico Prediction and Validation of CB2 Allosteric Binding Sites to Aid the Design of Allosteric Modulators
Plant Medicines, Harm Reduction & Psychoactives
DanceSafe: “Many people say that heroin feels like being in love. Be kind and decent to people who are navigating such a complicated relationship.”
Important & true. As Dr. Gabor Maté shares, everyone he’s ever dealt with for severe opioid use disorder suffered from terrible childhood trauma. Abuse at such a young age causes the number of opioid receptors in the brain to drop sharply & makes it difficult to process the things that endorphins frequently facilitate such as a mother’s love, a lover’s embrace or a friend’s smile. When someone says their first shot of heroin was like feeling hugged for the first time in their life, the neurochemistry agrees with them.
According to Nature, Inca sacrifice victims were given ayahuasca
Ritual drug use during Inca human sacrifices on Ampato mountain (Peru): Results of a toxicological analysis
The DEA wants to schedule two more psychedelics: DOI & DOC
It’s always funny to me how far behind the times they are. These drugs have been popular on the scene for at least a decade.
On psychedelic chaplaincy by Jasmine Virdi & Oriana Mayorga
The Jewish Psychedelic Summit is coming up on May 2
PS: The free jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd pairs up with the Malian master of the kora Toumani Diabaté to produce the wonderful album ‘Malicool’. With a backing band of well-known Malian musicians, one of the strengths of the album is that the two bandleaders give space for everybody to show off their skills & weave together their rhythms. A beautiful piece of music for your working day…
The Living Glossary
Here’s a running glossary of the basic cannabinoid terms. This will also function as the legend for the ‘neural ocean’ metaphor that I’m using in my graphic novel series on the endocannabinoid system based on Moby-Dick. You can watch a lecture laying out the full idea here, but basically, we treat the human brain like the ocean: both deep, mysterious & chockablock with fish & feedback systems that we don’t understand.
Endocannabinoids are whales. Phytocannabinoids are elephants (because what is an elephant but a whale of the land). And neurons are complex underwater cities where hundreds of fish interact.
The cannabinoids found inside all mammals & almost every other form of life besides insects
The Endocannabinoids System (ECS)
One of the most widespread signaling systems in the human body & brain - but only first discovered in the early ‘90s. Unlike most of the classical neurotransmitters, endocannabinoid are lipids, or fats. This makes them slippery, hard to study & a supremely sensitive signaling system because of the ability of cells to detect minute changes in lipid levels & act accordingly. Intimately connected to the immune system, the neuronal system & the hormonal system, as one old scientist said to me in his cups, “If you told me that the endocannabinoid system is where the body meets the soul, I’d believe you.”
Anandamide (AEA) [Our Great White Whale]
The first endocannabinoid neurotransmitter ever discovered. Widespread in the human brain & produced ‘on-demand’ when needed. Appears quickly, broken down quickly. Often called the neurotransmitter of balance.
[in our neural ocean metaphor, the sperm whale]
FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase)
The enzyme that breaks down anandamide & a frequent target of drug discovery for modulating the endocannabinoid system. If you inhibit the FAAH enzyme, it does less breaking down of AEA, and your AEA levels rise. More balance.
[the giant squid that slices sperm whales in half]
The first endocannabinoid receptor discovered. Mediates the psychoactivity (getting high feeling of THC). Most importantly, it’s the most widespread receptor of its class in the human brain.
[the bar in the membrane wall of the neuronal city where endocannabinoid whales meet with messenger fish to pass on their messages into the interior of the cellular city]
The second endocannabinoid neurotransmitter discovered. Only 2-AG & AEA have been well studied (thousands of research papers)
MGL (monoacylglycerol lipase - also sometimes abbreviated as MAGL)
The enzyme that breaks down 2-AG. Another frequent target of drug discovery because inhibiting MGL raises 2-AG levels
[a giant squid that eats blue whales]
The second endocannabinoid receptor discovered. Found in almost every organ of the body & closely connected to our immune system. The CB2 occurs at low levels in the brain where it responds to neural insults.
[a gay bar in the membrane wall of the neuronal city]
An endogenous fatty acid amide whose only reason for not being labeled as a classic endocannabinoid is because it doesn’t bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptor - but it’s a hugely important neurotransmitter found in every cell of the body. A long body of work stretching back to World War 2 has found it to be an amazingly safe & effective drug for a number of things related to the immune system. Available as a dietary supplement, this is one of the best-studied cannabinoids in humans. Highly recommended.
[North Atlantic Right whale of course. Just look at that grin…]
An endocannabinoid related to sleep. They discovered it by keeping cats awake for 3 days & then analyzing their spinal fluid. You can buy it on Amazon. 2 scoops helps you to sleep while 6 scoops is a very pleasant psychoactive experience (Hamilton Morris has called it his favorite way to get high - which is saying something)
[Humpback whale, because it sings hippies to sleep]
The cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.
The well-known & well-studied molecule in cannabis that gets you high - and helps in a number of other fascinating ways.
[African elephant. Powerful, unpredictable, beautiful]
The cousin of THC that does not get you high but does a lot of the heavy lifting in why hemp has been such a staple of medicine since before recorded history. In most plants outside those bred for the recreational market, CBD is the most common cannabinoid. It binds to a wide swathe of receptors outside the endocannabinoid system including three serotonin receptors, two opioid receptors, a dopamine receptor as well as glutamate & GABA (the two most widespread neurotransmitters, the basic neuronal signals for excitation & inhibition, respectively)
[Indian elephant. sweet, gentle, you can work with it]
The third most common cannabinoid in the plant, it’s not well studied in humans despite a number of intriguing preclinical studies, especially as an anti-inflammatory and for pain. Nonpsychoactive, it interferes with the breakdown of AEA & 2-AG (leading to a rise in their levels) as well as interacting with the vanilloid receptors.
[Sri Lankan elephant. Little, sweet, not as well known as it should be]
CBDV is like CBD with a shortened tail (side chain). Also nonpsychoactive, it tends to occur at low levels in most cannabis cultivars. It’s known to be an anticonvulsant & is suggested for treating autism in humans & in animal models. The cannabinoid pharmaceutical company GW has it in their developmental pipeline as GWP42006.
[An Asian elephant with a short trunk]
A terpene that’s also a cannabinoid.
The terpenes of cannabis give the plant its smell. Also found in oregano, black pepper, lavender & hops, beta-caryophyllene has a spicy sweet woody smell. But unique among terpenes, this one also binds to the CB2 receptor, making it a dietary cannabinoid. It shows a potential for treating inflammation, pain, anxiety & seizures. The FDA has designated it to be GRAS (generally regarded as safe) & thus it can be safely used as a food additive.
[a terpene/cannabinoid that travels through the air? That could only be a flying elephant]