rheumatoid arthritis

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa/indica)

cannabis-leaf.jpg

Cannabis Overview

Cannabis is well known for its psychoactive effects, causing temporary changes in visual and auditory perception.

The cannabis plant is also a rich source of medicinal compounds. Cannabinoids related to THC exert medicinal action through the endocannabinoid system — a critical component of homeostasis.

Many of these cannabinoids aren't psychoactive, and wont produce the 'high' associated with the plant in their isolated forms.

Compounds like CBD, have become especially popular as a supplement recently for its broad medicinal benefits.

There are plenty of uses for cannabis — however, product selection, strain choice, and cannabinoid profiles make a big difference in the effects produced by the plant. It's important to use the right type of cannabis for the job.

+ Page Index

+ Indications

  • Anorexia
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Glaucoma
  • Gout
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual cramping
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Schizophrenia (Caution)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Ulcerative colitis

+ Contraindications

  • Only use cannabis medicinally following the direction of a qualified medical practitioner.
  • Caution with anxious or depression.
  • May worsen symptoms of psychosis
  • Avoid use alongside medications unless first discussing with your doctor.

+ Potential Side-Effects

  • Apathy (long-term use)
  • Bronchitis (smoking)
  • Cough (smoking)
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Eye reddening
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension/Hypotension
  • Increased appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Menstrual changes
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Paranoia
  • Tachycardia

Herbal Actions:

  • Sedative/Stimulant
  • Anti-emetic
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Analgesic
  • Antinflammatory
  • Appetite Suppressant/Stimulant
 

What is Cannabis Used For?

Using cannabis as medicine poses challenges due to the large variety of effects each cannabinoid possesses. Different cannabinoid and terpene ratios can produce different effect profiles.

The plant has many claimed benefits, and though a lot of them can be validated, it's not a miracle plant.

Cannabis is especially reliable for a few key symptoms:

  • Lowering various forms of inflammation
  • Improving microbiome diversity (through CB2 receptor activity)
  • Reducing nervous excitability
  • Reducing convulsions
  • Improving sleep onset and maintenance
  • Lowering pain

Using cannabis as medicine should be attempted with caution due to the degree of variability the plant produces in terms of effect profile. What this means is that some cannabis extracts will make symptoms like anxiety worse, while others can dramatically improve it.

Choosing the right strain or extract is of the utmost importance when using cannabis as medicine.

The effects of cannabis can be contradictory:

  • It's both a stimulant and a sedative
  • It increases appetite, and suppresses it
  • It increases immune activity, and suppresses inflamamtion

These effects all contradict themselves in most cases. The reason this happens is because the cannabinoids work through a regulatory pathway (endocannabinoid system) rather than on a particular organ function.

It's similar to how adaptogens like ginseng, ashwagandha, or reishi produce often contradictory or bidirectional results.

 

Technical Details

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves, flowers, seeds

Family Name

  • Cannabacea

Distribution

  • Worldwide

Common Names

  • Cannabis
  • Marijuana
  • Hemp
  • Mary Jane
  • Herb

Pregnancy

  • Avoid use while pregnant and nursing.

Duration of Use

  • Long-term use acceptable. Recommended to take breaks periodically.

CYP450

  • CYP2C9
  • CYP3A4
 

Botanical Information

Cannabis plants are members of the Cannabacea family. This small family comprises only 11 different genuses, and about 170 species.

Some common members of the family are hops (Humulus spp.) and celtis (Celtis spp.). The celtis genus contains the largest collection of species by far, with over 100 different species. Cannabis and Humulus are the closest related genus' in the group by far.

female-cannabis-sativa.jpg

There are three species of cannabis:

1. Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa is a tall, fibrous plant. It's high in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals — giving it many uses medicinally.

Cannabis sativa is the most commonly cultivated species. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different phenotypes of this species — the most important being hemp — which is a non-psychoactive, high fiber plant valued as both a health supplement and textile. It's also used for food (seeds), and to make biodeisel.

There are also Cannabis sativa strains high in the psychoactive component — THC — which make it popular as both medicine and recreational intoxicant.

2. Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica grows as s shorter, bushier plant. It's hgiher in THC, and there are few low-THC phenotypes available for this plant.

This species of cannabis is most often used recreationally.

3. Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis is a small, herbaceus plant more closely related to Cannabis sativa than Cannabis indica. It's low in cannabinoids, and terpenes, as well as fiber — limiting its value to humans.

This species has the unique ability to initiate flower production irrelevant to day length. Plant breeders have started mixing the plant with other species to gain these benefits. This makes cultivation easier in areas where day length is too short or too long for optimal cannabis cultivation.

