EDITOR: | May 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Why medical marijuana is here to stay.

| May 04, 2014 | 1 Comment

MMJNote from the Publisher: Due to the increased interest by investors to participate in the bull run on ‘bud’. This is part of a weekly series that I have commissioned Dr. Luc Duchesne to assess and comment on for our entrepreneurial minded audience. This piece he titles “Buds vs drugs: the entourage effect of therapeutic marijuana”.

There is mounting evidence that whole buds are better than single molecules in therapeutic applications.

While the legal argument for the use of medical marijuana is solid and the medical argument for using cannabinoids as pure medicines is irrefutable, the argument to use entire buds is even more overwhelming.

In the rapidly expanding world of therapeutic marijuana, there is increasing evidence that cannabinoids and the non-medicinal molecules of cannabis interact synergistically to yield the therapeutic effects of cannabis: the Entourage Effect. This might seem strange in the highly reductionist paradigm of western medicine wherein one drug is used to target one symptom. But traditional herbal medicine systems have long recognized that the different chemical constituents of phytomedicines (herbal medicines) interact with one another.

Synergistic interactions between herbal ingredients are of vital importance in phytomedicines, which explains difficulties in isolating a single active ingredient, and account for the efficacy of apparently low doses of active constituents in an herbal product. This concept that a whole or partially purified extract of a plant offers advantages over a single isolated ingredient is a central and time proven paradigm to phytomedicines.

Aspirin is the reason why scientists have focused on the isolation of the therapeutic principles of marijuana. Prior to the discovery of acetylsalicylic acid, willow bark extracts were well known as a febrifuge and analgesic. In 1897, scientists at the drug and dye firm Bayer began investigating artificial synthesis methods for acetylsalicylic acid. By 1899, Bayer had dubbed this drug Aspirin and was selling it around the world. The western medical system has followed the same pattern of isolating the active ingredients ever since. It is not necessarily a bad thing. But in the world of therapeutic marijuana it may prevent the advancement of new treatment modalities.

There are more than 480 natural components found within the cannabis plant, of which 66 have been classified as “cannabinoids.” Those are chemicals unique to the plant, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiols. There are, however, many more, including:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG);
  • Cannabichromene (CBC);
  • other Cannabidiol (CBD);
  • other Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC);
  • Cannabinol (CBN) and cannabinodiol (CBDL);
  • other cannabinoids (such as cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types). Other constituents of the cannabis plant are: nitrogenous compounds (27 known), amino acids (18), proteins (3), glycoproteins (6), enzymes (2), sugars and related compounds (34), hydrocarbons (50), simple alcohols (7), aldehydes (13), ketones (13), simple acids (21), fatty acids (22), simple esters (12), lactones (1), steroids (11), terpenes (120), non-cannabinoid phenols (25), flavonoids (21), vitamins (1), pigments (2), and other elements (9).

THC is the most psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.  The other cannabinoids have less psychotropic effects than THC, but may play a role in the overall effect of cannabis. The most studied are THC, CBD and CBN.   But if we contemplate the possible interactions between all the molecules, we are faced with billions of possibilities that may increase therapeutic effects or even reduce side effects.

The Entourage Effect could also be used to address side effects of medical marijuana.   Cannabis should not automatically be viewed as a ‘harmless’ substance. There may be some populations that are susceptible to increased risks from the use of medical marijuana including for example adolescents, pregnant or nursing mothers, and patients who have a family history of mental illness. Patients with decreased lung function (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), addictive personalities, or those who have a history of heart disease or stroke may also be at a greater risk of experiencing adverse side effects from medical marijuana.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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  • Reverend Ryan

    A rationale and intelligent article which accurately describes the sheer complexity of the cannabis genus. In the hysteria & propaganda regarding “drugs”, cannabis is more properly described as an herb. The failure of Marinol & Cesamet (as a specific delta 9 analog) to address “medical marijuana” issues adequately points to the complex interactions with several disease symptoms. The concept that a patient who ‘feels’ better, heals more quickly, belies effectiveness of the “side effects”.

    June 2, 2014 - 11:22 AM

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