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Volume 9 Issue 6
Mar/Apr 2004

April is Earth Month, April 22 is Earth Day
Let's Celebrate Our Precious Earth Every Day!

Choosing Natural Sweeteners

The BodyTalk System™
Using Innate Wisdom to Synchronize and Balance the Bodymind for Optimum Health

Medicinal Marijuana (Cannabis)
A Natural Relief for Pain and Suffering

Phoenix Message
A Journey South Inspired by Crop Formations

Editorial

Medicinal Marijuana (Cannabis)
A Natural Relief for Pain and Suffering
by Kahlee Keane, Root Woman


Cultivated plant: Cannabis sativa. C. indica
Part used: The best “medicine” is made from the unpollinated female flowers - called sinsemilla. All other parts of the plant are useful to a lesser extent.
Physiological action: Anodyne. Antispasmodic. Sedative. Appetite stimulant. Antidepressant. Anti-emetic. Antibiotic. Anti-inflammatory. Anticonvulsant. Anti-asthmatic.
Chemical constituents: Since the mid-60s more than 400 compounds have been isolated from over a thousand suspected compounds. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC - a one-of-a-kind molecule not duplicated in nature.
Focus: Cannabis has the potential to allow people with life threatening disease to “live in dignity and comfort.” Instead of “dying from” they are able to “live with” a disease.
Note: Unlike pharmaceuticals (morphine, valium, etc.) extensive scientific research has shown that marijuana is NOT a “gateway drug” but a safe “terminus.”

What is the most prized and expensive flower in all the land? The answer, without a doubt, is the marijuana flower. It is not grown for its beauty or perfume. No, these hairy, skunky-smelling clumps, glistening with resin are treasured for their potent medicine capable of relieving pain and all manner of suffering.

Cannabis is a member of the hemp family. It grows vigourously, with all the ardor of a weed, throwing its deeply serrated leaves up to the sun in an ecstatic frenzy of photosynthesis.

Cannabis goes by many monikers—MJ, Mary Jane, noble weed, two star dog, headcase, Hanfhaus (Germany), muggles, weed, pot, reefer, grass, ganja, bhang, “the kind”, dagga, naming just a few.

This herb has been co-evolving with humankind for more than ten-thousand years so it is doubtful that the aboriginal form of the plant is still in existence. It came to North America with the African slaves and was grown and used freely by anyone who needed it. In the 1800s an extract of Cannabis was manufactured by pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis, and Squibb, and was freely used as an over-the-counter drug for a myriad of disorders.

The Institute of Medicine and World Health Organisation (WHO) reviewed the research on Cannabis: neither committee found convincing evidence of biological or psychological harm, or social dysfunction among people who used Cannabis moderately.

The “war on drugs” has driven Cannabis indoors where it has adapted brilliantly in the hands of knowledgeable underground gardeners. Many of these caretakers of the “Sea of Greens” have a sophisticated understanding of each variety of marijuana they grow, including their physiological action.

Cannabis has been shown to help in cases of asthma, anorexia, nausea (particularly that induced by chemotherapy), and appetite stimulation (particularly in AIDS patients); it reduces introcular pressure in people with glaucoma, reduces muscle spasticity in people with neurological disorders (spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis), diminishes tremors, migraine, depression, seizures, insomnia, chronic pain, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, and this is just a partial list.

Cannabis is one of the most thoroughly researched herbal drugs in history. Due to marijuana’s popularity as the “recreational drug” of choice in the 1960s a great flush of money was made available for scientific research. This research, coupled with the “anecdotal” evidence gathered over centuries of use, clearly proves that this is a safe medicinal herb to use when needed.

It was at this time, in the 1960s, that an Israeli neuroscientist named Raphael Mechoulam, intrigued by the ancient history of Cannabis as a medicine, first identified the chemical compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of Cannabis: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a molecule with a structure unlike any found in nature before or since.

Drug companies have pharmaceuticalized Cannabis. A patentable synthetic drug called “Marinol” has been made available by prescription. Unlike natural Cannabis, which is a whole plant medicine with all chemical compounds in tact, Marinol is synthetic THC alone. Like many pharmaceuticals this carries dangerous side effects. Studies have shown that 90% or more of the THC in Marinol stays in the liver and never reaches problem areas. This not only compromises the liver but also reduces the effectiveness of this product. In fact, two hours after taking 10-15 milligrams of Marinol subjects had no measurable THC in their blood.


