The Emerging Science of Cannabinoid Therapeutics
THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from several species of the cannabis plant, referred to as indica, sativa or ruderalis.
Most of the CBD products available in the USA contain CBD extracts derived from Eastern European and Chinese sources of industrial hemp. These extracts are highly processed powdered isolates derived from the stalk of the hemp plant and have questionable therapeutic effects on the human endocannabinoid system. In general, the enzymatic uptake and absorption of CBD isolate is questionable.
The other form of CBD found in the US domestic market is a full spectrum oil derived from the whole plant flower of sativa and indica species. This is the most potent form of CBD with active biochemical markers for medical usage and the human receptor system, which identifies with this physiologically.
The point is: The source of any given CBD extract is critical to its efficacy.
At Casa Humboldt, we believe indica- and sativa-derived full spectrum CBD extracts are the most effective, and that the biochemical composition and identification of full spectrum CBD extracts and their ability to participate in enzymatic reactions by the human body make them superior to powdered isolates derived from hemp.
CBD requires other cannabinoids such as THC, even at low levels, to be present for optimal therapeutics. Full spectrum extracts contain a diverse mix of terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids, whereas hemp-derived isolates are devoid of these medicinally beneficial secondary compounds. (The terpenes and flavonoids found in full spectrum cannabis extracts are additional naturally occurring compounds responsible for specific medicinal effects.)
THC is most noted for its euphoric effects when heated. However, THC in its raw form (THCA) is 900 times more powerful than aspirin. CBD is generally the second most prominent cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, depending on the strain. CBD is non-psychoactive and is renowned for its effectiveness in treating epilepsy, pain, seizures, cancer, inflammation, anxiety and a host of other chronic conditions.
While there are hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, many with medicinal properties, we are unclear as to which of these exactly must be present for optimal therapeutic effects. However, we are making great strides.
Delivery methods become critical as well in activating specific molecules for pharmacotherapeutics. Specifically, raw forms of the plant 🌱 such as juiced cannabis leaves are extremely valuable, just as low temperature vaping is optimal for activating terpenes.
“Currently, it has been a hit-or-miss approach with cannabis therapeutics,“ says Dr. Digiallorenzo, Scientific Director of Casa Humboldt. “We have some excellent pharmaceutical products on the market such as Sativex, which target specific diseases. But overall, most of the medicinal therapeutics are still used empirically.”
“We still require a specific method, data set and research basis to target each individuals unique needs,” Dr. Digiallorenzo continues. “We believe DNA testing services like Strain Genie are a reliable modality to align each patient’s unique endocannabinoid system to an optimal cannabis strain profile. These services will essentially take the guessing game out of the process.“
Other issues remain, however, such as product consistency, dosage, and mode of administration, which must be standardized as well. Israel has done a tremendous amount of research in this arena. US-based studies have only begun in the last several years.
These days, common practice is to refer to THC and CBD ratios when talking about cannabis strains. The higher the THC, the more euphoric the effect… We are beginning to see our breeders build the CBD/THC ratios into the genetics, which is always preferred.
We have several experimental strains onsite this year at Casa Humboldt, as we are working closely with breeder Dan HendRx at HendRx Genetics to identify standout molecular profiles. This will eliminate a lot of the compounding required to blend effective ratios, since we are starting with the ratios built into the plant.
Currently, Casa Humboldt’s Abacus is a 20:1 CBD-dominant strain, meaning it typically tests out with twenty times as much CBD as THC. This is a highly effective strain for many health issues and general wellness. The flower can be smoked, or a vaporizer can be used to smoke the flower at a lower temperature, which will activate crucial terpene and flavonoid compounds.
Our Pineapple Upside Down Cake tests as high 7 mg/gram in ocimene, making it the predominant terpene in this strain. Ocimene is a highly sought after anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory molecule.
Still, we see that according to a recent BDS Analytics blog post on the CBD market, “…54 percent of U.S. adults (21+) overall do not understand the difference between THC and CBD, and 59 percent are confused over the perceived effects of hemp-derived products.”
If consumers are unclear on THC and CBD, it is likely they are unclear on the entourage effect concept, which is the used to describe the medicinal power of ingesting the comprehensive range of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in full spectrum extracts.
However, with the Farm Bill in effect, CBD extract sourced from industrial hemp grown in the U.S. will be more readily available, which is why it is important for consumers to understand that the molecular complexity of indica and sativa strains is what makes them more powerful in medicinal contexts.
We encourage you to take advantage of DNA testing services to determine the ideal cannabinoid profile for your medicinal needs and physiology and to always choose products made with sun-grown and organic, cannabis-derived CBD, not with hemp-derived CBD extracts of questionable origin.
“I was a seizure child and on phenobarbital. Cannabis felt like neural food the first time I used it. That’s when the journey began…” indicates Casa Humboldt Chief Brand Optimist Stefania Digiallorenzo.
“Casa Humboldt cultivates neural-supportive, neural-nourishing, resin-rich indica and sativa strains with diverse cannabinoid and terpene profiles and high CBD concentrations.”
“We believe that in time, research will show the uptake of CBD from Indica and Sativa strains is more effectively utilized in enzymatic reactions in the body; certain terpenes act as hyper-modulators, accentuating the effects of cannabinoids when targeting specific tissue and disease processes; and combinations of CBD and terpenes facilitate optimal cellular support, particularly neurological support.”
The carefully curated Casa Humboldt sun-grown cannabis strains provide a medicine for each unique individual. We specifically focus on flower at the moment.
“We are making great strides, and the science will soon catch up,” says Digiallorenzo.
We will be launching a page on our website with questionnaires and the ability to order Strain Genie online, so we can work even more closely with our patients to find the most effective strain and delivery options for their physiology and needs.