A Visual Guide to Taking the Perfect Dab

Dabbing is an effective way to consume cannabis and also a great ritual. Similar to cooking a great meal or mixing a refreshing cocktail, the process of preparing and executing the perfect dab can be meditative and provide a moment to decompress. Like a baseball player stepping up to the plate, as dabbing becomes more familiar, you’ll fall into a routine with your own methods and motions.

Once you know how to dab, there are a number of different techniques you can use to dial in the experience and find the method that work best for you to can achieve the right dab at the right temperature.

To take your dabbing experience to the next level, here are some pro tips and techniques, and explanations as to why you should include them in your dabbing routine.

Always Use a Carb Cap

dabbing, cannabis, dabs, oil day, concentrate, cannabis oil, cannabis extracts, marijuana, carb cap(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: After you apply your dab to the banger or nail, apply your carb cap over the top to achieve a flavorful, low temp dab with thick vapor quality.

A carb cap is an essential dabbing accessory that will help you dab at lower temperatures and vaporize your hash and concentrates more effectively. There are a number of different styles and types of carb caps available, but they all serve the same general purpose–to trap heat and emphasize true vaporization while agitating the oil to spread it across the hot dabbing surface.

Protect Your Banger With an Insert

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Use a quartz insert to keep your banger clean, extend its life, and to never take a dab that’s too hot.

An insert is a small bucket typically made from quartz or other precious heat-retaining materials like ruby. These small buckets fit inside your banger and will help keep an even temperature for vaporization, while also keeping your quartz clean by avoiding chazzing or devitrification.

Once your banger is hot, simply drop in the insert and cap your dab. Then give it a few seconds as heat transfers from banger to insert and gradually heats the dab to the right temperature.

Dosing and applying dabs is easy as you can preload them into the insert and drop it right in. They’re easy to clean and you can keep a few around and use them interchangeably. They’re great for dab seshes with friends!

Cold Start Your Dab

Tip: Try a cold start dab to get the perfect hit at low temperatures without wasting any of your oil.

Cold start dabbing is the process of loading your banger with concentrate first, before you heat it–this is why it’s also known as reverse dabbing.

By applying light heat to a capped banger until the dab starts to vaporize, you are able to control your temperature easily and avoid the risk of dabbing too early on a hot banger. If you don’t get the full dab the first time, you can reheat with your torch again until you’ve completely vaporized your hash.

Spin Some Terp Pearls

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Use quartz beads in your banger to add some action and area to the dabbing surface.

Quartz beads, popularly known as terp pearls, are small beads made from inert, heat-retaining materials and are placed directly in your banger. When heating the banger they will hold that heat and increase the available warm surface area to vaporize your dab off of.

Couple terp pearls with a good carb cap to watch them spin and enhance the way you agitate your dab when vaporizing at low temperatures. The small balls mix and move your concentrate around the warm banger the way a bead in a can of spray paint mixes the paint.

Heat Your Banger Evenly

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Heating your banger or nail evenly will ensure a balanced dabbing temperature.

What might seem like a no-brainer can actually have a huge effect on the quality of your hit. Using your torch to evenly heat the banger will help avoid hot and cold spots and ensure that you are thoroughly vaporizing your dab. Avoiding extreme temperatures with even heating will also extend the life of your nail.

I like to start by heating the bottom of my banger and working up and around the sides, where oil likes to splash and where you agitate your dab with a carb cap. Be cautious not to apply too much heat around the joint or neck areas of the banger as they tend to be more susceptible to cracks.

Time Your Dabs

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: To dab at more consistent temperatures, use a timer to keep track of how long you heat and cool your dabs.

Using the timer on your phone or another way of tracking time, you can gain more consistency in temperature from dab to dab, and you can be confident that they are all reaching about the same temperature every time. Same goes for cooling–as your quartz holds heat and slowly releases it over time, you can track how long it takes to cool to the temperature you prefer and then repeat, time after time.

Each nail will have its own heating and cooling time depending on the quality and thickness of the material, but as a general rule, I like to start with heating for 30 seconds, cooling for a minute, and then adjusting both timers as needed to dial in the experience I’m looking for.

Clean Your Banger After Every Dab

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Clean your banger after every dab to ensure a smooth, flavorful dab every time.

Maintaining a clean banger is simple if you follow a few easy steps. First, don’t dab when you’re nail is too hot–dabbing at lower temperatures helps avoid char, ash, and any other residue from sticking or burning into your expensive quartz banger.

Second, use a cotton swab to soak up and wipe away any residual oil or char left after each dab.

Third, if you have stubborn oil stuck on or dark carbon spots, you can use isopropyl alcohol to help loosen and remove them. For really stubborn spots you can heat-clean your quartz using a torch, but do this sparingly as repeated heating of dirty quartz or glass will cause particles to bake into the banger and slowly deteriorate its ability to retain heat.

Store Your Dabs in the Fridge

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Preserve the flavor and consistency of your hash, concentrates, and extracts by storing them in a cool, dark, dry place.

Cannabis concentrates are relatively stable products with a long shelf-life. However their form, flavor, and overall composition can change over time when exposed to heat or light.

The terpene content within your extracts is especially volatile and can begin to deteriorate even at room temperature. Because of this, it’s a great idea to store your oil in the refrigerator or freezer.

Short-term storage of grams I know I’ll be dabbing regularly I keep in the door of my fridge. If I have larger quantities of extract or something special that I want to hold onto for longer, I store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

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Most Addiction Specialists Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana, Study Finds

People who shop at recreational marijuana dispensaries aren’t just using cannabis to have a good time. In fact, a new study reports that many adult-use customers consume marijuana for the same reasons medical cannabis patients do: to help with pain and sleep.

A growing body of research has shown the health benefits of legal medical marijuana access, including an association with lower use of opioids. The problem with these laws, however, is that they usually require a physician’s recommendation and/or registration with the state’s medical cannabis program in order to get access. That means many people who live in states where medical marijuana is legal and face barriers to health care are still unable to access cannabis to help alleviate their symptoms.

New research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs this week, however, shows some people in areas where broader adult-use legalization is in effect are side-stepping these requirements to get the relief they need from cannabis retail shops.

“In a survey of adult use customers,” the study states, “we found that the majority reported taking cannabis to relieve pain or to promote sleep. In addition, most respondents taking cannabis for pain or sleep reported substituting cannabis for prescription or over-the-counter analgesics or sleep aids.”

