endocrine

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwaghanda is a well rounded, non-stimulating tonic herb. It's useful for strengthening a weak system caused by overstimulation and exhaustion. A perfect herb for...

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola-herb.jpg

Rhodiola Summary

Rhodiola was made famous by some earlier research done by Russian scientists in the 1960's. Although a lot of this research still hasn't been released to the public, there has been a lot of new studies put forward to make up for this loss.

Rhodiola is well revered as an adaptogen for treating fatigue, cognitive decline, depression, and for athletic enhancement. It's considered to be a mild stimulant, though it doesn't produce the "wired" feeling many other stimulants produce. It increases energy levels and makes us more tolerant of stressful situations.

Although there is still a lot of research lacking, we know that Rhodiola can reduce cortisol levels in the body after exposure to stress, however, the details on how this interaction exists is still not well understood. There is also a great deal of confusion around which chemicals are active in the herb, some studies showing the rosavins, others tyrosol and the rhodiolasides.

As a result, each manufacturer tends to have a preference for one chemical group over the other in their products.

 

+ Indications

  • Age-related cognitive decline
  • Altitude sickness
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic heart failure (CHF)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia (Sleep maintenance)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Substance abuse

+ Contraindications

None noted.

Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • CNS Stimulant (mild)
  • Antidepressant
  • Cardioprotective
  • Nootropic
 

What is Rhodiola Used For?

*Rhodiola rosea* is mainly used for its adaptogenic qualities, especially those specific to lowering cortisol levels. It's reliable for improving fatigue in debilitated or chronically fatigued people, as well as those experiencing generalized adaptive disorder, depression, or acute periods of extreme stress.

Rhodiola is a popular nootropic additive for increasing focus and mental endurance and is popular among athletes for increasing physical endurance as well.

 

Technical Information: Rhodiola

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Root/Rhizome

Family Name

  • Crassulaceae

Distribution

  • Northern climates of North America, Asia, and Europe

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Constituents of Interest

  • Rosavin
  • Tyrosol
  • Salidroside
  • Rhodiolaside

Common Names

  • Rhodiola
  • Rose Root
  • Arctic Root
  • Golden Root
  • King's Crown

CYP450

Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Long-term use of rhodiola is acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

Although Rhodiola rosea is the preferred species used, there are many species used in various indigenous medical systems such as Rhodiola alterna, Rhodiola brevipetiolata, Rhodiola crenulata, Rhodiola kirilowii, Rhodiola quadrifida, Rhodiola sachalinensis, and Rhodiola sacra.

The Crassulaceae family contains 34 genera and 1400 species. Most of the plants in this family can be found in colder climates.

Another medicinal species in this family is Kalanchoe.

 

Habitat Ecology, & Distribution:

Rhodiola grows at high altitude, mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, the Arctic, and North America.

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

+ Altitude Sickness

Salidroside and Tyrosol from Rhodiola cerrulea extracts have been shown to regulate AMPK [11], which plays a major role in energy homeostasis [10]. It was also shown to maintain sodium channel transport by preserving NA+, K+, ATPase activity. The authors concluded that this mechanism may be responsible for Rhodiolas ability to reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness, particularly HAPE [11].

+ CNS Stimulant

Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the CNS stimulating activity of Rhodiola rosea [8] based on various cognitive and fatigue scores.

Other studies have found the use of rhodiola at varying doses inconclusive as a stimulant [7].

+ Memory & Cognitive Performance

Rhodiola extracts have been shown in animal models to improve learning capacity and short/long-term memory in animals trained to perform certain tasks [2].

Rhodiola has been shown to inhibit monoamine oxidase (both MAO-A and MAO-B) in animal studies [4].

+ Depression

MAO-A inhibitors are effective in the treatment of depression [20]. Rhodiola has been shown to inhibit MAO-A & B in animal studies [4]. Other animal studies investigating the use of rhodiola on depression has shown a non-dose dependent improvement on depression scores in mice, which is due to the tyrosin and rhodiolaside content specifically [16, 18, 19].

A randomized double-blind clinical trial using a standardized Rhodiola rosea extract showed a significant antidepressant activity in the treatment group compared to placebo. This was based on various depressive symptoms including insomnia, emotional instability, and somatization. [17].

+ Stress And Fatigue (Adaptogenic)

A group of 56 healthy physicians in a double-blind randomized clinical trial were either given Rhodiola rosea extracts or placebo control for 2 weeks. Physicians were chosen based on criteria that investigated the likelihood that these physicians would experience mental exhaustion during a normal shift. A series of tasks were then given after each night shift to investigate any changes on mental fatigue as measured by a set of complex tasks. All of the physicians treated with Rhodiola rosea were noted to show improved test scores compared to those not treated with the herb. These effects were observed to be most active after two weeks of use, and not a single adverse reaction was reported during the study. [3].

Another study investigating the mental and physical effects of a long term, low dose (SHR-5 50 mg) on students during examination periods found significant improvements on test scores among the treatment group [9]. They were looking for the presence of mental and physical fatigue indications. The only test that showed no improvement in this study was the tapping test (muscular activation).

