Author: Uwe Blesching (page 1 of 3)

A CB2 Activating Cannabinoid is the New Potential Weapon Against Horrific Parasites

This article was originally published on CannabisHealthIndex.com.

Leishmaniasis is a parasitical infection spread by sandflies. It is a significant health problem all over the world. Hundreds of millions of people (as well as animals) in nearly 100 tropical, sub-tropical, and Southern European countries are at risk. Occasional occurrences in the U.S. have been reported from the southern states of Texas and Oklahoma.

It is estimated that more than 10 million people are currently suffering from the disease, and new infection rates are in the 2 million range. Making the situation worse, global warming trends have led to the spread of sandfly territory.

JerichoButtons-Matson-Photograph-Library-of-Congress

The disease appears in three distinct forms. Cutaneous leishmaniasis causes open skin sores at the bite site which may spread. The mucosal form produces ulcer formation on mucus membranes such as the mouth, nose, or throat. And, finally the worst form, visceral leishmaniasis affects internal organs such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow for example. The third form can be fatal.

Once bitten by an infected sandfly, symptoms of the cutaneous form usually appear with a few weeks to a few months while the visceral version may take years. It may start just like the formation of a pimple that eventually opens and form sores on the skin. Sores tend to stay open and spread. Sores that do heal leave an ugly build-up of scar tissue in its place.

Original Title: Sandfly_18-08.jpg

When sores stay open, they appear similar to a crater with a rugged edge at the circumference. Pain can vary from mild to severe. Lymph nodes tend to be swollen near the ulcer sites. Fever is common. Another key indicator is a very enlarged spleen.

Confirmation of suspected leishmaniasis occurs by taking a careful patient history including past travels and by laboratory blood tests. Infected patients tend to have low red, white, and platelet counts. Furthermore, the parasite can be detected in a drop of blood under the microscope.

Typical prevention measures include bite prevention (mosquito nets, sprays, window screens), sandfly abatement programs using pesticides, healthy water management infrastructures, education and support to high-risk populations.

Mosquito-Netting

The population at most risk are poor people with chronic poor nutrition and suppressed immunity, those living in or near deforested regions, rural areas, and those with no or little access to sanitation or health care. Like many blood-borne diseases it may also be spread through sharing needles and from a mother to a fetus.

Pharmaceutical treatment of infected humans relies on pentavalent antimonials, amphotericin B, or pentamidine which are expensive and carry the risk of severe adverse reactions. In addition, the parasite is quickly developing a resistance to these drugs.

In trying to address the urgent need for new, safe, effective, and affordable remedies against leishmaniasis, two teams investigated novel compounds found in numerous plants including cannabis.

Leishmaniasis_CL_2013

One team of researchers from Havanna, Cuba, Vienna, Austria, and Alabama, U.S. examined the effects of three biologically active ingredients against the parasite. In this experiment, scientists used the terpenoid carvacrol, the CB2 activating cannabinoid caryophellene (as an oxide), and the terpene ascaridole in varying combinations to determine their effectiveness against leishmaniasis.[1]

Results showed that in both the laboratory phase as well as the animal study (mice), a ratio of 1:4 of ascaridole and carvacrol respectively was the best combination resulting in significant benefits in both the laboratory and the animal phase of the experiment.

The other team from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil conducted a laboratory experiment on various natural compounds which suggests that the CB2 activating beta-caryophellene constitutes a safe and attractive molecule against leishmaniasis.

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Furthermore, the Brazilian researchers indicated that oils standardized for their beta-caryophellene content could provide an affordable treatment for leishmaniasis in areas where the disease is endemic.[2]

The Cannabis Health Index already documents the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids for 129 chronic conditions and stubborn symptoms. With the results from research studies such as these…the sky is the limit.

[1] Jacinta Pastor, Marley García, Silvia Steinbauer, William N. Setzer, Ramón Scull, Lars Gille, Lianet Monzote. Combinations of ascaridole, carvacrol, and caryophyllene oxide against Leishmania. Acta Tropica 145 (2015) 31–38.

