30 May 2015

Cannabis Terpene Pinene (α-pinene and β-pinene)

Pinene is one of the most common monoterpenes which occurs naturally as two isomers (α-pinene and β-pinene, usually sourced from turpentine via dry distillation of coniferous wood [α-pinene makes up 58-65% and β-pinene around 30%]) and smells a lot like – you guessed it – a forest of pine trees! But pinene brings a lot more to a strain than just flavour. Terpenes such as pinene are essentially oils secreted in cannabis trichomes and while they originally developed as an adaptive protection against predators, these compounds offer us humans a variety of benefits. Found in cannabis, pines and other conifers, sage (salvia), sagebrush (artemisia) and eucalyptus, α-pinene is also found in olive, rosemary (memory herb), sassafras, bergamot and β-pinene is also found in hops and cumin. Pinene has been used for centuries in 'alternative' medicine.

Just as different cannabinoids have different effects, so do terpenes. These unique attributes contribute to the overall composition of a cannabis strain, adding a dimension to each one’s 'personality'. Some of pinene’s known effects and benefits include:*aids alertness *analgesic (pain relief) *antibacterial *antibiotic *anti-inflammatory *antioxidant (prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body) *anti-proliferative (inhibits cancer cell growth) *apoptosis (genetically directed cell self-destruction) *bronchodilator (helps improve airflow to lungs) *euphoric *expectorant.

It also crosses the blood-brain barrier very easily, where it acts to prevent destruction of molecules responsible for transmission of information which results in memory improvement. This terpene, in part, counteracts the effects of THC (short-term memory loss) as memory fails more with pure THC than with THC mixed with pinene. 'Skunk' strains are recognised for their high levels of pinenes.

You should note that these effects are modulated by other compounds. For example, strains containing high levels of the sedating terpene myrcene may not provide the alert effects mentioned. It’s important to consider the entire chemical composition of a strain when looking for a specific effect. The presence of pinene is highly dependent on a variety of environmental factors like soil/grow medium, flowering time and curing processes. These strains have the genetic potential to produce high levels of pinene, but the only way to know for sure is through lab-tested product. Luckily, pinene’s distinct aroma lets you follow your nose to many strains containing this terpene, however, it is not as simple as sniffing out the pine-scented varieties (306 as at June 2015) as some 'hide' behind other aromas including blueberry, lemon-pine, sweet candy and strawberry!

Here's just a sample of pinene-rich cannabis varieties, compliments of Leafly:

Cannabis sativa

Jack Herer is one of the most prolific sources of pinene. This staple sativa is an excellent example of both pinene’s aroma and effects, delivering a one-two punch of focus and pine-flavoured goodness while also boosting mood and appetite.

Island Sweet Skunk's aroma is more likely to incite images of a tropical escape than forests of pine, but the high pinene content hiding under its sweet skunky bouquet will nevertheless carry you to place where energy meets focus.

Strawberry Cough may bear the distinctive smell of strawberries, but the pinene is still there, ready to take you to an uplifted, creative and alert mindset.

Cannabis indica

Dominant pine flavour ushers in soothing relaxation, but Romulan is an example of how compounds like myrcene can blunt pinene's alert qualities.

Cannabis hybrids

With an aroma that straddles the border between earthy pine and sweet candy, Dutch Treat delivers a hefty euphoric blast that keeps you uplifted and engaged in creative tasks.

Blue Dream is a hard-to-hate, easy-to-find hybrid that induces mellow euphoria with a gentle spark of creative energy. Its pine scent is hard to detect under its pungent blueberry aroma, but lab tests show that Blue Dream has the potential to boast a decent pinene content.

This hybrid’s distinctive lemon-pine aroma has become a mark of OG genetics, but pinene isn’t the only terpene OG Kush carries in abundance. The relaxing terpene myrcene and the mood-enhancing limonene also influence the OG Kush experience.

α-pinene and β-pinene can be vaporised at or around their boiling point of 155°C (311°F).

expanded from What is Pinene and What are the Benefits of this Cannabis Terpene?

