By Gregg Re | 4 August 2019 FOX NEWS — The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) National Convention in Georgia this weekend came to a screeching halt when one delegate formally complained of “sensory overload” from “guys” whispering […]
1 August 2019 CAITLIN JOHNSTONE — In the race to determine who will serve as Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in the history of civilization, night two of the CNN Democratic presidential […]
Apples contain disease-fighting vitamin A, C, E and K, minerals such as potassium and magnesium1 and antioxidants,2 making them one of the top-ranked fruits for your health.
Compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the U.S., apples rank second only to cranberry for total phenolic compound concentration and total antioxidant activity,3 and highest for the proportion of free phenolic compounds,4 which means the phenolic compounds are not bound to other compounds in the fruit and therefore may be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.5
Notably, much of apples’ antioxidant power is contained in the peel,6 where you’ll find antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, chlorogenic acid and more.7 However, recent research shows the core of the apple should not be overlooked, as that’s where a majority of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are found.
Apple core — A surprising source of beneficial bacteria
As reported by Study Finds,8 recent research9,10 published in Frontiers in Microbiology reveals “a typical 240-gram apple contains around 100 million bacteria, mostly in the seeds and skin,” and organic apples have far greater diversity compared to conventional apples, “potentially making them healthier, tastier and better for the environment.”
In a press release,11 senior author, professor Gabriele Berg with Graz University of Technology in Austria, noted, “The bacteria, fungi and viruses in our food transiently colonize our gut. Cooking kills most of these, so raw fruit and veg are particularly important sources of gut microbes.”
Interestingly, the core of the apple contains the highest amounts of beneficial microbes, and eating the whole apple, including core and seeds, can provide you with 10 times more probiotics than discarding this central portion.12 As reported in the study:13
“Each apple fruit harbors different tissues (stem, peel, fruit pulp, seeds, and calyx), which were colonized by distinct bacterial communities … Interestingly, fruit pulp and seeds were bacterial hot spots, while the peel was less colonized …
Our results suggest that we consume about 100 million bacterial cells with one apple. Although this amount was the same, the bacterial composition was significantly different in conventionally and organically produced apples …
A significant management effect on the microbiota was … apparent for all tissues, even for seeds. Organic and conventional apples are occupied by a similar quantity of microbiota; consuming the whole apple includes an approximate uptake of 100 million bacterial gene copy numbers.
However, freshly harvested, organically managed apples harbor a significantly more diverse, more even and distinct microbiota, compared to conventional ones; the abundance of almost 40% of bacterial genera and orders differed significantly between organically and conventionally managed apples.
Moreover, organic apples conceivably feature favorable health effects for the consumer, the host plant and the environment in contrast to conventional apples, which were found to harbor potential food-borne pathogens.”
Bacterial differences may affect health effects and flavor
Organic apples were the only ones found to contain Lactobacilli, bacteria that break down sugars, associated with healthy digestion, robust immune function and even mental health.14,15 By creating an acidic environment, Lactobacilli also help protect against disease-promoting pathogens.16
Organic apples also contained higher amounts of Methylobacterium, a flavor-enhancing bacterium found in fruit and berries.17 This helps explain why organic apples (and many other organic foods) tend to have a more robust and pleasant taste.
Conventional apples, on the other hand, were found to contain Escherichia coli and Shigella — two Enterobacteriaceae species18 associated with foodborne illness, as both produce potent shigatoxin.19 Neither of these species was found in organic apples. In the press release, lead author Birgit Wasserman suggested:20
“The microbiome and antioxidant profiles of fresh produce may one day become standard nutritional information, displayed alongside macronutrients, vitamins and minerals to guide consumers.
Here, a key step will be to confirm to what extent diversity in the food microbiome translates to gut microbial diversity and improved health outcomes.”
Apples and cardiovascular health
Apples also modulate your microbial composition by way of its fiber content. As explained in a 2015 paper21 on apples and cardiovascular health in the journal Nutrients:
“Apples are among the most frequently consumed fruits and a rich source of polyphenols and fiber. A major proportion of the bioactive components in apples, including the high molecular weight polyphenols, escape absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract and reach the large intestine relatively intact.
There, they can be converted by the colonic microbiota to bioavailable and biologically active compounds with systemic effects, in addition to modulating microbial composition.
Epidemiological studies have identified associations between frequent apple consumption and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease … Quercetin glycosides may also reach the colon and could serve as a substrate for human gut bacteria.”
The Nutrients paper also cites research22 showing eating two apples per day for two weeks significantly increased beneficial Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus while reducing Enterobacteriaceae and other pathogens.
In conclusion, the paper notes there’s supporting evidence to suggest apples can modulate risk factors for cardiovascular disease, improving lipid metabolism and vascular function, and lowering inflammation — in part by microbiota-derived metabolites and the apples’ prebiotic impact.
The microflora of fruits and vegetables
While beneficial bacteria have gained plenty of attention in recent years, the idea of fruits and vegetables as a significant source of live bacteria has received less consideration. We typically relate their impact on the gut microbiome based on their beneficial fiber content.
However, as noted in a paper23 dating all the way back to 1963, “The Microflora Within the Tissue of Fruits and Vegetables,” bacteria are a natural occurrence in “normal, sound fresh fruit tissues.” Higher amounts are typically found in low-growing vegetables, with tree borne fruits having lower amounts. This makes sense, since soil is rich microbes, provided its healthy.
