The endocannabinoid system plays a major role in Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
PD is associated with impairment of motor control after the loss of 60-80% of dopamine-producing neurons in a critical brain region.
Digestive imbalance may play a role in the advancement of PD& the severity of symptoms.
Cannabinoids have neuroprotectant, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial for managing PD.
Various combinations of CBD, THC, and THCV may provide relief for Parkinson’s symptoms.
Photo credit: pixabay
Scientists at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky have identified a previously unknown molecular target of cannabidiol (CBD), which may have significant therapeutic implications for Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
A poster by Zhao-Hui Song and Alyssa S. Laun at the 2017 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society in Montreal disclosed that CBD activates a G-coupled protein receptor called “GPR6” that is highly expressed in the basal ganglia region of the brain. GPR6 is considered an “orphan receptor” because researchers have yet to find the primary endogenous compound that binds to this receptor.(1)
It has been shown that a depletion of GPR6causes an increase of dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter, in the brain. This finding suggests GPR6could have a role in the treatment of Parkinson’s, a chronic, neurodegenerative disease that entails the progressive loss of dopaminergic (dopamine-producing) neurons and consequent impairment of motor control. By acting as an “inverse agonist” at the GPR6 receptor, CBD boosts dopamine levels in preclinical studies.
Parkinson’s affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, including one million Americans. It is the second most common neurological disorder (after Alzheimer’s Disease). Over 96 percent of those diagnosed with PD are over 50 years old with men being one-and-a-half times more likely to have PDthan women. Uncontrolled PD significantly reduces the patient’s quality of life and can render a person unable to care for themselves, trapped in a body they cannot control.
Parkinson’s Disease is most associated with compromised motor function after the loss of 60-80% of dopamine-producing neurons. As dopaminergic neurons become damaged or die and the brain is less able to produce adequate amounts of dopamine, patients may experience any one or combination of these classic PD motor symptoms: tremor of the hands, arms, legs or jaw; muscle rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; slowness of movement (bradykinesia); and /or impaired balance and coordination (postural instability).
Additional symptoms include decreased facial expressions, dementia or confusion, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, constipation, cognitive changes, fear, anxiety, and urinary problems. Pesticide exposure and traumatic brain injury are linked to increased risk for PD. Paraquat, an herbicide sprayed by the DEA in anti-marijuana defoliant operations in the United States and other countries, resembles a toxicant MPTP [methyl-phenyl-tetrahydropyridien], which is used to simulate animal models of Parkinson’s for research purposes.(2)
Within the PD brain there are an inordinate number of Lewy bodies – intracellular aggregates of difficult to break down protein clusters – that cause dysfunction and demise of neurons.(3) This pathological process results in difficulties with thinking, movement, mood and behavior. The excessive presence of Lewy bodies, coupled with the deterioration of dopaminergic neurons, are considered to be hallmarks of Parkinson’s. But mounting evidence suggests that these aberrations are actually advanced-stage manifestations of a slowly evolving pathology.
It appears that non-motor symptoms occur for years before the disease progresses to the brain, and that PD is actually a multi-system disorder, not just a neurological ailment, which develops over a long period of time. According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, motor symptoms of PD only begin to manifest when most of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells are already damaged.
Patients whose PD is diagnosed at an early stage have a better chance of slowing disease progression. The most common approach to treating PD is with oral intake of L-dopa, the chemical precursor to dopamine. But in some patients, long-term use of L-dopa will exacerbate PD symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure – yet.
What causes Parkinson’s? One theory that is gaining favor among medical scientists traces the earliest signs of PD to the enteric nervous system (the gut), the medulla (the brainstem), and the olfactory bulb in the brain, which controls one’s sense of smell. New research shows that the quality of bacteria in the gut – the microbiome – is strongly implicated in the advancement of Parkinson’s, the severity of symptoms, and related mitochondrial dysfunction.
Defined as “the collection of all the microorganisms living in association with the human body,” the microbiome consists of “a variety of microorganisms including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses.” Bacteria, both good and bad, influence mood, gut motility, and brain health. There is a strong connection between the microbiome and the endocannabinoid system: Gut microbiota modulate intestinal endocannabinoid tone, and endocannabinoid signaling mediates communication between the central and the enteric nervous systems, which comprise the gut-brain axis.
Viewed as “the second brain,” the enteric nervous system consists of a mesh-like web of neurons that covers the lining of the digestive tract – from mouth to anus and everything in between. The enteric nervous system generates neurotransmitters and nutrients, sends signals to the brain, and regulates gastrointestinal activity. It also plays a major role in inflammation.
The mix of microorganisms that inhabit the gut and the integrity of the gut lining are fundamental to overall health and the ability of the gut-brain axis to function properly. If the lining of the gut is weak or unhealthy, it becomes more permeable and allows things to get into the blood supply that should not be there, negatively impacting the immune system. This is referred to as “leaky gut.” Factor in an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a paucity of beneficial bacteria and you have a recipe for a health disaster.
The importance of a beneficial bacteria in the gut and a well-balanced microbiome cannot be overstated. Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, for example, has been associated with worsening PD motor function. In a 2017 article in the European Journal of Pharmacology, titled “The gut-brain axis in Parkinson’s disease: Possibilities for food-based therapies,” Peres-Pardo et al examine the interplay between gut dysbiosis and Parkinson’s. The authors note that “PD pathogenesis may be caused or exacerbated by dysbiotic microbiota-induced inflammatory responses … in the intestine and the brain.”(4)
Mitochondria, microbiota and marijuana
The microbiome also plays an important role in the health of our mitochondria, which are present in every cell in the brain and body (except red blood cells). Mitochondria function not only as the cell’s power plant; they also are involved in regulating cell repair and cell death. Dysfunction of the mitochondria, resulting in high levels of oxidative stress, is intrinsic to PD neurodegeneration. Microbes produce inflammatory chemicals in the gut that seep into the bloodstream and damage mitochondria, contributing to disease pathogenesis not only in PD but many neurological and metabolic disorders, including obesity, type-2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
The evidence that gut dysbiosis can foster the development of PD raises the possibility that those with the disease could benefit by manipulating their intestinal bacteria and improving their microbiome. Enhancing one’s diet with fermented foods and probiotic supplements may improve gut health and relieve constipation, while also reducing anxiety, depression and memory problems that afflict PD patients.