22 May 2015

Vaporiser Temperatures

Vape Pens
Vaporisers work by heating cannabis to the point where certain cannabinoids 'boil' and literally evaporate, leaving behind fibrous plant matter. When you smoke a cannabis cigarette (joint), the smoke is a mix of cannabinoids and a number of somewhat toxic combustion by-products, including polycyclic aromatic hydro-carbons (PAHs). In fact, analysis has shown that joint smoke only contains about 10% of the available cannabinoids, the rest consists mostly of toxic combustion by-products. In contrast, vaporised cannabis contains up to 95% cannabinoids. Additionally, because low temperatures don‘t destroy any cannabinoids with heat, the mileage you get out of your herb is greater with a vaporiser. One way to get to know your vaporiser well, is to just play around with the temperature settings - after all, it‘s pleasant research. A somewhat more scientific approach is to get to know the boiling points of the different cannabinoids and their properties.

There's a temperature range in which different compounds of cannabis are released, each showing unique qualities in effect. While only experimentation will show you what suits you best, an ideal temperature to extract a wide range of psychoactive compounds is 185°C. The optimal temperature range for cannabis is 180-210°C. Temperatures below 190°C tend to produce a more cerebral effect, while temperatures above that tend to induce a more bodily effect.

The range of temperatures at which all cannabinoids evaporate is 157-220°C. As all cannabinoids have different boiling points, vaporising the same herb at different temperatures will generate different results. 
The following table and information outlines both the effects and temperatures at which some phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids) vaporise at. 

NB: Although some cannabinoids require temperatures above 200°C to evaporate, setting a vaporiser to above that temperature does run the risk of causing combustion, which should be avoided. Dry cannabis can begin combustion at around 200°C. The maximum heat before starting to burn is around 230°C, depending on how humid it is. 

Along with terpenoids, flavonoids are little known compared to the famed cannabinoids. Flavonoids are a large class of plant pigments and along with terpenoids are partly responsible for the look, taste and smell of any particular cannabis strain whose smell reveals a lot about the plant. They are also thought to have secondary health benefits. The following information and table outlines both the effects and temperatures at which known flavonoids vaporise at.

Terpenoids are structurally related to terpenes and are naturally occurring in a wide range of plants. In part, they contribute to what gives plants their unique aromatic quality. The scents of cinnamon, cloves and menthol are examples of well known terpenoids. In fact, the strongest known naturally occurring psychedelic compound - Salvinorin A - is a terpenoid. The following information and table outlines both the effects and temperatures at which known terpenoids vaporise at.

Toxins are chemicals that can be harmful to the body. The advantage of vaporisers lies in their unique ability to extract the active ingredients of cannabis without the toxins of combustion, such as tar and carbon monoxide. Vapour can still contain trace amounts of toxins, but compared to the over 100 different PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) found in smoke, there is one single PAH in vapour. On the other hand, toxins that come from pesticides, herbicides and other chemical agents will also concentrate in vapour - that's why choosing organic cannabis is best. The following is a small selection of toxins released through combustion:

Carbon monoxide and tar - released in the form of smoke; carcinogenic; can cause lung related problems

80.1°C - Benzene - carcinogen

110°C - Toluene - not thought a very serious toxin, only appears in small amounts; can cause light-headedness, nausea, sleepiness, loss of appetite but there's no avoiding it
218°C - Naphthalene - possible carcinogen; causes light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite and pale skin

Vaporising Very Dry Cannabis 
Unlike using a water-pipe (bong) or smoking a cannabis cigarette (joint), very dry cannabis can still be a delight in a vaporiser. However, because it is so dry, it will vaporise much faster – if it is too hot you run the risk of flash boiling the active ingredients, eliminating taste and flavour. As it is largely going to depend on the situation and strain you are using, there is no definitive guide to how to properly vaporise particularly dry cannabis but as a rule of thumb you will want to reduce the temperature from the norm, going lower the drier it is.

Conversely, if your cannabis is fresh, then it well may have a higher moisture content. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to extract the cannabinoids. To deal with this, it is recommended to do what is called a flavonoid run. By setting the vaporiser at a lower temperature (around 138–148°C) it is possible to gain a bag of flavonoid vapour whilst slowly drying out the cannabis. After this run, the cannabis should be dry enough to vaporise efficiently at THC and other cannabinoid temperatures.

