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How cannabis could be used to transform lives of children with autism

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Cannformatics will explore cannabis-responsive biomarkers in children with autism

The first study of its kind will explore cannabis-responsive biomarkers in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A pilot study in the US aims to be the first step in helping parents and healthcare professionals find the most effective way to use cannabis to improve the health and quality of life of children.

The observational study, led by Cannformatics – a US biotech startup – is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a Los Angeles-based paediatrician who specialises in cannabis medicine.

Researchers will explore how to personalise medical cannabis treatments for individual children, through the identification and application of cannabis-responsive biomarkers found in saliva.

Its aim is to create a trusted resource for parents and health care professionals by providing data and insights to build an effective cannabis regimen for children with ASD.

Saliva samples from children with ASD will be collected pre- and post-consumption of a regularly prescribed dose of medical cannabis, as well as from age-matched neurotypical children.

Cannformatics’ platform will identify biomarkers that significantly changed following the consumption of medical cannabis, while samples from neurotypical children are collected and analysed to determine the baseline for healthy physiological range.

Participants will receive a report showing their individual changes in biomarkers related to ASD symptoms before and after medical cannabis consumption and the study’s overall findings will be published in a scientific journal.

To qualify for participation in the study, all children with ASD are required to be current patients of Dr. Goldstein.

Dr Goldstein, who is also medical Director for Canna – a California-based medical practice devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions, said: “Identifying cannabis-responsive biomarkers furthers scientific understanding of the role cannabis plays in regulating the endocannabinoid system in children with autism.

“Today I have patients who are responding well to medical cannabis treatment with an improvement in quality of life and minimal side effects. I am optimistic that the data from this study will lead to more positive outcomes for children with autism.

Cannformatics aims to deliver predictable and repeatable science-based medical cannabis recommendations to improve health and quality of life.

Its early successes include identifying two cannabis-responsive biomarkers related to General Anxiety Disorder.

Ken Epstein, Chief Commercial Officer and co-founder of Cannformatics, commented: “This study is the first step toward providing families and health care providers treating autism with recommendations that will provide predictable and repeatable outcomes while improving overall impact.”

The study will also bring together three industry leaders in using cannabis to treat ASD, including Ray Mirzabegian founder of Canniatric and Rhonda Moeller, and Jenni Mai of Whole Plant Access for Autism.

Epstein added: “We are excited to have three medical cannabis trailblazers, who work tirelessly to help their children along with thousands of other families to effectively use medical cannabis. The three of them along with Dr. Goldstein are truly pioneers in using medical cannabis to treat ASD.”

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and cannabis: What does the latest research say?

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Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes chronic pain across the body

Cannabis Health rounds up the latest research into the impact of cannabis on fibromyalgia. 

There are thought to be around 1.5-2 million people in the UK currently living with fibromyalgia, a condition which causes chronic pain around the body, muscle stiffness and fatigue.

With no cure for the illness and symptoms severely affecting day-to-day life, research is focusing on therapeutic treatments – including medical cannabis. 

In 2019, research published by Sagy, Schleider, Abu-Shackra and Novak showed that cannabis can help reduce fibromyalgia pain. The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical marijuana, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.

Chaves, Bittencourt and Pelegrini further supported these findings in October 2020, concluding that phytocannabinoids can serve as an affordable yet well-tolerated therapy for fibromyalgia symptom relief and quality of life improvements. 

After the randomised controlled trial, the researchers went as far as to suggest that the cannabinoid therapy “could become an herbal or holistic choice of medicine for treating fibromyalgia as part of Brazil’s public healthcare system”.

A study in Italy, published in February 2020, also demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments. 

Researchers concluded: “This observational study shows that medical cannabis treatment offers a possible clinical advantage in fibromyalgia patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions.” 

Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 fibromyalgia patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments. These participants were given two forms of medical cannabis oil extracts and researchers then collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.

While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some. Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety were found in around half of patients, too. 

Despite fibromyalgia being more common amongst women – up to 90 per cent of sufferers are female – one study has found that cannabis may provide better pain relief for men.

The preclinical studies, conducted in 2016, compared the analgesic, subjective and physiological effects of active cannabis and inactive cannabis in male and female cannabis smokers under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, and measured pain response through the Cold-Pressor Test. 

Among men, active cannabis significantly decreased pain sensitivity relative to inactive cannabis. However, in women, active cannabis failed to decrease pain sensitivity relative to inactive, indicating that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater analgesia compared to women.

Researchers concluded: “Sex-dependent differences in cannabis’ analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief.”

While further research is necessary, it is clear to see that medical cannabis can make a huge difference to treatment and relief of pain caused by fibromyalgia.

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The best ways to take CBD for pain relief

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CBD is becoming a popular tool for pain management, but with so many options out there, how do you know where to start?