Researchers surveyed 1,000 people who shopped at two Colorado dispensaries and were not certified to access marijuana for medical purposes. The study’s goal was to get a better understanding of how these customers use cannabis to treat their symptoms as a substitute for prescription and over-the-counter medications (OTC).

In addition to gathering sociodemographic information, researchers asked participants about their health status, how cannabis had changed their use of OTC and prescription drugs and if and how cannabis impacted their pain and sleep.

The majority of respondents said they used marijuana to relieve pain (65 percent) and help them sleep (74 percent).

“Among respondents taking over-the-counter pain medications, 82% reported reducing or stopping use of those medications,” the study states. “Among respondents taking opioid analgesics, 88% reported reducing or stopping use of those medications.” Additionally, more than 80 percent of participants who had taken sleep aids, including those obtained with a prescription, also said they reduced or stopped using those medications altogether.

“[T]he majority reported that cannabis decreased their medication use. Adult use cannabis laws may broaden access to cannabis for the purpose of symptom relief.”

“Our findings suggest that de facto medical use may be highly prevalent among adult use customers, and that access to an adult use cannabis market may influence individuals’ use of other medications,” the study’s authors wrote. Despite the fact that adult-use laws are often called “recreational,” the findings suggest that many customers are more interested in consuming cannabis for its therapeutic benefits.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said he wasn’t surprised by the results.

“Several prior studies similarly show that the use of cannabis by qualified patients is associated with the reduction, or even the elimination, of certain other prescription drugs — specifically opioids — over time,” he said. “These findings speak not only to the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis as an alternative analgesic option, but also to its potential role as a harm reduction agent.”

In a statement, Dr. Gwen Wurm, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and study co-author, explained the significance of the findings: “Approximately 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and one in three adults do not get enough sleep. In states where adult use of cannabis is legal, our research suggests that many individuals bypass the medical cannabis route (which requires registering with the state) and are instead opting for the privacy of a legal adult use dispensary.”

She cautioned, however, that more research is needed to understand the benefits and side effects of cannabis, as well as the ramifications of substituting cannabis for pharmaceuticals.

“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not,” Wurm said. “Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own ‘trial and error,’ experiments, getting advice from friends, social media and dispensary employees.”

Patients Are Substituting Marijuana For Addictive Pharmaceutical Drugs, Two New Studies Show

Photo courtesy of Ndispensable.

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7 Factors That Affect Your Cannabis High

Ask a dozen smokers what their favorite strain is, and you may receive a dozen different answers. Some prefer their high to be mellow, others like it buzzy, some want to feel it in their body, and others yet, in their head. There are a lot of factors that go into personal preferences when it comes to enjoying cannabis, but there are also many factors outside of simple likes that can affect your high.

By understanding the circumstances that can affect your high, you can empower yourself to have better experiences with a variety of strains and narrow down what works best for you.

Here are seven factors that affect your cannabis high.

Set & Setting

Your environment plays a crucial role in the effect of your cannabis high and should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, if you smoke the same strain on two different days, you can have very different experiences.

Next time this happens, ask yourself–what was your mood and environment like before you smoked? Were you relaxed, happy, comfortable? Tense, anxious, or uneasy? At ease with the people in your company? Out in nature, or in a crowd?

Different scenarios can wildly affect your high. It’s important to consider your comfort level before indulging. Perhaps you know that getting high before you have to enter a stuffy waiting room will make you feel anxious, or maybe you know the best time for you to indulge is right before bed.

By being aware of your surroundings, you can figure out what set and setting work best for you, and better prepare yourself for enjoying the best possible cannabis high.

Delivery Method

Smoking, vaping, and eating edibles may all be ways to ingest cannabis, but every delivery method comes with its own variables. Eating a pot brownie and hitting a vape will, generally speaking, affect you differently. Your body processes cannabis from each method differently, and the amount you consume usually differs between methods. On top of that, the duration of a high with edibles can be much longer, and the effects are often reported as stronger.

It’s also easier to control your dose with some methods more than others–vaping for example, as opposed to eating an edible. Additionally, you can get a more potent hit from dabbing oil than from puffing on a joint, and it’s easier to visualize how much you’re consuming with a joint than with a vape. All of these factors can play a role, affecting the quality and length of your cannabis high.

As a result, it’s important to know your own limits with each individual method. Just because you can smoke a blunt every evening doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy half a pot brownie.

Dose

Dosing can be tricky, especially when indulging in edibles or a new strain. Starting low and going slow is essential.

Dosing may in fact be the most important factor to take into account when considering what will affect your high. Too little and you may feel like you shouldn’t have even bothered; too much and you may wind up sunk in the couch waiting for the high to wear off while the sound of the neighbor’s lawn mower freaks you out (I’ve been there too).

Hitting that sweet spot, and knowing what your sweet spot is, can make a world of a difference when enjoying cannabis.

Cannabinoid Profile

Currently, the cannabinoid profile of a strain is one of the best and most accessible ways to determine how a high will affect you. For example, some people really enjoy the effects of cannabis’ most famous cannabinoid, THC, while others find its effects too stimulating or may have bad reactions from it, like anxiety.

There are other cannabinoids to consider as well, such as CBD and more. Cannabinoid profiles can be diverse and vary widely from strain to strain, but they can also be a powerful tool in assessing how a strain will affect your high.

But it’s necessary to first know how each cannabinoid makes you feel, and this usually requires some experimenting. Once you know which ones work best for you, knowing the composition of a strain will put the power in your hands and will allow you to have the type of high you want.

However, the buck doesn’t quite stop there–other factors can come into play, such as the CBD:THC ratio of the strain, as THC can enhance CBD. Therefore, it is possible to have an unpleasant experience with one strain that is high in THC, but an enjoyable experience with another, simply because the ratio of the two compounds is different.

Terpenes

You’re familiar with terpenes even if you’ve never heard the word before. They are the lemon in your Lemon Haze, the berry in your Blueberry Kush, the fuel in your Sour Diesel. Terpenes give our strains the scents and tastes we love, but can they also play a role in the high? The topic is in need of further research, and it is a fascinating question, but some anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it can, in fact, make a difference.

For example, a potential effect of limonene is said to be stress relief, and linalool may provide relaxed mood enhancement. It makes a kind of intuitive sense–linalool, for example, is also what gives lavender its signature scent, and no one questions the relaxing effects of lavender oil.

In the future, research will undoubtedly emerge to confirm the beneficial effects of terpenes, and cannabis consumers will be able to say with confidence which terpenes they prefer most.