 

Phytochemistry

There are 421 compounds in the cannabis plant [1], at least 66 of these are cannabinoids — some sources report as many as 112.

The top 6 cannabinoids in the plant (CBD, CBG, CNN, THC, THCV, and CBC), account for the vast majority of the cannabinoid profile.

The phenotype of the cannabis used is the primary determining factor for the cannabinoid profile of each plant.

Hemp plants for example, contain much higher levels of CBD, and lower levels of THC. Marijuana strains are the opposite, contianing high THC, and lower CBD.

Depending on the strain, this can vary dramatically — and you can find almost any combination of cannabinoid possible.

comparing-CBD-from-hemp-and-marijuana.jpg
 

The Cannabinoids:

Cannabinoids are a class of phytochemical compounds resembling the structure of our naturally occurring ecosanoid endocannabinoids; anandamide, and 2-AG. There are roughly 66 of these compounds in the cannabis plant, and a few found in other species of plants as well — such as helichrysum and echinacea.

Although the cannabinoids are very similar, their binding activity varies a lot [14]. Some bind to CB1 receptors (located primarily in the central nervous system), others bind to CB2 receptors (found primarily in immune tissue). Some cannabinoids will even bind to both, or work by increasing the concentrations of naturally occurring endocannabinoids instead.

Due to the wide range of variability between each cannabinoid, it’s useful to go over them in greater detail individually.

cbc-cannabichromene-header.jpg
CBC.jpg

1. CBC

Cannabichromene

CBC is the third most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.

It’s non-psychoactive.

CBC is far less studied than the two preceding cannabinoids CBD, and THC, though early research is starting to suggest it’s even better for treating conditions like anxiety than the famed CBD.

CBC content can be increased in the cannabis plant by inducing light-stress on the plant [5].

CBC Medicinal Actions

  • Antidepressant

  • Mild sedative

Receptors Affected

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPV3 and TRPV4) [4]

 
CBD-cannabidiol-header.jpg
CBD.jpg

2. CBD

Cannabidiol

In many cases, CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid. Only selectively bred cannabis strains will have higher THC concentrations than CBD.

CBD is famed for many reasons. It offers a wide range of medicinal benefits, and has been well-studied and validated over the past two decades.

CBD oils, e-liquids, and edibles have become highly popular in recent years as more of this research is being released and translated for the general public.

CBD Medicinal Actions

  • Antinflammatory

  • Mild appetite suppressant

  • Lowers stress

  • Adaptogenic

  • Mild sedative

  • Anti-emetic

Receptors Affected

  • Adenosine (A2a) reuptake inhibitor [6]

  • Vanilloid pain receptors (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3) [7]

  • 5HT1A receptor agonist (serotonin receptor) [6]

  • FAAH (–) [6]

  • PPARγ nuclear receptor (+) [48]

  • Mg2+‐ATPase (−) [11]

  • Arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase (−) [44]

  • Indoleamine‐2,3‐dioxygenase (−) [45]

  • 15‐lipoxygenase (−) [46]

  • Phospholipase A2 (+) [11]

  • Glutathione peroxidase (+) [47]

  • Glutathione reductase (+) [47]

  • 5‐lipoxygenase (−) [46]

Metabolism

  • CYP1A1 (−) [40]

  • CYP1A2 & CYP1B1 (−) [40]

  • CYP2B6 (−) [41]

  • CYP2D6 (−) [42]

  • CYP3A5 (−) [43]

 
cbg-cannabigerol-header.jpg
CBG.jpg

3. CBG

Cannabigerol

CBG is an early precursor for many of the other cannabinoids including THC.

Plants harvested early will be high in this compound.

Many users report that strains high in CBG are less likely to cause anxiety, and are good for people experiencing acute stress.

This is likely due to its role in blocking the serotonergic effects of THC through the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors [9].

CBG Medicinal Actions

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Adaptogenic

  • Mild sedative

Receptors Affected

  • A2-adrenoceptor antagonist [9]

  • CB1 and CB2 receptors agonist [9]

  • 5-HT1A receptors antagonist (serotonin receptor) [9]

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPA1) [8]

  • TRPM8 receptor antagonist [8]

 
cbn-cannabinol-header.jpg
CBN.jpg

4. CBN

Cannabinol

CBN is made from THC. As THC content breaks down with time, or heat, CBN levels increase overall.

Older harvested plants that have gone past their window of ripeness will be much higher in CBN.

It’s mostly non-psychoactive but may have some mild psychoactivity in some people.

