Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabis is a term that describes products derived from the Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa. It has its origins probably in India but now grows all over the world. The chemical compounds responsible for intoxication and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers of the female plants and surrounding leaves. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of different chemicals including a family of compounds called “cannabinoids”. Of the cannabinoids delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the main compound responsible for the psychotropic activities. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and is mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating back to 2700 BC. There are records of ’its medicinal use in Egyptian papyri of the sixteenth century BC. Much later, the plant is mentioned in Assyrian texts and in Greek and Roman sources as a medicinal agent. Early Experiences in the 19th Century Cannabis Tincture was used in the nineteenth century as an analgesic, as well as numerous other conditions and was considered milder and less dangerous than opium. W.B.O’Shaughnessy was the first of the western physicians to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine on account Read more […]

Artemisia Absinthium L.

Artemisia absinthium L. is a member of the family Compositae (Asteraceae) and is known by the common names wormwood (UK), absinthe (France) and wermut (Germany). The name Artemisia is derived from the Goddess Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, who is said to have discovered the plant’s virtues, while absinthium comes from the Greek word apinthion meaning “undrinkable”, reflecting the very bitter nature of the plant. The plant is also known by a number of synonyms which include: Absinthium, Wermutkraut, Absinthii Herba, Assenzio, Losna, Pelin, Armoise, Ajenjo and Alsem. The herb is native to warm Mediterranean countries, usually found growing in dry waste places such as roadsides, preferring a nitrogen-rich stoney and hence loose soil. It is also native to the British Isles and is fairly widespread. Wormwood has been naturalised in northeastern North America, North and West Asia and Africa. Brief Botanical Description The stem of this shrubby perennial herb is multibranched and firm, almost woody at the base, and grows up to 130 cm in height. The root stock produces many shoots which are covered in fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are silvery grey, 8 cm long by 3 cm broad, abundantly pinnate Read more […]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic

Many agents used in cancer chemotherapy produce severe nausea and vomiting in most patients. Symptoms can last for hours or days and have a major impact on patient nutrition and electrolyte status, body weight and physical and mental resilience to both the disease and its treatment. The current choice of available anti-emetics is limited and most are only partially effective, which may lead patients to refuse therapy all together, or for clinicians to use chemotherapeutic regimens which are less than optimum. For these reasons, the search for more effective antiemetics continues. Cannabis In the late 1960s and early 1970s, patients receiving various cancer chemotherapy regimes (including mustine, vincristine, prednisone and procarbazine) noted that smoking cannabis from illicit sources, before and during chemotherapy, reduced the incidence of nausea and vomiting to a variable degree. Only since the isolation of THC have formal clinical trials on the safety and efficacy of cannabis derivatives been conducted. As far as crude cannabis is concerned, we have only anecdotal evidence that inhaling its smoke is effective in a variable percentage of patients who vomit, despite supposedly adequate doses of standard antiemetics. There Read more […]

Wormwood: Mental Health

The applications of wormwood continue with its reputation as a herb against melancholy. This action may well be as attributable to the effect of its bitter nature on the liver, as well as the general tonic effect so roundly affirmed from application thus far. There is support of a humoral nature for bitters working through the spleen in hypochondriac melancholy where an overheated spleen causes noxious vapours to rise to the heart and brain. Some modern authors, among them Chevallier, Menzies-Trull and Hoffman, refer to use in depression/melancholy but not a lot of guidance as to source is given. Grieve gives a recipe of 1 oz of herb infused 10-12 minutes in one pint of water taken in glassful doses to relieve melancholia, but again no source is offered. The tradition does not appear in the ancients. Hildegard is an early mention, with a recipe of fresh wormwood pounded and expressed through cloth added to wine cooked with honey, so that the wormwood overcomes the wine and honey flavour, to be drunk every other day, to check not only melancholy, but ‘it will ease sickness in the loins and make your eyes clear’. Serapio cites Mabix that an infusion or decoction, especially mixed with epithymum, will cure melancholy. Read more […]

Wormwood: Recommendations On Safety

1. Do not use in pregnancy. 2. Do not use in porphyria. 3. The volatile oil should not be taken internally. A man of 31 drank 10 mL of essential oil of wormwood, thinking it was absinthe. He became agitated and incoherent with tonic and clonic seizures, and developed acute renal failure resulting from rhabdomyolysis (myoglobin release due to muscle injury). He recovered after 8 days of hospital treatment and had normal serum electrolyte, creatine kinase and creatinine concentration after 17 days. The possible association between ingestion of ketones and convulsions has received much attention. Two cases of convulsions have occurred in association with use of volatile oil of sage Salvia officinalis, which contains ketones. Convulsions have been induced in rats by injected oil of hyssop, which mainly contains pinocamphone. Thujone was first isolated in 1845 and it is argued that thujone is the convulsant constituent in wormwood. Intraperitoneal injection of thujone was convulsant in mice and the action was blocked by earlier intraperitoneal administration of diazepam or phenobarbital. Hold et al (2000) showed that alpha-thujone acts at the noncompetitive blocker site of the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) type Read more […]