Age

If you’ve ever asked your folks if they smoked when they were young, you might have heard that they enjoyed it back in the day but can’t tolerate it now. While you may have assumed they simply became uncool once they had kids, the truth is that age may have a surprising role to play in enjoying a cannabis high.

A 2007 study on rats found a link between age and the effects of cannabis. Adolescent rats were reported to tolerate the effects of weed much better than their adult counterparts, who showed more signs of stress, anxiety, and suppressed movement.

More research on age still needs to be done, but it may be wise to reevaluate how much and what kind of cannabis you’re consuming if the last time you smoked was in your teens.

Tolerance

No two people are exactly alike, and the same can be said for a person’s cannabis tolerance. The aforementioned age affects tolerance, as well as other factors, including frequency of consumption, body chemistry, and how long you’ve been smoking. It’s important to know your own personal tolerance, so you know how much or how little to consume, especially when consuming with others who may have different tolerances.

At the end of the day, only you can ascertain what your tolerance is, and by doing so, you will be empowered to have the type of cannabis high you want–whether that be relief, medical benefits, enjoyment, creativity, or whatever other effects you seek.

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How to Make Cannabis-Infused Condiments for Your Next BBQ

Infuse Your Next BBQ

Cannabis-infused condiments are an excellent way to elevate your next meal while also giving your fellow diners the discretion to dose themselves.

Each of the condiments below are designed to be low dose–8mg of THC per serving or less–but while we used a very controlled method to decarboxylate and then infuse cannabis into the desired medium, the potency depends on a number of factors* and we recommend using caution when recreating these recipes.

Just don’t forget to clearly label cannabis-infused foods to prevent accidental or unintended consumption, and always be sure to store away from underaged eaters.

Ketchup

Kick ketchup up a notch by making the classic condiment from scratch with a cannabis infusion. GET THE RECIPE


Honey Mustard

Sweet and tangy! This infused honey mustard will add a little zing to ballpark dogs and burgers. GET THE RECIPE


Mayo

Slather up a BLT, incorporate into deviled eggs, or dip some frites. This infused-mayo adds a little something extra to the dinner table. GET THE RECIPE


Barbecue Sauce

Get saucy this summer with an infused barbecue sauce that can be slathered over ribs and mopped onto grilled chicken. GET THE RECIPE


Green Goddess Dressing

Eat your greens. This creamy infused salad dressing gets its colour from avocados and fresh herbs. GET THE RECIPE

*Tips for Dosing Cannabis Infusions

The potency of your infusions depends on many factors, from how long and hot it was cooked to the potency of your starting material. To test the potency of your finished product, try spreading 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon on a snack and see how that dose affects you after an hour. Decrease or increase dose as desired. You can then use this personalized “standard” dose as a baseline for your recipes. Click here for more information on why potency is so difficult to measure in homemade cannabis edibles.

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What Causes Seizures?

By Dr. David E. Presti On June 25, 2019

A variety of different things may happen as a result of a seizure, depending upon the region of the brain that is affected. There may be sudden changes in sensory perception, such as visual disturbances or the smell of an unusual odor. There may be rapid and inexplicable emotional or cognitive changes. There are often involuntary muscle movements, and sometimes even complete loss of control over the movement of one’s body. Obviously, this could lead to serious consequences if someone has a seizure while, for example, driving a car. Amnesia, or memory loss, frequently accompanies the experience of a seizure. Severe seizures can produce a loss of consciousness and even death. Too much excitation is not a good thing.

Sometimes seizures are associated with particular identifiable causes. A tumor – an abnormal growth of cells in the brain – may disrupt neural circuitry, producing unbalanced excitation. New onset of seizures in an adult is always reason to check for the existence of a brain tumor. Brain infections and high fevers may trigger seizures. Traumatic physical injury to the head, such as from a car or bicycle accident, may disrupt the neural connectivity in such a way that seizures are a result. Drugs that increase brain neuronal excitability have the potential to produce seizures. Some drugs that produce the opposite effect of stimulants, inhibiting neural activity in the brain, can also increase the risk for seizures if these drugs are used regularly and then abruptly stopped. Examples of such drugs are alcohol and other sedative-hypnotics.

Most seizures, however, have not been associated with any identified causes. These are called idiopathic seizures. Idiopathic is a word widely used in medicine. It means that the condition arises from an obscure or unknown cause. The roots are from the Greek idios, meaning personal, private, separate, and pathos, meaning suffering.

Idiopathic seizures may appear spontaneously at any point in life, although they most often first appear in childhood. There are genetic and developmental components to idiopathic seizures, although these remain still largely uncharacterized. Certain configurations of neural connectivity arising during the wiring of the brain early in life can apparently increase the risk of occurrence of unbalanced runaway neural excitation, and thus of seizure.

Susceptible persons may develop idiopathic seizures without any precipitating factors. However, these seizures may be triggered in a variety of identified ways. Intense sensory stimuli, especially of a strongly rhythmic nature – such as brightly flashing strobe lights or other flashing visual displays – can set up powerful rhythmic neural activity in sensory regions of the brain that may lead to the explosive runaway activity of a seizure. Other possible triggering factors include sleep deprivation, stress, physical trauma to the head, stimulant drug use, and withdrawal from sedative-hypnotic drugs.

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David E. Presti is a neurobiologist, psychologist, and cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1991. He holds doctorates in molecular biology and biophysics from the California Institute of Technology and in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon.


This article was reprinted by Project CBD with permission. It may not be reproduced in any form without approval from the source.

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Is the Cannabinoid CBN an Effective Sleep Aid?

While working at a cannabis dispensary, I discovered the power of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how cannabinoids in cannabis–like THC and CBD–can interact with it to deliver a variety of stunning medical results. I’d also learned that the cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) had a reputation for being a great aid to insomnia fighters.

At the time, cannabis laboratory Steep Hill reported, “The consumption of 2.5mg to 5mg of CBN has the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative, with a relaxed body sensation similar to 5mg to 10mg of diazepam.” They’re a widely respected company and this quote is all over the canna-net, so I bit.

I turned to a CBN product (a 1:1 CBD/CBN tincture, to be precise), which happily did seem to deliver comparable results to the pharmaceutical insomnia medications I’d been taking. Knowing that THC degrades and turns into CBN when exposed to elements like heat, air and light over time, I wondered if I could devise a more cost-effective way to make CBN medicines from regular ol’ THC flower.

