(Natural News) A team of Chinese archaeologists uncovered ten handcrafted wooden braziers at an ancient burial site in the Pamir Mountains. These religious-style incense burners can be dated as far back as 1,000 BC. The incense burners were collected from eight tombs in Western China’s 2,500 year old Jirzankal cemetery. They contained traces of burnt seed.
Ancient Chinese mourned the dead using high-THC cannabis strains
The contents of the burners were analyzed via mass spectrometry by researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The wooden braziers were found to contain a special strain of cannabis with a high THC concentration. This is the first piece of historical evidence showing that the ancient Chinese discovered, bred and/or traded cannabis for recreational and ceremonial use. At this time in history, societal elites got high to supposedly connect with ancestors or the gods. After testing the burnt strains, the scientists found a high concentration of cannabinol, a substance produced when THC is oxidized.
“There has been a longstanding debate over the origins of cannabis smoking, there are many speculative claims of ancient use,” said Robert Spengler at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “This study provides the earliest unambiguous evidence for both elevated chemical production in the plant and also for the burning of the plant as a drug.”
Most cannabis residues uncovered by scientists up until this point was discovered to have a low THC content. The discovery of this high THC strain could indicate that Chinese farmers were aware of the euphoric properties of this phyto-chemical and knew how to breed cannabis for recreational purposes.
Scientists conclude that the cannabis was burnt in an enclosed space, in a mountain tomb, which allowed mourners to get high back in their day. Because the cannabis was found in wooden braziers closely associated with the Zoroastrian religion, archaeologists concur that the cannabis was used as part of religious activities. The ancient Chinese believed that the euphoric feeling could connect you with ancestors and the divine.
“Nearly all the braziers contain the bio-markers of cannabis and one brazier is severely burned, implying that the braziers were being used during funeral rituals, possibly to communicate with nature, or spirits or deceased people,” noted Yimin Yang at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Megan Cifarelli, an art historian at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, noted that the cannabis burning in tombs served another purpose as well: masking the smell of decaying corpses.
Of course, these societies also took advantage of hemp’s other valuable uses. The hemp plant has been used by various societies over the past 4,000 years to make ropes, cloth, paper and oil. The cannabis found in this study could have been traded along the Silk Road, a trading route that once extended from East Asia to South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Southern Europe. This passage enabled the Chinese to trade silk, spices, grains, apples, pistachios, walnuts and other crops from the East to the West.
“I think with this new study we can now actually place Cannabis in that list as well as being one of these crops that originates on these ancient trade routes,” commented Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute. The archaeologists also uncovered glass beads, wooden plates and bowls, pieces of silk, and a Chinese harp in the mountain tombs.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Centre on Substance Use conducted over 5,000 interviews with 1,152 people who used heroin and other drugs and reported chronic pain at some point from June 2014 to June 2017.
The participants were largely from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and lead author M-J Milloy said the study aimed to discover “new interventions” that might “lower or address the risk of overdose” in heavy opioid users.
More than 12,800 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred in Canada between January 2016, when the federal government started tracking the data, and March 2019, according to the latest available statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Milloy said chronic pain is one of the “driving factors” of the opioid crisis, adding that many who can’t get effective pain relief can turn to the black market for opioids.
“This is the population that’s really suffering the worst burden of mortality in the crisis,” he said. “And there’s been some work suggesting that cannabis might be beneficial in the overdose crisis. So we’ve really tried to use our data to figure out if that is true.”
What they found was that daily cannabis use was associated with significantly lower odds of daily illicit opioid use, suggesting cannabis may serve as a substitute treatment in people with chronic pain.
The story went viral online this week and was picked up in publications in Canada and overseas, including the Daily Mail and The Sun in the U.K.
While a spokesperson for the university says he receives no funding from any industry group, it is worth noting the cannabis company contributed $2.5 million to UBC and BCCSU for the professorship and research.
Milloy said the fact that his study looked at daily cannabis use raised a “valid concern” about the risk of addiction, but added it’s also linked to therapeutic benefits.
“A lot of people who are benefiting from cannabis are the people who are using it every day,” he said.
“We are very aware of the risk of harms. And I want to emphasize that none of us think that cannabis is a panacea or a silver bullet to knock out the overdose crisis. What we do think, though, is that it has tremendous potential.”
Conflicting research raises questions
A day after the UBC study was published, researchers at McMaster Universitypublished a review of almost 30 years’ worth of data in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that examined the use of cannabis as a replacement drug for people with opioid addictions.
Researchers looked at six studies involving 3,676 participants dating back to 1991 in an effort to determine the effects of cannabis use on opioid addiction during methadone treatment.
What they found was starkly different than the UBC study — there is no consensus among studies that cannabis use is associated with reduced opioid use.
“There’s a lot of hype and interest and hope that this could be a replacement. Could this be helping people with chronic pain or with opioid addiction?” said senior author Dr. Zainab Samaan, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster.
One year after legalization, some cannabis industry professionals say they are mostly happy with how British Columbia has rolled out recreational pot.
Tom Ulanowski, president of NextLeaf Labs, a cannabis processing company that partners with cultivators to provide contracting and wholesale services to the industry, says growing pains like licensing issues and product quality issues are to be expected.
“But overall, for something of this magnitude and something as new as this to be done on a federal level, I think its been pretty positive,” Ulanowski said.
Mike Babins, co-owner of Evergreen Cannabis Society, Vancouver’s first retail pot shop, says major challenges for cannabis business owners have been learning to work within the new federal and provincial legal cannabis systems, and dealing with customers who are used to buying pot illegally.
“Every day we get someone coming saying: ‘why should I buy this? I can get ounces from a guy for 100 bucks’ … but when they come back, nine out of 10 say, ‘wow, it’s amazing.’ And they switch,” Babins said.
Babins says he often hears on social media that the government is too slow to issue licences for cannabis shops. But he says the system is reasonable.
“I think a big issue is that a lot of people get their information from people who have ulterior motives and are very good at social media.”
Babins says getting a licence is a lot of work, but more often than not it’s the pot shops who drag their heels.
“We’re a year past legalization and there are many stores who are still happy to sell unlicensed products at a huge markup and not pay any taxes. And I understand that. It’s a lot of money that you make that way.”
Ulanowski says some provincial governments, like B.C., have begun to take measures to speed up the licensing process.
Studies shows 10% of users consume two-thirds of the weed in Canada
It’s been nearly one year since cannabis was legalized in Canada and a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia says knowing who is using it is important to develop sound policy aimed at reducing cannabis-related harms.
Russ Callaghan, medical professor at UNBC, is the lead author of an article in the forthcoming December issue of the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence that identifies who consumes the most cannabis in Canada.
Callaghan and a team of researchers looked at data from the federal government’s 2018 National Cannabis Survey to find out who are the biggest users and how that should inform public policy.
According the survey conducted prior to legalization — which did not distinguish between legal and illegal cannabis — 10 per cent of people use roughly 66 per cent of the cannabis in Canada. The data also showed males reported higher use than females and males aged 15-34 were the highest using subgroup.
Callaghan said the usage rates are similar to alcohol statistics which show the heaviest users consume a high proportion of alcohol in Canada.
Possible harms from cannabis use include impaired driving, lung cancer and personal injury, although he noted there is not a lot of evidence yet linking weed to non-traffic related injuries.
“We’ve legalized it so it’s a real large societal experiment,” said Callaghan in a phone interview on CBC’s The Early Edition, adding particular risks associated with edible cannabis products may become evident after they become legal this year.
With weed, as with alcohol, consumption rates can be influenced by prices and taxation, the availability of stores in a neighbourhood and their operating hours.
The study included a team of researchers from UNBC, the University of British Columbia, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.
The anniversary of Canada’s recreational cannabis legalization arrives Oct. 17, just days before the federal election. Legalization was a Liberal campaign promise from the last election, so it’s timely to review how it’s worked out.
Consumers evidently like legalization. Statistics Canada just reported that July’s recreational sales hit $104 million.
So legal sales have roughly tripled. But illegal sales remain the majority.
By contrast, StatCan seems more optimistic. Its surveys ask users whether they buy at least some cannabis legally. It estimated that number at 47 per cent, or 2.5 million Canadians, for the first quarter of 2019. That’s up sharply from 23 per cent, or 954,000 people, in 2018’s first quarter.
Unfortunately, those estimates aren’t really plausible. The only people who could legally buy cannabis in March 2018 were Health Canada’s 296,702 registered patients. And just 132,975 did so. That implies StatCan’s estimates are three to seven times too high.
So while survey participants reported purchasing legally, they mostly didn’t.
One reason legal sales haven’t done better is a lack of retailers in some regions. British Columbia and Ontario were especially slow to open stores.
Product shortages have posed bigger problems. While there’s ample oil, producers until recently hadn’t processed enough dry products. And legal foods, drinks, vapes and lotions aren’t yet available.
Those shortages are predictable side effects of the government’s legalization strategy. It chose a regulated pharmaceutical approach, rather than the more hands-off approach many U.S. states have used.
That hands-off approach has several drawbacks, however. Ex-black-market producers don’t always prioritize consumer safety. Some reportedly fudge their product lab tests.
Yes, legalization has been a muddled mess of compromises and glitches. It still needs years of work. But at least it happened. And it’s taken a bite out of black markets. So it should be considered a typical Canadian success story.
Washington: As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, researchers are constantly uncovering positive aspects of the plant. A study by the University of Colorado suggests that cannabis can be used to increase the survivability of a heart attack. (Marijuana use and short-term outcomes in patients hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction) The study collected over 1.2 million medical records of acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) and among those records, it was discovered that 3,854 of those patients were cannabis consumers.
“Perhaps the most striking finding of our study is that marijuana use prior to AMI was associated with decreased in-hospital mortality post AMI,” writes the study authors
The study debunks the assumption that cannabis consumers would have more risk factors than non-consumers. Researchers noting that the cannabis consumers had a decreased risk of death, shock, or need to insert a balloon into a blocked artery.
The researchers mentioned that they do not exactly understand the scientific reasoning behind increased survivability. However, they speculated that the activation of cannabinoid receptor type 2/ CB2 found in the endocannabinoid system can provide therapeutic cardioprotective effects.
A new study conducted by the University of Texas at Dallas has found cannabis can improve a person’s health by enhancing the blood and oxygen flow, thus reducing the risk of blood clots and the possibility of a stroke.
The study conducted by Dr. Francesca Filbey and her team claims the “primary psychoactive ingredient present in cannabis —tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — relaxes arterial walls resulting in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow to tissues.”
Chronic marijuana use is associated with a decrease in HR, disappearance of orthostatic hypotension, increase in blood volume, and decrease in the circulatory responses to exercise which are consistent with reduced sympathetic and increased parasympathetic activity (18).
Image by Jacquie Kubin
Unfortunately, as many studies exist that claim habitual marijuana use can be detrimental to heart health. It is important that individuals contrast their own heart health against available information on the effects of cannabis, and CBD oil. Like choosing to use any medicine to treat your health issues, it is important to do your own research.
Nonetheless, a multitude of studies and empirical evidence concludes that cannabis can effectively treat other medical conditions. Positive benefits from THC and CBD use include assisting with cancer pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Chronic pain from injury and lessening of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is promoted for a wide range of medical conditions. Recently, a review for doctors weighed the science behind the claims.
The Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils was published earlier this month in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It is not intoxicating, Health Canada said.
As of October 2018, the sale of dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants and cannabis seeds are permitted under the the Cannabis Act.
As consumer interest in CBD grows ahead of the Oct. 17 legalization of cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals, here’s a primer to answer common questions about its health claims for seizures, pain and other conditions.
What is CBD approved to treat?
Epidiolex, a purified form of plant-based CBD, is the only CBD-related treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is used to treat severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex isn’t listed in Health Canada’s database of medications approved for use in this country.
Health Canada assigns a drug identification number (DIN) to all drug products evaluated and authorized for sale in this country. To qualify, a drug manufacturer needs to provide information including dosing, strength and how it’s taken.
“Currently, there are two cannabis-related drugs that have a DIN and are authorized for sale in Canada,” a spokesperson for Health Canada said in an email.
Nabilone, a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, product is approved to treat nausea. THC is the main psychoactive component in cannabis that gives users a high.
The other drug with a DIN is Sativex, which is manufactured from whole botanical extracts and contains THC and CBD, according to Health Canada. Sativex is added to treatments aimed at relieving spasticity in adults with multiple sclerosis. Spasticity is a muscle-control disorder.
No CBD-specific product has a DIN.
As well, no other “cannabis-related drug (including fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil) has been approved to be marketed as a drug for therapeutic use and sale in Canada,” Health Canada said.
What is CBD commonly used for?
There are anecdotal reports from users of CBD helping with certain types of pain, such as nerve-related back pain.
“Chronic pain management continues to challenge patients and physicians alike, and investigation into potential therapies such as CBD and hemp oils is a promising area for the future of clinical pain management for both pain relief as well as addiction management,” Dr. Karen Mauck, an internist at Mayo Clinic, and her co-authors wrote.
Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital who wasn’t involved in the U.S. paper, said he starts by asking patients what symptoms they want to use CBD to treat.
It’s one of the first times in Canadian history where a medication has made it to the population without the science actually leading us there.– Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital
“The evidence has not caught up to the story that’s in the public,” Clarke said. “It’s tricky. It’s one of the first times in Canadian history where a medication has made it to the population without the science actually leading us there.”
Physicians need to work with patients to figure out what people are using, the levels in their body and what’s actually helped and what hasn’t.
“The world is looking to Canada over the next five to 10 years,” Clarke said. An evidence-based perspective on cannabis is needed rather than solely industry’s, he said.
CBD now is widely used by people for all kinds of disease, in particular anxiety, panic attack, bipolar disorder, depression. But we don’t know if CBD is really good for these kind of diseases.– Dr. Gabriella Gobbi
“CBD now is widely used by people for all kinds of disease, in particular anxiety, panic attack, bipolar disorder, depression,” said Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, the study’s author and a psychiatrist at McGill University’s faculty of medicine in Montreal. “But we don’t know if CBD is really good for these kinds of diseases.”
Only clinical trials in humans can show if CBD is really effective for an illness, Gobbi said.
In Canada, pharmaceutical companies are sponsoring clinical trials to test CBD products in people.
How do you know what’s in the product?
Depending on what part of the plant is extracted, different components will be present in the oil, the Mayo Clinic authors said. Their list of what clinicians should look for include:
Manufacturing standards certification, such as pesticide or herbicide testing.
European Union, Australian or Canadian organic certification.
Lab testing to confirm cannabinoid levels and the absence of heavy metals.
“We see variations from batch to batch where patients are doing well on something, and potentially the next time they seek that same product, potentially they’re not seeing the same effects,” Clarke said.
A research letter published in 2017 in JAMA found nearly 70 per cent of CBD extracts sold online were mislabelled.
“A lot of CBD oil can have very little or contain lots of THC, so you must be very careful,” Gobbi said. “We need more quality control.”
What side-effects have been reported?
In larger studies on CBD treatment for epileptic patients, it was associated with drowsiness, decreased appetite and diarrhea in up to 36 per cent of people, the Mayo Clinic authors said, adding the side-effects were less severe and frequent compared with a conventional anticonvulsant medication.
The FDA said its review of a marketing application for Epidiolex suggested potential for liver injury associated with CBD.
You can’t just self-treat.– Dr. Gabriella Gobbi
“You can’t just self-treat,” Gobbi said.
What about drug interactions?
The main drug interactions doctors and pharmacists look for are drugs, such as morphine, oxycodone, sleeping pills, antidepressants or antipsychotics, that already make you sleepy, confused or impair co-ordination.
“If you’re taking those medications to begin with and you use cannabis, we’d expect that those side effects would get worse,” said Kelly Grindrod of the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy.
People should talk to their physician, nurse or pharmacist to discuss potential drug interactions when determining whether to try CBD.
Maddie Brown, a registered practical nurse and cannabis consultant based in Ottawa, helps patients with medical cannabis prescriptions understand how CBD works and obtain it.
“I’m definitely most concerned about blood thinners,” Brown told CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art. “CBD can make Coumadin [a blood thinning medication] more potent.”
The general advice is to start low and go slow, especially if taking medications that are known to interact, Grindrod said.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone