Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid praised for medicinal powers like reducing the severity and frequency of seizures in children suffering from rare and otherwise untreatable forms of epilepsy, may not be the most medically beneficial molecule found in cannabis, according to new data.
The U.S. government and people who are uncomfortable with the high that is produced by the main psychoactive cannabinoid occurring in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have accepted CBD with open arms in recent years by adding it to coffee, skincare regimens, and personal lubricant. Meanwhile, THC remains federally illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports on February 25, 2019, compared data submitted to the Releaf App between June 6, 2016, and March 5, 2018. During that time, 3,341 users of the app reported results from 19,910 different cannabis-use experiences.
This data study is the first to measure how different characteristics of cannabis produce different effects in users.
During the reporting process from the app, users record details like what type of product they are using, what the reported cannabinoid content is, and which method of delivery is being utilized per experience.
The different types of cannabis products reported include:
- Dried flower
The different methods of delivery include:
- Smoking or combusting
- Applying topically
The Releaf App was designed with new medical patients and cannabis users in mind, aiming to help them understand what works best to treat their specific symptoms or condition by tracking how different strains and methods of delivery affect them. The app also records the lab-reported level of each cannabinoid, like THC and CBD, that is in each product. Adverse side effects, like dry mouth and paranoia, are also reported by users.
Users record how they feel before consumption and then again immediately following administration to understand which method provides the most relief.
CBD VS. THC
While the levels of CBD in a product did not correlate with the symptom relief that was reported, the products with higher levels of THC were strongly linked to symptom relief, according to the Releaf App data.
Dried flower was the most commonly used product during the period of time studied. Dried flower with higher levels of THC was the only product reported to provide the greatest overall symptom relief.
Unlike the relief related to levels of THC, higher CBD content did not correlate with symptom relief, according to the data.
While cannabinoids can still be medicinally beneficial when only one is administered at a time, those aware of the entourage effect understand that cannabinoids work most effectively in conjunction with one another.
This data is a prime example of why cannabis should be removed from the Controlled Substances Act so that scientists can finally have access to the plant for research and studies.
Many are familiar with the major cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, which have such great efficacy for conditions like depression, PTSD, and epilepsy. But cannabinoids are only part of the picture. Terpenes are like molecular cousins to cannabinoids and serve the primary role of delivering a wide variety of alluring aromas to cannabis flowers, but also offer a wide range of medicinal benefits as well.
In addition to aroma, terpenes deliver sometimes great medicinal value. They have been found to fight cancer and act as an analgesic (pain killer). Like amino acids, terpenes are powerful building blocks within the plant’s physiology that aid in the production of vitamins, hormones, pigments, resins, and — yes, that most prized part of the herb — cannabinoids. Cannabis plants release more terpenes when temperatures are higher (one reason they emit strong odors during the peak of harvest season).
More than 200 terpenes are available in the cannabis plant, while more than 20,000 exist in nature. They are produced in the small resin glands that appear primarily on the surface of the flowers and sugar leaves of cannabis plants called trichomes. It is estimated that there are nearly 1000 strains of cannabis that have been bred. Each of these features a distinct and unique mix of terpenes, something called a terpene profile.
Cannabis and cannabis products — such as concentrates — sold in legal and regulated states often feature a label providing a laboratory analysis that lists the exact percentages of cannabinoids and terpenes. Often, lab techs, budtenders, and pot nerds will discuss particular strains or extracts of cannabis in terms of their terpene profiles and how the overall efficacy of one profile (an individual of a particular strain) compares with other samples or methods of extracting concentrates.
Major terpenes include myrcene, pinene, and limonene. Myrcene, which conveys earthy and clove-like odors, determines whether a particular strain is indica or sativa by its percentage within the plant (further illustrating the important role played by terpenes). Pinene, a terpene also found in evergreens, has been found to increase mental focus and energy and acts as a bronchodilator — making it helpful for asthma sufferers. Limonene, as its name implies, provides an aroma of citrus and is found not only in cannabis, but also oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. It has been revealed to alleviate depression and aid in digestion.