Products or strains high in CBN will produce more of a heavy feeling and are best used for treating conditions like insomnia or anxiety.

This cannabinoid is potentially the most sedative of the group.

CBN Medicinal Actions

  • Sedative

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Appetite stimulant

Receptors Affected

  • CB1 receptor agonist [10].

Metabolism

  • CYP2C9

 
thc-tetrahydrocannabinol-header.jpg
THC.jpg

5. THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol

THC is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.

There are two main types:

  • Delta-8-THC — contained in very small amounts

  • Delta-9-THC — the most abundant form of THC in the cannabis plant

THC activates both CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, causing changes in neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and most importantly, serotonin. It’s this change in neurotransmitter levels that produce the bulk of the high experienced by this compound.

Aside from its psychoactive effects, THC has medicinal benefits of its own.

It’s mentally stimulating and has some potent antidepressant effects through its euphoric effects.

THC Medicinal Actions

  • Appetite stimulant

  • Sedative (low doses)

  • Stimulant (high doses)

Receptors Affected

  • CB1 and CB2 agonist [11]

  • PPAR gamma receptor agonist [11, 15].

Metabolism

  • CYP2C9

 
thcv-Tetrahydrocannabivarin-header.jpg

6. THCV

Tetrahydrocannabivarin

THCV is the fraternal twin of THC.

It’s virtually identical except for one slight chemical difference — THCV is missing two carbon atoms.

This makes the effects of THCV very similar to THC — but is much weaker in its effects.

One study reported THCV as being 20-25% as strong as THC in its psychoactive effects [12].

There are others affected by this, including CBCV, and CBDV, though they are in far less concentrations.

tse-cannabinoid-family.jpg

THCV Medicinal Actions

  • Appetite suppressant

  • Euphoric

  • Antispasmodic

  • Paranoic

Receptors Affected

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPV3 and TRPV4) [13].

 
other-cannabinoids-header.jpg

7. Other Cannabinoids

There are also a lot of cannabinoids that can be found in much lower concentrations.

These make up the bottom 5% of the cannabinoid profile.

Few of these cannabinoids have many studies on them aside from chemical mapping to identify their structure.

We may see more research on these cannabinoids in the near future.

Some Novel Cannabinoids Include:

  • CBCV (cannabichromevarin)

  • CBDV (cannabidivarin)

  • CBE (cannabielsoin)

  • CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether)

  • CBGV (cannabigerovarin)

  • CBL (cannabicyclol)

  • CBT (cannabicitran)

  • CBV (cannabivarin)

A Note On Synthetic Cannabinoids

There are also synthetic cannabinoids. These are compounds that are similar in shape and function to cannabinoids produced in our bodies, or in the cannabis plant.

It’s recommended that you stay far away from the synthetic cannabinoids — not only do they lack many of the medicinal actions of cannabis, they have the potential to cause serious harm.

The street drug known as “spice” is a combination of various synthetic cannabinoids. They were designed as an attempt to circumvent the legal hurdles preventing the sale of cannabis products for recreational use — and have since become a major cause of addiction and abuse.

Side-Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoid Use

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Death
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Racing heart
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath

List of Synthetic Cannabinoids

  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073
  • JWH-200
  • AM-2201
  • UR-144
  • XLR-11
  • AKB4
  • Cannabicyclohexanol
  • AB-CHMINACA
  • AB-PINACA
  • AB-FUBINACA
 
terpenes.jpg

Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are a class of compounds characterized by their volatile nature, and hydrocarbon-based structure. These are contained in high amounts in the essential oil of plants.

Terpenes have a very low molecular weight, and will evaporate under low temperatures. This, combined with their characteristic aromas is what gives many plants their scent. Conifer trees, fruits, and many flowers (including cannabis) all owe their aroma to their terpene profile.

Each plant can contains hundreds of different terpenes — many of which will even overlap into unrelated plant species. Cannabis shares terpenes with pine trees, many different flowers, citrus fruits, and nutmeg, among others.

Terpenes add flavor as well as additional medicinal benefits. Terpenes often have antibacterial, antiviral, antinflammatory, and anxiolytic effects.

List of Cannabis Terpenes

  • A-humulene
  • a-Terpenine
  • Alpha Bisabolol
  • alpha-Terpineol
  • Alpha/Beta Pinene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Bisabolol
  • Borneol
  • Camphene
  • Caryophyllene oxide
  • D-Linalool
  • Eucalyptol (1, 8 cineole)
  • Geraniol
  • Guaiol
  • Isopulegol
  • Limonene
  • Myrecene
  • Nerolidol
  • p-Cymene
  • Phytol
  • Pulegone
  • Terpineol-4-ol
  • Terpinolene
  • Trans Ocimene
  • Valencene
  • ∆-3-carene
 

Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics

Cannabinoids work by mimicking the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG.

