Healing with Hemp, and Cannabinoids
Posted by Anna-Marija Helt PhD, and Derek Van Atta on 8th Mar 2019
Benefits of Hemp, Cannabinoids & Terpenes.
A brief history of this potent family of Cannabis plants.
Guess what one of the first plants introduced into cultivation was…. Cannabis sativa. “Sativa”, in fact, means cultivated. Archaeological evidence points to Hemp, a variety of cannabis, being used for fiber some 10,000 years ago, and the prodigious medicinal uses of cannabis also date back millennia (1). Throughout most of this history, cannabis was one of the world’s most important crops.
Research suggests that we have coevolved with this enormously useful and often misunderstood plant, evident by the fact that receptors in the human brain, nervous system, and elsewhere in the body interact with cannabis metabolites. Some of these receptors are even named for cannabis: the cannabinoid receptors.
This coevolution of our bodies and the cannabis family of plants implies that our relationship with cannabis goes back much farther than the archaeological record shows. And, it turns out that we even have an entire system of receptors and neurotransmitters known as the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS) in the body that regulates pain, mood, appetite, development, thinking, inflammation, and other immune system functions.
Your own personal ECS began to develop many thousands of years ago in your ancient genetic past. And your ECS is still evolving today. In fact, due to the power of Epigenetics, your ECS can be “upgraded” and improved by good diet and adding high quality cannabinoids to your life. It’s one more way to improve your vibrancy every week for the rest of your life!
CBD and what it does
Lately a spotlight of intense focus is on the metabolite, cannabidiol (CBD). Until recently, CBD took a back seat to its psychoactive cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Now, CBD is eclipsing THC, due to the multitude of potential benefits of CBD without any psychoactive side effects.
Here are just a handful of health issues for which CBD is being investigated (2):
- Neurological disease - Epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s
- Mood imbalance - Depression, chronic anxiety
- Cancer - brain, prostate, lung, colon, breast
- Arthritis - joint stiffness and pain
- Cardiovascular disease - stroke, stress-induced elevation in blood pressure
- Skin issues - Psoriasis, Atopic dermatitis, scarring
- Liver disease - Cirrhosis, Steatosis
- Digestive issues - nausea, Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Diabetes - pancreatic inflammation, diabetic complications in heart, eyes and nervous system
Why Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids are legal now.
There is some confusion out there as to what constitutes Hemp versus Marijuana. At this point, “Hemp” plants are legal in the US at the federal level while Marijuana plants are not. Both come from Cannabis sativa, but from different varieties of the plant that are grown under different conditions and differ in their chemistry.
There are various characteristics that have been used to define the two over the years. Most recently, the US Farm Bill of 2018 defined Cannabis sativa plants possessing 0.3% or less of THC by dry weight as Hemp. And classifies Marijuana as those varieties containing more than 0.3% THC. (This number is partly arbitrary, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that at this low level of 0.3% THC, the plant is not psychoactive.)
CBD and the “Entourage Effect”
OK, back to CBD as a tonic herb and nutritional supplement. We herbalists don’t generally employ isolated plant chemicals in practice. We know from tradition and from our own experiences that plant medicine is best when a wide range of plant metabolites are present in a preparation.
Accordingly, Full Spectrum Hemp Oil contains way more than just CBD. Hemp contains over 100 distinct cannabinoids and hundreds of additional components, including phytochemicals known as terpenes (many of which contribute to the flavor and aroma of cannabis), and flavonoids (also contributing to flavor and color).
Benefits of Full Spectrum vs Isolates.
Science is catching on to what herbalists have known since there were herbalists: The whole-plant extract is greater than the sum of its parts. This is being called the “Entourage Effect.” While CBD alone has clear benefits, these benefits are greatly enhanced by other Hemp components contained in “Full Spectrum” extracts. In various research studies, such extracts are showing efficacy at lower doses and with fewer side effects than CBD alone. For example, CBD-dominant full spectrum extracts that also contain terpenes and some lesser-characterized cannabinoids did better than CBD alone for folks suffering from severe seizures (3). While both preparations were helpful, the response rate to the more crude extract was higher than for the isolated CBD (meaning that the number of folks whose seizures diminished was higher for the extract than the isolate) (3).