Herbal Stimulants

Occasionally it may be necessary to temporarily boost the energy of someone who is feeling depressed. The German Commission E has approved the use of Cola nitida (kola nut) as an adjunct therapy in depression, and Camellia sinensis (tea), Coffea arabica (coffee), and Ilex paraguayensis (yerba mate) may be useful stimulants due to their caffeine content. However, this is rarely an effective long-term therapy, and entirely fails to address the underlying causes of depression. Certainly, botanical stimulants should not be part of a standard regimen for depression, and it is in fact often recommended that the nearly ubiquitous stimulant caffeine be removed from the diet to stop masking symptoms and allow the person to deal with the real issues of depression. Instead, we recommend using adaptogens to provide stimulation. These do not contain caffeine and do not appear to have the suppressive effect of the caffeine alkaloid. Instead, they tend to stimulate the entire nervous system. On rare occasions, this may manifest as insomnia, agitation, or mild anxiety but usually adaptogens increase the person’s sense of well-being and energy without negatively affecting mood. That said, there is a case report of a woman, taking Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy And Hyperemesis Gravidarum

According to Borrelli et al., the potential teratogenic effects of drugs administered during the critical embryogenie period of pregnancy drastically limit their use. Because of this, many pregnant women turn to complementary and alternative therapies including vitamins, herbal products, homeopathic preparation, acupressure, and acupuncture. A recent literature survey reports that the most commonly used botanicals for the treatment of morning sickness are ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and raspberry leaf. Only ginger has been subjected to investigation of its safety and efficacy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Botanical Treatment Strategies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum Therapeutic Goal Therapeutic Activity Botanical Name Common Name Reduce nausea and vomiting Antinauseant  Antiemetic Cannabis spp. Marijuana Mentha piperita Peppermint Zingiber officinalis Ginger Relieve stomach cramps Antispasmodic Dioscorea villosa Wild yam Matricaria recutita Chamomile Support digestion / appetite Digestive bitters Ballota nigra Black horehound Taraxacum officinale Dandelion root   The botanical approach to Read more […]

Plants Used in Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest medical system in the world with written records in Sanskrit dating back at least 5000 years. It originates from the Indian subcontinent and has also influenced the traditional medical system in Thailand. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine is now widely used throughout the world as a complementary medicine. Areca catechu L. Arecoline is the major alkaloid of those present in betel or areca nuts, the fruit of the palm tree Areca catechu L. (Arecaceae), which is extensively chewed to induce salivation and euphoria throughout the Indian subcontinent and other parts of southeast Asia. It is estimated that 500 million people regularly chew betel nut (often referred to as ‘pan’ or ‘paan’ in India) in a form which is usually shredded, mixed with lime and wrapped in a leaf from the Piper betel Blanco (Piperaceae) plant, although chewing of betel nuts has been positively correlated with an incidence of oral cancer. As a direct result of the cholinergic activity induced by this plant, excessive salivation occurs, which is associated with a muscarinic effect, and CNS stimulatory and euphoric effects develop, which is considered to be associated with a nicotinic receptor stimulant effect. Arecoline Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Ginseng

Panax ginseng C.A.Mey (Araliaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Many species and varieties of ginseng are used. Panax ginseng C.A.Mey is also known as Asian ginseng. Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Oriental ginseng, Renshen. Panax quinquefolius L. is also known as American ginseng. Other species used include: Panax notoginseng (Burkill) F.H.Chen ex C.Y.Wu & K.M.Feng known as Sanchi ginseng, Tienchi ginseng and Panax pseudo-ginseng Wall, also known as Himalayan ginseng. It is important to note that Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim.) is often used and marketed as a ginseng, but it is from an entirely different plant of the Araliaceae family and possesses constituents that are chemically different. It will be covered in this monograph with distinctions made throughout. Not to be confused with ashwagandha, which is Withania somnifera. This is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng. Not to be confused with Brazilian ginseng, which is Pfaffia paniculata. Pharmacopoeias American Ginseng (US Ph 32); American Ginseng Capsules (US Ph 32); American Ginseng Tablets (US Ph 32); Asian ginseng (US Ph 32); Asian Ginseng Tablets (US Ph 32); Eleuthero (US Ph 32); Eleutherococcus (British Read more […]