A study investigating the effects of Rhodiola rosea on free cortisol levels in chronically fatigues patients noted a reduction in cortisol levels after just a single treatment, and significantly after a 28-day course of treatment [21]. Rhodiola was also shown to reduce serum blood levels of cortisol after a stressful event in rabbits [22].

Animal research has shown that Rhodiola rosea extracts can reduce the expression of c-Fos in the hypothalamus of rats [23]. The expression of this gene is considered to be a valuable marker for identifying the activation of cells in the central nervous system associated with the stress response [24]. This suggests the mechanism of action for Rhodiola rosea on reducing cortisol levels is the result of HPA modulation in the hypothalamus, such as increasing feedback sensitivity and therefore reducing overall CRH release rather than acting directly on the adrenal glands.

+ Withdrawal

A Rhodiola rosea extract was shown to improve withdrawal symptoms in mice, with a noted increase in 5HT activity in treated animals. [1].

 

Clinical Applications Of Rhodiola:

Rhodiola serves as a reliable adaptogen with little to no side effects noted in any of the studies listed. It's useful for those suffering from high-stress conditions, chronically fatigued, or depressed.

This herb is also useful for increasing athletic performance in athletes and reducing the chances of being affected by altitude sickness when traveling above 2500 meters.

 

Cautions:

Caution when using Rhodiola with mania as the mental stimulation may produce negative side effects.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References

  1. Mannucci, C., Navarra, M., Calzavara, E., Caputi, A. P., & Calapai, G. (2012). Serotonin involvement in Rhodiola rosea attenuation of nicotine withdrawal signs in rats. Phytomedicine, 19(12), 1117-1124. [animal studies]

  2. Petkov, V. D., Yonkov, D., Mosharoff, A., Kambourova, T., Alova, L., Petkov, V. V., & Todorov, I. (1986). Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory. Acta physiologica et pharmacologica Bulgarica, 12(1), 3-16. [animal studies]

  3. Darbinyan, V., Kteyan, A., Panossian, A., Gabrielian, E., Wikman, G., & Wagner, H. (2000). Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine, 7(5), 365-371. [RCT]

  4. Van Diermen, D., Marston, A., Bravo, J., Reist, M., Carrupt, P. A., & Hostettmann, K. (2009). Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 122(2), 397-401. [animal studies]

  5. Ganzera, M., Yayla, Y., & Khan, I. A. (2001). Analysis of the marker compounds of Rhodiola rosea L.(golden root) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography. Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin, 49(4), 465-467. [chemical analysis]

  6. Panossian, A., Wikman, G., & Sarris, J. (2010). Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine, 17(7), 481-493. [review article]

  7. Shevtsov, V. A., Zholus, B. I., Shervarly, V. I., Vol'skij, V. B., Korovin, Y. P., Khristich, M. P., ... & Wikman, G. (2003). A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Phytomedicine, 10(2), 95-105. [RCT]

  8. Panossian, A., & Wagner, H. (2005). Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration. Phytotherapy Research, 19(10), 819-838. [Review]

  9. Spasov, A. A., Wikman, G. K., Mandrikov, V. B., Mironova, I. A., & Neumoin, V. V. (2000). A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine, 7(2), 85-89. [RCT].

  10. Lee, S. Y., Shi, L. S., Chu, H., Li, M. H., Ho, C. W., Lai, F. Y., ... & Chang, T. C. (2013). Rhodiola crenulata and its bioactive components, salidroside and tyrosol, reverse the hypoxia-induced reduction of plasma-membrane-associated Na, K-ATPase expression via inhibition of ROS-AMPK-PKCξ pathway. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. [in vitro].

  11. Reznick, R. M., & Shulman, G. I. (2006). The role of AMP‐activated protein kinase in mitochondrial biogenesis. The Journal of physiology, 574(1), 33-39.

  12. Kerharo, J., & Adam, J. G. (1974). La pharmacopée sénégalaise traditionnelle: plantes médicinales et toxiques. (Pharmacopoeia).

  13. Steinegger, E., & Hansel, R. (1992). Pharmakognosie 5 Aufl. Kap 6.2. 1. Freie Phenolcarbonsauren Springer Verlag Berlin. (Pharmacopoeia).

  14. Hjaltalin, O. J. (1830). Islenzk grasafrædi. Koben havn.

  15. insert

  16. Kurkin, V. A., Dubishchev, A. V., Ezhkov, V. N., Titova, I. N., & Avdeeva, E. V. (2006). Antidepressant activity of some phytopharmaceuticals and phenylpropanoids. Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal, 40(11), 614-619.

  17. Darbinyan, V., Aslanyan, G., Amroyan, E., Gabrielyan, E., Malmström, C., & Panossian, A. (2007). Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic journal of psychiatry, 61(5), 343-348.

  18. Perfumi, M., & Mattioli, L. (2007). Adaptogenic and central nervous system effects of single doses of 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside Rhodiola rosea L. extract in mice. Phytotherapy Research, 21(1), 37-43.

