Could cannabis be an essential nutrient?
[dropcap]In[/dropcap] my previous article, I broke down the list of cannabis derivatives in Schedule 2 of the CDSA that were recently made available to patients authorized to possess “dried cannabis” for medical purposes in British Columbia. This effect was achieved by the BC Supreme Court deleting the words “dried cannabis” wherever they appeared in the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, as an arbitrary limit on access to the medicinal compounds produced and stored in the plant’s resin glands. The decision was applauded by the medical community, from patient groups to the province’s Chief Medical Officer, as it allows for alternative methods of ingestion that may better suit specific conditions.
By defending the definition of “dried cannabis,” the government has been inadvertently defending the psychoactive compounds that they argue against. When Cannabis is dried, the non- psychoactive THC acids chemically transform into activated ^9Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The government’s defense formed a cozy catch-22 for the status quo: while condemning the psychoactive “high” of cannabis, they argued that cannabis should only be consumed in its most psychoactive state. Peering through this illogical loophole, we find a widening array of potential medical uses for cannabis, supported by both doctors and scientists.
THC free cannabis
Dr. William Courtney is the co-founder of Cannabis International Foundation1, who are helping pioneer a movement toward ingesting fresh, raw, non-psychoactive cannabis juice. When fresh, the plant contains a lot of non- psychoactive precursor Cannabinoids such as THC acid. THC acid (THCa) has recently been shown to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects2. By nourishing our endocannabinoid system, the juiced leaves and buds help the body function more efficiently, effecting all 210 human cell types. 3
In their inspiring short film “Leaf, ” Dr. Courtney and his wife suggest juicing 10 to 20 fresh leaves daily. Proposing a mix of one part cannabis juice with 10 parts carrot juice to counteract the bitterness, he suggests selecting leaves around 70-90 days after sowing, and drinking the juice three times a day. When the leaves are processed through a fruit and vegetable juicer, a thick, dark green liquid is separated from the plant pulp. With this Cannabinoid-rich liquid, free of the psychoactive effects of THC, it is possible to increase the dose of Cannabinoids such as Cannabidiol (CBD) 100 times. In an average baked cookie, the tolerated dose of THC limits ingestion of other Cannabinoids to about 10 mg. In the raw juice, one can comfortably approach 1000 mg4. The medical benefits activated in the higher dose range (500-1000 mg) include anti-diabetic, anxiolytic, and anti-eschemic properties for heart disease.
While running for political office in California5, Dr. Courtney is on a mission to obtain a United Nations consensus for cannabis as an essential dietary requirement for humankind. Dr. Courtney refers to this cannabis-specific collection of therapeutic compounds as Conditionally Essential Cannabinoid Acids.
On his Cannabis International website, he outlines his goals “to consolidate the science regarding the essential nature of the phyto-cannabinoid contributions to health maintenance and restoration. That akin to Essential Fatty Acids and Essential Amino Acids, there needs to be Minimum Daily Requirements established to guide worldwide adoption of raw cannabis as the single most important dietary element.” Then, “to develop a broad profile ruderalis type plant that is hardy across a wide range of environments and agricultural skill levels.” He is Partnering with Luxembourg C.I.F. to grow 1 billion pounds of seed.
Current scientific investigations have revealed that another precursor cannabinoid, “Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) inhibits migration of the highly invasive MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells”6 and “offers potential therapeutic modality in the abrogation of cancer cell migration”7. Both THCa and CBDa are synthesized by enzymes, in varying degrees, out of Cannabigerol (CBG). While this process occurs within the plant, the transfer from their acid to active forms occurs through the processes of drying, curing and heating. CBDa is transformed into activated CBD at a slightly higher temperature than required for the conversion of THCa. Therefore, in order to convert the CBD content of a plant, you also must convert the THC. Strains of Cannabis with high CBD and low THC, like Cannatonic, are prized genetic achievements.
The CBD-Crew is a joint venture between Mr. Nice Seedbank and Resin Seeds aimed to produce 100 percent CBD-rich seeds for medical marijuana patients8. They have a growing selection of CBD-rich varieties available online for around 10 dollars a seed9. Tikun Olam, a licensed medical marijuana growing facility in Israel announced that they have been running limited human patient trials of a new strain of cannabis, Avidekel, which has 15.8 percent CBD but less than 1 percent THC. While some have seen this as an effort to remove the “fun,” euphoric effects of THC from the plant; patients reported the advantages of having the benefits of CBD without the side effects of THC10.
CBD is under a U.S. patent11 that finds it superior to Vitamin C and A for its anti-oxidant properties. The FDA have recently approved a CBD dosage schedule of 600 mg a day12 in alignment with the Health and Human Services Department patent. The patent was based on animal studies that found high doses of CBD can treat diseases caused by oxidative stress. Another study shows “Doses of one μM CBD protect OPCs from oxidative stress by decreasing the production of reactive oxygen species.”13 There are many people undergoing trials and tribulations because of unscientifically guided medical cannabis laws. In the U.S., the federal government has betrayed the states where medical cannabis has been made legal by voters, raiding dispensaries, arresting sick people, and threatening Doctors.
Doctors against the Drug war
Dr. David Allen is a retired heart surgeon who moved to California and started a medical office that recommended cannabis to patients. He left his fifty-acre property in Mississippi in the care of his sister and her husband. It was raided by the Jackson County narcotics task force, who found his brother in law in possession of a small amount of cannabis and hash. The task force then gave pictures of cannabis plants to the local news in an attempt to taint the jury pool by accusing the doctor of owning a cannabis production facility. Due to asset forfeiture laws in the U.S., persons under investigation are subject to the seizure of everything from houses to bank accounts. Dr. Allen spent 14 months in a Mississippi jail after being arrested while investigating the Jackson County Narcotics task force.14 When he finally went to trial, a jury found him not guilty.
He was quoted in national news, saying, “Eat a bud a day to keep the stroke away.”15 He has stated that by cleaning up oxygen free radicals and controlling inflammation, we could reduce incidences of stroke by a shocking 50 percent. Dr. Allen suggests this method as a preventative treatment, as strokes are difficult to recover from. It’s also a safer and healthier alternative to Aspirin.
Doctors like these are true heroes in this drug war. While under attack from U.S. federal authorities, they continue to stand beside science, reason, and their patients in the face of politics, law enforcement and the media. While the percentage is still small, the depth of these doctors’ influence on the direction of the cannabis culture is great. The lengths to which they can explain the details of this stigmatized plant, from their broad-reaching professional perspectives, is invaluable to its legitimacy and acceptance by society.
I happened to bump into Dr. Robert Melamede in the coffee shop at the end of my street one sunny Dec. morning in Victoria last year. He was visiting as a guest lecturer for Greenline Academy, who held their conference at the University of Victoria later that day. The $350 price tag deterred me from attending, but fortunately the full lecture by Dr. Melamede is available for free on Greenlines’ website16.
Dr. Melamede, CEO of Cannabis Science Inc., teaches a course at Colorado University on endocannabinoids and Medical Marijuana. He derives his understanding of life from his background in modern molecular biology and far from equilibrium thermodynamics, which deals with natural systems that change over time, engulfed in the flux of matter and energy, amidst other systems and chemical reactions. He proposes that life is a self-organizing process that is creatively adjusting to the flow of energy it is subject to from the environment. He explains how Cannabinoids assist us from birth till death to maintain homeostasis as we undergo various perturbations in biochemical flow.
Mother’s milk contains endocannabinoids that assist the child with stress, promote appetite, and protect cells from oxidation. During life, our immune system addresses potential threats by creating “reactive oxygen species” or free radicals. While protecting us, free radicals create inflammation that can cause damage to the body. It is the role of our bodies’ endocannabinoids to control free radicals and regulate this healing behavior. Dr. Melamede refers to free radicals as the friction of life and endocannabinoids as the oil.
Free radical chemicals are produced when animals use oxygen to burn food for fuel. Endocannabinoids are made by our bodies from omega-3 fatty acids found in many seeds (including hemp) and fish oil. Endocannabinoids are engaged in the balancing of forces: stimulating our appetites while protecting us against excitotoxicity and cell degradation. Omega-3 fatty acids are used today as a supplement to treat a wide range of conditions, which is in part due to the production and activity of our endocannabinoids. Tylenol (acetaminophen) works in part because it inhibits the reduction of the endocannabinoid Anandamide, allowing more to remain active longer.