I figured if I left buds sitting in a dish by the sunny window, it might result in higher CBN content–thereby, a handy DIY sleep medication. After doing so for awhile, I hadn’t noticed any differences in effect (just crunchiness), and so started digging to see if this was actually a feasible way to raise CBN levels.

But as I started digging into my DIY method, my objective (and methods–more on that below) quickly became questionable.

Things Get Murky on CBN and Sleep

It turns out, though there are numerous products in the cannabis industry that aim to promote sleep via CBN the link between the two lacks scientific foundation. In fact, only one (well-cited) study has signified that this effect is in play, but the study is highly problematic.

The results point to sedation only when CBN was used in combination with THC.

In addition to questionable methods, the results point to sedation only when CBN was used in combination with THC–a finding that could be attributed to the phenomenon known as the entourage effect, wherein cannabinoids work synergistically with one another, as well as with other components of cannabis (like terpenes and flavonoids), to create a stronger effect.

So Where Did the Supposed Connection Come From?

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, Director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, this might be due to people feeling tired after smoking old and/or improperly stored buds. He said that the sedating effects of aged cannabis are often misattributed to CBN because of the previously described degradation process that creates the cannabinoid. However, he says the sedative effects of old cannabis are more likely due to other components of the plant that change as cured cannabis ages.

He shared that old cannabis tends to be sedating due to a loss of monoterpenoids and a retention of sesquiterpenoids, which have a soporific (or drowsy) effect. He added that the addition of another cannabinoid, CBN in this case, to a cannabis sleep regimen may increase the aforementioned entourage effect–but that CBN hasn’t been shown to be sedative on its own, and he contends that it is not more sedating than other cannabinoids.

Then Why Does CBN Seem to Work for Some?

So, how come CBN products seem to work for so many rough sleepers? It’s possible that CBN is working that entourage effect, being the perfect addition their nighttime cannabis routine. Or, the product-in-question may have also had additional ingredients that worked effectively (like sesquiterpenoids).

As is often the case in cannabis, there’s a lot of research left to be done on this topic, but I did get my answer. Dr. Russo says, “Setting out cannabis in the sun is a good way to waste the monoterpenoid fraction and leave sedating sesquiterpenoids and CBN behind.” (However, he thinks this is likely to take a significant amount of time, and does not recommend my method.)

We reached out to Steep Hill for comment on that quote comparing CBN to diazepam. They didn’t reply, but did change their CBN text to read, “Initially, it was reported that CBN was a promising adjunct in the treatment of insomnia, but with the advent of a few small trials, sedative qualities have not been observed. Further study is required.”

Cannabis Is Still a Fierce Sleep Aid

For now, Dr. Russo informs us that the best known way to use cannabis for sleep is to combine THC with other sedating components, like the terpenes myrcene and linalool. He told us that cannabis isn’t such a successful sleep aid because it’s wildly sedating, but because it treats underlying conditions that are keeping people awake.

He emphasized the importance of treating what, precisely, is keeping the person from sleep. For instance, if you’re incredibly tired, but your mind is racing a jillion miles an hour–you probably want a good dose of CBD for anxiety in your nighttime routine.

So, reflect on the things that keep you up (he said pain and spasms are two more big ones), and do some research and experimenting to find the best approach to treating what ails, allowing your bod to get the rest it needs.

And as for CBN, time will tell as to if this cannabinoid has any particular super powers–but the jury is still out on whether sedation is one of them.

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Does Endocannabinoid Deficiency Play a Role in These Common Illnesses?

For many suffering from chronic illness, cannabis is a godsend. From those dealing with the wrath of inflamed digestive systems, to the ones combating global musculoskeletal pain, and the millions who report that the agony in their heads is just the beginning of their symptoms–cannabis can help these fighters with their load of physical woes.

The ECS is present in every major bodily system, which is how its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions–and how cannabis manages to treat them.

But why? To explain, we need to back up a bit. You probably know that cannabinoids (like the popular CBD and THC) interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and that our bodies produce natural endocannabinoids that work with the ECS receptors to maintain health in all the other bodily systems. But do you know what happens when we don’t produce enough of these endocannabinoids?

Neither does science; not really, anyways. But Ethan Russo M.D., Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute has theorized that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency could be the cause behind irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraine, and other treatment-resistant syndromes. The ECS is present in every major bodily system, which is how its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions–and how cannabis manages to treat them.

These conditions, along with others that fall into this realm, are generally thought to be incurable and chronic, usually lasting for the rest of the sufferer’s life. I spoke with Dr. Russo about this matter, and he offered hope for chronic illness fighters, saying that since these conditions are generally acquired (rather than congenital, from birth), it seems to suggest an ECS disturbance is behind the illness. So hopefully it can be reversed in some fashion.

What Is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?

The theory of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) explains that these health conditions are due to a deficiency in endocannabinoid levels, akin to the way neurotransmitter deficiencies are behind other illnesses–like serotonin deficiency in depression. In other words, the theory posits that the cause of these syndromes is an insufficient amount of endocannabinoids functioning in the ECS.

The theory was first posed by Dr. Russo in 2001. Since then, he’s published several more well-cited papers on the topic.

“The vast majority of physicians just have no background in the ECS. It’s just not being taught.”

Dr. Ethan Russo

Dr. Russo’s 2016 paper, Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered, revisited this issue after substantial evidence for the theory was recorded. Firstly, statistically significant differences of the endocannabinoid anandamide were recorded in the cerebrospinal fluid of migraine sufferers. (Similar results have also been found in fibromyalgia fighters.) Decreased ECS function was found in another condition thought to fall into the CED rubric, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And clinical data has shown that cannabinoid treatment and lifestyle changes aimed to promote the health of the ECS produced evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits in fighters–yet more evidence linking ECS dysfunction to these conditions.

From the paper: “If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood, and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems subserved by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).”

The CED theory also posits that such deficiencies could be present due to genetic reasons or be the result of a disease or injury.

The study primarily focuses on IBS, migraine, and fibromyalgia–all of which involve increased pain sensations in the affected areas–but disorders that may fall under the CED rubric include: PTSD, glaucoma, cystic fibrosis, types of neuropathy, phantom limb pain, neonatal failure to thrive, infantile colic, menstrual pain, repetitive miscarriages, hyperemesis gravidarum, bipolar disease, and many others. Many of these diseases are little understood and remain treatment resistant.