Endocannabinoids-anandamide-2-ag.jpg

Learn more about cannabinoid metabolism.

 

Clinical Applications of Cannabis

As an herb, cannabis is very useful. It works through a set of receptors most other plants don’t interact with — the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis. This gives cannabis an effect profile similar to adaptogens — but through different mechanisms.

Cannabis is similar to adaptogens in that it offers a bidirectional effect profile — which means it can both increase, and decrease tissue function according to its homeostatic baseline.

But cannabis isn’t quite an adaptogen because it can’t increase the bodies resistance to stress, and doesn’t appear to exert any action on the hypothalamus or adrenal glands directly.

Although cannabis has broad actions and therefore can provide benefit to a wide range of body systems — choosing the right product, strain, and phenotype for the job is critical.

An experienced herbalist or naturopath using cannabis will take into account the cannabinoid profile, terpene content, and anecdotal effects of each strain or CBD product being used.

Unlike other herbs, you have to be very particular about the type of cannabis being used for each condition.

What Constitutes “Medicinal” Cannabis?

There’s a big difference between using cannabis because “it’s healthy”, and using it as a therapeutic agent aimed at treating a specific disease process.

Although it can be used as both, daily supplementing cannabis or extracts like CBD don’t constitute medical cannabis.

However, you can use cannabis to address the symptoms, or underlying causes for some conditions.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised whenever using cannabis due to the potential for intoxicating side-effects. Without careful consideration of cannabinoid profile, some strains, or cannabis products may make symptoms for certain conditions worse — especially anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and insomnia.

 

Author

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated Jan 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

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  42. Yamaori, S., Ebisawa, J., Okushima, Y., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2011). Potent inhibition of human cytochrome P450 3A isoforms by cannabidiol: role of phenolic hydroxyl groups in the resorcinol moiety. Life sciences, 88(15-16), 730-736.

  43. Yamaori, S., Ebisawa, J., Okushima, Y., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2011). Potent inhibition of human cytochrome P450 3A isoforms by cannabidiol: role of phenolic hydroxyl groups in the resorcinol moiety. Life sciences, 88(15-16), 730-736.

  44. Koch, M., Dehghani, F., Habazettl, I., Schomerus, C., & Korf, H. W. (2006). Cannabinoids attenuate norepinephrine‐induced melatonin biosynthesis in the rat pineal gland by reducing arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase activity without involvement of cannabinoid receptors. Journal of neurochemistry, 98(1), 267-278.

  45. Jenny, M., Santer, E., Pirich, E., Schennach, H., & Fuchs, D. (2009). Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol modulate mitogen-induced tryptophan degradation and neopterin formation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. Journal of neuroimmunology, 207(1-2), 75-82.

  46. Takeda, S., Usami, N., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2009). Cannabidiol-2', 6'-dimethyl ether, a cannabidiol derivative, is a highly potent and selective 15-lipoxygenase inhibitor. Drug Metabolism and Disposition.

  47. Usami, N., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2008). Generation of reactive oxygen species during mouse hepatic microsomal metabolism of cannabidiol and cannabidiol hydroxy-quinone. Life sciences, 83(21-22), 717-724.

  48. Pertwee, R. G., Howlett, A. C., Abood, M. E., Alexander, S. P. H., Di Marzo, V., Elphick, M. R., ... & Mechoulam, R. (2010). International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. LXXIX. Cannabinoid receptors and their ligands: beyond CB1 and CB2. Pharmacological reviews, 62(4), 588-631.

Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

peony-cover.jpg

Peony Overview:

Peony is a common Chinese herbal medicine for treating hormone conditions in both men and women, as well as cardiovascular disease and muscle cramps. It's named after the mythological physician of the gods, Paeos, who was said to cure Pluto and other Greek gods injured during the Trojan war.

There are 3 main forms of peony in herbal medicine, tree peony, red peony, and white peony. These differentiations have nothing to do with the color of the flower, but the color of the roots after preparation. White peony is the most common, made from the roots of the plant without the bark attached. It's most commonly made from the species Paeonia lactiflora, but can be made from other species as well.