Cannabis therapeutics may also help to manage PD symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Acclaimed neurologist Sir William Gowers was the first to mention cannabis as a treatment for tremors in 1888. In his Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System, Grower noted that oral consumption of an “Indian hemp” extract quieted tremors temporarily, and after a year of chronic use the patient’s tremors nearly ceased.
Modern scientific research supports the notion that cannabis could be beneficial in reducing inflammation and assuaging symptoms of PD, as well as mitigating disease progression to a degree. Federally-funded preclinical probes have documented the robust antioxidant and neuroprotective properties of CBD and THC with “particular application … in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” Published in 1998, these findings formed the basis of a U.S. government patent on cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.
Although clinical studies focusing specifically on the use of plant cannabinoids to treat PD are limited (because of marijuana prohibition) and convey conflicting results, in aggregate they provide insight into how cannabis may aid those with Parkinson’s. Cannabidiol, THC, and especially THCV all showed sufficient therapeutic promise for PD in preclinical studies to warrant further investigation. Additional research might shed light on which plant cannabinoids, or combination thereof, is most appropriate for different stages of Parkinson’s.
Anecdotal accounts from PD patients using artisanal cannabis preparations indicate that cannabinoid acids (present in unheated whole plant cannabis products) may reduce PD tremor and other motor symptoms. Raw cannabinoid acids (such as CBDA and THCA) are the chemical precursors to neutral, “activated” cannabinoids (CBD, THC). Cannabinoid acids become neutral cannabinoid compounds through a process called decarboxylation, where they lose their carboxyl group through aging or heat. Minimal research has focused on cannabinoid acids, but the evidence thus far suggests that THCA and CBDA have powerful therapeutic attributes, including anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-cancer, and anti-seizure properties. In a 2004 survey of cannabis use among patients at the Prague Movement Disorder Centre in the Czech Republic, 45 percent of respondents reported improvement in PD motor symptoms.
Cannabis clinicians are finding that dosage regimens for medical marijuana patients with PDdon’t conform to a one-size-fits-all approach. In her book Cannabis Revealed (2016), Dr. Bonni Goldstein discussed how varied a PD patient’s response to cannabis and cannabis therapeutics can be:
“A number of my patients with PD have reported the benefits of using different methods of delivery and different cannabinoid profiles. Some patients have found relief of tremors with inhaled THC and other have not. A few patients have found relief with high doses of CBD-rich cannabis taken sublingually. Some patients are using a combination of CBD and THC … Trial and error is needed to find what cannabinoid profile and method will work best. Starting a low-dose and titrating up is recommended, particularly with THC-rich cannabis. Unfortunately, THCV-rich varieties are not readily available.”
Juan Sanchez-Ramos M.D., PhD, a leader in the field of movement disorders and the Medical Director for the Parkinson Research Foundation, told Project CBD that he encourages his patients to begin with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio product if they can get it. In a book chapter on “Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Movement Disorders,” he and coauthor Briony Catlow, PhD, describe the dosage protocol used for various research studies that provided statistically positive results and a dosing baseline for PD. This data was included in a summary of dosing regimens from various studies compiled by Dr. Ethan Russo:
300 mg/day of CBD significantly improved quality of life but had no positive effect on the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale. (Lotan I, 2014)
0.5 g of smoked cannabis resulted in significant improvement in tremor and bradykinesia as well as sleep. (Venderová K, 2004)
150 mg of CBD oil titrated up over four weeks resulted in decreased psychotic symptoms. (Chagas MH, 2014)
Of course, each patient is different, and cannabis therapeutics is personalized medicine. Generally speaking, an optimal therapeutic combination will include a synergistic mix of varying amounts of CBDand THC – although PD patients with sleep disturbances may benefit from a higher THC ratio at night.
Dr. Russo offers cogent advice for patients with PD and other chronic conditions who are considering cannabis therapy. “In general,” he suggests, “2.5 mg of THC is a threshold dose for most patients without prior tolerance to its effects, while 5 mg is a dose that may be clinically effective at a single administration and is generally acceptable, and 10 mg is a prominent dose, that may be too high for naïve and even some experienced subjects. These figures may be revised upward slightly if the preparation contains significant CBD content … It is always advisable to start at a very low dose and titrate upwards slowly.”
For information about nutritional supplementation to help manage PD, visit the Life Extension Foundation Parkinson’s page.
Lifestyle Modifications for PD Patients
It is important to treat the patient as a whole – mind, body and soul. The following are a few lifestyle modifications that may provide relief from PD symptoms and improve quality of life.
Do cardio aerobic exercise: This benefits the body in so many ways, including stimulating the production of one’s endocannabinoids, increasing oxygen in the blood supply, mitigating the negative impact of oxidative stress, and boosting the production of BDNF, a brain-protecting chemical found to be low in PD patients.
Eat more fruits and vegetables: The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” is so true. The majority of PD patients suffer from chronic constipation. A high fiber diet can be helpful in improving gut motility and facilitating daily bowel movements.
Get restful sleep: Not getting good sleep can undermine one’s immune function, cognition and quality of life. The importance of adequate restful sleep cannot be over emphasized.
Reduce protein intake – This may help reduce the accumulation of protein bodies that result in Lewy bodies that appear in the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system and increase the uptake of L-dopa.
Practice meditation, yoga or Tai Chi: The focus on the integration of movement and breath not only improve mobility but it also improves cognition and immunity. One study showed an increase in grey matter density in the areas of the brain associated with PD. Another showed that yoga improved balance, flexibility, posture and gait in PD patients. Research shows that tai chi can improve balance, gait, functional mobility, and overall well being.
Consume probiotic food and supplements: Probiotic foods — raw garlic, raw onions, bananas, asparagus, yams, sauerkraut, etc.— are a great source for the good bacteria in your large intestine. Augmenting your diet with probiotic supplements, especially after taking antibiotics, can support the immune system by helping to repopulate the upper digestive tract with beneficial bacteria. Consult your doctor regarding a recommendation for a quality probiotic.
Drink coffee: The risk of PD is considerably lower for men who consume coffee daily.