The following table, Compounds in Cannabis, Properties and Boiling Points, comes with these caveats; 
  • Each strain and even batch of cannabis can have differing levels of compounds, if some are present at all. The table helps give a general sense of the potential additional compounds released into your body as you increase the temperature. 
  • The source materials were originally published in 2001. However it remains the most comprehensive information available. But, some material is dated, i.e., it says an upper range of 2.89% for CBD but given its medical value strains are bred today with much higher levels such as Cannatonic at 7% CBD (2010). Also, science continues to discover new compounds and medical properties in cannabis. 

with additional information from;
Vaporize Marijuana Guide
Cannabinoid Vaporization Temperature Levels
Guide to Cannabinoids
Vaporizing Temperature Charts Where Do They Come From
Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts
Compounds in Cannabis, Properties and Boiling Points

14 May 2015

9 Ways Hemp Can Help

1) We can stop cutting down forests for paper products and use hemp to make paper

There are four characteristics of hemp which make it particularly appealing for making paper:

Hemp fibres are long (makes for stronger paper which can be recycled more times than wood paper); 
Hemp contains high levels of cellulose (57-77%) and more cellulose makes for more pulp; 
Hemp has low (3%) lignin content (this is what makes wood-pulp paper turn yellow over time); 
One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fibre as four acres of trees. Hemp can be harvested every 100 days. Trees take decades to harvest.

The best part about hemp-based paper is that its production is environmentally friendly. Wood paper? Not so much … 

Due to its chemical and physical composition, hemp can produce high pulp yields and can be pulped without use of the Kraft process (chemical pulping of wood and long-fibre speciality papers) which uses sulphur compounds that are environmentally toxic. Also, as with other non-wood pulp, hemp can be bleached with peroxide and through other processes that do not involve chlorine.

2) We can build stronger homes with it, use less lumber and create carbon neutral structures

Hemp has some fascinating qualities for a natural fibre. One of the building products made from hemp is called Hempcrete. It’s a good acoustic dampener, it breathes (doesn’t trap vapours and humidity) and is a good insulator. And while it doesn’t have great potential as a structural (load-bearing) material on it’s own, it does have exciting possibilities as insulation that strengthens the existing structure. Hempcrete infill can increase, up to 4 times, the strength of a timber wall by preventing weak axis buckling by acting as continuous lateral elastic support.

With Hempcrete, construction costs are reduced by: shallower foundations; 30-40% less lumber, labour in framing; lower transport costs of materials to site; lower finish costs; discounted insurance costs; reduced mechanical (HVAC) requirements; NO termite fumigation needed after build

Another product, called Cannabric, can be used as a load bearing material for buildings of multiple floors. It provides much of the same acoustic, insulating and breathing benefits of Hempcrete, but it can also replace nearly all of the lumber or steel support used in typical construction.

The mineral components of the Cannabric are responsible for its mechanical hardness, its density and its excellent thermal inertia. The result is a brick of low thermal conductivity (0,1875 W/m·K) and high specific thermal capacity (1291 kJ/m3·K); it possesses thermo-physical characteristics to protect against both cold and hot climates. All this with one-layer walls of small thickness, without additional thermal insulation.

Another fascinating benefit of almost every hemp-based building material is that they are carbon negative. No, not carbon neutral, but carbon negative. In other words, hemp absorbs so much carbon from the atmosphere while it is growing that even the gas-powered machines used to harvest it, to manufacture it and to transport it do not equal as much carbon as it has already absorbed. Cannabric has a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of -0.624 kg CO2 eq/kg, that means negative. It is a material that retains CO2. In its manufacturing processes (materials, transport, used energy) it does not contribute to global warming.

3) We can fuel our cars with hemp 'gasoline' (petrol) and bio-diesel and stop burning fossil fuels

We’ve all heard of bio-diesel, and any vegetable oil can be made into bio-diesel. What’s really a game-changer is hemp can be used to make 'green gasoline', almost identical to the stuff we currently put into our combustion engine vehicles, but derived completely from cellulose.

In 2008, US researchers made a breakthrough in the development of green gasoline, a liquid identical to standard gasoline, created from sustainable biomass sources. Chemical Engineer George Huber of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and his graduate students announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components. "Green gasoline is an attractive alternative to bio-ethanol since it can be used in existing engines and does not incur the 30% gas mileage penalty of ethanol-based flex fuel. In theory it requires much less energy to make than ethanol, giving it a smaller carbon footprint and making it cheaper to produce. Making it from cellulose sources such as switchgrass or poplar trees grown as energy crops, or forest or agricultural residues such as wood chips or corn stover, solves the life-cycle greenhouse gas problem that has surfaced with corn ethanol and soy bio-diesel", said John Regalbuto at the US National Science Foundation (NSF) who supported this research.

"Huber's ... process for the direct conversion of cellulose to gasoline aromatics is at the leading edge of the new ‘Green Gasoline' alternate energy paradigm that NSF, along with other federal agencies, is helping to promote. Not only is the method a compact way to treat a great deal of biomass in a short time, the process, in principle, does not require any external energy. In fact, from the extra heat that will be released, you can generate electricity in addition to the bio-fuel. There will not be just a small carbon footprint for the process; by recovering heat and generating electricity, there won't be any footprint."

And it turns out, hemp is the best plant in the world to produce biomass for cellulosic gasoline. According to the paper Energy Farming in America, "Hemp is the world’s most versatile plant. It can yield 10 tons per acre in four months. Hemp contains 80% cellulose; wood produces 60% cellulose. Hemp is drought resistant making it an ideal crop in the dry western regions of the country".

Once this technology has evolved sufficiently to be cost effective on a large scale, it will confirm that hemp, Cannabis sativa, is a superior cultivar for bio-fuel production. Hemp exhibits far superior ethanol yields per unit biomass compared to corn or switchgrass which are the two most supported cultivars for bio-fuel by the US government.

Industrial hemp on a large scale is not a crop considered viable in Australia by the Australian government. 

If the production of cellulosic gasoline (supplied by hemp) ramps up to the point that most vehicles can be fuelled with it, simply using cellulosic gasoline will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85% compared to reformulated petrol or ethanol.

4) We can start to solve world hunger with the complete proteins and amino acids of hemp seeds

Hemp is cheap to grow, and it grows almost everywhere. So we could grow a whole lot of it for very little. And while we're using all that cellulose from hemp’s biomass to make gasoline (petrol) and clothes and better materials for our homes, we could be using the seeds for food.

Technically a nut, hemp seed typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Hemp seed oil is over 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linolenic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hemp seed oil is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. In addition, the biological metabolites of the two EFAs, gamma-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-6; ‘GLA’) and stearidonic acid (18:4 omega-3; ‘SDA’), are also present in hemp seed oil. The two main proteins in hemp seed are edestin and albumin. Both of these high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain nutritionally significant amounts of all essential amino acids. In addition, hemp seed has exceptionally high levels of the amino acid arginine. Hemp seed has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine. Recent clinical trials have identified hemp seed oil as a functional food and animal feeding studies demonstrate the long-standing utility of hemp seed as an important food resource.

What could be accomplished if hemp were being grown in large quantities all over the world for fuel, for clothing, for paper and so on? How many could we feed with all those hemp seeds?

5) We can make clothing and fabrics with a fraction of the environmental impact and water consumption of cotton

For millennia, humankind has made clothing from hemp’s long, strong fibres. Turning to hemp as a source of textile fabric would actually be a re-turning to hemp. The environmental impact of increased hemp production over cotton would be tremendously positive. Cotton requires more water, more fertilisers, more herbicides and more pesticides to grow.

Hemp represents the lowest ecological footprint of the three textiles. The footprint of hemp does not vary significantly in the different case studies, starting at 1.46 g/ha and reaching 2.01 g/ha. As with cotton, crop cultivation represents the greatest proportion of the ecological footprint in the hemp case studies. Again, this can be attributed to the land area required to grow the crop. However, unlike cotton, hemp productivity levels are much greater with yields of up to 3 tonnes of dry fibre per hectare compared to 1.35 tonnes of cotton lint per hectare.

When it comes to water needs, cotton loses by a landslide to hemp. It takes just over 4,474 litres (1,182 gallons) of water to produce 0.45 kg (1 lb) of usable cotton. It takes over 961 litres (254 gallons) of water to produce 0.45 kg (1 lb) of usable hemp fibre.

6) We can reverse / negate the effects of carbon emissions on global warming

Through carbon bio-sequestration, a process of capturing carbon emissions from the atmosphere through plants, we can trap or, 'sequester', carbon from the air into plants. Once the plants are harvested we can then create a substance called biochar, not through burning the plants, but slow-smouldering them to create a form of charcoal, which we then mix with nutrients and bury back into the soil.

The ancient tribes of the Amazon had this process figured out a long time ago. There’s a particular type of soil made from this active human interaction called 'terra preta' and it’s spectacular stuff. Compared with the surrounding soil, terra preta can contain three times as much phosphorus and nitrogen. 