+ Indications

Internally

  • Angina
  • Candida
  • Epilepsy
  • Fungal infection
  • Hirsutism
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Ovarian fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor memory
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Uterine fibroids

Topically

  • Wounds
  • Fungal infection
  • Pain
  • Candida

+ Contraindications

  • Caution in combination with loose bowels.
  • Caution advised in combination with blood thinners due to potential for additive effect.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-Androgenic
  • Antinflammatory
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aromatase Inducer
  • Dopaminergic
  • Nootropic
  • Ovarian Tonic
  • Sedative (Mild)
  • Uterine Tonic
 

How Is Peony Used?

Peony is most commonly used for treating PMS symptoms, poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), muscle cramps, and epilepsy. It is rarely used alone, as it is thought to have stronger effects in combination with other herbs like licorice or black cohosh.

 

Traditional Uses:

Peony is a common herb in the traditional Chinese herbal materia medica. it's considered to be specific for the liver, providing a soothing effect on liver energy and improves overall function. It's thought to nourish the blood, and is one of the great womens tonics, especially in combination with licorice.

Compared to Angelica sinensis, Peony is used in much the same way, however, peony is used when the condition involved "heat", while Angelica sinensis is used when the condition involves "cold".

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Roots

Family Name

  • Ranunculaceae

Distribution

  • Originated from Southern Europe, but has spread all over the world as a decorative garden flower.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Paeoniflorin
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenoids
  • Tannins
  • Complex Polysaccharides

Common Names

  • Peony
  • White Peony
  • Red Peony
  • Tree Peony
  • Bai Shao Yao (China)

Quality

  • Cold (Slightly)

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Bitter, sour

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Botanical Info:

Peony is the only member of the Paeoniaceae family. In the past it was included in the Ranunculaceae family insteat along with over 2000 other species of plants. There are roughly 33 different species of peony worldwide.

Medicinally, there are 4 main species used;

  • Paeonia suffruticosa (Tree peony)
  • Paeonia lactiflora (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia veitchii (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia obovata (Chinese peony)
 

Clinical Applications Of Peony:

Peony is useful as a smooth muscle relaxant due to its ability to interfere with acetlcholine in the neuromuscular junctions.

It's also a fairly reliable aromatase inducer, useful for improving the production of estrogen from testosterone, and E1 and E2 to 2-hydroxy catechol estrogens.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised in combination with blood thinners.

 

References:

  1. Bensky, D., Gamble, A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: materia medica (Vol. 3, p. 1004). Seattle: Eastland Press.

  2. Kimura, M., Kimura, I., Takahashi, K., Muroi, M., Yoshizaki, M., Kanaoka, M., & Kitagawa, I. (1984). Blocking effects of blended paeoniflorin or its related compounds with glycyrrhizin on neuromuscular junctions in frog and mouse. The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 36(3), 275-282.

  3. Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs E-Book: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  4. Takeuchi, T., Nishii, O., Okamura, T., & Yaginuma, T. (1991). Effect of paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid on ovarian androgen production. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 19(01), 73-78.

  5. Grant, P., & Ramasamy, S. (2012). An update on plant derived anti-androgens. International journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 10(2), 497.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(November 2018)


Recent Blog Posts:

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

mullein-verbascum-thapsus-cover.jpg

Mullein Summary:

Mullein is considered a staple in herbal medicine. It wasn't native to North America, and was brought over by European settlers. Despite the new introduction of the herb, it was quickly adopted into use by the local native Americans, and is even referred to commonly as Indian Tobacco.

Mullein is a very safe herb, and offers benefits to a number of different systems in the body. Out of all systems, mullein is most commonly used for respiratory and digestive system conditions. It's popular as an anticatarrhal, and for both soothing dry coughs, and eliminating catarrh with productive coughs. Although the entire plant can be used for either one, the leaves are generally preferred for dry coughs, and the roots for productive coughs.

Mullein is as useful topically as it is internally for inflammation, muscle spasms, and infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Arthritis (Topical)
  • Bed wetting
  • Desentery
  • Dry coughs
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS)
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Lower respiratory tract infection
  • Muscle aches (Topical)
  • Otitis media (Topical)
  • Parasites
  • Skin irritations
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Water retention
  • Wet coughs

+ Contraindications

  • The fresh leaves can be irritating to the skin.
  • In general, this is a very safe herb, and there are rarely any reports of adverse reaction, even at high doses.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anthelmintic
  • Anti-catarrhal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Expectorant
  • Lymphatic
  • Antibacterial
 

What Is Mullein Used For?

Mullein is mainly used for treating respiratory infections and persistent coughs. Somewhat ironically, it's often smoked for its soothing effect on the lungs. It tends to increase moisture of the lungs, especially the leaves, making it especially useful for unproductive, dry coughs.

It's also used for gastrointestinal inflammation, parasitic infection, and muscle aches. It tends to have a humidifying effect thoughout the body, providing a soothing effect, especially with dryness.

