Nature: More Powerful Than Pharmaceuticals by Uwe Blesching, Ph.D. and Jay Healy. Featured in the June 2015 issue of Healing Times Magazine.
Leave the plant alone. It is more effective, powerful and gentle in its original form. At least that is what recent studies seem to suggest. The biological alchemy of cannabis continues to grab the attention of orthodox medicine. Chronic inflammations especially are a major complicating force impeding the body’s capacity for regeneration and self-healing. Unhappy with medical tools (primarily pharmaceuticals such as aspirin or opiates) that do not work that well to reduce swelling or inflammations, frustrated doctors are beginning to listen to many of their patients’ stories of how cannabis has made a difference.
To date, the most studied cannabis constituents are CBD and THC. A growing body of evidence suggests that both modulate inflammation via the pathways of the body’s endocannabinoid system. A notable differences between these key molecules is that only THC is psychoactive, affecting the mind and thus our normal perception of reality.
An interesting study, conducted at Israeli universities and recently published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, examines the effectiveness of administering isolated cannabinoid extracts (a CBD-only formula), whole plant extracts (which contain the full range of the plant’s cannabinoid content), the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug aspirin, and the opioid tramadol hydrochloride on swelling and inflammation.
One conclusion of the study suggests that the whole plant extract, which contained a large percentage of CBD but also contained other cannabinoids, proved far more effective than CBD-only solutions in alleviating inflammation. Thus the study demonstrated that a whole plant extract, containing the entire range of cannabinoids present in raw cannabis, provides more effective relief for inflammation. This relief continued to be predictably effective as the dose was increased, an important consideration in medicine.
Another study conclusion demonstrated that chemical aspirin exhibited only a moderate effect on tissue swelling, while tramadol demonstrated barely any effect at all. On the other hand, both of the cannabis medicines prevented the swelling to a greater extent than either of the pharmaceutical options. Therefore, cannabis appears to contain more effective medical properties that are not found in the common prescription drugs used in the orthodox treatment for swelling and inflammation.
This study continues to confirm the importance of cannabis as both medication and a natural plant ally on the road to deeper healing. Many pharmaceutical companies, motivated by profit and control motives, have been trying to create synthetic derivatives of the different cannabinoids that can be patented and economically maximized. However, once again a study shows that the entirety of the raw cannabis plant constituents appears more beneficial than a single isolated cannabinoid including the one (THC) that may alter our perception of reality.
The study results are extremely promising for the future of cannabis science and medicine. The synergy (biochemical cooperation) of all of the natural cannabinoids and other plant constituents found in cannabis will continue to reveal an opportunity for humans to build deeper spiritual and medical connections. We must embrace cannabis as a medicine, and applaud the understanding that altering one’s mind may be an important element of deeper healing, beyond the already powerful and effective cannabinoids found in the whole cannabis plant.