CBD products are everywhere today: the grocery store, the gas station, even in the pet store! But they are like other over the counter supplements that are not FDA approved. They should be used carefully and at the advice of a trained professional. Today’s show is for you if you’re looking for evidence-based information about cannabinoid products and the role it plays with the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is our bodies’ supercomputer system. It’s found in all humans and in some lower animals. Inside our bodies, we have receptors, called the CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, while the CB2 receptor is found predominantly in the peripheral nervous system, the spleen, bone marrow, and thyroid, just to name a few.
If you think about the similarities between the endorphins the body produces that can help block pain, and morphine that is used when the body doesn’t block enough of the pain, the receptors within the ECS work like this. In a healthy person, the body naturally produces enough cannabinoids. But in a sick person or maybe in an older person, the body doesn’t make quite enough and requires supplements to restore the equilibrium.
All supplements are not created equally, however. The laboratory work to study cannabinoids is currently illegal in the US, but it is absolutely necessary. The FDA just came out with a new warning about CBD products causing liver damage. These are not wonder drugs, of course, but when you see them all over the stores, you might think that they are. CBD and THC have side effects, just like any other drug. We do not have enough clinical data to back up current claims about the correct dosage for cannabinoids.
As a clinical pharmacist with a certificate in cannabis medicine, I really think that cannabinoids have a place in the pharmacopeia. But they are not wonder drugs, and we should encourage more studies to be done so that we can prescribe the correct dosage for patients who could really benefit from this drug. The future is really promising for cannabis science.
- How the endocannabinoid system works
- How efficacious are CBD and THC products as supplements?
- Does clinical data support current CBD claims?
- Where cannabis scientific claims are currently at.
Listen And Learn
This show is for educational purpose and should not be taken as medical advice. Welcome to Let’s Talk About Medical Weed with Dr. O, a clinical pharmacist certified in medical cannabis. Every week you’ll learn about alternative ways to improve your health and wellbeing using the healing power of botanicals such as cannabinoids. Here’s your host, Lola Ohonba.
Welcome to episode three of Let’s Talk About Medical Weed with Dr. O. I’m so glad you’re here with me today. My name is Lola Ohonba. I’m a clinical pharmacist, certified in medical cannabis. This show is for educational purposes only and it’s not to be taken as medical advice. So, if you have any medical advice, information that you would like to clarify, please speak with your primary physician. Do not stop or start any medication including supplements of any kind without talking to your medical provider.
Before going into the details of today’s show, allow me to say a few things about cannabinoids CBD THC products. Currently CBD THC, just like over the counter medications and vitamins supplements, the over the counter supplements, they are not FDA approved by the FDA. So, basically what we are saying, the CBD and THC cannabinoids generally being used as supplement and FDA does not approve of a supplement as an effective means of therapy.
I just want to remind us of that because a lot of people are using this supplement. Yeah, even though vitamins are not FDA approved, we still use it. Sometimes we have to balance the benefit versus the risk. Just want to clarify that before we get into the details of today’s show.
This show is for you if you are looking for alternatives to manage health and wellbeing using a supplement such as a cannabinoid. The show is also for you if you are a young professional looking for alternative means to manage energy loss during the daily activities or daily grind. And finally, this show is for you. If you’re a health care professional looking for evidence-based information, evidence-based data to counsel patients on cannabis and cannabinoid product.
There’s a lot of people selling CBD THC cannabis cannabinoid products. Some even sell it in the fuel gas stations. All kinds of stuff are going on. You want to have information to counsel your patient so this show is for you if you are in that category.
On today’s show we’ll be talking about endocannabinoid system and its mechanism of action. We’ll be talking about the role of an endocannabinoid system, also called ECS, in maintaining the body’s equilibrium homeostasis. And also, we’ll be talking about cannabinoids and their uses or potential uses, what people are trying to use it for, the areas where people are looking into for the research. We will be talking about that.
And finally, how we’ll be talking about the recent FDA warning about the CBD products and you absolutely do not want to miss that. That is very important so stick around. Thanks once again for joining me today.
