How Can Psychology Improve the Effects of Cannabis?

We are in the age of self-help, the era of improvement and being the best you can be and it can get a little tiring. It’s hard not to sometimes shrug at the suggestion that psychology can help improve our experiences and the way we interact with the world, but we’re here to hopefully change that view.

Psychology has a reach so far that all aspects of our lives have been dissected and studied by men in white lab coats holding clipboards. A surprising amount of research has also been done into how to improve day to day experiences, such as eating, drinking and relaxing to get the most out of them. Of course the experience that I’m going to investigate in this article is cannabis and psychology. Could it be possible that Psychology and the findings from the science could be used to improve the effects of cannabis on the brain and in general?

In this article, I’ll be looking at how we can use our senses (Sound, taste, sight), sociality and context to get the most out of the drug we love, both recreationally and medically. Our brain, and its ability to be influenced by its surroundings, is fascinating and we will be looking at how we can affect it through internal and external changes.

Both psychology and cannabis are hot topics of discussion lately, because both are holistic approaches to ailments that affect millions of people across the globe. It only makes sense at this point that we combine the two for ultimate healing results. Make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products.


Cannabis and the Brain

Before we look at how to improve the effects of cannabis, we must first discuss how it affects the brain. Cannabis works on the brain and body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is an intricate system of neurons in the brain that seems to control the release of multiple neurotransmitters. It was discovered in the 1990s and seems to be linked to many processes in the brain and body, including appetite, learning and memory and sleep.

Both CBD and THC, two cannabinoids found in Cannabis, activate the ECS and seem to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to reward and pleasure in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that creates the euphoric high associated with Cannabis. If we can find ways to increase the production of this neurotransmitter Dopamine or find ways to affect the interaction of cannabinoids on the ECS, then perhaps this will have a wholly positive effect on the experience of getting high.

Get the Snacks Out: Food and the ECS

It has long been known that food tastes better after smoking cannabis, in fact studies on rats have shown that cannabinoids increase the senses of smell and taste, but there is also new emergent research suggesting that some foods can actually increase the effect of these same cannabinoids. According to a fascinating list created by NMJ Health, Mangoes, Chocolate and black Tea all have properties that increase the effect of Cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. Mangoes contain natural chemicals that actively help cannabinoids interact with the body’s ECS mentioned above.

By eating Mangoes before inhaling or injecting marijuana products you increase the levels of these chemicals (terpenes) that allow for this interaction. This means that the effects of the cannabis will set in a lot quicker, that they’ll be stronger and that the effects will last longer.  With Chocolate, it appears that the cannabinoids in cannabis that produce the euphoric effects are naturally occurring. Studies have even shown that a chemical in chocolate called

Anandamide binds to cannabinoid receptors mimicking and heightening the effect of Cannabis. Not only is this research incredible as it shows that chocolate can increase the overall effects of cannabis, but the practical applications for the use of medical marijuana and dosing cannot be overstated. Black tea and broccoli also seem to improve the experience of Cannabis. Black tea by producing longer and more sustained feelings of peace and relaxation. It is clear to see from this rather eclectic set of foods and the research behind them that we can change the effects of Cannabis through changing what we eat. 

Set the Mood: Music and Dopamine

Another avenue for increasing the experience that cannabis can offer through psychology and psychological research is to look at the effect sound and music has on a high. Music has long been associated with feelings of pleasure and relaxation, but recent research has shown that listening to music that gives you chills actually produces the neurotransmitter dopamine (a neurotransmitter linked to cannabis and the ECS. It seems then that listening to music you enjoy and instrumental music (the study found) leads to an increased amount of dopamine. This combined with the high levels of dopamine released when using cannabis can only result in a more pleasurable experience, again highlighting another way that psychology and the environment around you can influence your experience of cannabis.

Watch Those Lights: Sight, Colour, Taste and Experience 

This next paragraph may come as the most surprising to readers. Vision may be one of the most powerful senses when it comes to changing our experiences of the world. Being in a room with a certain colour scheme or using particular lights can influence our mental states and how we feel. To create a more calm and relaxed experience while using cannabis, a recent study has shown that blue lighting is best. The same study also showed that red light and yellow light increases heart rate, so perhaps should be avoided unless you want to induce a potential panic attack.

 There are ways that we can use our vision to influence our experiences of things like taste and smell too. Studies by Charles Spence, an Oxford researcher have shown that the colour of crockery used when eating actually changes the subjective experience of flavour. Red dishes increased perceptions of sweetness in some popcorn and blue seemed to increase perceptions of saltiness. What this means is that a particular coloured skin or vape could actually alter the taste of the cannabis inhaled. If you prefer a sweeter experience, perhaps using a red vape might do this for you. Again, this research highlights how we can use psychology to generally increase our cannabis experience. 

Changing up Your Environment 

One of the biggest factors that can reduce the enjoyment of cannabis is tolerance. A tolerance to a certain chemical just means that it takes more to achieve the same effect. From a neuro-chemical point of view, it just takes a greater amount of cannabinoids to activate the ECS. Tolerance arises due to frequent use of the drug. Can psychology be used to help us with tolerance? An incredible study actually seems to suggest it can, and the way one can overcome a tolerance seems to be through altering context.

Context just means the environments around you. It has long been studied in psychology as animals and humans seem to have powerful associations between context and memory. If you revise in a certain context (classroom) your results in a test done in that same context will be higher than if you alter it. Here’s where tolerance comes in: If you smoke cannabis in the same environment, your body associates that context with cannabis and will actually build up a tolerance that is context specific. In a fascinating review by Siegel et al the preparation and expectation of taking a drug can lead to the body preparing itself and therefore reducing the effects. When dogs were conditioned into taking adrenaline in a specific context, just placing the dog in that room was enough for their bodies to prepare to counter the high blood pressure, even without injecting anything.

The core study by Siegel was conducted on heroin users and it was found that the opposite is true as well. If a user of heroin takes the drug in a context they are not used to they are more likely to require medical treatment as it seems their tolerance is not there. The body was not prepared because it was not in the context associated with the drug. The very same principle of association and context can be applied to cannabis use. If you use the drug in the same context over and over again, the tolerance will be associated with that specific location, so to increase the effect, change up where you light up.

Being Around Others: Socialising and Dopamine 

A final way that cannabis can be improved is through being around others. It seems obvious to say, but being around others is good for the brain. It increases feelings of happiness and can relax us as well if we are around people we love, but it may be surprising to learn that socialising also increases dopamine levels, giving us a little high. This increase in dopamine is theorised to be a reward for being around others and evolutionary psychologists have argued that socialising and bonding with others is heavily linked to the reward areas of our brain and dopamine production. So perhaps combining socialising and cannabis will create a huge boost of dopamine and increase the euphoria of cannabis experiences.

Conclusion – Combining Cannabis and Psychology

I hope that from the list above you find even one thing to use to make your experiences of cannabis even better. I hope it’s also clear that any method can be useful but they are only suggestions and sometimes just sticking to what you know and enjoy is more than enough to have a great time. Cannabis is a fascinating drug and the mechanisms underlying it are still intriguing to psychologists. It affects so many areas of the brain that it isn’t surprising that the changes listed above can affect how it works. But what do you think?

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products. For the best Delta 8Delta 10THC-PTHC-OTHCVHHC and even Delta 9 products subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly newsletter.

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Psychedelics are Changing End-of-Life and Palliative Care for the Better

They say you fly when you die…”

The only inevitable thing in life, is death. Many fear it, while others embrace the possibility of moving on to another realm. The truth is, none of us really know what happens after we die. What we do know, is that sometimes those remaining days/weeks/months on earth can be challenging. Luckily we do have some resources available to help provide comfort and dignity during death. As psychedelics gain momentum in the field of therapeutics, particularly for treating depression and trauma, the question of using them to alleviate end-of-life symptoms is coming up with more regularity.

Psychedelics are incredible. The therapeutic potential is staggering and the market is steadily growing. By far, the most popular psychedelic is still THC. For more articles like this one, and for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal THC products, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, your top-source for all things cannabis-related.


End-of-Life: Physical Care and Spiritual Needs

Every person experiences death in a unique way, and as such, a person nearing the end of their life has many specific needs – typically in the areas of physical comfort, emotional obligations, mental stimulation, spiritual issues, and practical tasks.

Some people pass quickly while others face a more gradual decline, but almost universally, those who have a least a little bit of foresight into their deaths will go through some type of introspective, spiritual experiences.

If you have a loved one nearing departure from this world, your job is to provide comfort, reassurance, warmth, and understanding. Figuring out how exactly to do this is where it gets tricky. As the body diminishes, the spirit awakens… but unfortunately, our current healthcare system only addresses the former. However, imminent death is known to push the consciousness into new and heightened dimensional levels.

Sometimes, the transition is easy, but other times it can be more difficult and the need for treatment options that help our loved ones navigate the emotional and spiritual journey of death are just as important as medications for decreasing their physical symptoms. Sadly, when it comes to dealing with these types of complexities, modern medicine has always fallen short.

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelic drugs, also referred to entheogens, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter perception. The term entheogen come from Greek and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The high produced by these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include various types of visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip can vary dramatically based on the specific compound and dose consumed. Sometimes, a user will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spirituality, and euphoria.  

If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means they had some type of negative side effects or maybe even scary hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to: irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Dosing and setting, among other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure an uplifting and beneficial high.

Psychedelics can be naturally-derived like psilocybin, or manmade like LSD; and they are generally regarded as safe. According to the results of a Global Drug Survey that polled 120,000 regular drug users, magic mushrooms were the safest recreational drug, along with cannabis. Their method at determining user safety was by comparing the drug used to the amount of required emergency room visits. Only 0.2% of the nearly 10,000 mushroom users surveyed had ever required emergency care, compared to the 1.0% of those using harder drugs like ecstasy or cocaine.

Furthermore, new research suggests that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and numerous other mental health disorders. “The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” says Michael Pollan, author of the new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”

Psychedelics and Near-Death Experiences

What’s interesting about psychedelics is that often times, the high can produce effects comparable to a near-death experience (NDE). Both, NDEs and psychedelic trips are very complex and subjective experiences, and many similarities between the two have been observed.

Parallels between these states of mind can include feelings of universal understanding, transcendence of space and time, communicating with angels, dead relatives, and various other entities, and questions that are insightful and pensive in nature (for instance, trying to figure out your purpose in the world).