With research constantly emerging to support the health benefits of CBD, more and more people are turning to the remedy – especially when it comes to alleviating pain and discomfort.

But how does it actually work? There are several ways to take CBD, each offering various pros and cons – we’ve rounded up some of the best methods. 

Get topical

In terms of pain relief, one of the most common methods is on the skin. Topical products like lotions and balms can be applied to skin over painful joints or bones and are particularly effective when used to relieve symptoms of arthritis.

However, research is still ongoing to determine whether these products deliver CBD below the skin. It is also difficult to pinpoint the exact effect CBD delivers – with many including common over-the-counter ingredients such as menthol, capsaicin and camphor, it’s uncertain whether the positive relief is solely due to CBD, or if these other ingredients play a significant role.  

Several studies have hailed CBD oil as one of the most helpful methods when it comes to relieving pain symptoms, especially when combined with other forms such as topicals. 

Medical nutritionist and health author Dr Sarah Brewer said: “Cannabidiol oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, to reduce pain perception. It is also a powerful antioxidant which suppresses inflammation.” 

Something to digest

Another well-known method for using CBD is by mouth. Whether in capsules, food or liquid, CBD that is swallowed is absorbed through the digestive tract. 

Despite its popularity, this method does have its downfalls. Absorption is slow and dosing can be tricky due to the delayed onset of effect (it can take one to two hours to fully have an impact), plus many believe there isn’t enough research into how recent meals and other factors affect consumption.   

But it has been widely reported that after a safe and effective dose has been established, capsules can work for daily use.

While it may not taste particularly pleasant, CBD can also be effectively absorbed directly into the bloodstream by holding liquid from a spray or dropper under the tongue. Research shows effects can the be felt in as little as a few minutes. 

Give the vapors

CBD can also be inhaled via a vaporising, ‘vape’ pen. However, it’s possible that inhalation can carry unknown risks, particularly in those with respiratory issues and ailments such as inflammatory arthritis, and so isn’t widely recommended as a method for use. 

With all methods, the common downfall is wavering dosage guidelines. Measures can change depending on a number of factors including age, weight and reason for use, however resounding guidance from experts is to ‘go low and slow’. Start with just a few milligrams twice a day, and if relief is inadequate after one week, increase the dose by the same amount, in small increments over several weeks if needed. 

It’s clear that more research is needed to determine exact details into these methods, but this is only set to increase as the number of people turning to CBD for pain relief continues to grow. 

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CBD distillates, isolates & full spectrum – what’s the difference?

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Fresh Bros take you through the more technical side of CBD

With so many CBD products on the market, do you know your distillates from your isolates? The experts at US manufacturer Fresh Bros break it down.

Las Vegas manufacturer Fresh Bros have nearly a decade of experience in the hemp industry.

The team’s aim is to produce innovative formulas that suit personal needs in terms of performance, recovery, relaxation, and overall wellbeing. 

But with so many products on the market Fresh Bros want to help consumers find the best products for their needs.

Here they explain the differences between CBD distillate, CBD isolate, and full-spectrum CBD products, as well as highlighting the key differences between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC.

CBD isolates 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most researched compounds of all the known phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. 

CBD isolates are, unsurprisingly, isolated forms of CBD. During the extraction process, cannabidiols are removed or filtered out of the hemp plant except for CBD, resulting in a pure product. 

CBD isolate is great for anyone who struggles with the original earthy flavors of other conventional oils or edibles, so if you’d prefer a high-potency CBD product that is tasty, doesn’t contain THC and or any “extra” cannabinoids that are found in a distillate or full-spectrum product — CBD isolate may be the way to go.

CBD distillates

Unlike CBD isolate, CBD distillate (aka broad-spectrum CBD) typically contains an array of cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, and fatty acids that are very beneficial to the body. CBD distillate contains only negligible amounts of THC after going through special processing. 

CBD isolate is an incredible healing source, of course, but there are hundreds of other beneficial cannabinoids found in the hemp plant besides CBD – cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) to name a couple. 

Therefore, if you want to reap all of the potential benefits of CBD without the high, and you don’t mind the stronger taste, CBD distillate may be the best option for you. 

Full spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant materials – including the naturally occurring small amount of THC in hemp. 

 

Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC

The cannabis plant has more than 120 cannabinoids, but only a fraction of these have really been studied and marketed. Delta 9 THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and has received a lot of attention over the last few years. 

However, consumers are slowly noticing the lesser-known Delta 8 THC (a less available double-bond isomer of the more common Delta 9 THC, also derived from hemp) due to its unique properties. The main differences between these two types of THC are found in the molecular structures of both, and it’s worth noting that Delta 8 THC is capable of producing a milder, more manageable, and more enjoyable high compared to Delta 9. 

Delta 8 also has added therapeutic benefits and less severe and functionality-impairing side effects.

 

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