Cannabis – The Ultimate in Neuroprotection


Cannabis – The Ultimate in Neuroprotection

 By Mary Biles
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Earlier this year we saw the announcement that THCa, another molecule found in the cannabis plant,  has neuroprotective effects. Apart from flying in the face of the  belief that cannabis damages brain cells, why should we care whether  something is neuroprotective or not?The death  of brain cells is a natural part of the ageing process. Cells die off  and the body is also capable of making new ones through neurogenesis.  But the older we get, the more susceptible we become to ‘inappropriate  cell death’ through traumatic injury, environmental toxins,  cardiovascular disorders, infectious agents, or genetic diseases. That’s  why scientists are researching neuroprotective drugs to limit the  damage caused to brain cells after acute events such as strokes, to slow  down the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, and to even prevent  unnecessary cell death from happening in the first place.Different  molecules in the cannabis plant – called cannabinoids – are being  investigated for their neuroprotective action, but in order to  understand why, let’s first take a look at why brain cells die off in  the first place.

What causes brain cell death?

1. Oxidative stress
Just  being alive and burning energy creates oxidative stress – damage caused  by free radicals which the body cannot remove. Dr Joseph Mercola  describes the result a sort of ‘biological rusting’ where there is too  much oxygen in our tissues leading to a host of age related diseases  such as chronic inflammation, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, and  strokes.2. Excitotoxicity
Too  much activity in the brain can cause neurons to die off. This is  generally attributed to over stimulation by the neurotransmitter  glutamate, a situation commonly found in many neurodegenerative diseases  and following strokes.3. Inflammatory changes
Inflammation  is usually a sign of the immune system going about its job of cleaning  up after an injury or dealing with a foreign invasion such as a bacteria  or a virus. However, too much inflammation can cause cell death.  According to Gary Wenk, PhD,  professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio  State University, ‘PET imaging studies of humans have shown that after  age thirty the brain gradually displays increasing evidence of  inflammation. With advancing age, brain inflammation continues to worsen  leading to a decline in the production of new neurons, called  neurogenesis, that are important for making new memories’.4. Iron accumulation
Scientists believe excess iron in the brain plays a role in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This iron build-up is may be part of the cycle of excitotoxicity and brain cell death.5. Brain proteins
While  much is still to be learned about diseases such as Alzheimer’s,  scientists now know that a common factor is the build up of proteins  called beta-amyloid which form into plaques. It is thought these plaques  may block cell-to-cell signalling at synapses and create excess  inflammation as the immune system kicks in to attack the affected cells.A  protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) has also been found present  in neurodegenerative diseases, and is further associated with  excitotoxicity and high levels of glutamate.With  all these pathological changes occurring in conditions related to a  degeneration in the brain, it would make sense that scientists are  looking for a pharmaceutical magic bullet that can address each and  every one of them. But what if they didn’t have to look any further than  the cannabis plant?Also see: Cannabis May Help Rejuvenate the Aging Brain and Ward Off Dementia

THCA an exciting neuroprotective prospective?

Let’s  get back to the most recent discovery regarding the neuroprotective  qualities of THCA. First things first, THCA is the acid precursor of THC,  the most well known and generally abundant compound in cannabis. If you  picked the leaves and flowers straight off a cannabis plant, you’d find  barely any THC, what you’d get instead is plenty of THCA. That’s  because in order to become THC, THCA must go through some sort of heat  process or decarboxylation.Comparatively  little research has been done on THCA. However, scientists do know is  that it has no psychoactive effect and appears to be anti-inflammatory,  anti-emetic and shows some anecdotal success in reducing seizures.Cannabis – The Ultimate in Neuroprotection Cannabis-The-Ultimate-in-Neuroprotection-fb2--350x228
This latest research adds neuroprotection to the list. It studied the effect of the raw  cannabinoid on cells and mice modified to elicit the symptoms of  Huntington’s disease. In the cell cultures they found THCA caused an  increase in mitochondrial mass as well as reducing cell toxicity, while  in the mice, THCA improved their Huntington’s related restricted  movement, prevented striatal degeneration and reduced the inflammation  caused by the disease.Scientists noticed that these effects were elicited independently of the endocannabinoid system, concluding:

“THCA  shows potent neuroprotective activity, worth consideration for the  treatment of Huntington’s Disease and possibly other neurodegenerative  and neuroinflammatory diseases.”