How to Improve ECS “Tone”

Unfortunately, there’s no magic-pill solution here, but there are methods to improve your ECS “tone,” which is the term used to describe the functioning of this little-understood system. Dr. Russo had some advice on the matter–and it’s all about taking good care of yourself to help ensure that the ECS doesn’t get out of balance. Here’s some tips gleaned from his wisdom:

  • Heal your gut: There is increasing evidence that the gut microbiome, and the levels of bacteria within it, are a major regulator of the ECS. People should avoid unnecessary antibiotics, as these damage the natural microbiome balance in the gut. Also try pro- and prebiotics to get that biome in shape.
  • Eat right: Pro-inflammatory foods, such as fried foods with trans-fats, or too many calories in general are bad for the ECS. It’s also important to cultivate consciousness about what you’re eating–how you were taught might not be best what’s best for your body now.
  • Exercise: Sedentary behavior is harmful to the ECS, and exercise is essential to improving tone. However, many fighters of chronic illness will experience a flare in symptoms if they push it, so a low-impact aerobic program is recommended for many.
  • Look at family health: ECS dysfunction isn’t genetic like eye color, but there are genetic tendencies, so be extra careful if there are others in your family who are fighters of chronic illness. Also be mindful about unhealthy habits you may share.
  • Sleep well and stress less: The ECS loves balance, and a body that’s stressed out and unrested is great at throwing all kinds of systems out-of-whack. So get those eight hours and get real about managing stress.

Dr. Russo says that there’s no “cure” for these conditions, but following these guidelines offers the opportunity for a major intervention in symptoms–which can look a whole lot like a cure.

Looking Forward

As for what’s next, Dr. Russo is working on getting studies funded and running to provide further information on this topic, especially in relation to ECS and the gut’s microbiome. He’s also working on a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia sufferers–something that would be life-changing for those searching for a diagnosis, or who need to prove that they really have it.

And for now, he says that there needs to be more awareness about the ECS.

“The vast majority of physicians just have no background in the ECS,” he said. “Despite it being discovered almost 30 years ago, there’s been very little uptake of it in med school curricula–it’s just not being taught, and whether that’s an unfortunate association with the word ‘cannabis’ is unclear. But clearly we have a knowledge deficit in regard to it, and until we rectify that we won’t have the ability to treat our patients more effectively.”

So the next time you’re at the doctor, whether you suffer from a chronic illness, or not–think about asking your doctor what you can do to improve the health of your endocannabinoid system, just to see if they know what it is. (And maybe put some pressure on them to find out.)

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Tell the FDA What’s on Your Mind

By Zoe Sigman On June 05, 2019

The FDA is asking for input on how to regulate CBD and cannabis. Project CBD gave oral comments at last week’s public hearing, and we plan on submitting written comments and supporting documents to their public docket. You should, too.

You have until July 2 to share your thoughts on the best path forward. The FDA’s ask is a big one, and it concerns more than just CBD (the full prompt is attached below). Whatever regulation is coming will shape not only CBD regulation, but that of cannabis and cannabinoids more generally.

In their announcement, the FDA clearly states that they’re looking for information about 1) health and safety risks; 2) manufacturing and product quality; and 3) marketing/labeling/sales. Each category is broken into specific queries, all aimed at seeking input on how they should regulate cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

The FDA is faced with the challenge of crafting regulation in a way they’ve never done before. Both THC (Marinol, Syndros, Nabilone) and CBD (Epidiolex) have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of specific diseases. This means that the FDA has, until this point, regulated single-molecule cannabinoids just like any other pharmaceutical. Now the FDA is tasked with regulating those same compounds for general consumption as food supplements and nutraceuticals. But the FDA is not generally in the business of approving the same plant compound both as a prescription medication and an over-the-counter food supplement – there is little precedent to draw upon.

Given the enormous public interest in cannabis and the huge demand for CBD products, the FDA says they’re willing to listen. So, tell them your story. Write about how CBD has helped (or not helped) you and your family (including your dog!). If you’ve researched how cannabis and CBD can impact a particular medical condition, share the data with the FDA. If you are involved in manufacturing hemp or cannabis products, tell the FDA how that’s working in your state.

DO:

  • Read the entire prompt that the FDA has provided. The FDA is looking for specific information about a broad range of topics related to cannabis. It was apparent that some of the people who spoke at the public hearing hadn’t taken into account the information the FDA already has. The FDA knows about Epidiolex, the pharmaceutical version of CBD. They approved it as a drug and are aware of the high-dose hepatotoxicity data from clinical trials.
  • Submit data and studies to support the information in your comments. Be specific. If you know of a study that backs up your experience with managing a specific condition, cite it and provide the article. One of the FDA’s most frequent requests at the recent public hearing was for more data to support claims.
  • If possible, include dosage amounts (in milligrams of cannabinoids) when sharing stories about how cannabis or CBD has helped you or those you care for.
  • Read the FAQs.
  • Submit your comments by 11:59 PM EST on July 2, 2019.

DO NOT:

  • Do not try to address the entire FDA prompt. Address the areas that directly apply to your experience or body of expertise.
  • Don’t use profanity or casual, lingo-laden language. You’re speaking to government officials, after all. The more formal, specific, and detailed, the better. Personal stories are wonderful, but make sure to support your story with specific dosages so that the FDA has some data to work with.
  • Do not make up data. If there isn’t data to support your experience, state that plainly and encourage the FDA to facilitate crucial research in that area.

Zoe Sigman is Project CBD’s Program Director.


Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

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Congressional Report Raises Questions About Whether Marijuana Impairs Driving

Concerns expressed by lawmakers that marijuana legalization will make the roads more dangerous might not be totally founded, a congressional research body said in a recent report. In fact, the experts tasked by the House and Senate with looking into the issue found that evidence about cannabis’s ability to impair driving is currently inconclusive.

While law enforcement has well-established tools to identify impaired driving from alcohol, developing technology to do the same for cannabis has proved difficult. Not only is the technology lacking, but questions remain as to how THC affects driving skills in the first place and what levels of THC should be considered safe.

“Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance, studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage,” the Congressional Research Service (CRS) wrote.

What’s more, “studies have been unable to consistently correlate levels of marijuana consumption, or THC in a person’s body, and levels of impairment.”

Both advocates and opponents of marijuana reform strongly support finding a resolution to the impaired driving detection issue. But experts aren’t so confident that researchers will be able to develop something akin to an alcohol breathalyzer, as the most promising attempts have only been able to determine whether a person has smoked within recent hours.

What’s striking about the report from Congress’s official research arm is that it repeatedly states it’s not clear that cannabis consumption is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents. In general, the issue has been treated as something of a given in congressional hearings, with some lawmakers arguing that loosening federal cannabis laws would lead to a spike in traffic deaths.