Terpenes are very volatile, delicate molecules that are easily destroyed by heat and oxidation. Popular cannabis concentrates, like BHO and CO2 oil, are mostly void of terpenes. One new extraction method called live resin preserves the terpene profile of cannabis plants. This process involves cryogenically freezing plants immediately after harvest and then using a laboratory extraction process (backyard brewers need not apply) to remove and isolate a more accurate representation of a particular plant’s mix of cannabinoids and terpenes.
What is Linalool?
Linalool, one of the minor terpenes found in cannabis, conveys a floral aroma, sometimes with a hint of spice. More than 200 species of plants produce linalool, including a variety of mints and herbs. More important, linalool serves many roles in relieving a number of symptoms, including pain, depression, seizures, inflammation (similar to limonene), and even insomnia (because it acts as a sedative). Its tranquilizing effects are helpful for those suffering with many types of psychosis.
- Analgesic: Linalool is helpful for conditions like multiple sclerosis, dystonia, arthritis, post-operative pain, and chronic pain from any source because it is a pain killer. Combined with cannabinoids of the same efficacy, linalool can be a reinforcing agent in a patient’s struggle to manage pain, especially if they are trying to avoid or reduce use of opiates such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin.
- Antidepressant: More than 20 million people in the United States alone suffer from sometimes debilitating depression. This common psychological ailment can negatively affect one’s career, personal relationships, and even physical health. Linalool, when combined with cannabinoids like THC that are also effective in helping alleviate depression, helps form an overall strategy for using cannabis to treat these types of disorders.
- Anti-Convulsant: Just as chemotherapy is used to treat conditions other than cancer, seizures afflict those with conditions other than epilepsy, such as traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, and hydrocephalus. Most seizures feature a duration of between 30 seconds and two minutes. Typically, they do not cause lasting harm, although they seizures often very taxing, painful, or exhausting for sufferers. Seizures that last longer than five minutes are considered life threatening.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Those suffering from inflammation-based diseases, such as Crohn’s, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, fibromyalgia, dermatitis, IBS, lupus, and Parkinson’s, among many others, gain benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of linalool (as well as a variety of anti-inflammatory cannabinoids).
- Sedative and Sleep Aid: It is estimated that 10-30 percent of people suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives, with 10 percent reported to experience chronic and severe sleep deprivation. Cannabinoids like CBN, when combined with terpenes such as linalool, help patients get the sleep they require to maintain homeostasis (balance) and health. Adequate sleep is critical for patients to most effectively fight their condition or disease.
Ancient cultures have used terpenes like linalool, available in a variety of aromatic herbs like cannabis, for millennia to treat a wide variety of conditions. 21st century research has confirmed the beliefs of these ancient civilizations, revealing strong medical efficacy for a variety of conditions.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Phytomedicine revealed that linalool is a major anti-inflammatory agent, potentially helping with a variety of inflammation-related ailments, such as cancer, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. The same research team, in a 2003 study, found linalool to also be a pain killer. These researchers again, in 2006, conducted another linalool study that further collected and examined data from animal models. This study reinforced the fact that linalool is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
2008 research published in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Journal supported the sedative qualities of linalool. The study estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from anxiety-related ailments, with 16 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 54 being patients of one or more anxiety conditions, which sometimes lead to substance abuse and mood disorders.
This study revealed linalool to be a powerful sedative that delivers real efficacy to those who suffer anxiety disorders and one of their most common side effects, insomnia. Concluded the study:
“Our data…suggested that linalool modulates the central nervous system by producing unconsciousness and degradation of motor movements.”
A 2010 study involving mice that employed three different sub-types of linalool found it to be an effective anticonvulsant, meaning it shows significant promise for those who suffer seizures, such as patients of epilepsy and brain tumors. Reported the study:
“Linalool…[was] effective in preventing tonic convulsions induced by transcorneal electroshock in the animals.”
More Research Needed
As with all areas of cannabis science, terpenes like linalool are in desperate need of well funded, robust research in the form of human trials. Until cannabis is dropped from Schedule I and real studies are permitted by reputable research institutions and laboratories, medical professionals and patients must play a guessing game in terms of the types and dosages of terpenes like linalool that are most appropriate for particular conditions.
Daily seizures prevented 9-year-old Alexis Borell (photo above) from doing many of the things she loved, like riding bicycles. The young girl from Texas said she would spend all day in bed. After a terrifying episode in February, in which her parents feared for her life, the family decided to move to Colorado where Alexis could legally use medical marijuana.
