A joint venture between cannabis research company CiiTECH and top scientists in Israel is leading the way in diabetes and weight-loss studies. Cannabis Health speaks to CEO and founder Clifton Flack to find out more.
In May 2020 CiiTECH labs announced that it had developed a patent-pending breakthrough technology. Developed together with leading metabolic researcher Dr Yossi Tam and the Hebrew University in Israel, the groundbreaking cannabis formula has the potential to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and a number of other metabolic disorders.
Having co-founded iCAN Israel-Cannabis and together with his team brought the world CannaTech, we spoke to Clifton Flack about his latest venture.
CH: Tell us about your partnership with Dr Tam and the Hebrew University?
Clifton: Working with Dr Tam and ‘Yissum’ the tech transfer arm of the Hebrew University, CiiTECH Labs is leveraging the full potential of Israel’s cutting-edge cannabis innovation. Dr Tam is head of the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory and his current focus is on uncovering the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the pathogenesis of obesity and its metabolic complications, with CBD as a prospect for the development of an effective maintenance therapy. Since its inception in 1964, Yissum has registered more than 10,000 patents covering 3,000 inventions and licensed over 950 technologies, with global business partners including companies such as Novartis, Merck, Intel and Google.
Why is the patent-pending technology significant?
Our patent-pending technology aims to explore the therapeutic potential of CBD in combination with additional cannabinoids in reversing the accumulation of fat thus providing the means for treating or preventing type 2 Diabetes and NAFLD.
What has your research found so far?
Through CiiTECH’s past and current clinical studies, researchers have identified the cell genes that influence the uptake of fat and secured a provisional patent for the technology of a unique cannabinoid formulation to potentially treat obesity, diabetes and their causes in NAFLD. Recent findings from CiiTECH Labs have revealed the significant role of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system in the development of NAFLD via the regulation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Why is this research important now?
Obesity is reaching epic proportions in Western societies, with more than one-third of US adults now considered to be obese. It has been described as a catalyst for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and NAFLD. According to the NHS, one in every three people in the UK has early stages of NAFLD. If left untreated, it can lead to liver damage, scarring, and cirrhosis and patients are at a much higher risk of developing more serious conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Why did you choose Israel to carry out this pioneering work?
Israel has been at the forefront of cannabis research for over 50 years and this gold-label institution has the richest history of cannabis breakthroughs and cannabinoid therapy patents in the world. While the rest of the world was preoccupied with prohibition and propaganda, Professor Raphael Mechoulam and his team of scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, were working to unlock secrets of the cannabis plant. Prof Mechoulam was the first person to study the endocannabinoid system and isolate the compounds THC and CBD.
After finding success as a global cannabis pioneer why did you turn your attention to the UK?
After a number of years building the global cannabis community, I saw a huge opportunity in my home country, the UK, where an unregulated CBD industry had begun to explode. With many brands making unsubstantiated claims and mislabeling their products, I recognised the need for consumers to be protected – and the key to this is research. CiiTECH developed a proprietary CBD brand PROVACAN, which has formed a number of joint ventures to bring the best of CBD and science to the UK. It continually works with leading formulators and innovators to bring to market the most efficient and cost-effective products and has seen the formation of CiiTECH’s other CBD brands IMPACT and HUGG.
How are you preparing for the UK’s Food Standards Authority’s (FSA) Novel Food regulations coming into force at the end of March next year?
The team has taken the necessary steps to ensure we are ready for the new regulations to take effect. We have been working closely with all industry stakeholders to ensure that all our brands adhere to the guidance set forth by the FSA and Novel foods. Our products comply 100 percent with the stringent EU and UK agricultural directives and we expect all our brands to be ready when the new regulations come into effect next year.
What impact do you think the introduction of the regulations will have on the industry?
The new regulations will clean up the market, getting rid of any products that do not comply with new regulations. This will make all CBD users more confident in what they are buying with more clarity and precise labelling.
What does the future hold for CiiTECH?
It is a very exciting time at CiiTECH as we continue to develop new patents, formulations and brands that meet the growing needs of niche markets around the world. Our global expansion tells us that we are doing something right and that our products are filling in a market that is lacking something that consumers need. Although the landscape will likely look very different this time next year, with the technology, research and expertise we have, CiiTECH is set to be at the forefront of this ever-changing industry
Fibromyalgia and cannabis: What does the latest research say?
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.
The best ways to take CBD for pain relief
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.
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.
CBD distillates, isolates & full spectrum – what’s the difference?
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.
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.
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.
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 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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