Most people have undoubtedly heard of CBD at this point. It’s showing up in almost every store, on televisions across the country, and in a variety of daily conversations. The therapeutic properties of this powerful cannabinoid have been studied and applauded by many and CBD has created quite a following for itself based on success story after success story of its medicinal uses. But what about some of the other cannabinoid compounds found within the cannabis plant?
Cannabis produces more than one hundred cannabinoids, many of them found in much smaller quantities than the popular THC or CBD. Because the level of these cannabinoids is so much lower than those of THC and CBD, it’s difficult for researchers to know exactly how many other cannabinoids exist in the cannabis plant but they have been able to gather data on the handful of cannabinoids that are present in more substantial amounts. What they’ve found about one cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN) in particular is especially promising.
The Endocannabinoid System
Before getting into the details of CBN, it’s important to understand how CBN and other cannabinoids work within the body. Cannabinoids have a very specific effect on the human system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions as a way to stabilize the body and return to homeostasis when trauma or danger are introduced. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is a fundamental function of human physiology because all the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: Compounds that are produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD or CBN.
Cannabinoid Receptors: Receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Any endocannabinoids or ingested cannabinoids will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
Enzymes: After endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has maintained stabilization, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to prevent overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
The endocannabinoid system maintains equilibrium in the immune, digestive, and nervous systems. Because cannabinoids can so easily interact with the ECS they are able to have an effect on any number of issues that may arise within those systems, making them potentially powerful tools to use when battling certain conditions and diseases.
What is CBN
Just like CBD and dozens of other cannabinoids, CBN is a chemical compound that is found within the cannabis plant. This particular compound comes from the process of breaking down the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) molecules. Even though CBD and THC so far seem to be the stars of cannabis, CBN is slowly making its way to the front of the pack as well.
Like most of the other cannabinoids, cannabinol is non-intoxicating, but the CBN compound is actually created by the process of THC aging. This means CBN is generally found in higher quantities in older cannabis flowers that contain higher levels of THC. Some users actually seek out older cannabis in order to get the additional benefits of the larger quantities of CBN in the aged plant.
Research has found CBN to have the following benefits:
Anti-bacterial: Recent studies have shown CBN to be a powerful antibacterial compound. Researchers tested CBN on patients with various strains of MRSA and found it to be a potent treatment for the bacteria. This is especially important as MRSA is a notoriously antibiotic resistant ailment. This opens up the possibility that perhaps in the future CBN will be helpful in treating conditions otherwise untreatable by traditional antibiotics .
Neuroprotectant: A study on rodents found that CBN could be successfully used as a preventative treatment for ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Using CBN was found to actually delay the onset of the condition. Human studies are still needed, but this does suggest that perhaps CBN can act as a powerful weapon against ALS and many other neurodegenerative diseases .
Appetite stimulation: Studies performed on rodents noted that giving the subjects CBN increased the amount of food they ate. This could suggest that CBN works as a powerful appetite stimulant much like THC. However, unlike THC, CBN does not contain psychoactive properties that cause intoxication. Potentially meaning that CBN could be used for those seeking an alternative way to to increase appetite without feeling high .
Glaucoma: Researchers performed a study on rabbits and found that administering CBN reduced intraocular pressure in the test subjects. Intraocular pressure is the biggest risk factor for glaucoma, so being able to control it would mean having some sort of control over the introduction of glaucoma. It should be noted, however, that research is still very new and at this point CBN has not been shown to be more powerful than other medication currently being used to treat glaucoma .
Anti-inflammatory: Like other cannabinoids, CBN has the potential to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, especially helpful to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. One study in particular found that CBN was successful in reducing arthritis in rats. Like other cannabinoids and treatments, this needs more studies performed, but so far the results are promising .
Because it occurs naturally in the plant and is easily produced by simply heating THC or exposing it to oxygen, CBN is gaining traction as another cannabinoid with incredible therapeutic properties.
CBN vs CBD
These two compounds may seem similar, but fundamentally they are two totally different molecules with two different origins. Traditionally, CBD comes from hemp plants as they hold the highest concentration of CBD making for the easiest and purest extraction. On the other hand, CBN comes from THC, meaning it can only come from marijuana plants. The amount of CBN present also depends heavily on the amount of heat and light the cannabis flower is exposed to and the age of the plant. CBN is simply a product of oxidation and degradation.
However, even though they are different at a molecular level, they do share a lot of the same properties and very similar therapeutic benefits. Neither are psychoactive, giving them both the opportunity to be helpful to individuals without an intoxicating effect.