Medical cannabis works, as with our endocannabinoids, to bring the body into homeostasis using our endocannabinoid system. This becomes clear to many of the medical cannabis patients who find it helps them conform better to the natural cycles of sleeping and eating. These balancing compounds and their corresponding biological system have existed for over 600 million years in all vertebrate species since the sea squirt. Dr. Melamede points out that our biological thermostat was set in our evolutionary past and now that in the modern world our environment is rapidly changing, we need an agent that will facilitate this transition. Twentieth-century medicine has succeeded in extending the lifespan of the average person, and now medicines for age-related illnesses are needed.
A great deal of data suggests that many problems associated with aging stem from the inability of an organism to protect itself against free-radical induced inflammation and oxidative stress. Cardiovascular, autoimmune, and neurological disorders and cancers are all thought to have free radicals as a causative agent. By binding up these free radicals, antioxidants can minimize the plaque formation cycle associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Accordingly, several studies have shown that CBD blocks Alzheimer’s plaque formation by a cannabinoid-receptor- independent mechanism17.
Cannabinoids assist with the neuro-transmission involved in learning. Dr. Melamede recites studies that were performed on mice in tanks of water where a platform was suspended just below the water’s surface. The mice swam around until they found the platform. Some of the mice had their cannabinoid receptors blocked and others did not. When the platform was moved, the blocked mice were incapable of leaving the original platform’s location and drowned. Similarly, experiments with cannabinoid receptor blocker drugs to counteract appetite have been disastrous failures. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is being considered as a possible cause for some of our treatment-resistant conditions, including migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.18
If you don’t mind the psychoactive effects, THC offers its own impressive list of medical properties. Recent studies found THC binds to protein receptors on cancer cells, inducing the cell to make a fatty substance called ceramide, which prompts the cell to devour itself. Non- cancerous cells don’t make ceramide in contact with THC, and so don’t die.19
Eating resinous concentrated cannabis oil (ex. Rick Simpson’s Phoenix Tears Hemp Oil) delivers the highest dose of Cannabinoids to assist with serious conditions. Rick Simpson decarboxylates his cannabis before reducing it with a solvent, a heating process which transforms all of the THCa into active THC. He explains that it may take a person eating the concentrated oil “pheonix tears” up to five weeks before being able to reach a one gram a day dose, “the daytime tiredness associated with this treatment fades away but the patient continues to sleep very well at night.”20
A U.S. patent application filed this year seeks to introduce compounds which have been strategically selected to eliminate or at least mitigate one of the side effects associated with consuming Cannabinoids. Combinations of cannabis and “vitamin B complex, vitamin C, citicoline, guarana, 1-alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, ginseng, gingko biloba, taurine, caffeine, eleuthero, ginger, St. John’s wart, melatonin, galanthamine, huperzine A, vitamin B5, vita- min B6, choline, valerian root, 5-HTP and folic acid”21 have been evaluated for their use in either daytime or nighttime formulas.
While Rick Simpson calls his product “hemp oil,” it is not made from hemp varieties, but exclusively from high quality female cannabis, containing at least 20 percent THC or more. Industrial hemp is grown all around the world. In Canada, hemp is grown specifically to contain very little THC. Hemp seed oil has been found to contain CBD and terpenes likely as “the result of contamination from glandular hairs during oil processing.”22 Although the levels of CBD within hemp seed oil are typically small, many health benefits may still be gained from its presence. A recent H.P.L.C. analysis indicated that the juiced leaves of Saskatchewan hemp contained five times as much CBD as THC and showed ten times as much CBDa23.