Twice a day, Alexis takes a very specifically titrated cannabis oil with a mixture that is 15 parts CBD oil to one part THC, the controversial ingredient that can cause a high but also improves the effect of the cannabis oil. The medicine has worked wonders for the girl. Her father, Dean Bortell, said,
“We’re not seeing symptom reduction. We’re seeing symptom elimination.”
Alexis now only experiences a seizure once a month as opposed to the daily episodes she used to endure. Cannabis oil works to calm the activity in her brain, an effect that no pharmaceutical in Texas ever had. Additionally, Alexis’ medication costs only $160 a month with no need for insurance coverage.
Her home state of Texas still views marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which makes it illegal even for medicinal purposes. Lawmakers in the state are considering legislation that would allow patients to legally take medical marijuana, but Dean Bortell said the THC dosage permitted by the bill is not high enough to help his daughter. He said,
“Don’t fear this medicine. Cannabis is safer than seizures.”
Colorado grower Jason Cranford would agree. He has cultivated thousands of plants used for medical marijuana, including one called Haleigh’s Hope, which is a special strain used for epileptics. He estimates that he has helped treat around 200 children. Cranford, holding a pill filled with cannabis oil, said:
“People aren’t rolling joints. They aren’t smoking bongs. They’re not giving bong hits to children. They’re giving children products like this.”
Until the laws in Texas change, the Bortells will continue to live in Colorado, where their daughter can actually live her life instead of spending it in fear of daily seizures. She may be happy, but she is not at home.
Photo Credit: www.wfaa.com
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a concentrated form of just one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis. Unlike the more widely recognized cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the feeling of being high, cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound.
Although CBD therapy alone is not enough for many patients and conditions, because of the entourage effect, it has proven to be successful for some patients in the treatment of severe seizure conditions. CBD oil has also been successfully legalized in more conservative states where full medical marijuana legalization will not be considered by lawmakers. At least 10 other states, including Georgia, Kentucky and Iowa, have also passed CBD only legislation, and patients in all of those states struggle with legally acquiring the medicine.
In April 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, signed a bill into law which legalized the use of CBD oil for patients suffering from severe forms of epilepsy. Although it is legal to use CBD oil in Wisconsin, it is not currently available. Parents are frustrated because their children do not have safe, reliable access to the medicine through state-licensed retail suppliers or processors.
With the way the legislation was written, doctors must obtain an FDA waiver before they are able to prescribe CBD oil. Up to this point, zero Wisconsin doctors have received one.
The lack of availability has forced some parents to drive to states where the oil is available legally, like Colorado, to risk felony charges bringing it back home. Others have purchased unregulated products online. No matter how it is obtained, it is still against the law in Wisconsin without a physician’s prescription.
Now, lawmakers are attempting to change this with AB 228. This bill would alter last year’s bill to make possession of the CBD oil legal without a prescription.
Parents with children suffering from seizures, such as Amylynne Santiago Volker (photo above), went to the latest hearing to discuss the bill. Volker has a 10 year-old son named Nicholas who suffers up to 100 seizures a day, and they are looking for access to CBD oil in hopes that it could help Nicholas like it has helped so many others. Amylynee reported:
“I want to be able to use a product that’s gonna work for him.”
The authors of AB 228 are aiming to give parents more flexibility to obtain and use the CBD oil products sold out of state. The main concern expressed by patients and patients’ loved ones is fear of purchasing unregulated products online. Horror stories have been shared and spread among the medical cannabis community in the Badger State. For example, Jeanne Franzen, the parent of a 34 year-old man with a severe seizure disorder, spoke about her concerns:
“I read the stories about – somebody sold the parent supposedly CBD and it was all THC. That kid was in the emergency room.”
Another hair-raising tale was shared at the Committee meeting by Mark Grapentine, Senior Vice-President of Government Relations at the Wisconsin Medical Society:
“And they’re buying these products and it turns out, according to the FDA, that it was snake oil.”
The Assembly Committee on Children and Families held a public hearing for Assembly Bill 228 on Wednesday, June 3. It is not clear at this time whether these changes will be validated by lawmakers.
photo credit: usnews