Medical Cannabis Conference in Europe Highlights Science, Cannabinoid Medicines

Naturopathic Doctor, Michelle Sexton, writes about the IACM 6th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine and 5th European Workshop on Cannabinoid Research that took place this September 8-10 at the University of Bonn, Germany.

By Dr. Michelle Sexton, ND  |  September 17, 2011

Inflammation and neuro-excitation flared and were then calmed by the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system (eCBss) recently in the birthplace of Beethoven, Bonn, Germany.

This signaling is ubiquitous across systems including the brain, bulk, bone, bowel, blood, and bugs.

“Thus the exciting promenade from plant natural products to animal physiology,” as Vincenzo di Marzo said, and which could be a theme, as pharmacology and pharmacognosy united, but I’ll get to that!

As a revolution in the re-emergence of plant compounds, Cannabis sativa has provided a wealth of ethnobotanical information on a molecular scale.

But let the brain lead the way, as it is a servant of it’s master, the peripheral systems.

The periphery to the CNS is a gateway, largely on an immune level, the two in close simpatico, communicating through the eCBss.

Program: Part 1

Brain Functions

Small genetic alterations that lead to functional changes in cannabinoid receptor can lead to an enhanced eCBss, Ken Mackie reported.

He is just starting to inquire about what this means in the development of tolerance or for addictive tendencies.

Of course this is only in mice, however because of genetic similarities to humans, it is not entirely implausible that similar things may happen in a homosapien.

These findings do speak to the starring role of the eCBss, which is “biochemistry in balance” in the body.

Beat Lutz told of regulation of social behavior by CB1 expression on excitatory neurons.

Loss of this most highly-expressed protein in the brain apparently leads to a very nervous mouse (to the point of seizures, even).

Animals who lost this receptor on dopaminergic neurons, where the two receptors walk hand-in-hand, were a bit melancholy and easily startled Ana Luiza Terzain told us.

You might know someone like this, perhaps whose brain has been toyed with using modern pharmaceuticals. Maybe they need a eCBss tune-up?

On the other hand, the eCBss may be in orbit, as in schizophrenia, requiring a decrease in the eCBss cellular component.

The curious thing about Cannabis, the plant, is that it is considered to be an adaptogen.

So depending on ‘things,’ something that is agonism in one biochemical system may be antagonism in another (sort of like one man’s poison is another man’s medicine).

Apparently just the right amount of eCB ‘tone’ may lead you to be playful.

Maybe it was that a lack of playfulness led to enhanced CB1 receptor in the thalamus (which does, well lots of ‘things’… such as telling you where you are in space, what you feel, where your consciousness is)?

Damage to this part of the brain can lead to coma, which reminds me of a number of precious old people I saw recently who have been reduced this way by means of hyper-pharmaceutical-ization (Israel has a better model for this, however).

The thalamus really is a relay station, particularly for sensation on the gross and fine levels. Hypersensitivity in this part of the brain may lead to the experience of a lot of physical/visceral pain, at least in the human model of this rat borderline personality disorder.

To sum it up, if one ascribes to the hypothesis of the triune brain,  the thalamus is parcel of a very old division of the central nervous system.  It  regulates behavior that is a product of sensory input.

These components are purported to be the early structures of the limbic system associated with social and nurturing behavior, and reciprocity- just general benevolence. The eCBss has a starring role in these structures, indicating that there is a lot of tuning up to do out in the world!

Dr. Michelle Sexton is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Washington and is doing groundbreaking cannabinoid research through her lab,

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