One of the most well-known uses for the herb is in the form of an infused oil for ear infections.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf, root, and flower

Family Name

  • Scrophulariaceae

Distribution

  • Originates from Europe around the Mediterranean, but has spread all around Europe & North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Iridoid glycosides

Common Names

  • Mullein
  • Lady's Flannel
  • Gordolobo
  • Punchón
  • Candelaria

Quality

  • Root: Neutral, drying
    Leaf: Cool, moistening
    Flower: Cool

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Salty

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Botanical Info:

Mullein belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). The Scrophulariaceae family contains 65 different genus', and 1800 different species. The Verbascum genus itself contains around 250 different species.

Verbascum is a popular garden plant for their ability to thrive in dry, nutrient poor soils, and their long flower duration. Some can grow as tall as 3 meters tall.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Mullein:

Although there are many ways to use mullein, it excels with treating respiratory tract conditions. The leaves are excellent for treating dry coughs, while the root is much better for productive wet coughs.

Mullein is useful as a topical treatment for skin irritations, and as an oil for ear infections, especially the more drying flower of the plant.

Mullein also makes for an excellent lymphatic, both internally and externally.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised when working with the fresh leaf of this plant, as it can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

Iris (Iris versicolor)

iris-versicolor.jpg

Iris Overview:

Iris is a misunderstood herb in many circles. It contains a set of constituents that are known to trigger nausea and vomiting. Ironically, in small doses iris is useful for treating nausea however. Iris has mild laxative qualities, which is though to be due to a combination between its potent bitter constituents stimulating the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, and an ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. It's especially active on the liver, where it's used to treat poor digestion, liver dysfunction, and to treat skin conditions.

Other species sometimes used includes Iris caroliniana & Iris virginica.

Monograph Coming Soon

 

+ Indications

  • Diabetes
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Pancreatic dysfunctions
  • Poor digestion
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Skin conditions
  • Supporting weight loss
  • Urinary tract infections

+ Contraindications

  • Avoid high doses
  • Mucus membrane irritation (IBS, IBD, etc)
  • Diarrhea

+ Mechanisms

  • Thought to stimulate parasympathetic nervous system
  • Iridin thought to induce laxative action due to irritating properties on mucus membranes

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Bitter
  • Pancreatic trophorestorative
  • Alterative
  • Antinflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Lymphatic
  • Hepatic
  • Laxative (mild)
  • Diuretic
  • Choleretic
  • Cholagogue
 

Main Uses:

Iris is used to treat skin conditions through the liver by improving elimination pathways and preventing excessive elimination and irritation through the skin. It's useful for acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.

Other common uses of iris is for urinary tract infection, hypothyroidism, lymphadenopathy, and menstrual irregularities.

 

Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

3-6 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

20-40 mL

 

Part Used

Root/Rhizome

Family Name

Iridaceae

Distribution

North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Furfural
  • Irisin
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Oleo-resin, beta-sitosterols
  • Beta-sitosterols

Common Names

  • Iris
  • Blue Flag
  • Sweet Flag
  • Poison Flag
  • Harlequin Blueflag
 

Botanical Info:

Iris is native to North America, and is common around marshes, streams, and lakes.

The Iridaceae family is named specifically after the irises, and refers to the rainbow due to the many colors of irises available. This family contains 66 different genera, and approximatly 2244 different species. Some of the other famous members of this family include Crocus spp., and Gladioli spp.

 

Research Overview:

still compiling research.

Level Of Research:

Clinical Applications Of Iris:

Iris has recently seen a peak in interest in the past few years, however, is still not a commonly used herb due to the presence of significant side effects. Iris is contraindicated in anything but small doses due to the mucus membrane irritant and nauseating side effects. In small doses however, iris is useful for stimulating bile secretion, promoting movement in the bowels, stimulating the pancreas, and treating skin conditions arising from liver congestion.

 

Cautions:

Some of the constituents in fresh iris root can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat along with diarrhea and abdominal burning. It's considered an emetic, and mucus membrane irritant in higher doses. Use cautiously and only in smaller doses.

 
 

Monograph Coming Soon

 

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Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

frankincense resin and oil

Frankincense Summary

Frankincense has been a valuable herb for a long time. It was so valuable at the time, it was one of the three precious gifts given to Jesus at his birth along with Myrhh, and gold. The value of frankincense comes from its powerful medicinal actions, which we now understand to be through antiseptic and antinflammatory actions. In the past, however, these medicinal actions were not well understood, but the wide range of conditions antinflammatories can treat made it a bit of a panaceae of its time. On top of this, the rich volatile oil content made frankincense an excellent source of incense for celebrations and ceremonies.