MA: the ancient Chinese character for “hemp,”
depicts a male and female plant under a
roof - Cannabis inside the house of human culture.
A single species answering to two such
different desires - the spiritual and material.

Let’s skip forward to 1988 when Allyn Howlett, a researcher at the St. Louis University Medical School (St. Louis, Missouri, USA) using Mechoulam’s research, discovered a specific receptor for the THC in the brain—a type of nerve cell that THC binds to like a molecular key in a lock, causing it to activate. Howlett’s discovery pointed to the existence of a new network in the brain.

These “cannabinoid” receptors, Howlett found, showed up in vast numbers all over the brain, as well as in the immune system and the reproductive system. Receptors have been found in the uterus which leads us to speculate about their capacity to dull the pain of childbirth and also to help women forget it later.

Curiously, the one neurological address where cannabinoid receptors didn’t show up was in the brain stem, which regulates involuntary functions such as circulation and respiration. This might explain the remarkably low toxicity of Cannabis and the fact that no one is known to have ever died from an overdose.

In 1992, some thirty years after his discovery of THC, Mechoulam (working with a collaborator, William Devane) found the brain’s own endogenous cannabinoid. He named it, “anandamine,” from the Sanskrit word for “inner bliss.” Mechoulam believes the cannabinoid network regulates several different biological processes, including pain management, memory formation, appetite, the co-ordination of movement, and emotion.

It’s time to demystify and utilize this potent and valuable medicine for those seriously needing it, as these people are far too sick to be interested in using it recreationally for a “high.”

There can be no doubt that Cannabis deserves to take its rightful place among man’s natural medicines.

 

References:
Deglamorising Cannabis - Lancet 346: 1241 (1995) is one of the best articles to read for people who want to legitimize the claims in this article.
Clifford, D.B., “Tetrahydrocannabinol for Tremor in Multiple Sclerosis,” Annals of Neurology, 13: 669-71 (1983).
Cohen, S., and Stillman, R.C. (eds), The Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana, New York Plenum Medical Book Company (1976).
Cotton, P., “Government Extinguishes Marijuana Access, Advocates Smell Politics,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 267: 2573-74 (1992).
Federation of American Scientists, Medical Use of Whole Cannabis (1994).
Grinspoon, L. and Bakalar, J.B., “Marijuana as Medicine: A Plea for Reconsideration,” Journal of American Medical Association (1995).
Hanigan,W.C. et al., “The Effect of Delta 9-THC in the Treatment of Human Spasticity,” Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 39, 198 (1986).
Harris, L.S., Munson, A.E. et al, “Retardation of Tumor Growth by Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannaboinol (Delta-9-THC),” Pharmacologist, v 16 n 1, p 259, (1974)
Harris, L., Munson, A., and Carchman, R.A., “Antitumor Properties of Cannabinoids,” The Pharmacology of Marijuana, pp. 749-62, (1976).
Hill, Shirley Y, Schwin, et al, “Marijuana and Pain,” Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, v. 188, pp. 415-18, (1974).
Mechoulam, R.(ed), Cannabinoids as Therapeutic Agents, Boca Raton: CRC Press (1986).
Mechoulam, R., “Current Status of Therapeutic Opportunities Based on Cannabinoid Research: An Overview,” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, v.21, pp. 25-75, August/September, (1981).
Merrit, J.C., Crawford, W.J., “Effect of Marijuana on Intraocular and Blood Pressure Glaucoma,” Ophthalmology, March (1980).
Voelker, R., “Medical Marijuana: A Trial of Science and Politics,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 271, 1645 (1994).

Root Woman (Kahlee Keane) is an eco-herbalist and educator with a deep interest in the protection of the wild medicinal plants. Root Woman & Dave’s new field guide, The Standing People, contains over 400 colour photographs and information on over 100 plants of the Prairie Provinces. To order send $29.95 plus $7 postage to: #27, 2001- 8th St. East, Saskatoon, SK S7H OT8. Email: rootwoman@sasktel.net or visit www.connect.to/rootwoman.

 

 

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