Nishi Whiteley, a Project CBD research associate and contributing writer, is the author of Chronic Relief: A Guide to Cannabis for the Terminally and Chronically Ill (2016). Special thanks to Juan Sanchez-Ramos for reviewing this article, Ethan B. Russo, M.D. for providing a summary of Parkinson’s research for inclusion in this article, and to Adrian Devitt-Lee for his research support.
A patient testimonial from a 72-year-old Oregon resident who has been weaning herself off opioids with the help of CBD-rich cannabis.
BY PROJECT CBD ON AUGUST 01, 2017
After a decade on prescription painkillers, a senior citizen grew her own cannabisand made a whole plant CBD-infused olive oil tincture from a high-CBD/low- THC cultivar.
A chronic pain patient was able to taper her opioid regimen by ingesting a CBD-rich tincture.
Vaporizing and juicing cannabis helped both her withdrawal symptoms and fibromyalgia flare ups, with the added benefit of allowing restful sleep.
I wanted to relay the experience I’m having with CBD aiding opiate withdrawal. I am a 72-year-old woman. A doctor put me on fentanyl patches about 10 years ago, after trying various painkillers for my intense fibromyalgia pain. They did not notify me how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to get off of them. I use the generic Mylan brand, which can be cut down without deleterious effects. Several times over the years I have attempted to taper down, but even cutting off the tiniest sliver of the patch resulted in intense withdrawal symptoms, so I gave up.
In the last year I had started making an olive oil tincture from a couple of high-CBD/low-THC strains I was growing for my dogs. Then I started using the tincture on myself. I have also since started juicing the leaves. A few months ago I decided to try and taper off of the patch again and, to my enormous surprise, there were NOwithdrawal symptoms at all. I was able to cut out 5 mcg at a time. I’ve been cutting down more each week. When I started this process, I was taking 150 mcg. Now I’m about two weeks away from being at just 100 mcg. So far, I’ve had no increase in fibromyalgia pain, and no withdrawal symptoms.
I’ve been using about 40-50 mg a day of CBD in the form of the olive oil tincture. I grew ACDC and another a strain high in CBD and low THC. I took the flowers and decarboxylated them in olive oil for a few hours at a sufficiently low temperature. The final product comes out around 12 mg of CBD per ml. I also use a vaporizer with the AC/DC flowers that I grew. I’ve found that both vaporizing and using the tincture to be very effective for any pain. In the evening it contributes to a good night’s sleep.
In the last week or so since I have also been juicing cannabis, I’ve noticed a difference in the way I feel. I’ve had far more energy and no fibromyalgia aches in the evening. My fibromyalgia flares are much shorter. It will be interesting to see how things go in the future, as I continue to juice cannabis and use my tincture.
I estimate that I’ve been cutting off 3-5 mcg each week of the patches. I may try to cut off larger pieces now that I’m taking cannabis juice, and see what happens. After hearing that fentanyl is harder to get off of than heroin, it’s been pretty amazing.
I hope the efficacy of CBD in aiding opiate withdrawal becomes more commonly known. It’s truly incredible.
Author’s note: This testimonial was submitted to Project CBD and the patient wishes to remain anonymous.
Quality sleep is critical to human emotional, mental and physical health, yet it eludes between 50-70 million Americans. In this report, we will explore why sleep matters, the role of the endocannabinoid system in sleep, and how cannabis and its components—in particular, CBD and THC—may benefit those with sleep issues.
Sleep disturbances are the most common health problem in America. Those with sleep issues are poorly served by prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills and other pharmaceuticals, which have serious risks.
CBD and other plant cannabinoids show promise for treating insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep-related disorders.
CBD co-administered with THC improves sleep more efficaciously than single-molecule medications.
Chronic, heavy consumption of THC-dominant cannabis can disrupt healthy sleep patterns.
Our ability to be awake, fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested is part of an internal biological process regulated by circadian rhythms and the endocannabinoid system.
Although sleep is essential for our health, its biological purpose is not fully understood. Oddly, the seemingly inactive state of sleep is actually a dynamic and critical process that helps us store memories, build immunity, repair tissue, regulate metabolism and blood pressure, control appetite and blood sugar, and process learning, along with a myriad of other physiological processes – all of which are regulated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institute of Health (NIH), new findings suggest “sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.”
Poor sleep is the number one reported medical complaint in the Unites States and a serious public health concern. The average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep per day. Yet, 10-30 million Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep.
Over 60 percent of American adults report having problems sleeping several nights per week.
Over 40 million Americans suffer from more than 70 different sleep disorders. The most common sleep-related ailments include:
Insomnia – when one cannot fall asleep or stay asleep.
Sleep apnea – which involves impaired breathing while sleeping.
Restless leg syndrome – characterized by tingling, discomfort and even pain in the legs that increases at night and is relieved by movement.
Circadian rhythm disorders – when one’s internal clock is off and one’s sleep patterns are disturbed.
Parasomnias – which entails abnormal movements and activities while sleeping, including sleep walking and nightmares.
Excessive daytime sleepiness – when an individual experiences persistent drowsiness during daylight hours from narcolepsy or another medical condition.
Poor sleep is a risk factor for serious illness. Compared to people who get enough sleep, adults who are short-sleepers (less than 7 hours per 24-hour period) are more likely to experience one or more of 10 chronic health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and depression.
Those with chronic illnesses are at greater risk for insomnia, which exacerbates their discomfort. Comorbid medical disorders – including conditions that cause hypoxemia (abnormally low blood oxygen levels) and dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing), gastroesophageal reflux disease, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases – have a 75-95 percent increased risk of insomnia.
Pills that kill
In 2016, according to the industry research firm MarketsandMarkets, Americans spent $3.38 billion on prescription sedatives and hypnotics, over-the-counter (OTC) sleep drugs, and herbal sleep aids. It’s projected that the market for such products will experience about a 4.5 percent growth rate between now and 2021.
Dr. Kripke reviewed 40 studies conducted on prescription sleeping pills, which include hypnotic drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien, Edlmar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist), temazepam (Restoril), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), triazolam (Halcion), flurazepam (Dalmane and Dalmadorm), quazepam, and other barbiturates used for sleep. Of these 40 studies, thirty-nine found that consumption of hypnotics is “associated with excess mortality” to the tune of a 4.6 times greater risk of death for hypnotic users.