While this further strengthens the growing health trend towards consuming raw cannabis,  in a laboratory setting acid cannabinoids can be quite hard to work  with due to their instability and transformation into their  decarboxylated versions.Also see: The Chemistry of a Cannabis High – How THC’s Psychoactive Properties Protect the Brain

What about the other cannabinoids?

One  of the great mystifying contradictions in the world of medical cannabis  is how on the one hand it is a schedule 1 banned substance deemed  bereft of any therapeutic value and yet the United States Federal  Government holds a patent for the plant’s principal cannabinoids based  on their antioxidant and neuroprotective effects. United States Patent US6630507 states how cannabinoids are:

“…  useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation  associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and  autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular  application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological  damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the  treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease,  Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”

Contradiction  aside, this public proclamation based on obvious vested financial  interests is hardly surprising when one considers that cannabinoids like  THC and CBD provide a potentially unique multipronged approach to preventing, protecting and limiting the damage caused by strokes and neurodegenerative disease.One of the key reasons being that THC and CBD as considered powerful antioxidants, on a par with vitamins C and E. Studies have found that cannabinoids can reduce the excitotoxicity associated with too much glutamate production as well as protecting brain cells against the damage caused by excessive iron.Not  only that, but cannabinoids have been found to promote the holy grail  of the healthy ageing brain, neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain  cells. Research has  shown the administration of plant cannabinoids promoted hippocampal  neurogenesis – new cell growth in the region of the brain associated  both with memory and learning.Cannabinoids have also shown promise in reducing the neuro-inflammation found  in rodents injected with the amyloid beta protein which as discussed  before can lead to neuronal cell death in Alzheimer’s.And finally, CBD in particular is thought to limit the damage caused to the brain after a stroke by blocking the neurotransmitter, glutamate.Also see: Cannabis as Medicine: How CBD (Cannabidiol) Benefits the Brain and Nervous System

Cannabis – unique multiple targeted neuroprotection

To  put this into perspective, so far most neuroprotective drugs under  research are based on single therapeutic targets. They aim to protect  the brain by doing one thing at a time.Explains Javier Fernandez Ruiz, Professor of Molecular Biology specialising in neurodegenerative diseases at the Complutense University in Madrid:

“This  is one of the great advantages of cannabinoids. They have a very wide  spectrum and are extremely varied compared to other neuroprotective  agents that have been researched until now. These have consisted of  anti-excitotoxins to improve the glutamate homeostasis, antioxidants or  anti-inflammatories. But what we know is that the various stimuli that  cause cell death work together. In other words, where there is  excitotoxicity there is oxidative stress, the proteins become oxidized,  they lose their function, they form together to make plaques, which  causes an inflammatory response.“We  are not going to halt neurodegenerative diseases unless we have  neuroprotective strategies that work together by reducing inflammation  while at the same time being antioxidants, inducing autophagy in order  to eliminate the protein build up, and returning the glutamate levels to  normal.“This is something that cannabinoids can do, either one cannabinoid or a number of cannabinoids together.”

So  far, the field of neuroprotective pharmacological drugs is in its  infancy, both in medical cannabis derivative research and further  afield. However, the race is on to see who can crack the puzzle and find  the combination of cannabinoids that will not only slow down  neurodegenerative disease, but maybe even prevent us from getting them  in the first place.Also see: Brain Regeneration: Why It’s Real and How To Do It

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The Anxiety Epidemic, Antidepressants and CBD


The Anxiety Epidemic, Antidepressants and CBD

 By Susan Boskey

Last week I read an article titled, “Anti-anxiety meds could be next U.S. epidemic.” [1]  I think a better title would have been: Anxiety: a U.S. Epidemic.  How  do we know anxiety is of epidemic proportions? We know because  statistics reveal a dramatic bump in the number of antidepressant  prescriptions between years 1996 and 2013.

Anna  Lembke, MD, of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at  Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, and  colleagues note that between 1996 and 2013, the number of benzodiazepine  prescriptions filled by adults increased by 67%. [2]

I’m guessing the number of “benzo” prescriptions has continued to increase. Why? For several reasons.

  1. There’s  the issue of over-prescribing by doctors who get the hard-sell from  their pharmaceutical reps. It’s a vicious cycle all about the almighty  dollar, in my humble opinion.
  2. Getting off benzos puts people  at risk of intense withdrawal symptoms, possible seizures, and even  death, according to public health officials. Perhaps this keeps people  re-filling their prescription.
  3. We live in an age of concern  about not meeting expectations regarding: education, work, and personal  goals of appearance, finance, health and relationships.

The  American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2018 surveyed 1000 adults  about their anxiety. It showed that the national anxiety score rose to  51 on a scale from 0 to 100 [3]  which was a five-point jump from 2017. The greatest area of increase  was indicated as paying bills, and the group with the biggest increase  in anxiety was Baby Boomers with a seven-point increase over 2017  scores.
This is the first of a series about anxiety, antidepressants  and CBD. Since it appears to me that anxiety has become normalized in  today’s 1st world societies, I will highlight reason #3  above. I believe societal expectations in this Technological/Information  Age have risen to a level beyond consideration of the facts of being  human. Instead we now seem to be pitted against artificial intelligence  (AI).
There are many facts inherent to being human. We have beliefs,  opinions and feelings. We want to be safe. We make mistakes. We forget.  We over-commit. We need rest. We’re not always healthy in body and/or  mind. We age. We get overwhelmed. We have a unique experience of family.  We tend to conform to peer pressure. We compare ourselves to others. We  get distracted. We have expectations. We are social.
The Anxiety Epidemic, Antidepressants and CBD Anxiety-2-300x208Perfection in the human form is but a utopian dream.
The Oxford English Dictionaries define anxiety [4]:

1 A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
1.1(Psychiatry)  A nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension,  typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.
2 (with infinitive) Strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.

Anxiety falls into three categories according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
Generalized anxiety disorder includes symptoms of excessive and uncontrollable worry that can include muscle tension and irritability.
Social anxiety disorder,  AKA social phobia, is about being seen in a negative light in social  situations. People with social anxiety disorder fear judgment,  embarrassment, rejection, etc.

Panic disorder is  when someone has repeated, uncontrollable panic attacks that can  include a pounding heart and intense fear or worry of an outcome ahead.  NIMH cites risk factors for anxiety as:

  • Shyness, or behavioral inhibition, in childhood
  • Being female
  • Few economic resources
  • Being divorced or widowed
  • Past and/or present exposure to stressful life events
  • Anxiety disorders in close biological relatives
  • Parental history of mental disorders
  • Elevated afternoon cortisol levels in the saliva (specifically for social anxiety disorder)

Of  course anxiety is normal in small, infrequent doses at different times  in our life when we must be “on.” But as a steady diet . . . not so  much. In Part II, we will explore the pharmaceutical antidepressant  solution.
Susan is a 2018 graduate of the Holistic Cannabis Academy with over 45 years of personal involvement in the spectrum of wellness  modalities. Her mission today is to intervene in the noise of modern  life and help people identify and remove stressors that trigger their  dis-ease while providing strategies towards a living experience of inner  calmness, contentment and inspiration.
Her curiosity about  life, and health in particular, fueled her determination to learn  everything she could and help others. Susan’s private practice  (in-person and on Zoom) is based on the paradigm of whole-person  wellness, body, mind and soul, and includes addressing lifestyle issues.  As a non-physician coach she enjoys the added flexibility of providing  in-depth care plans for her clients. Visit her website:

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Exercise Data Reveals 2 Reasons Why Athletes Combine Weed and Workouts

 Exercise Data Reveals 2 Reasons Why Athletes Combine Weed and Workouts

By Emma Betuel
on April 30, 2019
Filed Under CBD, Health, Marijuana, Public Health, Sports & Weed

At first glance, cannabis and endurance sports seem like an unlikely pairing. But a well-timed hit can break up the  monotony of a long, grueling workout so effectively that the unlikely  pairing has taken hold in some niche endurance running communities. A new survey published in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that using marijuana as a workout enhancer isn’t as niche of an idea as it once was, though.

This recent study, led by University of Colorado’s Angela Bryan, Ph.D., showed that 81.7 percent of 605 survey respondents in states where weed was legal reported using marijuana directly before or after exercise.

“We were stunned it was that high,” Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, said on Tuesday.

Her data helps fill a crucial gap in our understanding of weed-related workouts. Namely, why athletes turn to weed when they’re contemplating a workout. Amid evidence that marijuana will do little or nothing to improve athletic performance, her results suggest that people don’t  actually smoke because they think it makes them better at their chosen  sport. Rather, they believe it makes the experience more enjoyable and  helps with recovery afterwards.