Similar results are being found with respect to pain, where the combination of CBD with other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids performs better (2). Some additional examples: Linalool, a cannabis terpene also found in lavender and other medicinal plants, enhances the anti-convulsant benefit of CBD. Linalool and another cannabis terpene, limonene, improve the anxiety-easing effects of CBD. (Can you guess another plant that limonene is found?) Yet another terpene, pinene, improves the benefits of CBD for acne.
The Entourage Effect may manifest in various ways. One way is by improving the bioavailability of CBD and other
aspects of its pharmacokinetics. This was observed in studies of CBD preparations for pain (4). Another way Entourage Effects may manifest is where other Hemp components are doing the same thing that CBD is doing — for instance reducing convulsions or reducing inflammation — but via a different mechanism (5). This leads to additive or synergistic effects, medicinally-speaking.
Whether you are interested in using CBD oil for pain, anxiety, inflammation, better sleep, or relief from autoimmune disease symptoms, it’s going to be much more beneficial to use Full Spectrum Hemp Oil that includes CBD, CBD-A, CBN, CBD-G, CBD-V, and dozens of other beneficial cannabinoids, chlorophyll, and terpenes.
The Leading Edge of H.D.C. (Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids)
Speaking of Full Spectrum extract and the Entourage Effect, the most effective method in producing Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is known as the “Spagyric” Method. Spagyric CBD Extracts contain CBD along with hundreds of other cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenoids and such. But what is especially unique about Spagyric Extracts is that all the valuable Hemp mineral salts are included, unlike all other extraction methods. It's important to keep these mineral salts so that you get the most benefits of the CBD oil. Without the minerals your body has to take minerals away from your other tissues. Therefore Spagyric Hemp Extracts are the only true Full Spectrum CBD on the market, and are certainly more bioavailable than other types of CBD products.
More Expensive? Or More Efficient? Why isn’t the Spagyric Method of making Hemp Oil more common? And why are only about 10% of all CBD Hemp Oil products done with the Spagyric Process? The answer is twofold: 1. Commitment to excellence. 2. Cost. Three years ago it cost 3 times more for Spagyric CBD Oil than it cost for other forms of extracted CBD. Now it’s only about 25% more. However, many people find it at least 50% more effective than the run-of-the-mill CO2 extraction CBD products that are flooding the market. This actually makes Sarvaa Full Spectrum CBD Oil somewhat less expensive when you consider the fact that you can use less per serving and get even better results.
Less Heat and Pressure Used. The other significant advantage to Spagyric Extracts is that the precious Hemp flowers are processed at lower temperatures and without the extremely high pressures used with CO2 extracts. Our preparation is a gentle process in comparison to CO2 extraction. And in all our tests, Spagyric processing holds the extract to its highest purity, while CO2 processing is essentially 'blasting' the material under high pressures to reap its extract. But CO2 extracts still doesn't harvest all the beneficial elements of the flower buds, and CO2 extracts have to be decarboxylated at high heats, further degrading the Cannabinoids, Flavonoids, and Terpenes. Thus it becomes clear that Spagyric CBD Oil is the only true Full Spectrum CBD available.
Simply Tastes Better. Lastly, the taste of Spagyric Extracted CBD Oil is noticeably preferred over CO2 extracted Hemp oil. This is partly due to the lower temperatures and lack of high pressures used. The better flavor of Spagyric Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is also due to the fact that the vitamins and minerals are still present and bioavailable. Our bodies know this is better for us which can trigger an improved sensation in the mouth. The superior taste reduces the need to dilute or add flavorings that are often not synergistic or helpful in any way….and in many cases can actually be detrimental.