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) in particular is known for producing these occurrences, but anecdotal evidence suggests that other psychedelic compounds can cause them too. According to a recent, placebo-controlled study, researchers found “significant relationships between the NDE scores and DMT-induced ego-dissolution and mystical-type experiences, as well as a significant association between NDE scores and baseline trait ‘absorption’ and delusional ideation measured at baseline.”

Simply put, researchers found such substantial overlap between DMT-induced trips and near-death experiences that they believe it warrants further investigation to gauge the true medical potential of this discovery.

Psychedelics in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

For several reasons, the use of psychedelics in end-of-life and palliative care has been a hot topic of discussion for some time now. Terminal patients, or even those who are on a natural decline, often face significant feelings of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, perceived burdensomeness, and overall existential distress.

Although alleviating these symptoms should really be at the core of palliative care, currently, there are no pharmacologic options for helping end-of-life patients who need to find emotional peace. Yes, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exist and are prescribed to dying patients on a regular basis; but numerous studies show that these medications have demonstrated absolutely no superiority over placebos.

Enter psychedelics. According to Ross and Reiche et al., “psychedelic-assisted therapy for patients facing life-threatening illness appears to be a safe and potentially highly efficacious intervention for psychological and existential distress associated with such conditions. Contemporary double-blind placebo-controlled trials of psychedelics for depression and anxiety associated with cancer have produced very promising results.”

The Research

The two most recent and noteworthy studies on this subject were both completed at well-known, prestigious facilities: John Hopkins University and New York University (NYU). Both also were published simultaneously with nearly a dozen editorials from experts in palliative medicine, psychiatry, and international drug policy.

In the John Hopkins study, a crossover design was used to monitor 51 patients who received both an experimental high dose of psilocybin (22 mg or 30 mg/70 kg) and a standard low dose (1 mg or 3 mg/70 kg) which served as an active placebo control. At NYU, a randomized trial was used to study 29 patients receiving either psilocybin or the active placebo niacin.

During both trials, participants received pre and post treatment therapy sessions to determine their current state of mind and be able to make a reasonable assessment after administration of psychedelics. Also, both treatment groups included subjects with a wide range of both physical and psychiatric disorders including life-threatening cancers, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

And most importantly, both studies looked very carefully at the longevity of the results post-treatment, as well as safety profile of the prescribed active treatment. Across the board, there were both acute, immediate benefits as well as long lasting ones that were observed more than 6 months after use of psychedelics. Safety profiles were good in both trials and no serious adverse medical or psychological outcomes were reported.

Overall, the results were very promising. Participants claimed to experience reconciliation with death, emotional detachment from their diseases or ailments, reconnection with life, reclaimed presence and sense of self, and increased confidence.

“Those findings are consistent with published work about the safety and risk profile of psychedelics, which can be appropriately mitigated both with careful screening of subjects who have an underlying risk of psychosis and with appropriate support by the psychotherapy team,” says Daniel Rosenbaum from the Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto. “These landmark studies from Johns Hopkins University and NYU also suggested a central role of the psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience, which correlated significantly with therapeutic outcomes based on ratings using validated scales.”

Mystical-type experiences can be characterized by many different qualities including but not limited to feelings of unity, a sense of experiencing “ultimate reality”, sacredness, positivity, and connectedness. In short, using psychedelics can make the experience of dying a more positive and spiritual one, rather than being scary, confusing, and depressing.

Final Thoughts

For many obvious reasons, death is a very sensitive subject. Of course, pain, physical ailments, and practical matters need to be addressed, but when is someone is nearing the end of their life, there is so much more going on beneath the surface. What needs to be discussed more is the need for treatment options that deal with the nonsecular symptoms of moving on to another realm, and psychedelics might be one of the most promising ways to accomplish this task.

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products.

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Cannabis Terpenes For Pain: How It Works and Which Ones Are Best?

Terpenes are compounds found in most plants that produce their distinct flavors and aromas. For example, they give lavender its powerful floral scent, and they are the reason pepper smells so crisp and spicy. Terpenes are also abundant in cannabis, which is why weed has such a wonderful, intoxicating aroma. Lesser known is that terps also contribute to the effects we feel when we use cannabis. There’s a heavy focus on cannabinoids in consumer products, but if it wasn’t for terpenes, cannabis would not get us as high the way it does, nor would we experience all of the numerous health benefits the plant is known for.

Cannabis is one of the best and safest ways to manage pain. It’s all-natural and there are many different compounds within the plant, like cannabinoids and terpenes, that help reduce symptoms of pain in different ways. To learn more about cannabis therapeutics, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter. Or check out The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for exclusive deals on Delta 8, Delta 10, THCV & THC-O.


More about Terpenes

Terpenes are a very large and diverse class of organic compounds that are produced by a wide variety of plants including herbs, trees, flowers, and fruit. In cannabis, they are secreted by the same glands that produce some of the most prominent cannabinoids including THC and CBD; but their role and effects are vastly different. Terpenes are aromatic plant oils that, when combined with other plant compounds, create a limitless palate of scents and flavors. In nature, terps serve as a defense mechanism by deterring herbivores who are turned away by the smells, and by attracting predators and parasites that attack herbivores.

Chemically, terpenes are hydrocarbon and they are the major component of rosin, a waxy type of sap that is produced and developed throughout the life cycle of the cannabis plant. There are curing processes that can improve the final quality and content of the terpenes, but other factors that impact their development are climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and light cycles.

