Synthetic cannabinoids have different biochemical properties compared to THC that increase their risk.

By Nate Guzowski

A problem of increasing social importance is the rise in the use of synthetic cannabis alternatives, commonly called K2 or Spice or a number of other brand names. In 2020, 2.4% of high school seniors tried synthetic cannabis.

In contrast to marijuana where THC is the active molecule, these alternatives use a range of different, more potent compounds that activate the same pathways as THC, namely the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, which is responsible for the subjective effects of cannabinoid intoxication.

JWH-018 is perhaps the most widely abused of these molecules historically due to its ease of synthesis, but these products may contain any of a large number of similarly acting molecules. JWH-018 has approximately 5 times the activity as THC, but other synthetics can far exceed this. For example, HU-210 has an activity measured in hundreds of times the potency of THC. The legal status of these compounds varies on a case-by-case basis and can be poorly defined. This is because the CB1 receptor is promiscuous with respect to the variety of chemical matter it will bind to. JWH-018 is officially a schedule 1 drug, whereas HU-210 is unscheduled currently.

Endocannabinoid System

U.S. researchers acknowledge that new study results should not be considered irrefutable, but they still offer some guidance about whether or not men should be consuming cannabis if trying to start a family.

Noting that cannabis consumption is common among men presenting for a fertility evaluation, the investigators suggest using weed “may have a detrimental effect on semen quality, particularly morphology and volume.”

To assess if marijuana consumption plays a role in changing semen parameters, input was received from 409 patients at one institution from July 2017 to April 2018 who completed a questionnaire. Researchers then carried out semen analyses (SA) — considering such factors as volume, concentration and motility — from the men presenting for infertility evaluation.

Of the group, 43 per cent of the men reported using cannabis currently or in the past. THC “can alter signalling pathways within spermatozoa, affecting spermatogenesis and fertility,” investigators write.

The research article detailing findings, published in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, shows current or past cannabis users “had a significantly higher likelihood of abnormal sperm strict morphology” compared to those who abstain.

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It’s understandably difficult for most people to make an informed decision about whether marijuana is the next medical breakthrough or another ill-fated attempt at a silver bullet.

By Dr. Mark Calarco, National Medical Director for Clinical Diagnostics at American Addiction Centers.

Once considered the drug of choice for laid-back stoner types (think: Cheech & Chong), marijuana has garnered a new reputation as a panacea for everything from chronic pain and epilepsy to minimizing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and PTSD symptoms, chemotherapy side effects and anxiety. In fact, in 2018 the FDA approved the drug Epidiolex (cannabidiol), a cannabis derivative, for certain types of seizure disorders. While once stigmatized as a “gateway drug,” cannabis and its derivatives are now legal for medical and/or recreational use in 47 states. Interestingly, this is in direct violation of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.

With a substance steeped in so much controversy, it’s no surprise there’s an overwhelming amount of conflicting information about marijuana’s benefits and risks—both documented and perceived. The truth is, it’s a strong catch-22. While some data shows that marijuana can be beneficial, it is certainly not a cure-all, nor is it risk-free.

To help shed some light on the cannabis debate, here are some facts you should know:

Rehydrating Marijuana: How To Bring Your Stale Weed Back To Life

Research out of Australia is indicating the “entourage effect” associated with medicinal cannabis is likely really a thing.

So, what is the entourage effect?

Coined by Israeli researchers in the late 1990’s, the entourage effect describes medical cannabis treatment efficacy not being limited to a specific cannabinoid such as THC or CBD, but multiple compounds working together producing a therapeutic effect. These compounds aren’t just cannabinoids, but also terpenes – aromatic chemicals.

There are many who accept the entourage effect exists, but to this point scientific evidence to support it has been scant.

Research just released from Sydney University’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics indicates hemp extracts deliver high concentrations of cannabinoid acids in mice due to a ‘pharmacokinetic entourage’ mechanism – higher than when they are administered alone as a single molecule.

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My claim to fame as a teenager was being one of the top ten GoldenEye: Source players in the world. I logged around 1000 hours in the game within a year, even competed in tournaments with my clan. I grew up on games, built my first pc when I was 15, but this time, I had something that I felt gave me laser-focus like never before. My secret weapon? A bong (well, a plastic waterfall I built myself named “Tom Clancy”). It’s no surprise that a decade later, I finally got my ADHD diagnosis.

