With the legalization of marijuana looming and more research stating its possible benefits, many of us are wondering where it will fit in a holistic nutrition world.
Well it just got really complicated and in ways that I would never have imagined and in a million years, I could not have guessed that I would be writing about this.
First a little background about marijuana. It is not simple. I spent some time talking to a lovely fellow name Guy Russell who is well versed in the varieties of marijuana. That is right, I said varieties. Just like tomatoes and other plants – there are many varieties.
Marijuana mainly consists of cannabinoid phytochemicals tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the chemical that gives dope it’s psychoactive properties (makes you high) but CBD is the chemical that has the anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.
The key, according to Guy, is that the best dope(s)? for health purposes are the varieties high in CBD and very low in THC (so no getting high). He also suggested that for the best health benefits, both CBD and THC need to be present along with terpenes which are responsible for the flavour. CBD alone may not work as well.
In other words, the whole plant is best.
However, researchers are pulling out the CBD for use by itself. The biggest area of research is for epilepsy and currently, they are using CBD for epileptic children with some results.
The question is whether there would be better results if they had used the whole plant. Once again, they may be underestimating the intelligence of nature but time will tell.
Why is this important? Once it is legal, we will be able to order our dope, online at first and eventually from dispensaries, from a bud-tender (you know like a bartender) and we will have to choose which buds we want.
If using for medicinal properties, there will be some trial and error to find the right bud.
Also, oils are being created from the plants which may be a preferable way to get the ultimate benefits, using a Supercritical CO2 process which is the same process that can be used to distill essential oils like lavender and oregano.
So, what is the news that blew me away? Marijuana may be good for gut health function.
We have cannabinoid receptors in our gut and our gut makes a cannabinoid called anandamide (AEA). A mouse study found that AEA locks onto the receptor sites and effects immune response. In particular, this can increase T-Reg cells which are necessary for immune tolerance and regulating inflammation.
Lack of immune tolerance is responsible for the development of allergies and autoimmune conditions. Many conditions that marijuana seems to help are autoimmune like multiple sclerosis. Other conditions it helps, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are inflammatory in nature.
The same cannabinoid receptors have been implicated in obesity. Apparently, they are involved with affecting proper appetite response and blood sugar. Bad bacteria may play a role in de-regulating these receptors.
Cannabinoids we ingest also use the same receptors sites in the gut and this may explain the health benefits people experience from marijuana.
In a million years, I would not have guessed we would be talking about marijuana as part of protocol for gut health function but here we are.
More information is needed before we really know enough to effectively use this news but it certainly is interesting.
- Cannabinoids in health and disease, Natalya M. Kogan, MSc, Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 9(4): 413–430.
- CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. Tzadok M1 et al, Seizure. 2016 Feb;35:41-4. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2016.01.004. Epub 2016 Jan 6.
- Endocannabinoid system acts as a regulator of immune homeostasis in the gut, Nandini Acharya et al, PNAS vol. 114 no. 19 5005–5010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1612177114
- Does the Gut Microbiota Contribute to Obesity? Going beyond the Gut Feeling, Marisol Aguirre et al, Microorganisms 2015, 3(2), 213-235