Overall CBD has been found to have many more therapeutic benefits than CBN, however there haven’t been as many studies performed on CBN as have been on CBD so it’s possible that number could change rapidly as scientists spend more time looking into this promising cannabinoid.
As mentioned above, CBN is typically found in older marijuana plants. It occurs naturally when the THC-containing flowers are exposed to oxygen, however that is not the most efficient way of obtaining CBN products. You can already find CBN products online and in your local dispensary that are well suited to both newcomers and experienced users. These are typically in the form of tinctures or edibles. As the therapeutic benefits of CBN are further explored, we’re likely to see more and more products hit the shelves with specialized formulations and consumption options. This is truly just the beginning for CBN and its future as a powerful therapeutic cannabinoid is certain to keep moving forward and upwards.
Throughout history, hemp has been harvested for its fiber, seeds, and flowers. A plant with seemingly endless possibilities, hemp fiber can produce textiles, rope, clothes, paper, plastic composites, building construction materials, animal bedding, food, drinks, and agricultural supplies. Hemp seeds can produce food, edible oil, personal care products (shampoo, soap, lotions), and industrial fluids used for varnishes, sealants, and lubricants. It can even be used for essential oils, pesticides, livestock feed, bird seed, fuel for cars, and for bioremediation of soil containing heavy metals.
Hemp is one of earliest plants to be cultivated in the world and was a popular crop in early American history. Seeds first arrived in the United States for the purpose of planting to breed and maintain strong hemp crops for new settlers. Soon after settlement, the colonies were legally required to grow hemp as hemp fiber was found to be particularly useful in maritime endeavours, largely because of its natural decay resistance and how easily it adapts to cultivation.
After the American Revolution hemp remained an important part of life in the new country. Farmers were told it was their patriotic duty to grow hemp and were allowed to pay their taxes with it. George Washington himself pushed for the growth of hemp and praised its usefulness in making rope and fabric. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and eventually improved on hemp varieties.
Hemp was a versatile and flourishing crop in America. However, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the popularity of synthetic fibers in the following years, caused a severe decrease in hemp popularity. The industry soon found itself in decline. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act banned cannabis of any kind, including hemp. This essentially caused the entire industry to falter and disappear.
How It Can Help the Environment
Hemp is a powerful tool that has been left dormant for far too long. Not only does it provide us with durable and sustainable materials, the plant itself is also great for the environment. The benefits of hemp are astounding and most people don’t know the full extent of what this miracle plant offers our planet.
Nature’s Air Purifier
Hemp plants are able to rapidly capture carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere, making it cleaner and breathable for us. Hemp has been shown to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any other forest or commercial crop in history . And since hemp can be grown quickly and on a large scale, that means it is an incredibly effective and efficient way to help clean the air around us.
Hemp is a carbon neutral plant, even able to capture and store carbon in its stalks. This is because hemp is naturally durable and able to hold compounds in its strong stalks, yet the leaves of the hemp plant are easily composted right back into their growing fields when needed.
As mentioned above, the stalk of the hemp plant is extremely tough and able to absorb and maintain all sorts of nutrients within it. The same holds true for its leaves as well. As the plant grows and consumes energy, it stores nutrients in its stalk and leaves. As it grows older and matures, the leaves eventually fall to the ground where they decompose and act as a powerful natural soil nutrient. This cycle helps maintain healthy soil for the next crop and shows yet another way hemp is a sustainable plant: it can literally fertilize itself.
The world is changing and so are its environmental needs. It’s because of the ongoing need to remain environmentally responsible that sustainable farming has become so important. There are a lot of resources needed to maintain a farm, even a small one, so every bit that can be conserved should. This is necessary for financial reasons as well as environmental.
Sustainable farming of hemp means that when the crops are rotated each season, the previous crop works to keep the soil nutrients fertile, which aids in the growth of the new crop. This cycle continues with each previous crop helping to fertilize the soil of the crop that comes after. This means farmers don’t need additional fertilizer, which can be costly.
Since hemp is an annual crop that has the ability to reach maturity within just four months of being planted, it works wonderfully as a rotating crop.
Hemp fibre is an amazing natural product that works well for textiles of many different types. It can be compared to cotton or flax, however unlike those two types of fibre, it does not require pesticides or herbicides in order to grow. That means not only is the hemp fibre extremely durable, but so is the plant itself. It is not susceptible to the same dangers that cotton or flax face, like total annihilation from pests.