Today’s topic is what I call endocannabinoid system, our body’s supercomputer; what is the endocannabinoid system? I’m also going to be referring to it from time to time today as ECS, endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoid system is found in all human and in some animals such as the nematodes on the sea squirt. Endo means “inside”; something is inside. It’s called endo and when it’s outside, it’s called exo.
So, when we talk about endocannabinoid, it is basically talking about cannabinoids that are inside of us. Basically, it is a cannabinoid that is produced by our body. I know somebody will say, “What do you mean, cannabinoids are being produced by our body; I thought cannabis products are plant products?” You are very right. The phytocannabinoid, cannabinoids produced by the plants, those are like the THC and the CBD. It was discovered that not only plants produce cannabinoids, humans also produce cannabinoids.
And just like a one day discovered the morphine from the opium plants, they later find out, that’s how they discovered morphine from the opium plants. They later find out that the body actually produced morphine opium products of their own. That was called endorphins, which is kind of a morphine-like product that is produce by our body.
I personally believe that the nature already gave us what we need to live a healthy life. We just need to take advantage of what is already given to us by our Maker. The ECS is a system that has balance physiological process in our animals. Basically, it helps with the homeostasis, which is balancing of the physiological processes going on in our body. ECS might be the most important system in the body when it comes to maintaining human’s health and wellbeing.
I guess people will be like, so how does this ECS work? When studying this ECS system, I kind of define the way it works in a term that I use as a ligand receptor kind of mechanism.
So, what is a ligand? What is a receptor? The ECS was discovered to work in the brain and the CNS, the brain and the central nervous system, using the mechanism of ligand and receptor types of making. The best way to explain ligand and receptor mechanism will be a lock and key kind of process. We have our lock and when we have our key, when we put our key in the lock, we turn it and basically the door is open. So, that’s how we want to kind of explain, the best way to explain it, in a layman term.
The cannabinoids, we already know we have cannabinoid receptors in our body, the CB one and the CB two. These are the receptors that the exocannabinoid like CBD and THC uses to carry out your physiological effects. In our (inaudible) classes we learned that the ligands normally bind to its receptor, will produce a chemical reaction.
So, in this case that is exactly what is going on; the ligand, which in this case will the cannabinoid like maybe THC, maybe CBD, they will bind to this receptor and cause this physiological reaction that is seen. So, just like we put our key in a lock and the door is open, that is just how this process works. The CB one and the CB two found in the brain and the CNS works cannabis and cannabinoids use it to characteristically fit. And the combination of the ECS and cannabin.
Both the ligand and the receptor working together is the whole processes, the endocannabinoid system. So, basically what I’m saying is that you have your CB one and CB two, which are the receptors, which in this situation going on, looks like your lock. Then you have your ligand, which in this case is going to be THC or CBD. So, the CB one or CB two combined with THC or CBD, the whole of that process is the endocannabinoid (inaudible).
According to studies, the body does not produce what it does not need. If I don’t need something, my body’s not going to produce it. So, the question we want to ask ourselves is, so why is the ECS the endocannabinoid system, why is it created by our body? What is going on there? What’s, what’s going on? Why do we need the endocannabinoid system? So, we also ask ourselves, is it making it because it knows about the phytocannabinoid like the CBD or THC? Absolutely not.
We find out that studies and research show that the body, researchers find out that the body manufacturer its own cannabis-like compound, just like the body manufacturer its own endorphin that works in similar fashion to morphine. The body was found out to manufacture is own compound that looks and works similar to the cannabinoid product. So, the body manufactures an anandamide. The anandamide is similar to THC, kind of have similar structures and also have kind of similar effects and properties. And this anandamide is found to bind to the CB one receptor.
And if we remember from previous episode, CB one receptor is the receptor in our body that THC also binds to. So, it makes sense that anandamide has similar characteristics as a THC. The body was also found to manufacture what we call to 2-Arachidonoylglycerol. Now that is a mouthful. That was a real mouthful. And so, we shorten that to 2-AG. 2-AG is found to have similar characteristics as a CBD. And it was also found to bind predominantly to the CB two receptor, which is the receptor that CBD has been found to predominantly bind to.