Medical Marijuana Inc. in the U.S. are harvesting 1,000 Acres of European Hemp into 2,000 kilograms of raw hemp oil to be used in DixeX high CBD Hemp products24. DixieX present “A revolution in Hemp-Powered Well- ness Products”25 with a salve, a pill and a tincture “manufactured from non-THC, high CBD concentrate […] industrial Hemp products ranging from 100-500 milligrams can be shipped to consumers in all 50 states in the U.S. The FDA considers industrial hemp as a food or dietary supplement product and MJNA imports its raw CBD oil under approved tariff codes to its FDA registered facility in the U.S.”26
The future of CBD
Some of the elements needed to start a high-CBD medicine in Canada have been embedded in the developing hemp industry and medical marijuana movement over the past decade. In Manitoba, CMH biotech, who currently test for THC levels in hemp, “In collaboration with its industry partners […] will soon provide Designated Grower test kits for Δ9-THC to licensed breeders”27 They are also developing analytical methods for other cannabinoid compounds, including CBD (cannabidiol), CBN (cannabinol), CBG (cannabigerol), CBL (cannabicyclol), CBC (canna- bichromene), Δ8-THC, THCV (Δ9- tetrahydrocannabivarin), and their acid forms.28”
In Colorado, industry pioneer Full Spectrum Labs have been forced to close to await changes in their states’ medical cannabis regulations.29 They are selling a custom engineered mobile cannabis testing lab equipped with Gas Chromatograph and “Complete Food and Environmental Testing Lab Start Up Supplies”.30
Perhaps there is promise for CBD as a health product in Canada. Creating CBD-rich products is currently illegal unless, since the constitutional challenge that we won earlier this year31, you are an M.M.A.R. authorized patient within B.C. A recent Canadian hemp industry report out of Alberta states that a “License to grow industrial hemp for grain or fibre is issued for one calendar year for crops of four hectares (10 acres) or more, and if cultivating for seed not less than one hectare. There is no minimum plot size for plant breeding.” The report also shows a gradual increase in hemp production in correspondence with the emergence of processing facilities and entrepreneurs to market and sell hemp products.32 On Apr. 1, 2012 Hemp Oil Canada Inc. based in Manitoba announced that it is first in the world to gain international food safety accreditation for hemp foods33.
This plant continues to unfold medical wonders from its symbiosis with human beings. From the well-known effects of medical cannabis to the hidden secrets of raw industrial hemp, the offerings continue to emerge. With international support growing and people from all over the world uniting over our need for economic independence, industrial hemp shines behind the green high beams of the medical cannabis movement. When thinking of the tens of thousands of acres of hemp, whose leaves lay to compost, I am reminded of the passage from Revelation 22:2 and feel we are witnessing the return of this tree of life, where “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”.
2 Effects of cannabinoids Δ(9)- tetrahydrocannabinol, Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and cannabidiol in MPP+ affected murine mesencephalic cultures.
3 LEAF [The Health Benefits of Juicing Raw Cannabis]
4 A Different View #23 – Dr. William Courtney; Dr. David Allen
6 Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA- MB-231 breast cancer cell migration.
10 What a drag, Israeli firm grows “highless”marijuana
www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/03/ uk-israel-marijuana-idUSLNE86201S20120703 / www.greenprophet.com/2012/01/tikun-olam-israel-marijuana-far/
11 U.S. Patent #6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants”
12 Cannabis as a unique functional food
13 Cannabidiol protects oligodendrocyte pro-genitor cells from inflammation-induced apoptosis by attenuating endoplasmic reticulum stress.
14 LAND LARCENY: DR. DAVID ALLEN’S STORY
15 A Marijuana Bud A Day Keeps The Stroke Away
16 GreenLine Academy website. Dr. Robert Melamede. Victoria, BC – December 3 & 4
18 Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). Russo EB.
19 Scientists test medicinal marijuana against MS, inflammation and cancer
20 Phoenix Tears, Dosage Information phoenixtears.ca/dosage-information/
21 Jeffrey Nathan Schirripa (Kinnelon, NJ, US) Patent # 20120107300
22 The composition of hemp seed oil and its potential as an important source of nutrition
www. davoil.ro/documente/the-composition-of-seed- oil-and-its-potential-as-an-important-source-nutrition.pdf
23 www.hempology.ca/cbc/forums/viewtopic. php?p=8044#8044
24 Medical Marijuana, Inc. Portfolio Company PhytoSPHERE Systems Announces Suc- cessful Production of Hemp Harvesting for High Value CBD Oil
26 www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112693307/medical-marijuana-inc-port- folio-company-red-dice-holdings-achieves-soft/
27 CMH Biotechnologies Inc.www.cmhbiotech.com/
31 CTV news. Constitutional Challenge win for medical patients
32 Industrial Hemp Production in Canada – June 25 2012