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As far as cannabis goes, terpenes – not classification (sativa/indica) – are the key to differentiating the effects and flavor of a strain. Some terpenes are relaxing, like those found in lavender, while others are energizing, like the terps abundant in citrus fruit. Some smell fruity, some are piney, and others are musky. The possible variations are endless. So far, over 100 different terpenes have been discovered in cannabis plants alone, and each strain typically has its own unique blend and composition.

Terpenes have long been known to hold great therapeutic value, and some of the more common ones – like limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene – have been studied more extensively since they’re found in many different types of legal plants. More research is needed to determine the extent of their medicinal effects when combined with other cannabis plant compounds.

The Research

There are numerous studies on this subject, but the most recent is a paper titled “Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity,” published in Scientific Reports in April of this year. Researchers found that cannabis terpenes were effective at relieving pain without an increase in negative side effects. And that applied when they were used alone and alongside other cannabinoids.  

“It was unexpected, in a way,” said study lead and Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Dr. John A. 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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Behavioral analysis of the mice revealed that numerous different terpenes, either administered individually and combined with cannabinoids, were able to reduce pain sensation and lower body temperature. According to the study, “When terpenes were combined with WIN55,212-2, researchers saw a greater reduction in pain sensation compared with either the terpene or WIN55,212-2 alone, demonstrating a terpene/cannabinoid interaction in controlling pain.”

Dr. Streicher’s research is heavily focused on the effects of combining terpenes with opioids for cancer-related pain. His long-term goal is to “develop a dose-reduction strategy that uses terpenes – generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – in combination with cannabinoids or opioids to achieve the same levels of pain relief with lower doses of drugs and fewer side effects.”

Best Terpenes for Pain Relief

All plant terpenes have their benefits, but some are less effective at treating pain than others. If you’re looking for pain relief, aim for products and flower strains that are high in the following terps:

Caryophyllene – Known as the spicy terpene, it’s the dominant flavor compound found in pepper, cloves, and other spices. It gives cannabis a bold, earthy, tangy flavor and is found in many common strains like bubba kush, sour diesel, and chemdog. In studies conducted on mice, caryophyllene successfully reduced feelings of pain via activation of the CB2 receptors. Additionally, caryophyllene was found to a very effective anti-inflammatory. Caryophyllene products are best vaped at around 266 ºF, or 130ºC.

Myrcene – This musky, herbal terpene is the most common one found in cannabis plants. Roughly 40% of strains on the market today have relatively high levels of the myrcene terpene. Myrcene has a myriad of health benefits, one of the most promising being pain relief. Early animal studies have found that it can reduce inflammation as well as work as a potent muscle relaxant. Myrcene can be found in many different products and vaporizes at 332ºF, or 167ºC. s

Limonene – This is one of more popular terpene that exists. As the name suggests, it’s the dominant flavor compound in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes. It’s the terp that gives certain strains that sweet, fruity flavor that many consumers are quite fond of. Limonene is well studied and is a known anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial. Numerous studies have also found that limonene functions as an antihyperalgesic, making it a suitable treatment option for neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain. Limonene vaporizes at 348ºF (176ºC).

Linalool – Floral, tangy, and fresh, linalool-dominant strains have a unique and very pleasant flavor. Linalool is said to be sedating and relaxing, which can be helpful for pain, along with depression and anxiety that may stem from it. This terpene is a bit less researched than others, but existing studies suggest that it also has anti-inflammatory. Linalool vaporizes at 388ºF or (198ºC). Additionally, it has been discovered to have anesthetic properties due to reducing excitability of cells in the spinal cord

Inflammation and Pain

In case you didn’t notice, the common thread here is that terpenes help manage pain largely by way of their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is one of the body’s many existing mechanisms in place to help fight against harm. Various immune irritants can trigger inflammation such as injuries, pathogens, and damaged cells. People often confuse the symptoms of inflammation with infection, when in reality, inflammation is the body’s response to infection.

“The saying too much of a good thing applies to much of life, but especially to inflammation,” says Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, medical editor of Understanding Inflammation from Harvard Health Publishing and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“People think inflammation needs to be stomped out at all times, but it plays an essential role in healing and injury repair to keep your body safe and healthy. Some inflammation is good. Too much is often bad. The goal is to recognize when inflammation is simply doing its job, and when it can potentially cause problems.”

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of inflammation. Both chronic and acute inflammation can cause pain of varying types and severity. It can be constant and steady, sharp and intense, throbbing, pulsating, stabbing, or pinching; and it can occur all over the body. That is why, when dealing with pain, one of the best ways to find relief is often to treat the inflammation, which then eliminates the pain.

Terpenes & Pain – Final Thoughts

Terpenes are incredible. If it weren’t for these flavorful, aromatic compounds, let’s face it, weed would be straight up boring. Not only do terps give cannabis its irresistible taste, but thanks to the entourage effect, they work synergistically with cannabinoids in the plant to offer us a better high and multitude of therapeutic benefits. If you’re suffering from pain and your current regimen just isn’t cutting it, see if some different cannabinoid and terpene combinations can do the trick.