We will be doing injustice to the cannabinoid and cannabis science if we don’t mention that the scientists and the researchers that did all this work did an amazing job. Especially when we consider the legal terrain where they’re working, where they cannot actually legally work with this cannabinoid product. Doctor Raphael Mechoulam is an Israeli scientist is the one, with his colleagues, discovered the anandamide and the 2-AG. Anandamide is given that name, is called joy, is a blissful compound because it involves the euphoria-like characteristic that is synonymous to THC.
So, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleagues and also Dr. Allyn Howlett. She is an American. This group of people work tirelessly in the cannabinoid space and they discover the anandamide, the 2-AG and Dr. Allyn Howlett was said to have actually discover the endocannabinoid system itself.
So, what is the work of ECS and all these cannabinoids? Both the endo and the phytocannabinoid helps to regulate the homeostasis and the physiological balance at every levels of life. The CB one receptor is mostly found in the brain and the CNS. So, we find our CB one receptor in the CNS, which is where the anandamide and the THC are predominantly as effect. Although they are also found in other parts of the body like the stomach, intestine, basically all the part of the body.
But predominantly the CB one receptor where the THC at is found in the brain and the central nervous system. I guess it makes sense when you look at the euphoria and all the kind of effects that THC is (inaudible) for psychoactive properties. The CB two receptor is found predominantly in the peripheral nervous system and the immune cells, tissue, organs, in the spleen, the bone marrow, the thyroid, tonsils, just to mention a few. Like I said earlier, it is also found in other parts of the body as well. So, you find a CBD and 2-AG is acting their effect predominantly in these areas of the body.
So, how does the ECS help us to maintain equilibrium? I call it like ECS is what I call balancing of equation. Yeah. I have a background in chemistry, so when I’m looking at this stuff, I tend to bring in my chemistry background. So, I call it like balancing of equation. Like in your chemistry class you have the equilibrium position whereby you have the right negative chemicals on the right balancing now the positive chemicals on the left. So basically, does what ECS does, it balances how our bodies and its physiological condition going on in the body is balanced by this system.
ECS is also said to work in a retrograde fashion. Other system in the body such as the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system is what gives us the fight or flight kind of a response. Like when you see something, you’re afraid of, you are scared. The first thing that comes to your mind is to run for your dear life. So, that is the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system that does that. Those works an action and reaction formula.
But ECS, when you talk about retrograde fashion, it basically means it works in opposite direction. Basically, it can go forward and it can also send information backwards in a feedback like manner. By working in our retrograde fashion, the ECS is able to provide feedback to the nervous system and cause change in stimuli response according to what is actually going on in the body physically. I call that, I have a kind of scenario that I call it like a tattle telling, like telling on the other nervous system.
Say something is happening in the body I call the retrograde fashion more like a foot soldier or gatekeeper warning everybody of impending danger. Or if there’s happiness happening, it also warns people about what is going on. So, it’s ability to be able to work not just forward in a sympathetic nervous system but also backward in a parasympathetic situation.
So, does that mean we only have our CBD and THC working on this ECS? Absolutely not. Apart from CBD, THC, there are other cannabinoid product, cannabinoid molecules, that also binds to the ECS. Example of some of this cannabinoid is the CBG and THCV. So, we’re going to go into a little detail about this other cannabinoid products, cannabinoid molecules and try to look at what they do, their potential effects in the body.
So, we can start with say THC. That’s the tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is said to have a potential for neuroprotective properties and the analgesic effect which is said to have the potential to help with pain. It is also said to help with muscle relaxing, anti-oxidant, spasm appetites just to mention a few. But from THC we have THCV which is Tetrahydrocannabivarin. This is said to have the ability potential for appetite suppressant, which can be harnessed when it comes to like weight loss metabolic syndrome. It Is also said to have anti-seizure properties which can be harnessed, potential for harnessing, for products like a seizure disorder.