As most people know, pesticides are dangerous chemicals and there are many who believe they should be avoided altogether. Adding pesticides and herbicides to the growth cycle of a plant crop has many potential risks, including contamination of the surrounding environment and waterways. There is also the risk of health issues like cancer connected to pesticide use.
Pesticides are not simple and harmless chemicals, they are powerful compounds with dangerous side effects. A plant that can grow successfully and flourish without the use of chemicals is extremely important to our environment, to our health, and to future generations.
Prevents Soil Erosion
As has probably been made clear already, hemp is a very resilient plant. Even its roots are incredibly strong, reaching underground lengths of up to nine feet. These deep root systems are essential to the surrounding soil and help prevent soil erosion. Hemp and its roots have the ability to restore soil in areas that are already damaged, that’s how powerful they are.
Once the plants are established, hemp is very drought tolerant and doesn’t need much water to thrive. Hemp uses less water than corn and is extremely well suited to farming in areas that are very dry, like the southwestern United States.
Even in areas where rain is plentiful and it doesn’t seem like there are issues with droughts, water shortages are almost always still a major issue. That means being responsible with water usage and waste are more important than ever. The fact that hemp requires so little (compared to other crops) is yet another compelling reason many farmers grow hemp successfully.
Like most plants, the beginning stages of growth do require quite a bit of water to get the plant established. However, once it reaches a certain level of maturity, it becomes one of the most drought tolerant crops in history.
Here’s an amazing fact: hemp can be used to produce more than 20,000 products. How is that possible? Nothing goes to waste in the hemp plant. The seeds are used to create healthy food products like milk and flour. The flowers are used to create CBD products like tinctures and edibles. The leaves can be used to make beauty products like lotions and shampoos. And the stalk can be used to create natural fibre for textiles or rope products.
Every piece of the hemp plant has a use. Furthermore, the products created from each part of the plant are deeply beneficial and either meet or exceed any other product in the same category. That is an amazing feat for any plant, especially one that boasts zero waste.
Hemp is one of the fastest growing crops in the world. Compared to trees that take years to mature, hemp plants can reach full maturity and height within four months. In a world that is increasingly seeing its forest disappear, finding a sustainable plant that can be used to replace the clear cutting of trees is a huge win. Hemp is also able to produce a very effective pulp that can be used instead of tree pulp to create paper and paper products.
Simply put: hemp is an unbelievable product. It’s a product that can help the environment and society at almost every stage of its life cycle and with every part of its physical being. From the healthy soil it grows, to the abundant flowers it produces that are later turned into CBD oils and used medicinally by humans, hemp could be called a miracle product.
As hemp starts to once again gain back the respect it so rightfully deserves, we can only hope that the world takes full advantage of everything it has to offer. Doing so will be the first step to making up for years of missteps — one of which was not allowing hemp to flourish in this country in the first place.
As the summer of 2020 approaches, the United States is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in most states across the country. Scientists are doing all they can to keep up with the dangerous increases, which includes groups of researchers beginning their investigation into the benefits of cannabis, especially in regards to treating one of the most dangerous aspects of COVID-19: severe lung inflammation. Previous research on the cannabis plant has shown it to have a variety of therapeutic properties that could make it beneficial in the fight against infections, including those caused by the novel coronavirus.
Researchers have been studying the medical benefits of cannabis for decades, but after the first few months of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic that quickly followed, they have been focusing their attention on ways the plant could prove itself useful in preventing and treating the disease.
One such study took a look at the potential use of cannabis to reduce susceptibility to COVID-19. The research ultimately determined that some cannabis did actually reduce the amount of a certain protein that is required for SARS-CoV2 to enter into host cells . Like most other data on CBD and medicinal cannabis, research is still in its very beginning stages on this particular use, but scientists are hopeful that this means cannabis can be used in a mouthwash or throat gargle as a way to keep the virus from entering the airways of potential victims, thus helping prevent the spread and lethality of COVID-19.
Yet another study suggests cannabis might be useful as an antiviral medication. This study notes, however, that cannabis is a long way from being used as a pharmaceutical option for viral illnesses. The researchers go further by stating that with a strong history of beneficial results and an intriguing list of compounds that have a high likelihood of working, there really is no other option but to continue researching cannabis to see in what other ways it can be useful. Especially right now as COVID-19 rips through communities and families .
On that same note, researchers from the University of Nebraska and from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute have recommended that more research be done into how CBD can be used to help treat the lung inflammation so many are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 . Because of its powerful antiinflammatory properties, these researchers believe cannabinoids can be added to other antiviral therapies in order to reduce lung inflammation. The research suggests that acute infection is caused by a cytokine superstorm, which causes fever, cough, and muscle pain. When these conditions combine they can lead to severe cases of pneumonia. In those critical cases the patient’s lungs are often clogged, making it difficult for them to breathe and sometimes leaving the lungs so inflamed and clogged that the patient is unable to breathe at all. This condition is why researchers are interested in the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.