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one, or check out The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

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New Study Shows Specific Cannabis Compounds Kill Cancer

We talk about cannabis being good for lots of medical issues, like spastic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, wasting away disorders, anxiety, microbial diseases, sleep disorders, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, and so on. One of the more interesting points of research is with cancer, with a recent study coming out to show that specific cannabis compounds can kill cancer cells.

Marijuana is a powerful tool, both medically and recreationally. Whether you’re using the right mixture of cannabis compounds to kill cancer, or just taking it easy after a long day at work, having your product of choice is important. For many, using delta-8 THC is preferable to delta-9, since it comes with less psychoactive effect, and less anxiety and couch locking. For those trying to treat a problem, delta-8 is therefore often the primary choice. We support this newer brand of THC, and have a selection of delta-8 THC deals to get you started, whether you’re a medical patient, or just want to kick back.

New research into cannabis and cancer

The idea of cannabis as a medicine to treat cancer has been relevant for quite some time, but the world often moves slow in acceptance. As such, the case for cannabis against cancer has been built over many years, with a recent study showing the ability for specific parts of the cannabis plant to kill cancer cells. Though this doesn’t make it a medical rule just yet, this last study is powerful ammunition in the general debate about cannabis and cancer.

In March, 2021, this study was published: Specific Compositions of Cannabis sativa Compounds Have Cytotoxic Activity and Inhibit Motility and Colony Formation of Human Glioblastoma Cells In Vitro. The study looks at the effects of specific cannabinoid fraction combinations to fight glioblastoma multiforme cells (GBM), a type of brain cancer. While it has been established that certain phytocannabinoids can trigger the death of these cells, finding the exact configuration of cannabinoids for optimal effects, is a bit harder, and thus, being explored now.

The reason the term ‘phytocannabinoids’ is used here, and not ‘cannabinoids’, is that this study is specifically looking at the compounds directly out of non-decarboxylated plant material. Decarboxylation is the chemical process (generally accessed through heat) which makes a compound lose a carboxyl group, and shift to another compound. The version we are most familiar with, is the decarboxylation of THCA to THC. THC is a cannabinoid, THCA is a phytocannabinoid.

brain cancer

In this particular study put out in March, the study investigators identified certain fractions of a cannabis strain that are particularly good at reducing viability and motility of GBM cells in humans. The translation being that they reduce cancer cell ability to survive and move. Not only did the specific cannabinoid fractions inhibit viability and motility, they also decreased the ability for the cancer cells to form colonies in both two- and three-dimensional models.

These colonies are associated with a higher resistance to current available medical treatments, and according to this research, cannabis treatments might be able to inhibit the formation of these GBM neurospheres, thereby making treatment that much more possible. Think of the colonies formed by bacteria like MRSA, and how difficult they are to fight because of biofilms. Well, this is a similar concept, making these cells just as hard to get to.

Apart from what was just gone over, the same compounds were able to kill glioma stem cells taken from tumor specimens, reinforcing the ability of cannabis compounds to kill cancer cells. According to the study investigators: “The effectiveness of the fractions and combinations of cannabis compounds should be examined in GBM pre-clinical studies and clinical trials.” This study highlights the importance of using the correct part of the plant to fight cancer.

Is GBM, like, really bad?

Yeah, it really is. This specific class of cancer, glioblastoma, are the most common form of malignant brain tumors, accounting for 47.7% of cases. Glioblastoma incidences are 3.2 out of every 100,000, and these brain tumors are very aggressive and grow very quickly. While this cancer generally won’t spread to distant organs, it does invade nearby brain tissue. GBM requires immediate attention, as it can kill a person in under six months if left untreated.

These tumors are specifically difficult to treat for the following reasons: localized locations that are difficult to get to, resistance to standard treatments, inability of the brain to adequately repair itself, damage of adjacent brain tissue, tumor leakage which results in fluid around the tumor and intracranial hypertension, the disrupted blood supply on account of the tumor which makes treating it more difficult, seizures induced by the cancer, and neurotoxicity of current treatment options.

These are not easy-to-survive cancers, with an unfortunate death toll associated. Generally, about 40% survive the first year after diagnosis, and only 17% survive the second. The tumors can be diagnosed via different kinds of MRIs, and the cancers are generally treated through a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Since the tumor cells infiltrate nearby cells, its nearly impossible to actually remove the whole tumor during surgery, leading to a need for radiation and chemotherapy. The surgery is usually done as a craniotomy, which means opening up the skull, and since doctors need to be sure not to remove parts that can damage the brain further, this is sometimes done with the patient awake.

cannabis kill cancer

When the wound of surgery is healed, the next step of regular treatment is radiation, meant to target whatever tumor cells are still living in the brain. This causes damage to both the cancer cells, the damaged brain cells, and to healthy brain cells too. It should be pointed out that one of the predictive factors for developing a glioblastoma, is prior therapeutic radiation, meaning the treatment for the cancer, can cause the same cancer, and that radiation from other cancer treatments, can cause a glioblastoma. Creates a bit of a quandary when looking at how to deal with it.

Some patients undergo chemotherapy as well, in the form of the drug temozolomide. This medication is given during radiation treatment, and for six cycles after treatment, with each cycle lasting 28 days. To give an idea of how extreme this medication is, the drug is only actually given for the first five days of a cycle, followed by 23 days to rest.

Should we expect cannabis to kill cancer?

Some of the most important medical findings involving cannabis, relate to its ability to help with cancer, and this can be done in different ways. Killing cancer cells is one thing, another is to help with the wasting associated with cancer treatments (as well as HIV and other disorders or treatments that effect a person’s appetite and ability to eat). It can help with the nausea and vomiting that come along with cancer or the treatment of it, plus, it’s also associated with helping ease the pain caused by different kinds of cancer or their treatments. Lastly, it can help the body deal with, and heal from, the damage of these illnesses and treatments.

Obviously, the most important of these is the sheer ability to safely, and with less damage, actually kill the cancer cells. And when looking at cannabis and cancer in general, we have reason to believe that cannabis can be good at killing many different kinds of cancer cells. Take GBM for example, these are aggressive brain tumors that now show a good response to a specific cannabinoid concoction. But we already have evidence of other cancers where cannabis might be useful. In fact, there is plenty of reason to believe that nearly any cancer could be responsive to the right cannabis treatment, and this has been shown in the cited research.

Specific areas of cancer and cannabis study involve skin cancer, where it has been shown to be effective for specific kinds, as well as the pain associated with these cancers. Brain cancer, in both children and adults, for which millions of dollars have now been earmarked for research given the growing body of research to support the effectiveness. It has also been shown effective with melanoma patients, leading the company Cannabics Pharmaceuticals to develop specific anti-tumor treatments for melanoma patients.

Cannabics has gone further than this though, also announcing this year the release of study results for the RCC-33 drug, which the company developed as a treatment for colorectal cancer. To give an idea of how much Cannabics believes cannabis can be used to fight different cancers, the company recently filed patent applications for exclusive treatments for several different kinds of cancer.

medical cannabis

While I could write about 10 articles just on the research into cannabis and cancer, I’ll end this section with a pull to the heartstrings, that exemplifies the necessity of these medications. Back a few years ago, it was reported that Dr. William Courtney, of the Cannabis International Foundation, helped a father cure his eight-month-old’s cancer via CBD oil on the pacifier. Courtney commented on it, “this child…is not going to have the long-term side effects that would come from a very high dose of chemotherapy or radiation.”

Conclusion

While we don’t often make statements in the medical community, I feel like the statement ‘cannabis helps with cancer’, is one that can be said more freely at this point. Regardless of how long it takes for this to become common knowledge, the amount of time it takes, does nothing to detract from the abilities of the plant when it comes to cancer. Let’s hope acceptance starts moving faster, since there are a lot of people who could use this help.

Research into the topic is very much gaining, and with more and more patients seeing positive results from cannabis medicines, it’s hoped that with just a little more R&D, they might soon be the first medicines offered to cancer patients. Maybe medical statements can’t be made, but it sure does seem like cannabis can kill cancer.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Cannabis for Eating Disorders Like Anorexia

It almost sounds counterintuitive to say it, but yet another possible application of cannabis is in the treatment of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It’s quite possible that the ability of marijuana to build an appetite, while also helping with symptoms of anxiety, makes it a great treatment option for those suffering from certain eating disorders.

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What is an eating disorder

An eating disorder fits under psychiatric disorders which means first and foremost, there is no medical definition, as in, there is no formal proof that can be made. The definition according to psychiatry, is a disorder “in which the people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become pre-occupied with food and their body weight.” This, of course, extends to both ends of the spectrum, those who are overeating for their body weight, and those who are undereating for their bodyweight.

As always with psychological disorders, as there is no medical definition or confirmation, these disorders are identified only through the diagnosis of a doctor, and are therefore subjective in their interpretation. It is also quite possible, because of a lack of a medical definition, that different professionals can levy entirely different diagnoses on the same patient. Having said that, all the examples listed below highlight basic eating disorder categories, each with its own individual symptoms.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), approximately 20 million women and 10 million men will develop an eating disorder at some point in life. The National Institute of Mental Health thinks its even higher, stating that approximately 25% of college students have an eating disorder. It should be remembered that binge eating is included here, and that these statistics come from subjective diagnoses.

Examples?

anorexia nervosa

1) Six of the more well-known eating disorders are as follows: The most well known is anorexia-nervosa. This eating disorder is characterized by a limitation in food intake, often to the point of extreme malnutrition and physical emaciation. Sufferers often have distorted body images whereby they see themselves as looking different (generally in a negative capacity) then how they actually look, with this discrepancy being focused on weight. Anorexia can affect men or women, but is more commonly seen in women.

2) Bulimia-nervosa is also very well known. It is characterized by a binge/purge pattern in which the sufferer will at times eat large amounts of food (exercising no control in the process), and then work to purge themselves of the food by vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or excessive exercise. While some publications (including the one referenced) name fasting as a method of purging, this would have to be an extreme fast that is intense enough to effect health (it isn’t uncommon to eat a lot at one point, and not get hungry – or choose not to eat – for a much longer than normal period of time.) Much like anorexia, this is more commonly experienced by women.

3) Binge eating is also very common, maybe the most common of all, although to the majority of people it is simply known as ‘overeating’. In binge eating cases, the sufferer will consume excessive calories, experience a lack of control while doing so, but unlike in bulimia cases, will not attempt to expel the excess calories. For this reason, this eating disorder is often associated with being overweight or even obese. In fact, the purging or not purging of the calories is what separates binge eating from bulimia, and in most other ways including the lack of control, large amounts of food and small consumption time, and overall feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame, the two are about the same. Simply overeating here and there does not constitute entry into this category. Getting an actual diagnosis implies an existing pattern of extreme behavior.

4) The top three disorders are known to most, but here is where it gets a little weird. The next disorder on the list is pica. In pica cases, the individual is likely to be hungry for all kinds of things that aren’t exactly food. This can mean ice, soil, soap, hair, pebbles, detergent etc. As you might imagine with some of the inputs on this list, this can cause some severe issues if the wrong material is ingested, both in a person accidentally poisoning themselves, as well as considering all the infections and injuries that such non-foods can cause internally. Pica can be experienced by anyone, but is generally seen in children, the pregnant, and those with mental disabilities.

5) Next is rumination disorder, which also has a kind of strange definition that those of us in the regular eating world, were probably not aware of. A person with this disorder regurgitates food which has already been swallowed, and then re-chews the food, and swallows once again, or spits it out. This is, essentially, what animals that chew their own cud do, however this is obviously not a characteristic of basic humanity. The reflux occurs within about 30 minutes of a meal, and is completely voluntary, unlike with acid reflux. This disorder can affect men and women, of any age, and often resolves itself when seen in infants. It is a newly recognized disorder.

6) Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is generally seen in infants and children only, but can persist into adulthood. It involves a disturbance in eating which can be due to having no interest, or an issue related to the temperature, taste, texture, or smell of something. This is only identified in extreme cases and shouldn’t be confused with simply being picky. People with this disorder might even be diagnosed with other conditions like failure to thrive if they can no longer mature due to lack of nutrients. This disorder has nothing to do with food availability.

How could cannabis help?

cannabis for eating disorders

The first thing to consider when looking at cannabis for eating disorders is that – as previously mentioned – they are not medically defined. They are only defined through a grouping of symptoms which leads to a subjective diagnosis. Cannabis and eating disorders can be studied by observing changes in behaviors related to food when cannabis is consumed.

Cannabis has been used for quite some time to treat the anorexia associated with diseases like cancer and AIDS – called cachexia, where the inability to eat causes the person to waste away. Cannabis has been used in this way since it was reintroduced back into Western medicine more recently, with plenty of research being done which supports the use of cannabis in this way. Less research has been done on anorexia nervosa, which is voluntary, whereas cachexia is not.

However, there are some studies. Cannabis could be useful for helping with the underlying anxiety of some eating disorders, and by supporting a healthy appetite. This study from 2017 which investigated the effects of delta-9 THC on anorexia-nervosa symptoms found no overall increase in BMI, but it did show significant positive results in terms of self-reporting for body care, feelings of ineffectiveness, and general depression. The study authors concluded that delta-9 could be effective in the treatment of psychological symptoms associated with anorexia.

One study even found that using cannabis makes food smell and taste better to the eater, which could be a big draw for those attempting to keep themselves from food.

A systematic review from 2017 investigating the efficacy of cannabis for different psychological and neurodegenerative diseases, included two studies done on cannabis and anorexia. In one study with 11 female participants being given titrated amounts of THC, similar weight gain was shown to diazepam – aka valium. It should be noted that three patients in the THC group had to be withdrawn due to negative side effects, which begs the question of why doses were not individualized based on needs. However, they were not, so it is unclear if the issues experienced could have been alleviated with smaller doses. What is clear is that valium, as a benzodiazepine, is a highly addictive drug, and getting the same benefit from cannabis would mean a significantly safer alternative.

The second study in the review used dronabinol as the form of THC. Dronabinol is a pharmaceutical cannabis medication that does contain THC in it. The placebo-controlled study consisted of two four-week periods with a four-week clean-out period in between. The study presented evidence that dronabinol encouraged weight gain, as much as .73kg compared to the placebo group.

binge eating

Some speculate that issues like anorexia and bulimia are related to imbalances in the endocannabinoid system, for which cannabis can be useful in regulating. It is speculated that these disorders result from impairments in this system, with the hypothesis that cannabis, as an agent that effects the endocannabinoid system, could be used for positive benefit. As noted by Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry which put out a report in 2011, “The role of endocannabinoids in appetite control is clearly important. These new data point to important connections between this system and eating disorders.” There is obviously much more to be investigated here.

Issues with cannabis for eating disorders

When it’s said that cannabis can be good for eating disorders, its important to specify which ones. Cannabis has been known to cause episodes of binge eating, so it wouldn’t be the likely answer for someone who is already having issues controlling their overeating. It also might be questionable for those suffering from things like pica – where it could encourage more unnecessary and dangerous eating, or bulimia where it could encourage even bigger binges.

The dose used is also very important to consider when it comes to cannabis for eating disorders. In one study, three participants were removed due to negative side effects with THC, but this was done rather than assessing personal limitations for THC consumption. Accounting for the fact that different people will handle things differently, and require different amounts of medication, is a generally important point in medicine. Not accounting for this is a massive detraction for any study using standardized doses, especially if the study authors did not consider this. However, having said that, it’s important to remember that high doses of THC can cause a cannabis overdose with negative side-effects, and this should always be considered when treating someone who already has mental issues.

Conclusion

New applications for cannabis are being discovered (and rediscovered) every day. Cannabis might not be best for all eating disorders, but it might be useful for those suffering from anorexia-nervosa. These days, everything is about body image and weight. The idea that cannabis might help anorexia sufferers to feel better about themselves, or even add on a few pounds, is incredibly useful, and highlights another great example for medical cannabis.

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Five Year Wait For U.K. Cannabis Prescriptions?

PATIENTS may be forced to wait five more years to routinely secure cannabis medication through the U.K.’s health service.

This damming assessment by Prof Mike Barnes, one of the country’s leading medical cannabis experts, follows the publication of a long-awaited report. Since the introduction of legislation to allow for medical cannabis last November less than a handful of patients have been able to secure cannabis prescriptions through the National Health Service (NHS).

Last November the Government also asked its expert panel – The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – to evaluate the clinical use and cost-effectiveness Cannabis Based Medicinal Products (CBMP).

Cannabis Chances on the NHS – ‘Basically Zero’

Its interim findings, published earlier this month, cannot ‘recommend CBMPs for routine use’ – and called for fast-tracked clinical trials to establish an evidence base.

Speaking to CBD Testers Prof Barnes, a neurologist who was been working in the cannabis arena for over almost two decades, says the guidance means the chance of securing an NHS prescription has shrunk from minuscule to ‘basically zero’.

“This a backward step from NICE. It will stop NHS prescriptions for the foreseeable future, because no-one is going to go against the NICE guidelines, although they are not mandatory. We need more research, but we shouldn’t be hung up on Randomized Control Trials as they won’t work for cannabis medicines. 

“It’s not one product, it’s a whole family of medicines and the nature, and personalization of cannabis, does not lend itself to placebo-controlled trials. We should not wait to start prescribing until we have those results. We should start prescribing as we go along.

“We can produce good evidence and we should be considering retrospective studies from Canada, Australia and elsewhere; that should not take long, but it depends on whether our medical bodies would take any notice of them.

British Doctors’ Arrogance

“There is a certain arrogance amongst British doctors and the British medical hierarchy that only British evidence counts and they can dismiss evidence  from other jurisdictions, which is sad. These jurisdictions are way ahead of us in terms of experience in prescribing, and the potential side-effects. We need to take into account the findings from elsewhere as evidence.

“To carry out the research in two to three years would would be an effort. Our clinicians have been brainwashed into thinking the only evidence that matters is Randomised Control Trials and they will take a lot longer than two to three years, these could take up to five years.”

Prof Barnes believes things could change quickly if there is a change of Government, saying: “The Government cannot tell the doctors to prescribe, but they could make the system for prescribing easier.”

But he went on to say the main issue, now, is to ‘change the hearts and minds of U.K doctors’.  Prof Barnes is heavily involved in this having helped establish the Academy of Medical Cannabis and The Medicinal Cannabis Clinicians’ Society.

‘Negative’ Prescribing Guidelines

He continued: “The main issue is the doctors and the doctors bodies, such as the Royal College of Physicians, the British Paediatric Neurology Association and NICE all of which have produced fairly negative guidelines. Other jurisdictions Australia, for example, have produced fairly sensible guidelines on epilepsy, for example, and this system is working well, but we are ignoring the evidence and guidelines from other countries.”

The draft NICE guidance, which is open for further consultation until early September, considers the use of CBMPs for people with intractable nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, chronic pain, spasticity, and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

On epilepsy it says ‘there was a lack of clear evidence that these treatments provide any benefits’.

It recommends nabilone – synthetic THC – as an option for adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, but does not recommend Sativex for treating spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis, saying ‘it’s not cost-effective at its current list price’.

Findings Are ‘Absolutely Ridiculous’

Both Prof Barnes and Hannah Deacon, whose son Alfie Dingley is one of only possibly only two patients to receive a CBMP through the NHS, had requested to sit on the NICE panel. Ms Deacon was told that she could, but only if she sacrificed any media opportunities to talk about cannabis. 

Prof Barnes said the panel was ‘stacked with people against cannabis’, saying the result was a ‘forgone conclusion’. When asked for her thoughts on NICE’s findings Ms Deacon told Hemp And CBD Magazine: “I think this it is absolutely ridiculous! Are we saying that every country in the world with medical cannabis legislation is wrong? Are we that arrogant?

“I think we are pharmaceuticalising cannabis, and that is wrong. It does not lend itself to a Randomised Controlled Trial process, because of the nature of the plant.”

Boom Time for Black Market

Prof Barnes reflected ruefully on the journey following the U.K. Government’s swift change of heart, after medical cannabis which came storming into the mainstream media, last summer, through cases like those of Alfie Dingley.

“I really did not expect to find us in the position we are in now. I thought back in November we had cracked it. We had changed the law and it would just be a matter of slowly and surely, as doctors gained more confidence, but it looks like its going to take a lot longer than anticipated.

“It’s really sad, the black market will be thriving as we have got so much publicity about the benefits of cannabis and what it can do, more people will want to try it and as they can’t get it off the NHS or privately, because it’s too expensive for most, then they will get it from the illicit market. I think the criminals are rubbing their hands in joy at the publicity they are getting for their product. It’s crazy.”

Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said it recognised that some people will be ‘disappointed’ with its findings, saying there was lack of ‘robust evidence base for these mostly unlicensed products’.

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