  19. Panossian, A., Nikoyan, N., Ohanyan, N., Hovhannisyan, A., Abrahamyan, H., Gabrielyan, E., & Wikman, G. (2008). Comparative study of Rhodiola preparations on behavioral despair of rats. Phytomedicine, 15(1-2), 84-91.

  20. Priest, R. G., Gimbrett, R., Roberts, M., & Steinert, J. (1995). Reversible and selective inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A in mental and other disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 91(s386), 40-43.

  21. Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica, 75(02), 105-112.

  22. Panossian, A., Hambardzumyan, M., Hovhanissyan, A., & Wikman, G. (2007). The adaptogens Rhodiola and Schizandra modify the response to immobilization stress in rabbits by suppressing the increase of phosphorylated stress-activated protein kinase, nitric oxide and cortisol. Drug target insights, 2, 117739280700200011.

  23. Xia, N., Li, J., Wang, H., Wang, J., & Wang, Y. (2016). Schisandra chinensis and Rhodiola rosea exert an anti-stress effect on the HPA axis and reduce hypothalamic c-Fos expression in rats subjected to repeated stress. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 11(1), 353-359.

  24. Luckman, S. M., Dyball, R. E., & Leng, G. (1994). Induction of c-fos expression in hypothalamic magnocellular neurons requires synaptic activation and not simply increased spike activity. Journal of Neuroscience, 14(8), 4825-4830.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

Stevia is used as a sugar alternative and antidiabetic. The source of stevias sweetness comes from special phytochemicals known as glycosides. They are up to 160 times sweeter...

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.

+ 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
  • Adaptogen
  • Anti-cancer
  • Antioxidant
 

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.

 

Herb Details: Cannabis

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, 7]

  • 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:

References:

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Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre)

gymnema.jpg

Gymnema Summary

Gymnema is known as "the sugar destroyer" because of its unique ability to inhibit our ability to taste sweet foods.

This quality is used to combat sugar cravings in diabetics to control blood sugar levels.

It's been used for thousands of years in India for treating conditions involving "sweet urine." This is a common symptom of diabetes as sugar diffuses into the urinary tract. Old methods of diagnosis involved tasting the urine to identify a sweet taste.

Gymnema offers a variety of unique benefits towards conditions like diabetes, including changes to the pancreatic beta-cells, responsible for releasing insulin into the blood.

Gymnema is also a diuretic, helping to clear glucose from the blood through urine (in combination with plenty of water of course).

Finally, gymnema leaves inhibit the sweet sensation on the taste buds, making food taste bland and dull, which can be used to reduce the cravings for sweet (high sugar) foods responsible for maintaining the pathophysiology of diabetes and metabolic syndromes.

 

+ Indications

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Tooth infection
  • PCOS
  • Hypertriglyceridemia

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised with hypoglycemic drugs

+ Mechanisms

  • Inreases the number of insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas
  • Decreases the perception of sweet taste on the taste buds
  • Inhibits peripheral utilization of glucose by somatotrophin and corticotrophin.

Herbal Actions:

  • Antidiabetic
  • Hypocholesterolemic
  • Suppresses Sweet Taste
  • Diuretic
  • Refridgerant
  • Astringent
 

How Do I Use Gymnema?

Gymnema is mainly used to treat metabolic conditions like diabetes, PCOS, and metabolic syndrome. It's also used for dental carries, and poor digestion.

 

Herb Details: Gymnema

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves

Family Name

  • Apocynaceae

Distribution

  • Southeast Asia

Constituents of Interest

  • Gymnemic acids
  • Gymnemasaponins
  • Gurmarin
  • Betaine

Common Names

  • Gymnema
  • The Sugar Destroyer
  • Gurmar

CYP450

  • CYP3A4
  • CYP2C9
  • CYP1A2
  • CYP2D6

Quality

  • Unknown

Pregnancy

  • No adverse effects expected.

Taste

  • Dull (Blocks sweet receptors on the tongue)

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.
 

Botanical Information

Gymnema is a member of the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family of plants.

In the past, gymnema was included in the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family — but has since been changed to a subfamily category.

The Apocynaceae family now contains 5 subfamilies (Apocynoideae, Asclepiadoideae, Periplocoideae, Rauvolfioideae, and Secamonoideae).

It contains 5100 species and 366 genera. There are roughly 50 different species of Gymnema — many of which are used interchangeably.

Many plants in the Apocynaceae family are trees preferring tropical environments — except for a handful of species that prefer to grow in deserts.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Gymnema:

Gymnema is mainly used for metabolic conditions including hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, hypertriglyceridemia, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It's diuretic and increases the number of pancreatic beta cells.

One of the more unique effects of gymnema is its ability to inhibit sweet flavor. By simply chewing on the leaves, our ability to perceive sweet flavors gradually fades away — helping to prevent excessive sugar intake in habituated individuals.

 

Cautions:

High saponins may cause gastrointestinal upset, caution advised with high doses.

Caution advised if taking hypoglyemic medication due to agonistic interaction.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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