Tag Archives: integrative medicine

How Cannabidiol Can Impact Your Health

Partner Blog: Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine

Written By Dr. Joanne Quinn 

The body has an endocannabinoid system which produces cannabinoids naturally. The two main innate cannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG with receptor sites throughout the body including the brain and the gut. We make our own cannabinoids during various activities like meditating, breast-feeding, or the runners high that joggers experience. When our natural endocannabinoid system is not operating normally there are symptoms which can culminate in many of the health issues listed below.

One way to bring balance to our endocannabinoid system is to supplement with plant cannabinoids found in Cannabis salvia plants including hemp and marijuana. There are many cannabinoids found in these plants with the two main ones being CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

In hemp, the CBD is more prominent and in marijuana the THC typically is more prominent. However, marijuana plants are now being cultivated to be higher in CBD as a medicinal option. In addition to the cannabinoids found in cannabis, there are terpenes, flavonoids and waxes that are synergistic when the whole plant is used. CBD as a whole plant balances this endocannabinoid system bringing back health to the body.

THC has psychoactive components making one feel high and euphoric. THC and CBD both have healing benefits but in many cases the patient wants to avoid the psychotropic effects of THC. Thus the emphasis is often on CBD.

Research is showing that CBD offers more medical applications than THC. There are a tremendous number of conditions that research shows are helped with CBD. A quick search on PubMed will bring up studies confirming this. Conditions that were studied with favorable results include:

  1. Acne
  2. ADD and ADHD
  3. Addiction
  4. AIDS
  5. ALS
  6. Alzheimer’s disease
  7. Anorexia
  8. Antibiotic resistance
  9. Anxiety
  10. Atherosclerosis
  11. Arthritis
  12. Asthma
  13. Autism
  14. Bipolar disorder
  15. Cancer
  16. Colitis and Crohn’s
  17. Depression
  18. Diabetes
  19. Endocrine disorders
  20. Epilepsy and Seizures
  21. Fibromyalgia
  22. Glaucoma
  23. Heart disease
  24. Huntington’s disease
  25. Inflammation
  26. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  27. Kidney disease
  28. Liver disease
  29. Mad Cow disease
  30. Metabolic syndrome
  31. Migraine
  32. Mood disorders
  33. Motion sickness
  34. MS
  35. Nausea
  36. Neurodegeneration
  37. Neuropathic pain
  38. Obesity
  39. OCD
  40. Osteoporosis
  41. Parkinson’s disease
  42. PTSD
  43. Rheumatism
  44. Schizophrenia
  45. Sickle Cell Anemia
  46. Skin conditions
  47. Sleep disorders
  48. Spinal Cord Injury
  49. Stress
  50. Stroke and TBI

It is apparent the applications for CBD are numerous and broad scoped. One area of investigation by the US government included oxidative associated diseases, such as ischemia (including stroke), inflammation, autoimmune issues, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other age related diseases. This research found that CBD was neuroprotective.

One of the more famous cases that brought CBD into the limelight was Charlotte Figi. She suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. After five years of trying every treatment doctors could think of, her condition continued to deteriorate. Her father found research that marijuana had helped other cases. They needed a strain of marijuana that was high in CBD and low in THC. This was no easy task but they finally found a source in Colorado. Charlotte’s condition improved immediately. She went from 300 seizures a week to not having any seizures in the first week of treatment. It was remarkable and life-saving for Charlotte.

In 2013 Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a documentary for CNN called Weed. This documentary has three parts and is listed by title Weed in the videos section of the FAIM website. It is a two hour piece that gives the history of hemp and marijuana and insightful information on the pros and cons of both. Dr. Gupta has now produced Weed 4 which explains how cannabinoids can help people with opioid addiction.

CBD has a physiological impact on the body by upregulating the genes that help calm inflammation and down regulating the genes that promote inflammation. CBD causes a balancing cascade throughout the central nervous system, immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and lymphatic system. CBD, when taken as a nutritional supplement, participates in this endocannabinoid system bringing balance to the body.

CBDs help the body counteract the insult from toxins we experience daily from chemicals, bacteria, fungus, viruses and endotoxins in the gut. Inflammation from these toxins cause a large variety of diseases as well as inflammatory conditions in the central nervous system affecting the brain. This is why CBD has such great success in treating so many diseases.

There are many companies that are producing and marketing CBD so it is important to determine the quality prior to purchasing. If you decide CBD could be helpful for your health, research the company carefully to ensure you are getting a high quality CBD. All reputable companies should do lab testing on their products and it is the consumer’s right to request these test results.

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The Endocannabinoid System and the Modulation of Pain and Inflammation

The Endocannabinoid System

The recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its modulatory role in many physiological functions has been very exciting for science. The three major constituents of the ECS include the endocannabinoid signaling molecules; mainly anandamide and 2-AG, G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes involved in ligand on-demand synthesis and inactivation.

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The Science of Mindfulness

In a heavily peer-reviewed environment, Jon Kabat-Zinn, often termed the ‘father of mindfulness,’ proved beyond reasonable doubt that practices of Integrative Medicine—including the marriage of meditation and medicine—made Western medical science twice as curative.

More recent studies confirm that both prayer and meditation are highly reactive in both lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events, and also helping preserve the aging brain. Dr. David Spiegel, associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and medical director of the center for integrative medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, explained: “Praying involves the deeper parts of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex — the mid-front and back portions,” says Dr. Spiegel, adding that this can be seen through magnetic image resonance (MRI), which render detailed anatomical pictures. “These parts of the brain are involved in self-reflection and self-soothing.”

In another study conducted by NYU Langone Medical Center, members of Alcoholics Anonymous were placed in an MRI scanner and then shown drinking-related images to stimulate cravings—which were soon after reduced when the participants prayed. The MRI data demonstrated changes in parts of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the control of emotion and “the semantic reappraisal of emotion.”

Last month, researchers from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” said study author Florian Kurth. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”

There is further data backing the idea that meditation and prayer can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Dr. Loretta G. Breuning, founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and the author of The Science of Positivity and Habits of a Happy Brain, explains that when we pray, we can activate neural pathways developed when young to release hormones such as oxytocin. “Oxytocin is known for its role in maternal labor and lactation, but it also [enables] social trust and attachment, giving us a good feeling despite living in a world of threat,” says Dr. Breuning. “It’s the idea of ‘I can count on something to protect me.’ So when a situation comes up and you’re out of ideas and you are helpless, feeling much like you did when you were a baby, prayer can provide some other source of hope.”

While meditation is not a panacea or cure-all, there is ample evidence that it may benefit those who practice it regularly. If you have a few minutes in the morning or evening, rather than turning on your phone or going online, see what happens if you try quieting down your mind, and paying attention to your thoughts while letting them go without reactions. If the research is accurate, a few minutes of mindful meditation may make a big difference.

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