Leaving aside the subtleties of how char particles improve fertility, the sheer amount of carbon they can stash away is phenomenal. In 1992, Sombroek published his first work on the potential of terra preta as a tool for carbon sequestration. According to Glaser’s research, a hectare of metre-deep terra preta can contain 250 tonnes of carbon, as opposed to 100 tonnes in unimproved soils from similar parent material. The extra carbon is not just in the char — it’s also in the organic carbon and enhanced bacterial biomass that the char sustains.

But what does hemp have to do with this? Hemp is one of the highest yielding biomass crops on the planet, and it takes far less water and fertiliser to grow than other high-yielding biomass plants. Seen as a carbon sequester, hemp might give as much as 13 tonnes of charcoal per hectare annually, which would outdo salix plantations (a popular biomass crop) by about three times.

7) We can stop using as much toxic herbicide and pesticide and restore our soils

Hemp has been on earth for a long, long time, and for millennia, our ancestral farmers grew it everywhere and knew how to take full advantage of it. One of its main benefits was in crop rotation. Until hemp became illegal to cultivate in the early twentieth century, farmers regularly planted hemp as a part of their crop rotation. Why? Because it naturally restored the fields for use by other crops through numerous mechanisms:
restores vital nutrients into the soil.removes chemicals from the soil (phyto-remediation)
naturally killed off invasive plant species (weeds) without the use of chemical herbicides.
relatively pest-resistant, so entire hemp crops didn’t need to use pesticides, allowing the field’s soil to be chemical free for the next crop’s planting.

Hemp absorbs CO2 and converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and improves the soil in which it is grown. Sometimes used as a 'mop crop' and planted on some farms to restore the soil’s nutrients during agricultural crop rotation, hemp has the phyto-remediation potential to remove toxins in the soil. Hemp offers real environmental advantages, particularly with regard to the limited need for herbicides and pesticides. Hemp is pre-adapted to organic agriculture and accordingly, to the growing market for products associated with environmentally-friendly sustainable production.

8) We can reclaim land destroyed by pollution, radiation, and toxic wastes

Hemp is a member of an elite class of hearty plants that can naturally extract and filter toxins and pollutants from some of the worst disasters in the world, even radioactive soils. This is a process of soil recovery known as phyto-remediation. Why use hemp as a phyto-remediator? 

high biomass which is unaffected by pollutants
root can grow up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) below ground
low growing cost
quick growing season
full maturation in 180 days
good accumulator from air and soil

Contaminated products can be used for industrial purposes: Bio-diesel fuels, industrial lubricants and varnishes, insulation, construction materials, paper, clothing, food and plasticised or composited materials for a variety of uses.

A number of studies have identified industrial hemp as a top candidate in bio-remediation, especially phyto-extraction of heavy metals from industrially contaminated soils. Hemp has been used to process grey-water in Australia, extensively tested in Europe for the removal of heavy metals from soil, including cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, and nickel often associated with mining, used for the clean-up of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at a site in Hawaii and cultivated on radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor site.

9) We can power coal-powered plants with much lower sulphur pollution (or even none)

Coal. A dirty word for many. A cheap source of electrical power for most. And one of the most devastating sources of pollution in the modern world. But we can cut emissions from coal plants by simply adding hemp biomass to the coal being burned. By blending coal with biomass materials such as hemp, sulphur emissions from power generation can be reduced (by 40%) and less valuable coal that is high in sulphur can remain competitive.

Even more exciting is the prospect of bio-coal, a complete alternative to replace traditional coal with almost no sulphur emissions at all . Currently, most bio-coal is made from wood, but as we know hemp has a higher cellulose content (57-77%) than wood (38-49%) it stands to reason that as we begin to grow hemp more efficiently and in more abundance, that we could eventually derive more cost productive and efficient bio-coal from hemp.

So, all this information is great, but where are all these amazing hemp products? Where’s the hemp?

Officially, hemp is still illegal to grow in many states across the US and in Australia the fledgling hemp industry has been trying to join the rest of the developed world and produce oil and food for human consumption. A prohibition on growing industrial hemp in Australia was lifted in the late 1990's, but Australian farmers are restricted to growing fibre and construction materials and politics has prevented them from gaining access to booming hemp food markets (hemp isn't legal for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand). Industrial hemp is grown by Australia's biggest producer on farms and facilities in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, producing about 2,000 tonnes of raw material a year.
The US is finally getting 'turned on' by all the possibilities of hemp. With all that this amazing plant has to offer, and all the ways that it can change our world for the better, we need to support hemp growers, producers (and their products) and further research.

Illegally green: Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition
Structural Benefits of Hempcrete Infill in Timber Stud Walls

13 May 2015

Are You Cannabinoid Deficient?

Humans may need cannabinoids to live a normal healthy life. Are you getting yours?

Cannabinoid substances don't just grow in cannabis plants. Your own body produces them. The Endogenous Cannabinoid or Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is one of the most important components of the human body. The number of physiological processes it is responsible for or involved in is truly amazing. The ECS plays an integral role in biology and appears in many surprising and unexpected places.

The ECS is perhaps the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the ECS performs different tasks, always with the same goal, homoeostasis or the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in one's external environment.

At every level of biological life cannabinoids promote homoeostasis, from the sub-cellular level to the organism and perhaps to the community and beyond. For example, autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of itself to be self-digested and recycled, is controlled by the ECS. This process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation and subsequent recycling of cellular products, and has a deadly effect on malignant tumour cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide.

Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body's various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types.

Besides regulating our internal and cellular homoeostasis, cannabinoids influence one's relationship with the external environment. Socially, the administration of cannabinoids clearly alters human behaviour, sometimes promoting sharing, humour and creativity. By mediating neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity and learning, cannabinoids may directly influence a person's open-mindedness and the ability to move beyond limiting patterns of thought and behaviour from past situations or circumstances.

Sea squirts, tiny nematodes and all other vertebrate species share the ECS as an essential part of life and adaptation to environmental changes. By comparing the genetics of cannabinoid receptors in different species, scientists estimate that the ECS evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago.

Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the entire body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue.

1 Information is transmitted around the body in the form of electrical impulses that travel through nerves. As the signal reaches the end of the nerve, or axon, the resulting depolarisation stimulates the release of stored vesicles of neurotransmitters (the yellow molecules). These traverse the synapse (the gap dividing two nerves) where they bind to receptors on the post-synaptic cell.  Activation of these post-synaptic receptors then initiates a series of events.
2 One of these series of events is the release of the Endocannabinoids (the red molecules) which are synthesised and released locally and function as a retrograde transmitter.
The Endocannabinoids travel in the opposite direction to the initial neurotransmitters, backwards across the synaptic cleft, and bind to pre-synaptic CB1 receptors (the light blue receptors). This feedback allows pre-synaptic regulation of transmitter release whereby the binding of the Endocannabinoids will retrogradely inhibit the release of further neurotransmitters, whether the neurotransmitters are inhibitory (e.g. GABA) or excitatory (e.g. glutamate)
4 Phytocannabinoids are able to mimic the action of these Endocannabinoids. In this way, they are able to augment the effect that the Endocannabinoids have in regulating the transmission of impulses from one nerve to another.

Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors. CB1 is predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, cerebellum, basal ganglia, hippocampus and dorsal primary afferent spinal cord regions and organs. CB2 is found in white blood cells, in the tonsils and in the spleen, the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action.

In the immune system, one important function of cannabinoid receptors is the regulation of cytokine release. Stimulation of the CB1 receptor produces 'marijuana'-like effects on the psyche and circulation, while no such effect is seen when the CB2 receptor is activated. Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties.

A healthy and functional ECS is essential for health. From embryonic implantation in the uterine wall of the mother, to nursing and growth, to responding to injuries, endocannabinoids help us survive in a quickly changing and increasingly hostile environment. Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This is why many first-time cannabis users don't feel an effect, but by their second or third time using the herb they have built more cannabinoid receptors and are ready to respond. More receptors increase a person's sensitivity to cannabinoids; smaller doses have larger effects and the individual has an enhanced baseline of endocannabinoid activity.

It looks as though cannabis may contain over 100 different cannabinoids, including THC, which all work synergistically to produce better medical effects and less side effects than THC alone. While cannabis is safe and works well when smoked, many patients prefer to avoid the possibility of respiratory irritation and use a vaporiser, tincture, edible or a topical salve or cream.

After years of study of cannabis (medically and recreationally) and talking to patients, it appears that if people are not using cannabis they may be cannabinoid-deficient. Humans need cannabinoids like THC, CBD and more, to live a normal healthy life. Not going through life 'high', but more like maintaining what your body needs to function properly. It is a quality of life issue. People should not be cannabinoid deficient any more than we should have a nutrient deficiency. It is possible that medical cannabis could be the most useful remedy to treat a variety of human diseases and conditions, as a component of preventative healthcare. This has been known to indigenous civilisations of ancient India, China and Tibet.

Despite a 5,000-year history of safe therapeutic use and a huge amount of published research, most doctors still know little or nothing about medical cannabis. It is time we 'get with the program' and bring modern medicine into line. Many in the medical community are still too afraid to talk about it or do anything to change the status quo. People want change now and not only Americans are more hip to the truth and the benefits of cannabis, with legislation changing across the US and around the world.

Adapted from, Are You THC Deficient? with

12 May 2015

Cannabinoids Overview. CBG-a, The Precursor, and CBG

There are over 480 different identifiable natural chemical constituents known to exist in cannabis. The most distinctive and specific class of these compounds are the Cannabinoids and around 70 have been classified to date. The term 'cannabinoid' has different meanings. In a more narrow sense, it designates the natural cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. In the broadest sense, it includes all chemicals that bind to the cannabinoid receptors and related compounds. These natural chemicals are unique to the plant and include delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). There are, however, many more, including: Cannabigerols (CBG's); other Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC's); Cannabinols (CBN's); other Cannabidiols (CBD's); Cannabichromenes (CBC's); Cannabicyclols (CBL's) and more (see below).

Cannabigerolic acid (CBG-a)

In 1975 researchers found CBG-a (the acid form of CBG) to be the first cannabinoid formed in the plant, the first expression of cannabis’ unique class of constituents. From there, CBG-a gets transformed into THC-a, CBD-a or CBC-a by the action of enzymes. Thus, CBG-a is the essential precursor for all cannabinoids.

The ability to produce Cannabigerolic acid (CBG-a) is what makes the cannabis plant unique. CBG-a is formed when geranyl pyrophosphate combines with olivetolic acid within the cannabis plant. Cannabigerolic acid (CBG-a) can be thought of as the stem cell cannabinoid, which becomes THC-a/THC, CBD-a/CBD, CBC-a/CBC, and CBG. It is the precursor to the three major branches of cannabinoids:

Cannabidiolic acid (CBD-a);

Cannabichromenic acid (CBC-a); and,

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-a).

It is thanks to CBG-a that all the medicinal effects of cannabis are possible. It does this through different types of biosynthesis, where chemicals combine to form new compounds. The cannabis plant has natural enzymes called synthases that break the CBG-a down and mould it toward the desired branch. The plant’s synthases (CBD biosynthase, CBC biosynthase and THC biosynthase) are named after the cannabinoids they help create. It is effectively impossible to overdose on CBG as it usually exists only in trace amounts in a processed plant. This makes the already very high LD50 (lethal dose) of 22.44g/kg even less. CBG, CBD and the CBC’s all share the same molecular formula but have a different structure. 'Industrial' hemp has higher amounts of CBG due to what is described as a recessive trait, which may imply higher amounts of CBG-a are present in those strains as well.

In 2005 it was found that the enzyme controlling the conversion of CBG-a into THC-a and further, THC, is held within the trichomes of the plant. This makes sense, as the trichomes have long been known to be the home of THC. A follow-up study showed THC-a could be grown in a laboratory using a yeast culture as a host. The THC-a synthase was the first biosynthase to be studied, in 2009. It wasn’t until 2014 that any research turned back to focus on CBG-a when it was identified how and where CBG-a binding happened, then, how it was converted into THC-a.

Therapeutic and medicinal values include:

♋Analgesic (relieves pain).

♋Anti-bacterial agent (slows growth of bacteria)

♋Anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation systemically).

♋Anti-proliferative (Inhibits the growth of tumours / cancer cells). CBG-a has been found to encourage apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. Defective apoptosis is believed to be a major reason for the formation and progression of cancer, research shows cannabinoids appear to stimulate apoptosis in previously unknown ways, posing a novel way to mitigate and potentially cure cancer.

Cannabigerol (CBG)
Scientists first discovered this phytocannabinoid (occurring naturally in plants, as opposed to endocannabinoids which are produced in the body) in 1964.

CBG is a minor cannabinoid component in most varieties of cannabis, sometimes less than 1%. Nevertheless, narrow-leafleted strains from the Indian-subcontinent have been found to have slightly higher levels of CBG than others. Relatively high amounts of CBG can be extracted from budding plants about three-quarters of the way through flowering. CBG is not considered psychoactive and is known to block the psychoactive effects of THC.