Apart from that we have CBN, which is called cannabinol is said to have a sedated effect. So, in this kind of product, if anybody is taking a product that has a lot of cannabinol in it, they want to be careful about other medication that might cause sedation with this product. So, this one is said to have potential to release positive pain reliving and also anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
So, the other one we will talk about is the tetrahydrocannabinol acid. This is THCA. THCA is said to have anti-inflammatory properties and it’s also said to have a neuroprotective property. THCA is said to have anti-bacteria and also might be able to have with bone stimulants. So, when somebody is looking for this kind of targeted action, you want to look up a product that might have some of these THCA in it. Also, it was said to also have potential to help lower blood pressure and inhibit cancer cell growth.
The other one down most of us are familiar with is the cannabidiol, CBD. CBD is said to have gazillion properties but potential to help with bone stimulation, have potential to help with antipsoriatic properties. So, many activities that have claims CBD has the potential to help with.
Also, the next one will be the cannabigerol. Cannabigerol is said to have anti-bacteria properties and also may have the property to help reduce growth in cancer cell. And we have the one that’s called cannabinolic acid CBD. This one is said to have the potential to help with nausea and vomiting and also reduce blood pressure, potential for blood pressure reduction and anti-inflammatory properties.
Finally, we have the cannabidivarin. This is said to have anti-seizure properties and also potential for bone stimulation. So, for people looking for specific targets or specific things to maintain or manage, it will be a good thing to probably be specific like a target therapy, targeting some of this compounds that those what one is specifically looking for. Studies have shown endocannabinoid compounds such as anandamide and 2-AG are produced in the body as needed and are not stored.
So, for this product, some people have a low production, some might have a high production, some might even have deficiency in their ECS and the ECS might not be working as it should, especially as we grow older. So, in this kind of scenario, cannabinoid from botanical might be an option to use a supplement, especially in, in people that have ECS deficiency of any time. Kind of like in the case of the pain managements whereby the body might not have enough endorphins or the endorphin might not be produced by the body, might not be enough to effectively manage pain. So, we supplement that with opioids like morphine and oxycontin, just to mention a few.
That is the idea behind supplementing the endocannabinoid system, with a cannabinoid like THC or CBD. So, like I’ve mentioned earlier, CB one receptor is said to be responsible for muscle movement, anxiety, stress, fear, pain, appetite, reward, motor control, neuroprotection. So, for these states or conditions that have this kind of symptoms going on, CB one receptor might want to be the best targets points where therapy can be applied.
And seeing THC is the one that binds to this receptor it would make sense to begin to do research that targets THC-based therapy to address this kind of a condition going on with this receptor. In fact, cannabis is said to help people with signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder by helping them to forget and to eliminate all those painful memories suffered during traumatic experiences.
Products like THC it is already been said that they have potential to cause short term memory loss. So, when the body, when this THC product is targeted to patient with post-traumatic stress disorder, which in this case is more of a heroic, these are people trying to forget traumatic experience. So, products can be targeted to use the abilities of THC’s ability to be able to forget things to help people in this space.
Also, CBD is predominantly found in blood in spleen, in connective tissue and it’s been implicated to have the potential to help with inflammation and connective tissue in all over the body. Inflammation is a major condition that has been implicated in almost all disease days, including cancer. CBD and other cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it’s been said that CBD has more than 20 times onsite inflammatory properties of NSAID, which are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory property, anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen, ibuprofen. This are the main therapeutics that we traditionally use. So, when you look at this situation with inflammation, we might be able to target therapy specifically harnessing the anti-inflammatory properties that is claimed CBD said to have.
According to Dr. Yankel Gabet, CBD improves healing process in rats with broken leg. The leg bone during this study was broken and according to Dr. Gabet, the rat… CBD was able to enhance the maturation of the (inaudible) gene, which is the protein that helps the body to hold the body together. Also according to Dr. Gabet, after this bone is treated and healed in this rat, they found out that it becomes very difficult for that particular bone to easily break. So, when it comes to osteoporosis and bone condition like that, studies probably needed to be done along this line to see if there’s potential for CBD to help in the future.
All these situations that we are talking about, CBD, THC, 2-AG, anandamide, a lot of research is needed to check the validities of these claims, but with cannabinoids being predominantly federally illegal, it’s really, really tough for scientists to actually carry out the laboratory work that is expected.