Stimulants are the standard treatment for ADHD because they act directly on receptor sites to increase dopamine in a safe, controlled way. Problems arise with ADHD brains that are treatment-resistant to stimulants or cannot take them due to side effects or conflicting medical conditions. Enter cannabis.

Before diving into the science behind cannabis and ADHD, it’s helpful to lead with what my psychiatrist told me after a few years of searching for the proverbial Golden Pill: ADHD is a dopamine deficiency. How each brain figures out the best way to wring out dopamine is different—living down to the wire, skydiving, getting in a fight with strangers online—but the problem is that simple. Let’s get into it.

Could phytocannabinoids work as well as stimulants?

Many undiagnosed ADHD folks self-medicate with cannabis. Even celebrities like Seth Rogen have been pretty blase about using cannabis to treat their ADHD. Mark Rogan, his father, explained that cannabis was the one thing that “finally made [Seth’s] cells relax.” Last March, the Pineapple Express star (who rolled all of the joints seen on screen during the film and was christened by Snoop Dogg as “the best joint roller he’s ever met”) celebrated launching his cannabis line, Houseplant, for medical and recreational use.

One of the reasons why many ADHD brains rely on cannabis is because phytocannabinoids may have a similar effect to stimulants. Fatty acid hydrolase (FAAH) production in ADHD brains is insufficient to break down excess anandamide. The result is a dopamine deficiency with high levels of anandamide. One of the common verbiages for this experience is “running on fumes.” Tongue in cheek? Maybe. Contradictory? Not at all. The name “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is just that misleading—wait until debilitating fatigue with ADHD is more widely acknowledged. 


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is well-known for making headlines, and her most recent action garnering attention is her support of more studies on psychedelic drugs.

Ocasio-Cortez introduced an amendment that would promote future studies on psychedelic substances such as MDMA, psilocybin and ibogaine. The “Amendment to Division A of Rules Committee Print 117-12” proposes serious consideration to the future of psychedelic substances in the U.S. “United States researchers to study and examine the potential impacts of several Schedule I drugs, such as MDMA, psilocybin, and or ibogaine, that have been shown to be effective in treating critical diseases,” the amendment states.

This isn’t the first time Ocasio-Cortez has tried to get Congress on board in considering the therapeutic properties of psychedelics. Two years ago, she submitted an amendment proposal to remove a provision that prevents scientists from freely conducting research on substances like psilocybin or MDMA.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez on the War on Drugs

However, the House of Representatives rejected the proposal. “I’m a strong believer in evidence-based policymaking,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a floor debate on the topic in 2019. “And wherever there is evidence of good, we have a moral obligation to pursue and explore the parameters of that good. Even if it means challenging our past assumptions or admitting past wrongs.”

She also tried to appeal to both parties, explaining that sooner or later, this could be a part of our future in the medical world. “I understand that the politics of this bill may make it difficult for some to support right now,” she added. “But I propose this amendment and urge my colleagues to support it because politics isn’t always about winning today, but it is about fighting for what is right in the future and for future generations.”

Representative

Assessment, documentation, and education regarding cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) use among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients varies across centers in the U.S., according to a survey of nearly 300 CF healthcare providers.

This variability may be related partially to the different laws between U.S. states regarding these controversial substances, the researchers noted.

The data also highlighted the need for more educational materials about cannabis-based products and CF to allow care teams to have knowledgeable conversations with patients.

These findings suggest that development of evidence-based and peer-reviewed educational materials about cannabis/CBD and CF should be among future CF care team initiatives, the researchers added.

CBD, the major non-psychoactive component in the cannabis plant, is suggested to have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. As such, cannabidiol has gained increasing interest as a potential treatment for several health conditions.

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Pharmacologists at the University of Sydney in Australia have found tantalising clues as to why low-dose CBD products containing a full-spectrum of cannabinoids seem to have therapeutic impacts at relatively low doses.

The study shows cannabinoids in a cannabis extract interact to produce much higher concentrations of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) in the bloodstream than when CBDA is administered alone as a single molecule.

In fact, the cannabis extract delivered 14-times higher CBDA concentrations in the bloodstream when administered orally to mice.

Low-dose CBD products appear to reduce anxiety and are anticonvulsant agents against seizures. But it remains unclear how these products produce these results.

"Our own preclinical studies show CBDA reduces anxiety and seizures. This result provides us with a pathway to explore why some cannabis extracts yield pharmacological effects in humans at lower doses”, said the researchers.

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This week, CV Sciences (OTCQB:CVSI) released the results of a preclinical study that suggests that CBD can reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms in smokeless tobacco users.

The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, San Diego and published on Springer Nature, found that CBD prevented nicotine-dependent rats from exhibiting withdrawal symptoms including increased pain sensitivity and weight gain during short-and long-term nicotine restriction.

The company also released its potential plans to develop the world’s first and only FDA-approved treatment for smokeless tobacco addiction. 

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Track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson’s medal-winning hopes were dashed when she tested positive for THC, the main intoxicating compound found in marijuana, disqualifying her from the Tokyo Olympics with a one-month suspension. The uproar that followed the announcement is the latest indication of shifting attitudes around cannabis, as more people, including world-renowned athletes, use cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. 

Michigan Health Lab talked to pain-management expert Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., about the decision and athletics and cannabis in general:

The World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits the use of all natural and synthetic cannabinoids except cannabidiol (CBD) during competition. What do you think is the basis of this rule?

The World Anti-Doping Agency published a paper in the journal Sports Medicine in 2011 that cited three reasons for this prohibition. The first reason cannabis is prohibited because athletes who use it allegedly may endanger themselves through slowed reaction times and loss of executive function, and the second reason states that interviews and animal studies have found that cannabis may potentially be performance enhancing. The third reason basically states that athletes are role models and using cannabis is a violation of the spirit of sport.

Reasons one and two are potentially contradictory, as slowed reaction time certainly isn’t performance enhancing. Reason three appears to be tied to the War on Drugs policies, which criminalized cannabis and punished people for using or promoting it. This last reason is especially troubling, as these policies pushed a false narrative of extreme cannabis-related harm and were enforced in incredibly racist and societally damaging ways. It also doesn’t quite square with current athletic partnerships with alcohol companies, which one might argue violates the spirit of sports due to the known dangers of alcohol (which substantially exceed those of cannabis.)

Could cannabis be performance enhancing?

A recent literature review published in 2018 entitled “Cannabis and the Health and Performance of the Elite Athlete” found no direct evidence for cannabis as a performance enhancing drug and noted that future research should investigate potential beneficial use for pain-management and reduction of concussion-related symptoms. Cannabis may also be beneficial for sleep and anxiety. Taken together, these effects may help with recovery from intense exertion and thus be potentially spun as performance enhancing.

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A demonstration with the aim to decriminalise cannabis is set to take place in Cork in the coming weeks.

The protest will take place in Cork city on 7 August on Mardyke Walk and include live music and a raffle to raise money for the a Cork missing persons charity, with pro-cannabis activist Martin Condon telling The Irish Examiner he hopes it will "keep the pressure on Government to end prohibition".

It is expected that around 200 people will attend the protest, which would allow for ample social distancing.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) extract comes from the cannabis plant. Typically, CBD extract is an oil, which manufacturers add to various products, such as creams and lotions. People use CBD extract as treatment for a range of conditions, but there is no scientific evidence to back it up.

In recent years, consumers and researchers have grown more interested in the potential health benefits of CBD extract. The research is promising and suggests there are some tangible benefits. However, in-depth scientific research has not yet caught up to the wide claims consumers and CBD companies make about these products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source has only approved CBD to treat a few rare seizure disorders in children. This means that its use for other conditions remains unregulated and unapproved.

People interested in CBD should research manufacturer claims and discuss potential drug interactions with a doctor.

Keep reading to learn more about CBD extract, its potential health benefits, and more.

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Bioavailability is a term growing in popularity like the rise in CBD, but why is it so important and does it really make a difference? Bioavailability is the amount of an active ingredient that absorbs into the blood stream allowing for the ingredient to effectively activate in the body. Supplements like vitamin C have little issue absorbing into the blood stream and activating in the body because they are considered water soluble; however, supplements like vitamin D3, omega 3, curcuminoids and cannabinoids like CBD have difficulties absorbing in the body because they are fat soluble. This means they do not dissolve well in hydrophilic (water-loving) media, like say the human body. Instead, these fat-soluble supplements are transported through our digestion system before entering the blood stream, breaking down along the pathway. As the body breaks down the supplements, that means considerably less of the active ingredient is absorbed into the body. This is why bioavailability is so important, especially as it relates to fat-soluble compounds, like CBD.

In fact, bioavailability is an integral part of improving a customer’s experience with products like CBD. Traditional oral products like oils and capsules have absorption rates around 10% or less. This means the customer is paying $60 for a bottle but only absorbing $6 worth! However, there are ways of fixing this experience. There are at-home-hacks that a customer can do in order to improve bioavailability. For instance, simply eating a high-fat snack like nuts, hemp hearts or avocado prior to taking a CBD supplement—or any fat-soluble supplement—can increase absorption rates by three- to five-fold. Black pepper has also been touted to improve absorption rates at home, but the rate of increase is not published.

Yet, while these pathways exist, what does the science tell us about their effectiveness? When it comes to conducting a clinical trial, especially on CBD, the science is expensive and oftentimes inconsistent (if a company has even done it at all). There are products that market 80% or more absorption which, unless the product is injected into the blood stream (and therefore a drug), are grossly overestimated. Rather, current research on bioavailability hacks are comparable to eating a high fat snack and are often slightly lower, hovering around one-in-a-half-times to two-times improvement over traditional methods. So, while not everyone can or will work their supplement regiments around their meals, bioavailable formulas offer an easy solution to improve customer experience.While eating fatty foods may be the ultimate route of improving absorption, companies have set out to improve absorption to make their products easier and better for the customer while also having a marketable difference in their product over their competitors. Whether emulsifying the active ingredients into a liposome, crushing the compounds into nano-sized particles, or even bio-mimicking Mother Nature herself, there are existing opportunities to allow a product to shine when the customer takes it.

Another consideration with bioavailability is safety in the body. There are manufacturing methods used like liposomal technology and bio-mimicking processes that create a more natural pathway in the body for improving absorption. With liposomal technology the safety is more defined than nanotechnology. Nanotechnology fractures the compounds into tiny (nanometer-sized) particles, with the goal of the compounds’ being so small they enter the blood stream without degradation in the liver. The issue with nano-technology is understanding the pharmacokinetics of the nano-particles and how they truly absorb, distribute, metabolize and excrete (ADME) in the body. To date the FDA has provided little guidance or progress on ADME safety research associated with nano-particles.

The ultimate goal of bioavailability is ensuring the active ingredients bypass the liver’s first pass metabolism, so the CBD or fat-soluble compounds can enter into the lymphatic system where absorption into the blood occurs. While there are various methods being marketed, not everyone is doing adequate research; however, requesting absorption data from manufacturers claiming improved bioavailability can help brands navigate the decision-making process. In addition, while there are various methods for achieving this improved absorption objective, liposomal and biomimicking processes provide more well-known safety profiles than nano-technology.

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When it comes to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of Cannabis sativa, an unsolved mystery is whether there exists an "entourage effect," whereby the pain-relieving effects of the plant as a whole are greater than any of its individual parts. New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences has found evidence that favors the entourage effect theory and positions Cannabis terpenes, the part of the plant that provides flavor and aroma, as a promising new target for pain therapies that would require lower doses and produce fewer side effects.

"A lot of people are taking cannabis and cannabinoids for pain," said lead researcher John Streicher, PhD, a member of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center and associate professor of pharmacology at the College of Medicine -- Tucson. "We're interested in the concept of the entourage effect, with the idea being that maybe we can boost the modest pain-relieving efficacy of THC and not boost the psychoactive side effects, so you could have a better therapeutic."

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants and are the basic component in essential oils. The terpene linalool, for example, gives lavender its distinctive floral scent. In addition to terpenes, Cannabis sativa contains naturally occurring compounds known as cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Researchers found that Cannabis terpenes, when used by themselves, mimic the effects of cannabinoids, including a reduction in pain sensation. When combined with cannabinoids, the pain-relieving effects were amplified without an increase in negative side effects. The paper, "Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity," was published in Scientific Reports.

"It was unexpected, in a way," said Dr. Streicher. "It was our initial hypothesis, but we didn't necessarily expect terpenes, these simple compounds that are found in multiple plants, to produce cannabinoid-like effects."