Studies have shown its therapeutic and medicinal values include:

♋Analgesic (relieves pain) - research suggests that CBG has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and recommends further study.

♋Anti-bacterial agent - slows growth of bacteria and proven superior to THC, CBD and CBC against gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria and fungi.

♋Anti-depressant - evidence suggests therapeutic potential. CBG appears to do something at the 5-HT1a receptor that is not fully understood (Agonist/Antagonist?). It modulates the effects of other cannabinoids at this brain site, which is the hub of emotions and depression regulation in the brain. Depending on the study, evidence suggests that CBG may help with depression and anxiety, or possibly block certain anti-depressant drugs. One study in rodents showed that if the right combination of CBG and CBD were present the CBG would block some anti-nausea effects of CBD, but it couldn't quite identify why (other than it related to the 5HT1a receptor).

♋Anti-emetic - anti-vomiting, however, one study showed CBG reversed CBD’s anti-emetic properties.

♋Anti-epileptic - reduces seizures and convulsions. Anecdotal evidence and some studies suggest CBG may be beneficial to patients with Dravet and other seizure conditions. A 2014 study suggests that CBG may help with seizure management, but the mechanisms aren’t fully understood.

♋Anti-glaucoma - relieves pressure behind the eyes. A 2009 study on glaucoma concluded that both THC and CBG reduce intra-ocular pressure and increase aqueous outflow.

♋Anti-inflammatory - reduces inflammation systemically. Research suggests that CBG has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and recommends further study. A 2013 Italian study suggested CBG has strong anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Much like CBD, CBG shows a lot of potential for controlling the inflammation that leads to IBD and like CBD warrants further research.

♋Anti-insomnia - aids with sleep.


♋Anti-nausea - along with an anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) effect
found in rats, although research has not yet been replicated in humans.

♋Anti-proliferative - inhibits growth of tumours / cancer cells). CBG slowed down progression of colon cancer in mice, a promising result that may lead to a new treatments.

♋Anti-psoriatic - eases symptoms and treats psoriasis.

♋Bone stimulant (promotes bone growth)

♋Neurogenic - stimulates growth of new brain cells (CBG is the only cannabinoid identified that is neurogenic and neurogenic compounds are extremely rare, which makes CBG a worthwhile subject for research)

♋Neuro-protective - In January 2015, researchers discovered that CBG had neuro-protective effects in mice with Huntington’s Disease (HD), which is degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. The study illuminated several mechanisms by which CBG may help treat symptoms. Researchers used two different in vivo models to most comprehensively ascertain CBG’s benefits. The first model gave mice a toxin to induce HD-like symptoms. CBG countered a number of the toxin’s effects by reducing pro-inflammatory markers and reactive microgliosis (a form of neuro-inflammation). It also restored the antioxidant defences that were damaged by the toxin administration, ultimately protecting neurons and improving motor function. In the second model, researchers used R6/2 transgenic mice, genetically modified to display features of HD, to examine CBG’s effects. The improvement in motor function was not as strong as the intoxicated mice, but it was still significant. Most interestingly, CBG had a significant effect on at least seven genes linked to HD. The cannabinoid was able to partially normalise the expression of the genes, all of which were impaired in the R6/2 mice. Furthermore, it reduced the accumulation of mutant Huntington protein, which may be responsible for the majority of HD symptoms. Several of the physiological problems associated with HD may be treated with phytocannabinoids. Like many neuro-degenerative disorders, excitotoxicity (over-stimulation of neurons) and oxidative stress (imbalance of oxidants and antioxidants) likely contribute to the cell death seen in HD. Although no clinical trials have been carried out, cannabinoids almost certainly have a place in the future treatment of Huntington’s Disease.

CBG needs temperatures higher than 200°C (392°F) to vaporise, increasing by 90% from 200°C to 230°C (392°F to 446°F).

Searching for Cannabigerol using Google Scholar returns over one thousand and forty results.

This is Part 1 of a four-part series on a lot of what is currently known about cannabinoids. Part 2 will cover one of the three major branches of cannabinoids; Cannabidiols (CBD's) including Cannabidiolic acid (CBD-a).

Reference sources included;

Hemp Edification February 2015 Cannabinoids