[2] Soares DC, Portella NA, Ramos MF, Siani AC, Saraiva EM. Trans-β-Caryophyllene: An Effective Antileishmanial Compound Found in Commercial Copaiba Oil (Copaifera spp.). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:761323.

Uwe Blesching is a medical journalist and regular contributor in the fields of cannabinoid science, mind-body medicine, phytopharmacology, and more. Blesching earned his PhD from the Western Institute for Social Research. Much of the information from his most recent book, The Cannabis Health Index, has been made available on Cannabis Reports as well.

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For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page.

Pain Killers: Short-Term Benefit vs. Long-Term Detriment to Your Soul

This article was originally published on CannabisHealthIndex.com.

In March 2016, I published an article on this blog entitled “May the Force Be With You: The Dark Side of Pharmaceuticals and the Green Light of Cannabis.” The article focused on a Finnish study (2015) conducted on 959 convicted murderers to examine the hypothesis that pharmaceutical antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics may have caused an increase in suicides and committed murders by the patients who take them.[1]

May-the-Force-Be1

However, study results showed that the risk of committing murder with the use of antidepressants increased only slightly (little more with the use of antipsychotics). What was unexpected and surprising was a significant increase of murders under the influence of pain medications (opioid, non-opioid) and benzodiazepines.

In addition, another double-blind placebo controlled study from Ohio State University (2016) researchers discovered that the common pain killer acetaminophen (taken by a quarter of the U.S. population) didn’t just stop pain but killed empathy as well.[2]

Assistant Professor Baldwin Way at Ohio State University (source)

Assistant Professor Baldwin Way at Ohio State University (source)

Without empathy for another persons pain behavior can more easily become antisocial, sociopathic, and even psychopathic.

Based on these studies and the research I have done for the book “The Cannabis Health Index,” pain, especially chronic pain (the type that just won’t go away, or returns in different forms) tends to have a potent mind-body component to it.

While wanting to end physical pain is understandable and necessary, suppressing or repressing physical pain without actually healing the mental, emotional, or spiritual roots is merely a bandaid approach to dealing with chronic issues.

The original injury may have resulted in a deep betrayal or humiliation that cut into the depth of the psyche. Perhaps it was torn open by a sense of profound separation from the source of all life (by whatever definition you hold dear). Or maybe it occurred after seeing something, or even doing something, that took away part of your humanity, something that separated you from your core, your soul, or spirit.

These pains often lodge deep in specific spots or seem to wander about like ghosts from one area of the body to another. Other times people may be so hurt that they want to get rid of the experience of pain so much so that they are inflicting it on others in futile attempts to be free of it themselves.

Although taking pain killers to deal with chronic pain in the body may help in the moment (and we all need that band-aid sometimes), it will not work in the long-run. If the underlying issues are not dealt with, pain may return with a vengeance.

For complete healing, not just managing symptoms, changes need to happen on all levels.

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The problem with pharmaceutical pain medications (opioid, non-opioid) and benzodiazepines alike is that they designed to numb our experience rather than to reveal underlying causes.

Now, let’s contrast that with the cannabis-experience. What are researchers reporting here?

One study examining the effects of Medial Marijuana Legalization (MML) on murder rates following legalization (2014) revealed a drop in homicides, rape, as well as other violent crimes in general.[3]

Medical-marijuana-Patient-Not-Criminal-e1403867795959

Furthermore, as early as 1970 a researcher noted that the cannabis-experience enhances empathy, connection, and insight which would contribute to reductions in violent crime.[4]

Based on these findings it would appear that cannabis, unlike pharmaceutical pain medications, can at once function as an ally that melts away our stress while inducing deep relaxation. It can act as a friend that holds our hand and makes otherwise intolerable emotional material acceptable, and as a therapist that opens the door to deeper healing by offering new perspectives and healthier choices.

[1] Tiihonen J, Lehti M, Aaltonen M, et al. Psychotropic drugs and homicide: A prospective cohort study from Finland. World Psychiatry. 2015;14(2):245-247.

[2] Jennifer Crocker and Baldwin M. Way. From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci (2016)

[3] Robert G. Morris, Michael TenEyck, J. C. Barnes, Tomislav V. Kovandzic. The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92816.

[4] Tart, Charles T. Marijuana Intoxication: Common ExperiencesNature, Vol 226(5247), May 1970, 701-704.

Uwe Blesching is a medical journalist and regular contributor in the fields of cannabinoid science, mind-body medicine, phytopharmacology, and more. Blesching earned his PhD from the Western Institute for Social Research. Much of the information from his most recent book, The Cannabis Health Index, has been made available on Cannabis Reports as well.

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For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page.

Promising Treatment for Chagas Disease: Caryophyllene Oxide (A Cannabinoid-Based Preparation)

This article was originally published on CannabisHealthIndex.com.

Chagas disease is a chronic condition caused by a parasite common in the South and Central Americas. The parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) is primarily transmitted by a blood-feeding bug called “kissing bug” or triatomine (kissing bug because they emerge at night and tend to feed on tissue around the eye and face).

However, transmissions are also possible through contaminated food, contaminated blood transfusions, or it can be passed on from the mother to the fetus.

chagas_map_AR14

Prevention measures include bite prevention methods, education about the of routes of transmission, improving housing and sanitation, insecticides or traps, mosquito nets, blood bank testing, and screening of at risk populations.

It is estimated that approximately 10 million people in Latin America are infected. Symptoms develop depending on the two stages of infestation. In the first stage (first days to eight weeks) after the initial infection symptoms may include redness and swelling at the bite site, fever, swollen eyelid (often with red or purple discolorations), swollen lymphs, abdominal complaints, respiratory difficulties, and headaches for example.

Boy with Chagas (Taken in Panama 1962 by CDC Dr. Mae Melvin)

Boy with Chagas (Taken in Panama 1962 by CDC Dr. Mae Melvin)

In stage two, the condition is considered chronic. Here the parasite has settled in the muscles of the heart and gastrointestinal tract. Over time the parasite can cause degenerative damage to the heart, intestines, and nervous-system. End-stage patients often die of heart failure.

Kissing Bug (Rodnius prolix( by Dr. Erwin Huber, University of Manitoba (200()

Kissing Bug (Rodnius prolixus) by Dr. Erwin Huber, University of Manitoba (2009)

Sadly, current pharmaceutical treatments have a very limited effectiveness in the first stage only. Their effectiveness further decreases as the parasite settles. Drugs include nifurtimox, benznidazole, and sometimes allopurinol. Each of these are toxic drugs with significant adverse effects. Treatment costs depend on country and severity of disease and can be significant.

It wasn’t until recently that scientists brought a ray of hope to an otherwise dismal situation for many of the poorer populations of the Americas. Researchers from Mexico and Boliva tested the synergistic effects of the terpene lupenone and the cannabinoid/terpinoid caryophyllene (at ratios of 1:4 respectively) against the parasite.[1]

Trypanosome cruz (hindgut) by CDC Employee

Trypanosome cruzi (hindgut) by CDC Employee

Results of both the laboratory phase and the animal experiment, showed that the synergistic effect of both plant-based compounds significantly reduced nesting in the heart and skeletal muscles of the test mice. Thus, if confirmed in human trials, we are closer to a new, safe, natural, cannabinoid-based and inexpensive option for the treatment of Chagas disease in the chronic stage.

[1] Glendy Polanco-Hernández, Fabiola Escalante-Erosa, Karlina García-Sosa, et al., “Synergistic Effect of Lupenone and Caryophyllene Oxide against Trypanosoma cruzi.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 435398, 6 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/435398.

uwe-blesching

Uwe Blesching is a medical journalist and regular contributor in the fields of cannabinoid science, mind-body medicine, phytopharmacology, and more. Blesching earned his PhD from the Western Institute for Social Research. Much of the information from his most recent book, The Cannabis Health Index, has been made available on Cannabis Reports as well.

For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page.

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