Grim statistics: 10,000 deaths per year are directly caused by and attributed to hypnotic drugs, based on medical examiner data. However, large epidemiological studies suggest the number of fatalities may actually be closer to 300,000-500,000 per year. The difference can be attributed to underreported use of hypnotics at the time of death and the fact that prescription hypnotics are rarely listed as the cause of death.
Dr. Kripke concludes that even limited use of sleeping pills causes “next day functional impairment,” increases risk of “on-the-road driver-at-fault crashes,” increases falls and accidental injuries especially among seniors, is associated with “2.1 times” as many new depression incidents compared to randomized placebo recipients, and increases the risk of suicide. Furthermore, the use of opioids combined with hypnotics – two known dose-dependent respiratory suppressants – can be extremely dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol and other drugs.1
Another concern: Data from controlled hypnotics trials resulted in 12 cancers in hypnotic participants compared to zero cancers in the placebo group. (When the FDA conducted the same audit, they found 13 cancers.) But it is unclear if the hypnotics were a causative factor in these cancers or if they were promoting progression of cancer that had previously gone undetected. Animal and in vitro (test tube/petri dish) studies also attest to the pro-cancer potential of hypnotics. To learn more visit Dr. Kripke’s website.
In addition to these risks, meta-data (combined data) from placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials showed participants in the hypnotic groups had a 44 percent higher infection rate than the placebo participants.
Are over-the-counter sleep aids any better? These also have adverse side effects. Most OTC sleeping pills (Benadryl and others) have the antihistamine diphenhydramine as the primary ingredient. It can knock you out, but it’s unlikely to provide truly restful sleep.
In an email exchange with Project CBD, Dr. Kripke writes: “Usage of diphenhydramine is associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease, though which is cause and which is effect is certainly unclear. One well-known aspect of diphenhydramine is that it is anticholinergic [blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine], that produces some heart symptoms sometimes as well as digestive symptoms such as constipation. In some patients, also, diphenhydramine at night causes rather a lot of daytime sleepiness.”
A large number of OTC sleep aids also include acetaminophen, a pain reliever that has a narrow therapeutic window – meaning at one dose it’s therapeutic, but the slightest increase can be toxic to the liver. All too often consumers don’t read the warning labels about these drugs and consume them with alcohol and other meds. This can cause liver toxicity and/or fatal respiratory suppression.
OTC sleep aids are intended only for occasional or short-term use – never more than two weeks at one time. Although it is not typically reported in the published literature, those who use OTC and prescription sleep aids find that once they start it’s hard to stop.
Given the problems with conventional soporifics, medical scientists have been exploring other ways to improve sleep by targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS). As the primary homeostatic regulator of human physiology, the ECS plays a major role in the sleep-wake cycle and other circadian processes.
Italian scientist Vicenzo DiMarzo summarized the broad regulatory function of the endocannabinoid system in the phrase “Eat, sleep, relax, protect and forget.”
How we fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up, and remain awake is part of an internal biological process regulated by our circadian rhythms and our endocannabinoid system. Circadian rhythms govern a diverse array of actions in the body, including hormone production, heart rate, metabolism, and when to go to sleep and wake up.
It’s as if we have an internal biochemical timer or clock that keeps track of our need for sleep, guides the body to sleep and then influences the intensity of sleep. This biological mechanism is affected by external forces such as travel, medication, food, drink, environment, stress and more.
Key question: Does the endocannabinoid system regulate our experience of circadian rhythms or vice versa?
Evidence of a strong relationship between the two is observed in the sleep-wake cycle fluctuations of anandamide and 2-AG (the brain’s own marijuana-like molecules), along with the metabolic enzymes that create and break down these endogenous cannabinoid compounds.
Anandamide is present in the brain at higher levels at night and it works with the endogenous neurotransmitters oleamide and adenosine to generate sleep. Conversely, 2AG is higher during the day, suggesting that it is involved in promoting wakefulness.
The highly complex sleep-wake cycle is driven by a variety of neurochemicals and molecular pathways.2 Both anandamide and 2AG activate CB1cannabinoid receptors that are concentrated in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain associated with regulating sleep.
CB1 receptors modulate neurotransmitter release in a manner that dials back excessive neuronal activity, thereby reducing anxiety, pain, and inflammation. CB1 receptor expression is thus a key factor in modulating sleep homeostasis.
This is not the case, however, with respect to the CB2, the cannabinoid receptor located primarily in immune cells, the peripheral nervous system, and metabolic tissue. Whereas CB1 receptor expression reflects cyclical circadian rhythms, no such fluctuations have been described for the CB2 receptor.
The challenge of studying and treating sleep disturbances is complicated by the fact that sleep disorders are symptomatic of many chronic illnesses. In many cases, poor sleep results in chronic illness, and chronic illness always involves an underlying imbalance or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system. Although we still have much to learn about the relationship between the ECS and circadian rhythms, it’s clear that adequate quality sleep is a critical component of restoring and maintaining one’s health.
Cannabis for slumber
Cannabinoids have been used for centuries to promote sleepiness and to help people stay asleep. In the acclaimed medical reference Materia Medica, published in the 18th century, cannabis was listed as a ‘narcotica’ and ‘anodyna’ (pain reliever). Its reintroduction to Western medicine by Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy in 1843 led to studies that underscored the remedial properties of “Indian hemp” for sleep disorders.
“Of all anaesthetics ever proposed, Indian hemp is the one which produced a narcotism most closely resembling the natural sleep without causing any extraordinary excitement of the vessels, or any particular suspension of secretions, or without fear of a dangerous reaction, and consecutive paralysis,” German researcher Bernard Fronmueller observed in 1860.
Nine years later Fronmueller reported that in 1000 patients with sleep disturbance, Indian hemp produced cures in 53 percent, partial cure in 21.5 percent, and little or no effects in 25.5 percent.
Sleep-related problems continue to drive a large percentage of people to seek relief with cannabis. Poor sleep and lack of sleep cause physiological changes in the body after just one night, resulting in slower reaction times, deceased cognitive performance, less energy, aggravated pain and inflammation, and in many cases overeating or cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate “comfort” foods.
A 2014 study by Babson et al notes that approximately 50 percent of long-term cannabis consumers (over 10 years) report using cannabis as a sleep aid. Among medical marijuana patients, 48 percent report using cannabis to help with insomnia.
Another study revealed that 40 percent of insomniacs also suffer from anxiety and depression or another a psychiatric disorder. (Roth, 2007) Would it surprise you to learn that people with mood disorders who use cannabis have the highest rates of sleep benefit at 93 percent? (Babson & Bonn-Miller, 2014)
“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep.” So said Thomas Aquinas.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is alerting or mildly stimulating in moderate doses, while its psychoactive counterpart delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) tends to be sedating. However, the science is somewhat paradoxical.
Research data and anecdotal accounts indicate that CBD and THC have differential effects on sleep – both can be alerting or sedating depending on dosage.
The biphasic dose response triggered by CBD and THC is one of the factors that may contribute to conflicting research results with respect to cannabinoids and sleep.3
The association between low-dose cannabidiol and increased wakefulness underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for narcolepsy and other variants of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Curiously, CBD can help people fall asleep as well as stay awake. An insomnia study indicated that the administration of 160 mgs of CBD decreased nighttime sleep interruptions and increased total sleep time, suggesting that high-dose CBD therapy can improve the quality and duration of sleep.
In addition to showing promise as a safe and effective alternative to conventional psychiatric treatments for insomnia, cannabidiol can reduce symptoms of REM behavior disorder (RBD), which is characterized by the acting out of vivid, intense, and sometimes violent dreams. A preliminary study examined the efficacy of CBD in patients with both Parkinson’s disease and RBD and the results were encouraging.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent form of sleep disorder breathing that affects nine percent of American adults. Research involving animal models of this condition has shown that THC and the endogenous cannabinoid oleamide are effective in reducing sleep apnea events. (Babson 2017) Human studies indicate that dronabinol, a FDA-approved synthetic version of THC, reduces sleep apnea and is safe and well tolerated.
Additionally, cannabinol (CBN), most commonly associated with aged cannabis, is said to potentiate the sedative properties of THC when these two cannabinoids are used together, although this notion may be more modern-day marijuana folklore than scientific fact.
Pain and sleep
Besides the desire for good sleep, treating pain is another common reason for using cannabis. Chronic pain is a major public health issue that directly affects around 20 percent of U.S. adults, many of whom also suffer from diminished sleep. Sometimes it’s hard to know if the pain is causing sleeplessness or if sleeplessness is triggering the pain.
Of particular interest is a Phase II study, involving 24 patients with intractable multiple sclerosis, which compared three different preparations: Tetranabinex (a high THC product); Nabindolex (high CBD); and Sativex® (an almost a 1:1 THC:CBD sublingual remedy).
Different cannabinoid ratios helped in various ways: “Compared to placebo, the CBD-predominant extract significantly improved pain, the THC-predominant extract yielded significant improvement in pain, muscle spasm, spasticity and appetite, and combined THC:CBD extracts (Sativex®) significantly improved muscle spasm and sleep.”
The authors concluded that a combination of CBD and THC (15 mg of each) “improved sleep synergistically.” Of the thirteen studies profiled in this paper, seven showed improvements in sleep. Six of the seven were conducted with Sativex®, the 1:1 CBD:THC sublingual spray, indicating that balanced a cannabinoid profile facilitates sleep improvements among patients with chronic pain.5
The gift of forgetting
The use of cannabis is prevalent among those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A small open trial conducted in Israel showed that 5 mg of smoked THC twice a day resulted in improved sleep and reduced frequency of nightmares in patients with PTSD. (Mechoulam, 2015) This directly correlates with similar test results involving nabilone, a synthetic THC-like drug.
Memory processing occurs when we are asleep, so it stands to reason that someone suffering from PTSD– especially those who experience nightmares – would benefit by using cannabis or cannabinoids to sleep better.
At first glance, it may appear that cannabis is merely a coping mechanism for PTSD patients; it is sometimes negatively characterized this way in the medical literature. Thus far, the majority of studies involving cannabinoids and PTSD have been conducted from an addiction perspective – will cannabis harm PTSD patients and turn them into addicts? – but that may be changing.
Increasingly researchers are recognizing the limitations of the addiction framework, which overlooks the crucial role that the endocannabinoid system plays in helping us forget painful memories, a normal process that is somehow dysregulated when one experiences PTSD.
In some cases, THC and other plant cannabinoids can provide enough relief so that PTSD sufferers are able to embark upon the task of making sense of their traumatic memories and begin the healing process. None of that can happen without quality sleep.
“If you can’t sleep your world goes to hell in a hand basket real fast,” said Al Byrne, a U.S. Navy veteran and medical marijuana advocate.
Many military veterans and victims of sexual abuse are using cannabis to treat their PTSD-related symptoms. A 2016 case study provided clinical data that validated the use of CBD-rich oil as a safe and effective treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with PTSD.
Pharmaceuticals provided minimal relief for a 10-year-old girl who had been sexually abused as a young child. And her meds caused major adverse side effects. But a CBD-rich oil regimen resulted in “a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep.”
This is not an isolated example. CBD-rich oil, an increasingly popular treatment for anxiety and sleep problems, has emerged in recent years as a viable alternative to Big Pharma drugs.
Dosing for slumber
Cannabis therapeutics is personalized medicine – and this is certainly true with respect to using the herb and its components to treat sleep disorders. The effectiveness of cannabis as a sleep aid is highly variable, depending on the individual user, how the remedy is administered, its cannabinoid ratio and aromatic terpene profile, the timing and dosage – all these factors come into play and influence different outcomes.
Success may rest upon how well one manages the psychoactive qualities of cannabis. As with any medicine, there are some risks involved when consuming cannabis to sleep better. Short-term use of cannabis may decrease sleep onset latency (how long it takes to fall asleep). But this improvement may weaken over time. Tolerance develops with chronic consumption, which can impair long term sleep quality.Too much of a good thing can be problematic for frequent recreational cannabis users, who may begin to experience a reduction in slow-wave deep sleep, leaving the individual feeling like they are not well rested. Could this be because recreational users tend to prefer large amounts of THC-dominant cannabis varieties?
Sleep disturbance, ironically, is perhaps the most notable withdrawal symptom when a heavy user stops smoking marijuana. Compared to kicking addictive pharmaceuticals, cannabis withdrawal is a minor discomfort with symptoms typically lasting for a few days (sometimes a few weeks) after cessation. And cannabis, unlike prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids, has never killed anyone.
Medical cannabis users often experience better outcomes with lower doses, especially when they are treating something in addition to sleep disturbances, such as pain, spasticity, or post traumatic stress disorder. Based on the available literature reviewed by Project CBD, it appears that a 1:1 CBD:THCpreparation will most likely confer restorative sleep. Cannabis-naïve patients may find relief with as little as 2.5 mg of THC and 2.5mg CBD. A somewhat higher dose – 5 to 15 mg each of THC and CBD – may work wonders for experienced cannabis users.
The combination of odiferous terpenes present in a given cannabis strain or product can also significantly impact sleep. Individual terpenes have sedating or stimulating effects, thus affecting the sleep-wake cycle. Terpenes can be therapeutic in their own right. As important modulators of cannabinoids, terpenes contribute significantly to how a given cannabis strain or cultivar makes one feel.
Sedating terpenes include terpinolene, nerolidol, phytol, linalool, and myrcene. In addition to causing the infamous “couch-lock” effect at high levels (+0.5%), myrcene can be mildly stimulating at lower levels. Those trying to address pain and sleep issues should consider cannabis remedies that include beta-caryophyllene, as this terpene is also a strong anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever.
Practical Tips for Improving Sleep
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 27 percent of respondents indicated that they used complementary, non-pharmaceutical therapies for fatigue and 26.4 percent for sleep deprivation.
Here are a few simple lifestyle modifications and holistic healing options that may improve your sleep quality.
Create an inviting sleep environment. Having a comfortable bed in a relaxing environment is key to quality sleep. Reduce outside or harsh overhead lighting and maintain a comfortable temperature for sleeping. And, reduce noise. If you are a light sleeper consider using a white noise machine to drown out unwanted sound. Salt lamps may help clean the air by reducing negative ions (and provide enough light to get to the bathroom without intruding on sleep).
Have a sleep routine. Going to bed and waking at the same time seven days a week is optimal. Additionally, it is helpful for some people to have a relaxing bedtime routine that lets the mind know it is time to get sleepy. This may include a small warm cup of milk or green tea 45 minutes to an hour before bed, or a few simple yoga stretches to relax, or an Epsom salt bath.
Avoid overstimulation. It is best not to have a television in the bedroom and not to watch violence shows before bedtime, especially for those with adrenal fatigue. Avoid reading or using your phone, laptop or tablet in bed.
Exercise daily. Regardless if your preference is jogging, weightlifting, gardening, walking or tai chi, do some form of exercise every day. But avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime.
Avoid stimulants after 1PM. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, certain herbal supplements and drugs may leave you feeling “hyper” and overstimulated, which can impede the brain’s ability to transition into sleep.
Aromatherapy. Many of the sedating essential oil components present in cannabis can also be found in other plants at your local grocery or natural products store, along with misters that spay the oil into the air. Aromatherapy can be relaxing and very helpful to induce sleep. Lavender essential oil, for example, can be help to manage certain sleep disorders.
Use sleep supporting herbs. It is best to work with a healer or someone knowledgeable about herbs and supplements instead of buying whatever sleep cure is touted on the internet. Herbs that have sleep-promoting properties include Valerian, Kava, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Passion Flower, California Poppy, Hops, Lemon Balm, Linden, Skullcap, and Oats. Visit the American Herbalist Guild to find a qualified practitioner.
Nutritional supplements. Consult your physician about products made with Kava, calming minerals, and taking the right kind of magnesium at night.
Other therapies. In addition to cannabis, safe holistic healing alternatives include cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, and bright light therapy for circadian rhythm disorders.
1 In 2014, there were 47,055 accidental opiate overdose deaths. Dr. Daniel Kripke estimates one third of them also involved various hypnotics as a cause of death. It should be noted that cannabis has been shown to improve safety and effectiveness of opiates making it possible for the patient to take a lower dose, thereby reducing the risk of side-effects including death. In some cases, cannabis can replace both the opiate as an effective painkiller and the hypnotic.
2 Highly complex, the sleep-wake cycle is driven by various neurochemicals and brain pathways. Neuroscientist and sleep researcher Dr. Eric Murillo-Rodriguez, says that “Sleep is generated by sleep-promoting neurons placed in the anterior hypothalamus that utilize GABA to inhibit wake-promoting regions in the hypothalamus and brainstem. Then, the brainstem regions inhibited during wake and slow wave sleep become active during rapid eye movement sleep (REM).”
3 In “The effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep: a systematic review of human studies,” Gates et al scrutinized cannabis-related sleep studies prior to 2012. But they found “little consistency in the results [of] six studies with objective sleep measures. Slow wave sleep was described as increasing for a week in one study, whereas three studies reported a decrease in slow wave sleep, and one study showed no change. Rapid eye movement sleep was reported to increase in one study, decrease in a second study, while four studies showed no effect. Stage two sleep [see sidebar] was reported to increase in two studies, while four studies showed no effect. Sleep latency was reported to increase in one study, decrease on a high THC dose in a second study, while two studies showed no effect and two studies did not measure sleep latency.”
4A 2014 article by Babson & Bonn-Miller indicated that over 83 percent of surveyed patients taking cannabis for pain said they experienced improved sleep.
5Nicholson et al had similar results in a double-blind placebo-controlled with a 4-way crossover design study evaluating the effect of cannabis extracts on nocturnal sleep, early-morning performance, memory, and sleepiness in eight subjects ages 21-34 years old. A cross-over design is one where each group of participants take two or more interventions; in this case four different preparations were tested, including THC (15 mg) alone; THC and CBD together (5 mg each and 15 mg each); and a placebo. They scientists found that “although impaired memory was observed the next day when 15 mg THC was given alone overnight, there were no effects on memory when 15 mg THC was ingested with 15 mg CBD.” They also found that the effects of THC and CBD appeared to be dose dependent as evidenced by the fact that 7.5 mg of THC did not impair memory, but 15 mg did.
Mechoulam, Raphael and L.A. Parker (2013). The Endocannaboind System and the Brain. The Annual Review of Psychology, 21-47.
Murillo-Rodriquez, Eric and Jose Carlos Pastrana-Trejo, Mireille Salas-Crisostomo, and Miriel de-la-Cruz (2016). The Endocannabinoids System Modulating Levels of Consciousness, Emotions and Likely Dream Contents. CNS&Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, 370-379.
Murillo-Rodriguez, E. (2008). The role of the CB1 receptor in the regulation of sleep. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 1420-1427.
Nicholson, A. N., Turner, C., Stone, B. M., & Robson, P. J. (2004). Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 305-313.
Prospero-Garcia, Oscar et al (2016). Endocannabinoids and sleep. Neuroscience and Beobehavioral Reviews, 671-679.
Russo, Ethan B. (2007). Cannabis, Pain and Sleep: Lessons from Therapeutic Clinical Trials of Sativex, a Cannabis-Based Medicine. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 1729-1743.
Russo, E. B. (2001). Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs. Bringhamptom: The Hawthorne Press, Inc.
Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect. British Journal of Pharmacology, 1344-1364.
Roth, T. (2007). Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, S7–S10.
Shannon, Scott and Janet Opila-Lehman. (2016) Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Permanente Journal. Fall 2016.
Scheet, F. A. (2016). Hungry for Sleep: A Role for Endocannabinoids. Sleep, 495-496.
Ban Attempt in Illinois
We now have a recent amendment to the Kratom Control Act in Illinois that aims to change the existing law of kratom from being illegal for citizens under 18 to being illegal for all. Not exactly the turn of events we wanted to see.
The BEA is taking necessary actions with a lobbyist right now to prevent this from happening and thankfully a lobby firm has been paid for by a vendor. It is the same lobby firm that the BEA has used in the past with success!
As you all know, this is not a 1-man show nor even a 1-organization anymore but one thing is confirmed. We all need to work together to prevent the tides from turning. This point is as crucial as any other in our attempts to keep kratom legal regardless if it affects your particular state or not.
Congressman Tom Marino, President Trump’s nominee to be drug czar, withdrew his name from consideration following a media scandal about opioids legislation he authored. President Trump declared a public health emergency over addiction and overdose. Career Drug Enforcement Administration official Robert Patterson was named as the agency’s acting administrator.
A Treasury Department report found that the Internal Revenue Serviceimproperly targeted marijuana nonprofits for extra scrutiny during the Obama administration. The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing a rule that some advocates believe allows the transportation of state-legal marijuana on airplanes.
A just-retired top State Department anti-drug official predicted that changing state laws will force marijuana rescheduling.
State and local marijuana bills on the move. Most state legislature are currently out of session, but there were some big developments this month:
Maine lawmakers approved a marijuana legalization implementation plan, but without enough support to overturn a possible gubernatorial veto. A New Hampshire House committee advanced cannabis legalization legislation. A TexasHouse committee was officially directed to study marijuana decriminalization.Virginia’s Senate majority leader is introducing a cannabis decrim bill.
International reforms advanced, too. Peru’s Congress legalized medical cannabis. New Zealand’s new government agreed to hold a nationwide marijuana legalization referendum. Germany may legalize marijuana under a coalition government deal. Canada’s House of Commons advanced the government’s marijuana legalization bill. Belize’s House approved a marijuana decriminalization bill.
Luxembourg is moving to allow medical cannabis. Italian lawmakers approved a medical cannabis bill. The UK House of Commons advance medical marijuana legislation. Australian senators OKed legislation on medical marijuana access for terminally ill patients.
Officials in Antigua are embracing marijuana decriminalization. Malta’s prime minister included medical cannabis in his budget. The Dutch government is moving to legalize marijuana production on a trial basis. The World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances for athletes.
The marijuana majority is bigger than ever. Gallup, which has been polling about marijuana legalization annually since 1969, found the highest level of support yet: 64% of Americans now support ending prohibition, including majorities across party lines.
These are just some of the voices speaking out for much-needed changes to cannabis laws:
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch:
“I’m against illicit drug use and have always been very strong in these areas. But I’m also a pioneer in good medicine and how we can help doctors and scientists… I have to make these decisions based upon what’s right for the people of Utah and the people of this country. And there’s no reason to be afraid of medical marijuana.”
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern:
“I’m now at the point where, personally, I think [marijuana] probably should be removed from the ban list… I think there is universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal.”
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker:
“There is no doubt in my mind that the federal government should not be in the marijuana prohibition business. It’s making us less safe, it’s costing taxpayers too much money, it’s violating our values. From every perspective—a libertarian perspective, fiscal conservative’s perspective, Christian evangelical perspective, progressive perspective—marijuana prohibition is just wrong.”
Congressman Matt Gaetz:
“Cannabis has shown promise in cancer research for over two decades. There is now conclusive research that shows that cannabis-related compounds have anti-tumor properties. Yet despite these findings, scientists are going too slow. It is time for cannabis research to begin and we should declassify it as a Schedule I drug.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta:
“Some believed the legalization of drugs like marijuana would lead to increased use. Yet in Colorado, which legalized recreational pot, teen marijuana use has dropped.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI):
“Criminal justice reform begins with ending the ‘War on Drugs,’ which has wrought irreparable harm upon millions of people and their families.”
Your Donations At Work: Marijuana Majority In The News
Media outlets continue to see Marijuana Majority as a go-to source for pro-legalization quotes and context:
We’re hearing that activists in Michigan may announce in November that they’ve collected enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the state’s 2018 ballot. Similar announcements in other states are likely to follow early in the new year.
A close relative to kratom found in Asia. Looks similar, but isn’t filled with the same chemicals that make kratom so powerful. Javanica has a chemical called Ajmalicine, which can reduce blood pressure and stress. It’s only a mild kratom substitute. The alkaloids in this plant relieve pain similar to kratom.
Mitragyna Javanica is a mild legal alternative to kratom but not a replacement.
Kratom’s other close relative with some ingredients kratom has. The main ingredient is Mitraphylline, which is structurally related to mitragynine and 7-hydroxmitragynine. Two important alkaloids that give kratom the insane medical benefits.