At first, researchers looked towards existing prescription medication used for acute inflammation. While their experiments did prove it was helpful in COVID-19 patients’ recovery, it had dangerous side effects that increased the risk of coronary artery disease . The side effects were harsh enough that scientists stopped using the medication and spent their time looking for something that had similar properties for inflammation, yet was not as harsh on the bodies of patients who were already critically ill and fighting for their lives.
Here, they turned to cannabis. Because cannabis contains multiple cannabinoids that offer anti-inflammatory benefits, researchers wanted to explore how it can benefit COVID patients suffering from lung inflammation. One cannabinoid in particular is especially interesting to them: CBD.
How CBD Can Help
As the popularity of CBD continues to grow, so does the interest from the medical community. Research has begun on the power of CBD as an anti-inflammatory  and it has already been approved by the FDA as a treatment for children with intractable epilepsy . Since CBD has already proved itself to be a powerful treatment for critical conditions, it’s no wonder scientists are looking to it for help in treating the novel coronavirus.
As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 attacks the body and causes a storm of cytokines. However previous studies have shown that CBD can reduce the number of inflammation cytokines, including IL-6, a specific cytokine that when reduced, has been shown to improve the condition of COVID patients. Along with IL-6, CBD was also shown to reduce other compounds associated with COVID-19, including interleukin, interferon gamma, inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1a, and tumor necrosis factor-a. Besides the above, researchers have found that CBD helps increase the production of interferons, which are important proteins that activate immune cells and prevent viruses from replicating .
Research suggests that CBD can target and reduce lung inflammation, even in those suffering from asthma. By reducing the production of the cytokines that cause inflammation, CBD has been able to reduce airway inflammation. It also has been shown to reduce pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes lung tissue to become damaged and scarred. Why is this an important fact? Because many COVID-19 patients who survive the disease will have to deal with serious pulmonary fibrosis as part of their long-term recovery .
What This Really Means
Unlike THC products, overall CBD is very well tolerated and users feel little to no side effects from using it. This is important when it comes to treating symptoms as dangerous as those that present themselves with COVID-19. Interestingly enough, one side effect of CBD that actually helps COVID patients is its anti-anxiety properties. Stress adds a lot of pressure on a person and can ultimately lead to its own set of health concerns. During a pandemic like the one we’re currently suffering through, everyone is stressed. Especially those who are suffering from the disease. Since stress and anxiety can have an effect on healing, being able to control those feelings while also reaping the benefits of the inflammation suppressing compounds is especially important for patients and recovering patients .
It is important to note that no peer review studies for this research currently exist. The article in question was published with all its researched data, but that data is currently without peer review. The authors point out, however, that there is strong evidence supporting their research and they believe further investigation should be taken in order to fully realize everything CBD may have to offer.
Like most studies regarding cannabis as a medical therapy, research is young and studies are ongoing. However, like many other cases, this possibility is interesting enough to warrant a more detailed look. This study doesn’t suggest that cannabis alone can be used to treat COVID-19, or that it’s a miracle cure, but it does present some interesting options to help reduce inflammation and reduce anxiety in those suffering through the terrible disease. That could lead to it being used as part of a coordinated treatment along with other medications and plans.
Researchers will likely keep studying cannabis and how it interacts with a number of different conditions and diseases, but right now, as the world is still reeling from the pandemic and the United States still finds itself in the middle of it, it’s especially important to look under every rock and explore every option for treating patients of this terrible and debilitating disease.
Most people are aware of the potential risk that comes when combining medications without prior approval from a doctor, but many don’t know that there is also a risk of complications when taking certain natural supplements. Even some types of food can trigger a harmful reaction when combined with certain medications. What causes these complications, though? And is there any way to avoid it?
Surprisingly there are a lot of medications that include a warning not to combine them with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. But why grapefruit? What does a grapefruit contain that creates such a dangerous combination with prescription drugs?
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice are both great additions to a healthy diet under normal circumstances. It contains important servings of vitamin C and potassium, which are essential to a healthy lifestyle. However, grapefruit also disrupts the absorption process when combined with certain medications, allowing either too much or too little medication to enter the blood. This can be dangerous for a number of reasons, from increased risk of liver damage to a potentially life threatening situation occurring because the medication isn’t reaching its intended target.
There are a number of medications that should not be combined with grapefruit juice, some examples include:
Statin drugs to lower cholesterol, like Zocor and Lipitor
Drugs that treat high blood pressure, such as Procardia and Adalat CC
Organ-transplant rejection drugs, including Sandimmune and Neoral
Anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone
Corticosteroids used for treating Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, like Entocort EC and Uceris
Drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, such as Pacerone and Nexterone
Antihistamines like Allegra
It is important to keep in mind that grapefruit does not affect all drugs in the above categories and that the above list is not inclusive. Patients should always check with their doctor. Also notable is the severity of the interaction will vary in each person and depends on the drug and the amount of grapefruit consumed, as well as an individual’s personal health and body chemistry.
The question remains, though — why does grapefruit affect so many different types of medications? It really comes down to an enzyme called CYP3A4, which lives in the small intestine. Grapefruits contain compounds called bergamottin and 6’7’-dihydroxybergamottin that block the action of CYP3A4, keeping it from doing its job of metabolizing medications as they pass through the intestine . In the next section, we’ll discuss what CYPs are and how they relate to cannabis products.
Cytochromes (CYPs) are collectively a group of enzymes involved in the metabolization of drugs, accounting for almost 75% of the total metabolic process . They oxidize steroids, fatty acids, and xenobiotics, and are important for hormone synthesis. In the human body there are six of these proteins that are involved in the metabolism of drugs. These proteins are CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2D6, CYP3A4, and CYP3A5. The most important of these six, however, are CYP3A4 and CYP2D6.
Normally, CYPs work to break down drugs in the system, leaving only the percentage that should be absorbed by the body. When the CYP process is disrupted, however, there is a risk of either increased or decreased activity by the enzymes which is where the complications begin. If the CYPs aren’t allowed to complete their metabolization as required, there is a risk of either too much or too little of a medication reaching the bloodstream.
If a drug is not metabolized correctly it can accumulate within the body, possibly reaching toxic levels. This is obviously extremely dangerous and can result in an overdose. Along with grapefruit, there are a number of other substances that affect the process of CYPs in the body. These include St. John’s Wort, watercress, goldenseal, and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD and CYP
CBD is a competitive inhibitor to CYPs, but doesn’t appear to directly affect the absorption rate of medicines or the metabolization of them by CYPs. The problem comes from the fact that CBD binds itself to CYPs, thus preventing other medication from binding to CYPs, effectively slowing down CYPs ability to metabolize those medications . This is a critical issue for prescription drugs which are usually prescribed in specific doses necessary for a certain patient’s needs. When that process is slowed or impeded, the dose required for the patient will be changed.
For example, a single dose of CBD can block the CYPs from breaking down some medications. That means the medicine will stay active in the body for longer periods of time than intended or prescribed. Since medicinal treatment is fine tuned and specific for each person and condition, this is a problem and a potentially dangerous situation.
In simple terms, CBD and CYP deactivate each other.
Researchers have been investigating the effects of CBD on medication metabolization since the 1980s. The research suggests that CBD specifically interacts with cytochrome P450 by metabolizing the enzymes and inhibiting metabolization by the liver enzymes. When it occupies the site of enzymatic activity, the CBD will displace any other compounds competing with it, resulting in cytochrome P450 being unable to break down any other compounds. The amount of competition CBD presents depends on how tightly it binds to the active site of metabolization before and after oxidation. This factor depends on how much CBD was taken and of course the unique characteristics of the person taking the medication. It can also make a difference if the CBD is consumed as an isolate, with all other cannabinoid compounds removed, or a broad or full spectrum product, which leaves those other compounds intact.
Studies have shown that a small enough dose of CBD will cause no noticeable effect on CYP activity, while still allowing it to retain its therapeutic properties. Unfortunately there is no clear cut-off for dosing to guarantee CBD won’t affect other medications since everyone’s biology is different and all medications are different chemically .
It is important to understand that even the most natural and seemingly harmless supplements or foods otherwise considered healthy, may dramatically affect the medication a person takes. With this in mind, it is always important for patients to speak with their doctor when starting new medication or when considering a new therapy, even when that therapy contains all natural products. Human bodies are complicated and specialized, meaning that any little complication can set the entire thing on its side and lead to further issues. In order to avoid such issues, patients need to be proactive with their treatment options and make sure they are asking questions and being forthcoming about what their daily routine is.
While it seems harmless on the surface, things like grapefruit, goldenseal, and CBD can drastically change the effectiveness of medications, especially prescription medications which are specially formulated at exact doses for specific purposes.