That argument was echoed in a separate House Appropriations Committee report that was released on Monday. A section of the document described ongoing concerns about drugged driving “due to the increase in States legalizing marijuana use” and designated funds to help law enforcement identify impaired driving from cannabis.

The CRS report, which was published last month, signals that the problem isn’t quite as cut and dry as lawmakers might think.

Researchers have found on several occasions that traffic fatalities do not increase after a state legalizes marijuana.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that both opponents and supporters of legalization generally caution against driving under the influence.

“Cannabis inhalation in a dose-response manner may influence certain aspects of psychomotor performance, particularly in those who are more naive to its effect,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “But this influence is typically short-lived and is far less acute than the psychomotor effects associate with alcohol.”

“By contrast, THC’s unique absorption profile and prolonged detection window in blood makes it so that–unlike as is the case with alcohol–the detection of THC in blood is not necessarily indicative of either recency of use or behavioral impairment,” he said.

The congressional report discusses the limitations of technology in detecting active impairment from cannabis and details previous studies on traffic trends in states that have reformed their cannabis laws. It also lays out legislative options for Congress to “aid policymaking around the issue of marijuana and impairment.”

As it stands, states have generally enforced impaired driving laws through one of two processes. Some states “require that the state prove that a driver’s impairment was caused by the substance or behavior at issue” while others have per se laws asserting that “a driver is automatically guilty of driving while impaired if specified levels of a potentially impairing substance are found in his or her body.”

But it’s significantly easier to prove impairment for alcohol however you cut it, the report explains.

“Detecting impairment due to use of marijuana is more difficult. The body metabolizes marijuana differently from alcohol,” the authors wrote. “The level of THC (the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana) in the body drops quickly within an hour after usage, yet traces of THC (nonpsychoactive metabolites) can still be found in the body weeks after usage of marijuana.”

Further there is “as yet no scientifically demonstrated correlation between levels of THC and degrees of impairment of driver performance, and epidemiological studies disagree as to whether marijuana use by a driver results in increased crash risk.”

Detecting impairment from cannabis is additionally complicated by another extraneous circumstance: variation in THC potency. The THC concentration conundrum is exacerbated by the fact that the only source of federal, research-grade cannabis “is considered by some researchers to be low quality,” the report stated, referring to studies showing that the government’s marijuana supply does not chemically reflect what’s available in state-legal commercial markets.

CRS also looked at the “inconsistent” results of studies examining the effects of cannabis use on traffic incidents. While some have indicated that consumption poses an increased risk on the road, the report argues that some may be conflating correlation and causation.

“Relatively few epidemiological studies of marijuana usage and crash risk have been conducted, and the few that have been conducted have generally found low or no increased risk of crashes from marijuana use,” CRS wrote.

After going through several other related issues, CRS laid out a couple of choices for Congress when it comes to dealing with the impaired driving issue. Those options include “continued research into whether a quantitative standard can be established that correlates the level of THC in a person’s body and the level of impairment” and compiling “better data on the prevalence of marijuana use by drivers, especially among drivers involved in crashes and drivers arrested for impaired driving.”

One of the last elements the report specifically focused on was federally mandated drug testing for individuals in “safety sensitive” jobs in the transportation sector. Interestingly, CRS seemed to suggest that, given the issues they outlined with respect to difficulties identifying active impairment from THC, the government should reevaluate whether suspensions for testing positive should be permanent.

“CRS could not identify any data on how many safety-sensitive transportation employees have lost their jobs as a result of positive tests for marijuana use,” the report states. “Considering the length of time that marijuana is detectable in the body after usage, and the uncertainty about the impairing effect of marijuana on driving performance, Congress and other federal policymakers may elect to reexamine the rationale for testing all safety-sensitive transportation workers for marijuana usage.”

“Alternatively, Congress and federal policymakers may opt to maintain the status quo until more research results become available,” the report advised.

Armentano, of NORML, said that legislators should be way of enacting policies focused on levels of THC or metabolites in drivers.

“As more states consider amending their cannabis consumption laws, lawmakers would best served to avoid amending traffic safety laws in a manner that relies solely on the presence of THC or its metabolites as determinants of driving impairment,” he said. “Otherwise, the imposition of traffic safety laws may inadvertently become a criminal mechanism for law enforcement and prosecutors to punish those who have engage in legally protected behavior and who have not posed any actionable traffic safety threat.”

Marijuana Legalization Not Linked To Increased Traffic Deaths, Study Finds

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Five Fallacies About Hemp

Praise be to all things hemp! Faithful friend of humanity since before the written word, a versatile source of food, fiber, fuel, and pharmacy, a plant with a patriotic pedigree prized by America’s Founding Fathers.

After languishing for eight decades in the wilderness of marijuana prohibition, hemp is making a big comeback thanks in no small part to cannabidiol (CBD), the mischievous, nonintoxicating cannabis compound that has upended the drug war establishment.

There’s no denying that CBD has catalyzed the rebirth of the U.S. hemp industry. In response to overwhelming public demand for CBD, Congress passed the groundbreaking 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized (or, more accurately, re-legalized) the cultivation of hemp on domestic soil. Many American farmers are jumping on the CBD bandwagon, imagining a bright future of Colossal Big Dollars now that hemp is once again a legitimate cash crop. But along with the rush of enthusiasm for CBD as an economic opportunity, a number of fallacies about industrial hemp have taken root.

Fallacy #1 – The Farm Bill legalized CBD commerce.

Not quite. The 2018 Farm Bill defined as hemp as cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol and legalized its cultivation in the United States. The Farm Bill also removed various derivatives of hemp, including CBD, from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Controlled Substances Act.

So now farmers can grow and sell hemp, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) views CBD strictly as a pharmaceutical. And because it had already approved CBD as a prescription drug (Epidiolex) for treating two kinds of pediatric seizure disorders, the FDA asserts that it is illegal to sell hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement or over-the-counter drug.

Several states have followed the FDA’s lead and explicitly banned CBD-infused edibles and beverages, though there has been little effort to enforce this policy. The recent decision by Visa, the world’s largest credit card company, to stop processing CBD-related payments underscores the uncertain legal status of CBD.

The DEA, meanwhile, retains jurisdiction over CBD extracted from “marijuana” (cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC), which is still prohibited under federal law. Rooted in reefer madness racism and enforced disproportionately against ethnic minorities, marijuana prohibition is akin to the Confederate statue still standing, a sign of ongoing social injustice. By carving out a legal loophole only for hemp, the Farm Bill perpetuates this shameful scandal.

The Farm Bill – which a cynic might refer to as the ‘Keep Marijuana Illegal Bill’ – is seriously flawed. It solves some problems, while creating others. Like a patch designed to correct defective software, the Farm Bill attempts to fix the unfixable. In this case, the defective software is the Controlled Substances Act, an odious edifice built upon a mountain of lies. Consequently, the legal status of CBD commerce remains mired in contradiction.

Fallacy #2 – The definition of hemp as distinct from marijuana is based on sound science.

The molecular structure of CBD is the same irrespective of its botanical source, but CBD extracted from a hemp plant is no longer a controlled substance while CBD extracted from marijuana is federally illegal. CBD is currently both a Schedule One drug, a category reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value, and a Schedule Five pharmaceutical, the safest designation possible for a controlled therapeutic substance.

There is no logical basis for distinguishing between hemp with 0.3 percent THC and cannabis with 0.4 percent THC, as stipulated according to federal law. The ‘0.3 percent THC or less’ definition for hemp is a political distinction without a scientific foundation.

Where did the 0.3 percent THC qualifier come from? It stems from a 1976 taxonomic report by Canadian plant scientists Ernest Small and Arthur Cronquist, who never meant for 0.3 percent THC to function as a legal demarcation between hemp and other forms of cannabis. But that’s what has happened.

To cut to the chase, the 0.3 percent THC legal limit for hemp is an arbitrary, impractical, irrational relic of reefer madness. Although it lacks scientific validity, it has become the cornerstone of cannabis prohibition, a discredited, anachronistic policy that impedes medical discovery and patient access to effective therapeutic options, including herbal formulations with various mixtures of CBD and THC, both of which have important remedial properties, especially when combined.

Fallacy #3 -The federal government conspired with big business to make hemp illegal.

Why did hemp become illegal in the first place? The notion of an anti-hemp conspiracy involving corporate and government collusion has become Holy Writ among some cannabis proponents. The operative assumption is that anything made from trees or petroleum could also be made from hemp. Thus, DuPont, a manufacturer of plastics, supposedly sought to eliminate hemp because it was a natural competitor to the emergent plastics industry.

This theory also posits that the Hearst newspaper chain railed against “marihuana” because Hearst wanted to vanquish a paper business rival. But the Hearst syndicate always needed more paper for newsprint and, if anything, it would have been in Hearst’s interest to grow lots of hemp as a source for making paper.

There’s no smoking gun, let alone much evidence, showing that Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger was acting at the behest of DuPont or press baron William Randolph Hearst when America’s top narc launched the “reefer madness” crusade to outlaw marijuana in the 1930s.

When it comes to conspiracies – and, yes, they’re everywhere to the point of banality – better to look first for the lowest common denominator, the mundane explanation, to see what’s plausible. Screaming headlines and scare stories sell newspapers. Hearst’s anti-marihuana hyperbole was racist and opportunistic to the core. Ditto for Anslinger, whose entire government department was on the chopping block during the Great Depression.

Anslinger had sufficient motive and means to demonize marihuana, “the evil weed,” in order to preserve and expand his bureaucratic fiefdom. Reefer madness, a racist propaganda campaign, was his way of avoiding budget cuts and inflating his self-importance. He had a key ally in Hearst, an outspoken supporter of fascism and anti-Mexican ethnic cleansing.

Hearst and Anslinger were the main engines behind marihuana prohibition, a policy that some speculate was implemented to benefit the business interests of DuPont, a major client of Mellon Bank. Ex-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon was Anslinger’s former boss and his uncle by marriage. All these associations are intriguing and suggestive. But covert corporate machinations in this case probably account for much less than endemic racism, boardroom bigotry, and bureaucratic self-interest.

Fallacy #4 – Industrial hemp doesn’t need pesticides and therefore it’s not necessary to regulate or restrict the use of pesticides on hemp.

Hemp is a hardy, adaptable botanical that feasts on sunlight and thrives in various climates. It acts as a “bio-remediator” that can remove heavy metals and other toxins from a polluted landscape. But this eco-friendly, soil-rejuvenating plant is not immune to mold or pest infestation.

Hemp and psychoactive cannabis (marijuana) have innate defense mechanisms that protect against predators and disease. The sticky gooey resin that is concentrated on the leaves and flower tops of psychoactive cannabis contains a treasure trove of medicinal and aromatic compounds – including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – and some of these compounds have antifungal, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties. The stickiness of cannabis resin adds another defensive layer by trapping bugs.

But sometimes the plant’s innate defense capabilities aren’t sufficient to save a crop, as many cannabis farmers have learned from bitter experience. Industrial hemp grown for fiber or seed oil are low-resin plants compared to high-resin drug plants. Resin-deficient industrial hemp is more vulnerable to mold and pests – and is therefore more likely to require pesticides and fungicides – than high-resin cannabis.

Fallacy #5- Industrial hemp is a good source for extracting CBD oil.

The CBD molecule is exactly the same whether extracted from industrial hemp or other forms of cannabis. But the quality of the CBD products made from industrial hemp that’s grown for fiber or seed protein is typically inferior to the products made from CBD-rich “drug” plants that are grown specifically for medicinal oil extraction.

CBD is the most common cannabinoid present in industrial hemp, but the CBD levels top out at about 3.5% by dry weight – much less than the remarkable varieties of CBD-rich cannabs flower grown for medicine that can reach as high as 20% CBD by dry weight. Because industrial hemp produces relatively small amounts of CBD, a huge amount of hemp biomass is necessary to produce a significant quantity of CBD oil.

Such a large amount of plant material means there’s a greater likelihood that toxic contaminants will be concentrated in the CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp, which will suck up and absorb any pesticides or heavy metals present in the soil through a process known as “bioaccumulation.” This is excellent for cleaning up a toxic waste site, but not so good for medicinal oil extraction and production. Industrial hemp and its extracts usually aren’t subject to stringent (state-level) regulations governing pesticide and solvent residues, and these contaminants end up in CBD products manufactured by unscrupulous producers.

It’s noteworthy that the phrasing of the 2018 Farm Bill refers to “hemp” rather than “industrial hemp.” The decision to drop the word “industrial” from legislative parlance is a reflection of the primacy of CBD in the brave new world of legal hemp. Industrial hemp cultivated for fiber and seed isn’t CBD-rich. But new high-resin cannabis cultivars are becoming available that have been bred specifically to produce copious quantities of CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC, thereby satisfying the federal government’s absurd legal criteria for hemp.

Martin A. Lee is Project CBD’s cofounder and Director, and Zoe Sigman is Project CBD’s Program Director.


Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.


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CBD Might Help You Cut Back On Drinking Alcohol And Reduce Its Damaging Effects, Study Says

CBD, the widely available cannabinoid touted for various health benefits, may have the potential to help people with serious alcohol issues, according to a new review of current scientific evidence.

Not only does cannabidiol appear to “facilitate drinking reduction,” the paper’s authors write, but research also shows the compound “may provide idiosyncratic protection to the liver and brain, which could reduce the development and impact of alcohol-related liver disease and alcohol-related brain injury.”

The review, which is awaiting publication in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, offers a comprehensive look at how promising the data is so far regarding the effectiveness of CBD on alcohol use disorders (AUD). The authors, however, also call for human clinical trials, of which none have been published to date, to “pave the way for testing new harm reduction approaches in AUD.”

Researchers in France and Belgium reviewed 26 previous studies published between 1974 and June 2018 that explored the effects of CBD on animal subjects dosed with ethanol. They found several studies that showed CBD can reduce alcohol consumption. In one, for example, researchers discovered that mice administered CBD were less motivated to work (in this case, push a lever) for access to a liquid solution that included 8 percent of ethanol.

“Experimental studies converge to find that CBD reduces the overall level of alcohol drinking in animal models of AUD by reducing ethanol intake, motivation for ethanol, relapse, and by decreasing anxiety and impulsivity.”

Other studies found that mice regularly dosed with the non-intoxicating marijuana compound were also less likely to relapse after they’d been weaned off alcohol, even when they were stressed.

Because of its impact on various aspects of the disease (including “intake, motivation, relapse, anxiety and impulsivity”), CBD “could have a significant action on drinking levels in human subjects with AUD” the review’s authors write. They add, however, that it would be useful to have data using binge-drinking models and models that focus on long-term exposure to alcohol.

The review also highlighted evidence showing CBD could affect alcohol-related liver inflammation. In one study, researchers found that the livers of mice that’d been given the compound prior to being force-fed alcohol every 12 hours for five days were less damaged than those of mice not exposed to CBD.

“CBD seems to have valuable therapeutic properties for ethanol-induced liver damage, through multiple mechanisms,” including the reduction of oxidative stress, inflammation control, and the death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of scar tissue, the authors write.

Finally, CBD may also offer added protection to specific areas in the brain susceptible to alcohol-related damage. In one study, the brains of rats who’d binged on alcohol and given CBD were found to have lost “significantly” fewer brain cells in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. In those rats, CBD acted as a “neuroprotective antioxidant,” the review states. In another experiment, CBD also appeared to restore the neurological and cognitive functions of rats in acute liver failure.

“CBD has been found to reduce alcohol-related brain damage, preventing neuronal loss by its antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties.”

The authors suggest these overall benefits of CBD regarding problematic alcohol use may be due to the “complex” way the cannabinoid interacts with CB2 receptors, which are located throughout the body.

Currently, the review states, the pharmaceuticals available to help people with AUD stop drinking are “insufficiently effective at a population level, and new therapeutic prospects are needed. Moreover, no drug for reducing alcohol-related harms, either on the brain or the liver, has ever been studied.”

Plus, the authors conclude, “CBD could have many more positive effects in subjects with AUD, including antiepileptic, cardioprotective, anxiolytic, or analgesic ones. Human studies are thus crucially needed to explore the many prospects of CBD in AUD and related conditions.”

Meanwhile, there’s still time to submit public comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on how the federal government should regulate CBD products, including supplements and foods. So far, hundreds of people have submitted information. The public comment period ends July 2.

FDA Is Taking Public Comments On CBD. Here’s How To Make Your Voice Heard

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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CBD Can Help Curb Heroin Cravings, New Study Finds

The record-breaking climb in US overdose deaths–which now outnumber peak annual deaths from car crashes, guns, and HIV–has led some to second-guess cannabis legalization. But a new study suggests cannabinoids may actually help people wean themselves off deadly drugs.

“CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder.”

Yasmin Hurd, director, Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai

The study, by researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, looked at 42 individuals with problem heroin use disorder who abstained from heroin during the program. Researchers found that individuals who were given CBD experienced significantly reduced heroin cravings–both immediately and in the longer term.

The study was published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” Yasmin Hurd, lead author of the study and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

We’ve known for a while now that the availability of medical cannabis is associated with lower opioid prescription and overdose death rates. What’s been less clear is whether cannabinoids can reliably help individuals disrupt problem drug use.

Participants in the Mount Sinai experiment were given either CBD or a placebo and then presented with three-minute videos featuring either “neutral cues”–including relaxing nature scenes–or “drug-related cues,” such as intravenous drug use, syringes, or packets of powder that resembled heroin. The CBD dosages were quite large–either 400 mg or 800 mg of CBD–and taken daily as an oral solution for three consecutive days.

As participants watched the videos, researchers measured opioids cravings, anxiety, and other health indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygen levels. The measurements were taken at three video sessions conducted at various times: immediately after administering CBD or the placebo, 24 hours later, and a week after the final dose. The results were remarkable:

The study team found that CBD, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by drug cues compared with neutral cues in the acute term. CBD also showed significant protracted effects on these measures seven days after the final short-term exposure. In addition, CBD reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse events. The capacity of CBD to reduce craving and anxiety one week after the final administration mirrors the results of the original preclinical animal study, suggesting that the effects of CBD are long-lasting, even when the cannabinoid would not be expected to be present in the body.

This isn’t the first time Hurd and her team have explored CBD’s impacts on heroin use. But previous studies focused on animals–finding that their heroin cravings could be reduced with CBD–and Hurd was eager to expand research involving humans.

“To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a non-intoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals,” Hurd said. “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”

The study’s findings, the hospital said, suggest a role for CBD “in helping to break the cycle of addiction.”

“The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics,” Hurd explained, “because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.”

While the initial study is relatively small, it’s likely to fuel continued research into the use of cannabinoids and opioids. Already Hurd’s research team is working on two follow-up studies aimed at putting a dent in the overdose epidemic. One explores the mechanisms of how CBD affects the brain, while the second looks at unique medical cannabis formulations that Mount Sinai said “are likely to become a significant part of the medical arsenal available to address the opioid epidemic.”

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