Frankincense is incredibly hardy, growing out of rock faces in the scortching Somali sun, often going months without water.

 

+ Indications

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • General inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Lymphoma
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Ulcerative colitis

+ Contraindications

None noted.

+ Mechanisms

  • 5-LOX inhibitor
  • Mild COX inhibitor

Herbal Actions:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antinflammatory
  • Antiseptic
  • Carminative
  • Vulnerary
  • Emmenagogue
 

What Is Frankincense Used For?

The main use for frankincense internally is for its potent antinflammatory effects. It works mainly as a 5-LOX inhibitor, which differentiates it from COX inhibitors like Aspirin, Salix alba, or Curcuma longa. Frankincense is best used for conditions like osteoarthritis and vascular/neural inflammation, and in combination with COX inhibitors for inflammatory bowel disease or hyperpermeability of the gastrointestinal lining.

Topically frankincense is used in salves or as a linement for wounds and infection. The essential oil is inhaled for asthma, lung infeciton, or as a mild sedative.

 

Traditional Uses

+ Ayurvedic Medical System

Boswellia was commonly used in Ayurveda as an astringent and anti-inflammatory agent topically and as a stimulant and expectorant topically.

It was used for pulmonary conditions, diarrhea, rheumatism, dysentery, gonorrhea, dysmenorrhea, syphilis, weakness, poor appetite, and various liver conditions.

 

Weekly Dose

Weekly Dose

(Powdered Extract)

  • 2100-3500 mg

Part Used

  • Resin

Family Name

  • Burseraceae

Distribution

  • Middle East

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Constituents of Interest

  • Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA):
  • Alpha-boswellic acid
  • 3-acetyl-ß-boswellic acid
  • Pinene

Common Names

  • Frankincense
  • Olibanum
  • Boswellia
  • Sallaki (Sanskrit)

CYP450

CYP3A4, CYP1A2, CYP2C9

Quality

Unknown

Pregnancy

Unknown

Taste

Slightly minty, bitter

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.
 

Botanical Information

Frankincense is a member of the Burseraceae family of plants, which includes 17-19 different genera and 540 species. This family is characterised by a nonallergenic resin produced in nearly all plant tissue as well as flaking bark patterns.

The Boswellia genus contains roughly 30 different species. The main species used today is Boswellia serrata, although Boswellia carteri is also used in some parts of the world. Biblical frankincense is believed to have been Boswellia sacra.

 

Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

Due to the high alcohol content needed to extract the resin, this herb is generally given as a tablet or capsule, rather than a tincture or liquid extract.

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

+ Neurological Disorders

Boswellic acids ability to pass the blood brain barrier, combined with its potent antinflammatory activity make it an interesting candidiate for neurological conditions involving inflammation like Alzheimer's disease. More research is needed to explore this use in detail.

+ Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The pathophysiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease including both ulcerative colitis and crohns disease involves the leaking of luminal components into the lamina propria, resulting in significant inflammatory response involving TNF-a, IL-1, IL-6, IFN-y, and free radical components released from macrophages in the area. The main mechanism of treatment for this condition is to halt the inflammatory cascade happening within these tissues. [3, 7].

Acetyl-11-keto-fl-boswellic acid (AKBA) in Boswellia serrata has been shown to have marked 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX), [5], and cyclooxygenase (COX-1) inhibitory activity [1].

Additionally, Boswellia serrata has been shown to have significant TNFα, IL-1β, NO and MAP kinase inhibitory activity [2].

 

Phytocheistry

  • Wellic acids (triterpenoids)
  • Pentacy-clic triterpene acids (beta-boswellic acid and acetyl-boswellic acids(acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-11- keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) and 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid)), tetracyclic triterpene acids.
  • Terpenols
  • Monosaccharides
  • Uronic acids
  • Sterols
  • Phlobaphenes
 

Clinical Applications Of Frankincense:

Frankincense is useful for most forms of inflammation, including inflammatory bowel conditions, oasteoarthritis, and vascular inflammation. It's aromatic component makes it reliable for relieving flatulence, bloating, and indigestion.

 

Cautions:

Some allergies have been reported.

 

Author

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

  1. Cao, H., Yu, R., Choi, Y., Ma, Z. Z., Zhang, H., Xiang, W., ... & van Breemen, R. B. (2010). Discovery of cyclooxygenase inhibitors from medicinal plants used to treat inflammation. Pharmacological research, 61(6), 519-524.