Cannabis receptors are set to be downregulated by the ECS. So, when we said downregulation, what do we mean by that? Downregulation is basically saying that the body produces more receptors for the cannabinoids to bind to when the body needs it. When the body does not need this receptor, doesn’t need so much of the cannabinoid it downregulates. It takes back some of the receptor. The ECS takes back some of the receptors that the body does not need, therefore reducing the level of the cannabinoid in the body.
Unlike in the opiate kind of system or opiate addition whereby the body keep producing more receptor to bind to this opioid like oxycontin, oxycodone just to mention a few. Whereby this leads to individual getting an unintentional overdose. So, this is one of the reasons why there hasn’t been any official record of anybody overdosing on cannabis or cannabinoid product. The ability of the body, the ability of the ECS, to be able to downregulate the receptor to prevent people from overdose. And this is really, really unique. The ECS is just amazing. Absolutely a game changer when it comes to opiate therapy.
Another reason why they claim there is no cannabis related overdose that has been recorded is due to the fact that the cardiac and respiratory centers of the brain STEM cell does not have the ECS receptor in there. Basically, what this means is that the cardiac and the respiratory site of the brain STEM cell, since they do not have the ECS receptor, they are not able to shut down the body system. Even if somebody takes more cannabinoid product, the body is not shut down the same in the traditional opioid overdose whereby when people overdose do the whole-body system, the respiratory system is shut down, the cardiac system is shut down. This is called a respiratory depression in opioid therapy, in opioid overdose.
So, this is not seen in the ECS system because the center, the cardiac and the respiratory center where these activities are called in opioid overdose is not, there is no receptor for, for the cannabinoid to bind in this brain STEM cell. That is really, really a game changer when we talk about managing opioid crisis and opioid addiction and overdose in our country. More studies are absolutely necessary to be able to further dive into all this thread or this hanging thread left by the cannabis science at the moment. Because there are not enough clinical studies is very, very challenging to further dive into this claim and see if they are actually valid.
And finally concerning the FDA info that I mentioned earlier, the FDA just came out with a new warning for CBD product. So, before CBD was said to have little or known side effect but the recent release by the FDA claims that there is potential harm that CBD can cause, especially in liver or liver injury that one has to be very, very aware of. So, for people that might be using the CBD product, this is where you want to have somebody that knows what they are doing to educate, to enlighten patients because if somebody is going through, say they have a liver condition, then you have to consider or work out if administration would be ideal for that person.
But it’s not everybody that will have that kind of knowledge. There is CBD all over the place now; it is in the grocery store, is in the gas station. It’s just crazy too. It’s so crazy to go to a gas station and go and be buying product, like a supplement to putting your body. I don’t know why people do that. There is no drug or supplements that’s without side effects. That’s absolutely nothing like that. No wonder drugs. So, cannabis and cannabinoid products now are no wonder drug. They also have their own side effects. There’s a lot of challenges that comes with cannabinoid products, especially when it comes to dosing. And if we do not have enough clinical data to back up some of this claim, it is really tough.
So, are we then going to say that we are not going to dive into this cannabis science and research and find out what is going on? Basically, the future is really promising for cannabis science. This is a product that’s been using from generation to generation. Queen Victoria of England used cannabis to manage menstrual pain, according to historians.
With the way health care costs is speeding out of control currently in our country, cannabinoid therapy might be an alternative break that we need to actually apply before the whole healthcare system just literally get off the cliff down there. It is just unsustainable too for the health care costs to keep going out of control and we will be doing our self a lot of injustice and our society a lot of… It will be unfair for us to not spend more money and spend lot of time to dive into the botanicals like cannabis and actually do the work that is needed to validate the claims that people are claiming of these plants. People have claimed die. People have claimed it helped them with cancer, people have claimed it helped them with pain. It would be a good thing to look into it, especially with what is going on with opioid crisis, with our health care costs. Hopefully opportunity will be given to those scientists to actually do this work.
That’s our show for today. Thank you so much, guys, for hanging out with me today. It also really means a lot so mean that you are here. Please subscribe to the show if you have not done so yet. We need your support. We are sincerely asking for your support. Subscribe to the show so we can keep it going. I believe knowledge is power. We need knowledge in the cannabis space right now.
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