15 March 2015

Black Pepper To Relieve 'Cannabis Anxiety'

While benefiting from the medicinal effects of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), some patients at the Victorian Cannabis Buyers Club suffered bouts of anxiety. Most simply took a few sniffs of black pepper to receive almost immediate relief. Others reported chewing on black peppercorns for relief within an hour. So how does this work?

This is a traditional method, referred to in Pliny The Elder’s Natural History Book, XXIV. Pliny writes: “The gelotophyllis [‘leaves of laughter’ or cannabis] grows in Bactria and along the Borysthenes. If this be taken in myrrh and wine all kinds of phantoms beset the mind, causing laughter which persists until the kernels of pine-nuts are taken with pepper and honey in palm wine.”

The British Journal of Pharmacology: Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine, Part 1 (August 2011) includes numerous articles exploring the nature of the cannabis plants’ chemical dynamism. In the article, Taming THC, scientists report having discovered more than a hundred terpenes that “may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts”. Terpenes create the many scents of cannabis and are shared among the plant kingdom. Scientists explored how these aromatic oils synergise and mitigate the active cannabinoids contributing to the 'EntourageEffect'.

Cannabis is known to produce a wide variety of effects from rendering an individual wide-awake to sending them soundly to sleep. Growers have been tailoring their heirloom heritage varieties of cannabis to uniformly exhibit certain cannabinoid/terpene profiles to produce particular effects. CBD is quickly becoming an essential component to combat some of the purported unwelcome effects of using THC rich cannabis, such as anxiety. Another option may be to introduce terpenes from other plant sources to mitigate the effects.

The terpene Myrcene in mangos can increase the quality of low potency cannabis when eaten an hour before medicating. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Pinene (found in pine needles and black pepper for example) is alerting; Limonene (found in citrus for example) is sunshiny and Myrcene (mango, hops [Humulus] etc) is sedating. Traditional responses to cannabis induced anxiety include Pinene-rich black pepper, Limonene-rich citrus and Myrcene-rich calamus root or hops, the only other member of the Cannabaceae plant family. “Cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids may also increase cerebral blood flow, enhance cortical activity, kill respiratory pathogens and provide anti-inflammatory activity.”

Scientists have discovered that beta-Caryophyllene (Caryophyllene [BCP], a US Food and Drug Administration [USFDA] approved food additive), another terpene that contributes to aroma and flavour (found in other herbs, spices and edible plants), activates the CB2 receptor and acts as a non-psychoactive anti-inflammatory. As it binds to a cannabinoid receptor and is ingested daily with food, it is the first known dietary cannabinoid. One of those leading the way on terpene identification is GreenHouse Seed Company in the Netherlands who have performed spectral analysis of each of their strains and developed a flavour wheel identifying 16 different terpenes to help individuals decide on their strain of choice.

Terpene Flavour Wheel - GreenHouse Seed Company

Cannabis Science Inc. is exploring the possibility that certain terpenes act as building blocks for the production of cannabinoids, with the hope that this will open up to cultivators the opportunity to manipulate cannabinoids to desired ratios. They are exploring how terpenes act synergistically with other terpenes to either catalyse or inhibit the formation of other compounds within a plant. Up until now, 'BIG Pharma' have been focusing on single synthetic compounds that can be patented and brought to market. In light of these discoveries, scientists isolating cannabinoids into synthetic compounds have to consider the terpene interaction as another variable potentially responsible for the plants therapeutic effects. Cannabis grown with care and attention to the curing process will contain more terpenes. Many terpenes are USFDA approved and therefore easy to obtain for testing.

adapted from an article by Owen Smith - Cannabis Digest Blogs

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