The effects are similar but milder. Hirsuta can help with opium withdrawals, perfect for you who want a legal alternative. Traditionally, used as a tea remedy for musculoskeletal pains and aches. Hirsuta is more powerful than Javanica so you need to be more careful.
Mitragyna Hirsuta produces stimulant effects similar to kratom at low doses and sedative at higher doses.
Kratom can induce intense euphoria. Kanna can’t, only mild. Kanna was historically used by African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. It can also relieve pain and suppress hunger.
Kanna works on the amygdala, a brain region responsible for emotional processing. Kanna users report that they enter a meditative state of mind you can focus on your thoughts and become more in tune with nature. Because Kanna works on the amygdala, it’s also used for public speaking as it put you in a distance from the uncomfortable emotions it brings.
Sceletium Tortuosum can boost your mood, free you from stress and anxiety, and put you in a meditative state of mind.
Akuamma is another word of Picralima nitida tree. The seeds consist of indole alkaloid, which has the medical value similar to kratom. Akuamma is the best kratom alternative if you want opioid effects.
The potent alkaloids we call akuammine and pericine.
Akuammine is structurally related to mitragynine, the potent kratom chemical. Pericine works similar to kratom’s alkaloids. It binds to opiate receptors in the brain. Brilliant kratom substitute for opioid addiction.
Akuamma seeds can kill pain and mild opiate withdrawal symptoms.
ANALYSIS: REPORTS OF NEW YORK AND FLORIDA “KRATOM DEATHS”
ARE UNSUPPORTED BY FACTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 12, 2017 – Medical examiners and coroners in two New York and Florida deaths erred when they attributed the cause of death in both cases to the non-opioid, coffee-like botanical kratom, according to an independent analysis issued today by a molecular biologist and lawyer.
The new analysis debunks false claims about kratom made in connection with the deaths of police Sgt. Matthew Dana in Tupper Lake, New York, and Christopher Waldron in Hillsborough County, Florida. The report by lawyer and molecular biologist Jane K. Babin, PhD, molecular biology, Purdue University, and JD, University of San Diego School of Law, concludes: “Both of these cases appear to add to the long list of mistaken, inaccurate, and now discredited reports implicating kratom … Because so many questions surrounding Sgt. Dana’s death remain unanswered, any reasonable person should refrain from drawing conclusions on the role of kratom or mitragynine in his death until full autopsy and toxicology reports are made available to the public ….”
In shifting to the Florida death report, the Babin report concludes: “[T]here is precedent for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner getting it wrong in high profile cases. It singled out a more controversial substance (cocaine) as the cause of the heart disease that killed OxiClean pitchman, Billy Mays, despite finding painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. A second autopsy, commissioned by the family, demonstrated that ‘the autopsy specimens and findings were not consistent with the cardiac conditions normally observed in a person chronically using cocaine’ and concluded that cocaine was not the cause of Mr. Mays’ death. Based on the totality of circumstances, any reasonable person could be confident that kratom did not kill Christopher Waldron any more than cocaine killed Billy Mays.”
In discussing the Dana and Waldron cases in more detail, Dr. Babin noted: “Let’s first look at the death of Sgt. Matthew Dana of Tupper Lake, New York. Death from hemorrhagic pulmonary edema (HPE) is rare and has never been reported in conjunction with kratom use in humans or animals. In this case, the coroner and medical examiner erred in not analyzing blood for substances other than opioids and narcotics including cocaine and anabolic steroids, which could have caused the death. Medical literature does provide links between the use of anabolic steroids and hemorrhagic pulmonary edema. No such literature exists to link kratom to that condition.”
Dr. Babin continued: “The second case involved Christopher Waldron, Hillsborough County, Florida. Waldron died with mitragynine, a potentially toxic amount of citalopram, and cyclobenzaprine (which is contraindicated in combination with citalopram) in his blood. Both of these prescription medicines contain specific warnings required in FDA labeling that, if used in combination, can cause coma and even death. Mr. Waldron also had left ventricular hypertrophy, an enlarged liver, and thyroid disease, which may have contributed to his death.”
Babin’s specialty areas include biotechnology, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmaceuticals, genomics, pharmacogenomics, proteomics, and related law.
Toxicologist Karl V. Ebner, PhD, consultant, KETox Forensic Toxicology Consulting, Okemus, MI., said: “While I did not author this report, I have had the opportunity to review it. And what I see here are very troubling indications that these deaths may have been incorrectly attributed to kratom in the face of other causes, including possible anabolic steroid use in one case and contraindicated prescription medication(s) interactions that could kill on their own. These families are owed the best evidence about what happened to their loved ones, not what would appear to be some conclusions that are incompletely supported by the current evidence.”
Dr. Ebner was formerly forensic toxicologist, Toledo Metro Drug Unit and senior scientist, Abbott Laboratories. He is the author of depositions, reports and opinions in numerous drug- and alcohol-related legal cases.
Dave Herman, chair, board of directors, American Kratom Association, said: “Last year, the DEA tried to demonize kratom. In 2017, the kratom community finds itself in the same situation all over again: a new year … and a new unwarranted attack on kratom. This time, we are being told that two deaths were supposedly the result of kratom use. Let me be very clear about this: We do not believe that kratom caused these deaths. That’s what the science tells us. And superficial and less than thorough examinations and suggestions to the contrary – as in these two cases – do not change the facts. Given that there are millions of kratom consumers in the U.S., if this botanical was dangerous it would stand to reason that there would be thousands … or even tens of thousands of deaths … and that is absolutely not the case.”
The Babin report is far from being the first analysis to dismiss the notion of kratom posing a danger to consumers. According to a comprehensive analysis issued in December 2016, kratom has not been linked to any known deaths and has little potential for abuse and dependence – as low or lower than such widely used (and federally unscheduled substances) as “nutmeg, hops, St. John’s Wort, chamomile, guarana, and kola nut.” (See http://bit.ly/Henningfieldreport and related comment letter at http://bit.ly/akacomments.)
The America Kratom Association, a consumer-based non-profit organization, is here to set the record straight, giving voice to those suffering and protecting our rights to possess and consume kratom. AKA represents tens of thousands of Americans, each of whom have a unique story to tell about the virtues of kratom and its positive effects on their lives. http://www.americankratom.org
MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Mitchell, (703) 276-3266, or email@example.com.