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Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is once again speaking out in favor of decriminalized cannabis. (image credit: Shutterstock)

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy (U.S.) spoke with CNN on July 18 in an interview about the pandemic, health misinformation and a brief question about cannabis.

In the interview, Murthy was asked the question “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation this week to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. From a health perspective, do you support this?”

Although he didn’t outright speak in favor of recreational cannabis, he did confirm that scientific evidence is how progress will be made—and it will only help those who have been affected by the War on Drugs.

“When it comes to marijuana, I think we have to let science guide us, and we know that the science tells us that there are some benefits to marijuana from a medical perspective, but there are also some harms that we have to consider—and we have to put those together as we think about the right policy,” he said in response to the question.

“When it comes to decriminalization, I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don’t think that serves anybody well.”

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CBD has become one of the most recognized acronyms in the United States and all around the world. Alongside THC, it is recognized as part of cannabis plants.

Even your grandmother knows what CBD is but likely doesn’t know many details about it. Here are some helpful stats to make 2021 a better year than 2020.

 

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Campaigner fought lengthy battle to obtain Bedrocan for sick daughter Ava

Vera Twomey has spoken of her joy at decision. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Campaigner Vera Twomey, who fought a lengthy battle to obtain medicinal cannabis for her sick daughter, Ava, has spoken of her joy after hearing the Bedrocan drug will now be funded up front.

Ms Twomey, of Aghabullogue, Co Cork had to find thousands of euro on a regular basis to pay for Dutch medical cannabis Bedrocan, which was excluded from the Medical Cannabis Access Cannabis programme (CAP).

Ms Twomey said about 60 per cent of existing medicinal cannabis patients are on Bedrocan under an individual license system.

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It's no secret that studies show that sexually diverse youth - in particular, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth - use more cannabis and experience more mental health challenges than their heterosexual peers.

But what about the changes that occur in the rates of cannabis use: do they precede those related to mental health or is it the other way around? A new study from Université de Montréal offers some answers.

In the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Kira London-Nadeau, a doctoral student and CIHR Vanier Scholar in the Department of Psychology at UdeM and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, provides an update.

In her study, conducted under the direction of Professor Natalie Castellanos-Ryan and with the support of Professors Jean Séguin and Sophie Parent, London-Nadeau analyzed data collected from 1,548 adolescent boys and girls - including 128 LGB adolescents - as part of the Longitudinal Study of Child Development in Quebec supported by CIHR and the Institut de la Statistique du Québec.

Participants were followed from the age of five months and the study was based on their responses to questionnaires collected at ages 13, 15 and 17. Although there was an association between depressive symptoms at age 15 and increased cannabis use at age 17 in the general sample, the association was five times stronger among LGB youth.

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The high cost of Biogen’s newly approved and controversial treatment will be compounded by a misguided Medicare policy that incentivizes doctors to prescribe the priciest medicines.

Disclaimer:This article was originally published on The Fresh Toast. The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author.

It is easy to understand why everyone is desperate for anything that will help with Alzheimer’s Disease. Patients and their families dread its relentless onslaught. Consequently, there was tremendous pressure for the FDA to approve Aduhelm (aducanumab), by Biogen and Eisai.

However, its approval was met with widespread criticism because it is both expensive, with an expected annual price tag of $56,000, but of limited effectiveness.

 

Aducanumab is taken as an infusion administered in a doctor’s office for one hour every four weeks. That might be difficult for a patients suffering from agitation who might not understand why they are there.

The high cost of Biogen’s newly approved and controversial treatment will be compounded by a misguided Medicare policy that incentivizes doctors to prescribe the priciest medicines.

Single People In This Age Group Are Having The Best Sex

 

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use could lead to fewer opioid-spurred health emergencies and overdose deaths, a University of Pittsburgh study has found.

Opioid-related emergency department visits dropped by 7.6% within a year of cannabis legalization for adult residents in four states — California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, according to the analysis led by Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.

Lead study author Coleman Drake said the research does not point to cannabis legalization as “the silver bullet” to stemming the opioid epidemic — but it could be “another arrow in the quivers” of policymakers to combat the broader crisis.

“It suggests that recreational cannabis legalization could be an effective tool to help not only reduce opioid use, but also to reduce the health implications that stem from opioid use, one of them being overdoses,” said Drake, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “That’s potentially exciting and promising.”

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