Some ultra-marathoners have reported taking edibles before long runs. 
There are plenty of anecdotes that speak to the positive experiences of training while high. Endurance runner Avery Collins, a top finisher at some of America’s most grueling ultras, famously either “smokes a little” or pops an edible about 30 minutes before he takes off on a training  run. This experience isn’t limited to elite-caliber runners. The notion  of combining weed and workouts is also debated on the r/running subreddit.

“I  notice that I usually run really well when I’m high, I stay so focused  on the run and my body,” wrote u/PurpleMonkeyRunner in 2015. “I either  run faster or I feel like a run faster, I haven’t fully tested if it  helps me or not. I sure do enjoy the runs though and have never had a  bad experience doing it.”

While Bryan’s paper can’t answer  questions about whether cannabis affects athletic performance, it does  show that most athletes in the sample who use marijuana do so because it  makes their workouts feel better.

Most  people in Bryan's survey believed that marijuana made their workouts  more fun and aided in their recovery afterwards. Less than 40 percent  thought it actually made them stronger. 
Most people believed that  marijuana strongly affected their enjoyment of the workout and their  recovery afterward. Bryan came to this conclusion by asking her  participants to rate a series of statements about mixing marijuana and  exercise on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 meaning they “strongly agreed”).  Asked if they felt that marijuana enhanced their enjoyment and recovery,  participants gave average ratings of 5.3 and 5.7, respectively,  indicating that they generally agreed that it enhanced each experience.  When asked whether they felt marijuana impacted motivation or  performance, their feelings were neutral.
As far as recovery goes,  there is research pointing to the use of cannabis products for muscle  recovery — in fact, the World Anti-Doping Agency actually allows cannabidiol (CBD), a minimally psychoactive component of marijuana, to be used during competition.
But  from a public health standpoint, arguably the most important finding of  this paper is that increased enjoyment leads to more exercise. Overall,  people who combined exercise and marijuana (co-users) exercised an  average of 159.7 minutes per week — far more than the 103.5 minutes per  week typical of those who didn’t combine the two. Interestingly, the  co-users tend to go harder in their workouts, reporting 30.2 more minutes of anaerobic exercise, the kind that is so intense that it leads lactic acid to  accumulate in the muscles (causing pain the next day). The paper states  that this new data, taken together, suggests marijuana may be a “useful  tool for exercise among some users.”
The authors add that “this will  be a fascinating research question as more states move toward  legalization.” Many questions remain about combining exercise and  cannabis, notably the potentially harmful effects that might come from  combining the two. Nevertheless, in a society where people struggle to  meet even minimum exercise guidelines, this early work suggests marijuana may be just what it takes to get some people moving and even make them enjoy the process — making it, in one sense, a performance-enhancing drug that some public health officials may actually get behind.

Abstract: Scientific literature examining cannabis use in the context of health  behaviors, such as exercise engagement, is extremely sparse and has  yielded inconsistent findings. This issue is becoming increasingly  relevant as cannabis legalization continues, a situation that has been  associated with increased initiation of use among adults, and increased  potency of available products in legalized states. Physical activity is  among the most important health behaviors, but many Americans do not  meet minimum exercise recommendations for healthy living. Common issues  surrounding low exercise rates include inadequate enjoyment of and  motivation to exercise, and poor recovery from exercise. It is unclear  whether cannabis use shortly before and/or after exercise impacts these  issues, and whether this co-use affects exercise performance. The  present online survey study examines attitudes and behaviors regarding  cannabis use with exercise among adult cannabis users living in states  with full legal access (N = 605). Results indicated that the majority  (81.7%) of participants endorsed using cannabis concurrently with  exercise, and those who did tended to be younger and more likely to be  males (p < 0.0005 for both). Even after controlling for these  differences, co-users reported engaging in more minutes of aerobic and  anaerobic exercise per week (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively).  In addition, the majority of participants who endorsed using cannabis  shortly before/after exercise reported that doing so enhances their  enjoyment of and recovery from exercise, and approximately half reported  that it increases their motivation to exercise. This study represents  an important step in clarifying cannabis use with exercise among adult  users in states with legal cannabis markets, and provides guidance for  future research directions.

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5 Best Marijuana Strains For Headache Relief


5 Best Marijuana Strains For Headache Relief

 Anybody whose has experienced a migraine headache knows they can be  debilitating and painful. Moreover, the symptoms are often stubborn to  pharmaceutical pain relievers. There is an effective plant-based  alternative that also happens to be one of the most potent healing  plants in the world.