  2. Gayathri, B., Manjula, N., Vinaykumar, K. S., Lakshmi, B. S., & Balakrishnan, A. (2007). Pure compound from Boswellia serrata extract exhibits anti-inflammatory property in human PBMCs and mouse macrophages through inhibition of TNFα, IL-1β, NO and MAP kinases. International immunopharmacology, 7(4), 473-482.

  3. Kühl, A. A., Erben, U., Kredel, L. I., & Siegmund, B. (2015). Diversity of intestinal macrophages in inflammatory bowel diseases. Frontiers in immunology, 6, 613.

  4. Honkanen, T., Mustonen, J., Kainulainen, H., Myllymiki, J., Collin, P., Hurme, M., & Rantala, I. (2005). Small bowel cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) expression in patients with IgA nephropathy. Kidney international, 67(6), 2187-2195.

  5. Sailer, E. R., Subramanian, L. R., Rall, B., Hoernlein, R. F., Ammon, H., & Safayhi, H. (1996). Acetyl‐11‐keto‐β‐boswellic acid (AKBA): structure requirements for binding and 5‐lipoxygenase inhibitory activity. British journal of pharmacology, 117(4), 615-618.

  6. Volta, U., Tovoli, F., Cicola, R., Parisi, C., Fabbri, A., Piscaglia, M., ... & Caio, G. (2012). Serological tests in gluten sensitivity (nonceliac gluten intolerance). Journal of clinical gastroenterology, 46(8), 680-685.

  7. Wakefield, A. J., Dhillon, A. P., Rowles, P. M., Sawyerr, A. M., Pittilo, R. M., Lewis, A. A. M., & Pounder, R. E. (1989). Pathogenesis of Crohn's disease: multifocal gastrointestinal infarction. The Lancet, 334(8671), 1057-1062.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

lavender lavandula angustifolia

Lavender Overview

Lavender is one of the most famous herbs known to man. It's cultivated on a massive scale throughout Europe and North America, and is a popular flavouring and aromatic agent for household products.

Medicinally lavender is best known for its ability to pomote sleep. It's often sold as aromatherapy, in salves and creams, and incense for this purpose. Lavender is also great for internal use, where it interacts with the GABA system to produce relaxation and sleep.

Levender essential oil is common as a topical agent for insect bites, rashes, and infection.

Monograph Coming Soon

+ Indications

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anxiety
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bloating
  • Cognitive dysfunciton
  • Colic
  • Depression mild
  • Dysbiosis
  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Fungal infection
  • Headaches
  • Insect bites
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
  • Pain management
  • Parasitic infection
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Rheumatism
  • Sympathetic nervous dominance

+ Contraindications

  • Pharmaceutical sedatives

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Analgesic (mild)
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antidepressant
  • Antifungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antiparasitic
  • Carminative
  • Nervine Relaxant
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antispasmodic
 

Main Uses:

Lavender is mainly used in topical applications for rashes, skin irritations, mild infections, sunburn, and insect bites. Internally it's mainly used for anxiety-related conditions, GIT inflammation and discomfort, and insomnia.

 

Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

2-5 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

15-30 mL

 

Part Used

Lavandula angustifolia

Family Name

Lamiaceae

Distribution

Mediterranean and Southern Europe

Northern and Eastern Africa

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Constituents of Interest

  • Monoterpene Alcohols
  • Anthocyanins

Common Names

  • Lavender
  • Laventelit (Finland)
  • English Lavender
 

Botanical Info:

Lavender is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). In the genus Lavandula there are approximatly 47 species. Most of these perennials, or small shrubs. There are a number of lavenders used medicinally.

  • Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
  • Lavandula stoechas (French Lavender)
  • Lavendula dentata (Spanish Lavender)

This list is disputed by many taxonomists, suggesting that French lavender may be Lavandula stoechas or Lavandula dentata, and that Spanish lavender could be either Lavandula dentata, or Lavandula lanata, or Lavandula dentata.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

Level Of Research:

 

Clinical Applications Of Lavender:

Lavender is useful topically for female conditions including dysmenorrhoea and PMS due to its antispasmoduc and analgesic effects. It's also useful topically for its antifungal and antibacterial effects. Internally lavender can be used for gastrointestinal complaints, including bloating, flatulence, and colic.

Lavender is a reliable nervine for its GABAergic activity. Additionally it has been shown to reverse the stimulating effects induced by caffeine, and inhibits acetylcholine release.

 

Cautions:

Lavender has been proven to be a very safe herb with a low incidence of adverse effects.

Avoid use with pharmaceutical sedatives due to the possibility of agonistic synergy.

 
 

Monograph Coming Soon

 

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