Superiority of Hemp Flowers vs. Stems & Leaves
The cleanest, strongest extracts come from Hemp flowers, where most of the beneficial elements are the most concentrated. Most Hemp Oils and CBD extracts are made with stems, stalks, seeds and leaves because it’s cheaper and easier. But the negative aspect of this is that the ratio of useless constituents to beneficial cannabinoids is not favorable.
In fact, most of the lower grade extracts using non-flower parts of the plant have to be processed further with chemicals or elaborate filtering to try to remove some of these unhelpful components. Lastly, another downside to all the extracts that use stems, leaves, and seeds is that they’re more prone to contamination with toxic molds, yeasts, pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. Be sure to look for the designations, “All Flowers” or “100% Flowers” or even better, “100% Organic Flowers.”
Better Lab Results.
One of the most important factors in your decision should be whether the company you're buying from tests every batch and posts those results on their website. Notice how well each batch of CBD oil holds up under the strictest methods for testing the actual amounts of active CBD, Cannabinoids, and Terpenes. And equally important, how clean is the final product? Are there any residual toxic chemicals, molds, fungi, and bacteria? Look for test results from a highly rated testing lab that is completely separate from the company selling a product.
Reaching back to alchemical theory and applying it to the modern production of highly active Hemp extracts is a pleasing parallel to the ancient roots of cannabis as medicine and its modern medicinal resurgence. If you have a hankering for exploring the benefits of CBD, be sure you choose a Spagyric Oil or Tincture that is truly Full Spectrum and therefore fully bioavailable.
And when you begin looking for CBD, remember to read the details that each company presents! Are they using less-effective CO2 extraction which may waste some of your time and money? Are they using Flowers only or seeds, stalks and stems? Are they using all organic ingredients in their products, from start to finish? Are they using a fully independent 3rd party lab to test every single batch for toxic chemical residues, molds, fungi, and bacteria?
Like any supplement, you'll want to know what you are putting in your body. Consider this blog post as a reference guide for you to pick the right quality of CBD for your needs. And thrive!
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Love Your Body! Love Everybody!
About the Authors:
Derek Van Atta is the Founder of Sarvaa Superfood. He’s been a pioneer in the fields of health and nutrition for 30 years. Within this time, he has explored the great healing traditions from around the world. Some of these include: Naturopathic Medicine, European Herbal Medicine, the fantastic holistic healing system from India known as Ayurveda, the cutting edge practices within Functional Medicine, the ancient and modern principles of Chinese Medicine, and Central American shamanic practices. Currently, he continues to research and refine formulas that blend these diverse healing modalities into revitalizing foods and supplements in a balanced way for optimal health and healing.
Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, has been studying herbs, mushrooms and essential oils intensely since 2008, training at the Ohlone Center of Herbal Studies with Pam Fisher, at Green Medicine Herb School with Kathi Keville and with a number of other herbalists.
Prior to becoming an herbalist, she spent nearly 15 years as a research scientist, with a focus on cancer and infectious disease. She received her doctoral degree in microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Her postdoctoral research on dengue virus was conducted in the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. She was an infectious diseases trainee at the UW Center for AIDS & STD and an infectious diseases fellow through UC San Francisco Division of Infectious Diseases.
Her focus as an herbal practitioner is a low-tech, simple and holistic approach to health that incorporates both traditional herbal knowledge and the latest scientific research. Marija is a regular columnist for Plant Healer Magazine and Basmati.com.
FDA Disclaimer: The above statements have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please consult your doctor before using any new food or dietary supplement.
References and further reading
- (2000) The People’s History. The Thistle. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sept/Oct. 13(2). https://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/history.html
- Baron, EP (2018) Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science. Headache. 58(7):1139-86. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30152161
- Russo, EB (2019) The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 9:1969. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01969. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.01969/full
- Gallily, R, et al (2014). Overcoming the bell-shaped dose- response of cannabidiol by using cannabis extract enriched in cannabidiol. Pharmacol. Pharm. 6, 75–85. doi: 10.4236/pp.2015.62010. https://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf
- Pellati, F, et al (2018) Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. 2018:1691428. doi: 10.1155/2018/1691428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30627539
- Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics