My recent article was published by the Spanish Cannabinoid Research Society.
I have been studying and researching the medicinal properties and application of cannabis and cannabis preparations since 2000. I am the author of Cannabis Cultivator ⁽¹⁾ and co-author of The Medical Cannabis Handbook ⁽²⁾, I have also recently been involved with a documentary following 6 terminal cancer patients self-medicating with cannabis oil (Project Storm ⁽³⁾).
Although the conventional path to market for new medicines is a very long and arduous road, all cannabinoid medications and treatments will have to complete the regulatory process ⁽⁴⁾. In Europe new medicinal products come under the authority of The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products ⁽⁵⁾ which is the EU equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration ⁽⁶⁾. Both EMEA and the FDA have similar mandates; their main requirement is to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of new drugs. From laboratory to patient Due to the length of the regulatory process it is usually many years before the work of academics is translated into medications and treatments available to the public, however in relation to cannabis, cannabis extracts and preparations many individuals are choosing to self-medicate.
It is virtually unheard of for a patient to self-administer an experimental drug that is going through preclinical and/or phased trials, however due to the unique circumstances surrounding cannabis (political, cultural & legal) we find ourselves in somewhat unchartered territory. An example of the work of academics directly influencing individual’s actions is the cannabinoid research conducted at Madrid Complutense University. Their experiments in vitro and in vivo in relation to gliomas indicate that equal amounts of THC and CBD may be more effective than either THC or CBD alone ⁽⁷⁾. It is now becoming more common to find glioma patients (and indeed sufferers of other cancers) self-administering 1:1 THC:CBD cannabis oils; previously the preferred choice was for a high THC oil.
The availability of 1:1 oils has been made possible as some cannabis breeders have (through cross breeding) introduced CBD to existing high THC varieties of cannabis creating CBD rich strains, there are now a wide range of stable 1:1 cannabis strains commercially available ⁽⁸⁾. Here in Spain I have access to a wide variety of cannabinoid profiles ranging from high THC producing plants (22% THC by dry weight) with zero CBD to 28:1 CBD:THC strains.7
Here is one of my (ethanol) extractions made from a 1:1 THC:CBD strain, Skunk Haze ⁽⁹⁾. The HPLC test indicates almost complete decarboxylation of the phytocannabinoids with zero amounts of CBD-a and 5.6 mg/g of THC-a.
At 39.9% CBD and 33.1% THC, with an overall cannabinoid content of 79.8%, this is a well-balanced whole plant extraction. An added advantage of CBD is that it can mitigate the psychoactive effects of THC. Which are more effective? Individual cannabinoids or whole plant extracts? From what I observe in the academic world, the majority of the research currently being undertaken involves the use of individual (pure) cannabinoids, either alone or in combination.
There are over 5,000 strains of cannabis plant and cannabis consumers are very aware that strains can often express varying psychological and physical effects despite having very similar cannabinoid profiles. The differing effects are due in part to the terpenoids, which are another pharmacologically active constituent of cannabis, McPartland & Russo’s 2001 paper Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts? ⁽¹⁰⁾ reports: “Terpenoids may alter the pharmacokinetics of THC by changing the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB); cannabis extracts are known to cause a significant increase in BBB permeability (Agrawal et al. 1989).” The inclusion of terpenes could be beneficial in the treatment of glioma patients. An example: Although terpenes are present in whole plant extracts some are lost during the decarboxylation process due to their low boiling points, the most abundant of the terpenoids found in decarboxylated whole plant extracts is Beta-caryophyllene which interacts with the CB₂ receptor. Betacaryophyllene is also an effective antiinflammatory ⁽¹¹⁾ and it can also help to moderate the effects of the psychoactive cannabinoids.
Terpenes are produced (like cannabinoids) within the trichome.
Often referred to as, resin, the trichome is a glandular structure, predominantly found in the flowering tops of the female plants; trichomes are the chemical factories of the cannabis plant. Terpenes also have a pharmacological effect and whole plant extractions using the correct methodology retain the terpenes. The terpenoids-cannabinoids entourage effect ⁽¹²⁾, is a term coined by Dr. Ethan Russo (of GW Pharma) in his 2011 paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology which describes the importance of the synergistic contribution of terpenoids ⁽¹³⁾. I am currently working with The Beckley Foundation ⁽¹⁴⁾ and the newly formed “Cannabinoid Research Group”. We will shortly be funding research (here in Spain) to discover if whole plant extracts or individual cannabinoids are more effective as anti-cancer agents than individual pure cannabinoids. Other areas of research for The Beckley Foundation Cannabinoid Research Group: To discover the mechanism of action of CBD. Investigate the bio-availability of cannabinoids, including dosage, & methods of administration. To investigate why some people cancer sufferers consuming cannabis extracts experience remission but not others.
1. Cannabis Cultivator
2. The Medical Cannabis Handbook
3. Project storm
4. The European regulatory system for medicines and the EMA
5. The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products
6. US Food and Drug Administration
7. A Combined Preclinical Therapy of Cannabinoids & Temozolomide against Glioma
8. CBD Crew
9. Skunk Haze
10. Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts?
11. The Endocannabinoid System and Plant Derived Cannabinoids in Diabetes and Diabetic Complications
12. Entourage Effect
13. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy & phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects
14. The Beckley Foundation