Doctors have been treating migraines with medical cannabis since the 1840s, but U.S. marijuana  prohibition has largely blocked the scientific community from doing much  research on the subject until fairly recently.

The reason  cannabis is so effective medicinally is directly related to its ability  to interact with receptors in the body which inhibit inflammation and  prevent disease. Cannabis does this so well, that few drugs can compete  with its level of potency which come essentially with no side effects.

In 2006, German scientists reported that the administration of oral THC significantly reduced both chronic and experimentally induced pain.

Nearly all pharmaceuticals for migraines have toxic and potentially lethal side effects in the long-term. On the other hand, Marijuana in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.
Existing research shows  marijuana to be an effective general pain reliever, and new evidence  suggests migraine pain frequently responds quite well to certain  marijuana strains.

A 2008 study published in Neuroendocrinology Letters found that migraines are deeply connected with endocannabinoid  function. The study stated that the possible cause of migraines could be  an endocannabinoid deficiency, meaning cannabis could be extremely  helpful in decreasing migraines by supplementing the bodies natural  endocannabinoids.
CBD has been found to be very effective at treating  migraines because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.  THC is also helpful at relieving migraine symptoms due to its ability to  reduce pain. CBD heavy strains, however, help alleviate symptoms while  keeping sufferers alert.
A 1987 study described an "unknown mechanism" that caused migraine headaches to  develop in some long-term marijuana users shortly after they abruptly  discontinued use.
The implication was that marijuana use had been  keeping migraine symptoms at bay in vulnerable individuals, Dr. Gary L.  Wenk explains in a Psychology Today post.
A number of studies have since echoed those findings that marijuana appears to relieve migraine pain and frequency.
A new study published this week from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical  Sciences at the University of Colorado looked at the effects of inhaled and ingested cannabis in migraine sufferers, and the results confirmed what previous studies had begun to unearth.

  • The average number of migraine headaches decreased from 10.4 per month to 4.6
  • Almost 40% of subjects reported positive effects
  • 19.8% of subjects claimed medical marijuana helped to prevent migraines
  • 11.6% of subjects reported that cannabis stopped migraine headaches
  • About 85% of subjects reported having fewer migraines per month with cannabis
  • About 12% saw no change in migraine frequency with cannabis
  • Only about 2% experienced an increase in migraine frequency

Inhalation methods appeared to provide the fastest effects and were  more likely to stop migraine headaches in their tracks. As expected, edible cannabis took longer to provide relief and was more likely to induce negative  side effects like sleepiness and overly intense euphoria (which was  reported in 11.6% of participants).


1. Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel, sometimes called Sour D, is an invigorating  sativa-dominant strain. This fast-acting strain delivers energizing,  dreamy cerebral effects that have pushed Sour Diesel to its legendary  status. It is very effective in reducing migraine pain, headaches and  even depression.

2. Candyland
Candyland, a gold medalist of the 2012 KushCon. Patients turn to  Candyland to relieve pain, headaches and muscle tension. Strong sativa  genetics give Candyland uplifting and stimulating effect.

3. White Widow
A balanced hybrid, White Widow is a classic strain from the  Netherlands. Its buds are characterized by a frost white resin that cues  its potency. Reports are that it is very effective for even severe  migraines with energetic euphoria which settles into full body  relaxation.

4. Cannatonic
Cannatonic is known for its low THC content, which is often below 6%,  and its high CBD content, which is normally at about 6-17% though it can  sometimes be higher. It is known for having a relaxing and uplifting  quality. Cannatonic is acclaimed as one of the top medical marijuana  strains because it is great at treating pain and migraines with little  to no psychoactive effects.

5. Hawaiian Dream
Hawaiian Dream is known to be an uplifting sativa strain with high  levels of CBD. It usually has about double the amount of CBD as it does  THC. Hawaiian dream is known to be a good remedy for treating pain,  inflammation, and migraines. It is also known to provide relief without  any brain fog, so it is extremely helpful at treating migraine symptoms  in the day.

In 2016, we saw some important cannabis research on  migraines and other disorders published in top medical journals --  research that flips the script on previously held beliefs and research  that backs up what we’ve already seen anecdotally with medical cannabis.  Aligned with this, the legalization gates sprang open as eight of the  nine states with marijuana measures on their ballots voted to legalize  it -- four on the retail side, four on the medical side.

It is only a matter of time before more research on Cannabis makes its way to those that need it most.


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