However, different fruits and vegetables harbor higher amounts of bacteria in different parts. In cucumbers, for example, the bacteria are located closer to the periphery, with few at the core.
In tomatoes, the highest amounts of bacteria are found closest to the stem-scar and central core, decreasing as you go outward toward the peel. As you ferment fruits and vegetables, the naturally-occurring bacteria multiply exponentially through the plant tissue.
According to this 1963 paper, there are several routes or pathways of entry for bacteria into plant tissue. According to a 2016 study,24 one route of bacterial colonization begins at pollination, and the ultimate composition of a fruit’s microbiota is actually influenced by the microbial community found in the pollen to begin with.
Pollination impacts bacterial microbiota of apples
The study25 in question, published in the Environmental Microbiology, found “pollen provides a unique microhabitat,” with different plant pollens providing a wide variety of different bacterial species.
“Both plant species and pollination type significant influenced structure and diversity of the pollen microbiota,” the authors note, adding that “insect-pollinated species possessed a more similar microbiota in comparison to the wind-pollinated ones, suggesting a levelling effect by insect vectors …
Many plants are emitting large quantity of pollen during spring to autumn and several types of plant pollen may cause serious pollen-related diseases.
Therefore, pollen-associated bacteria may have a potential ecological and medicinal impact. In addition, they may also enter the plant reproduction processes and be directly transmitted to the next generation as seed endophytes …
The extreme low overlap of bacterial species between the investigated pollens demonstrated that the culturable fraction of the pollen microbiota had a surprisingly high level of species-specificity.
Only Rosenbergiella nectarea was isolated from three of the four pollen species, thus confirming that flower organs are the preferred habitat of this genus.”
While the different pollen species varied in their bacterial composition, the most dominant type of bacteria was Proteobacteria, followed by Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and Firmicutes. The tectum surface, the outermost layer of the pollen, is the preferred location for bacterial colonization.
Interestingly, the bacteria found in pollen are in turn brought there by honeybees and other insects, weather, various plant materials and even human activities, showing just how circular ecology is. For optimal health, there needs to be a healthy transfer of bacteria from one species to another, from one location to another.
Bacteria modulate composition of nectar as well
Bacteria and yeast have also been shown to alter the characteristics of a flower’s nectar. As noted in a 2014 review in the Duluth Journal of Undergraduate Biology:26
“Plants present pollinators with nectar as an energetic reward, while pollinators transfer genetic material to help plants achieve full reproductive success. The constituents of nectar play a crucial role in facilitating this mutual relationship. A new area of research is emerging that may change the way biologists view this binary system; it may no longer be a two-way interaction.
Microorganisms — yeasts and bacteria — have been found to inhabit nectars across a wide geographic range and across a large range of plant species. These microorganisms change the characteristics of nectar in such a way to alter pollinator behavior.”
One nectar characteristic modified by bacteria is the actual concentration of the nectar. Another is its sugar composition, which is what the pollinators are primarily after.
So, in summary, both the plants’ propagation and the success of the pollinators depend in large part on the microbial communities in the nectar, and as noted earlier, these pollinators in turn distribute bacteria to pollen, ultimately affecting the microbial composition of pollinated fruits and vegetables. It seems no matter where you look, microbes are essential for life, playing crucial roles in the health of soil, plants and their fruits, and humans.
An organic apple a day keeps the doctor away
To learn more about the health benefits of apples, see “What Are the Health Benefits of Apples?” For example, studies have demonstrated apples can help protect against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity, reducing your risk for neurodegenerative disorders.
Aside from heart disease, apple consumption has also been shown to lower your risk for stroke, diabetes and cancer. For optimal health benefits, consider eating the whole apple, including the core, and make sure they’re organic.
Not only will organic apples provide you with a healthier composition of probiotics, you’ll also be able to eat the peel without exposing yourself to toxic pesticides.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, 47 different pesticide residues have been found on conventional apples, many of which are known or probable carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and developmental or reproductive toxins.27
Now, you may have heard that eating apple seeds can be hazardous. The seeds contain amygdalin, a chemical that produces cyanide when the seeds are crushed.
But as noted by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, chief medical correspondent for ABC News, a 150-pound individual would have to crush and chew “literally hundreds of apple seeds,” in order to experience toxic effects.28
Eggs can be made in multiple ways. And while delicious, they’re also considered one of the most perfect foods as they have the highest quality protein you can purchase. Eggs have no carbs, no sugar, are naturally gluten-free and are packed with nine essential amino acids.1
Many locally sourced eggs will have a brown shell, but this has nothing to do with the flavor or nutrition. The shell color is an indication of the breed of hen.2 White eggs are more popular in CAFO productions since the breed is smaller and needs less food to produce the same number of eggs. Some chickens will lay eggs almost every day, while others only once or twice per week.3
If you cooked your eggs and now can’t tell the difference between which is cooked and which one is raw, spin it on its side. Hard-boiled eggs will spin easily, but raw eggs will wobble.4 You might choose to boil your eggs, scramble them, use them in an omelet or frittata or poach them, but have you ever thought about cooking your eggs on the grill?5
Try grilled eggs for a fresh new flavor
As you likely know, eggs are incredibly versatile. They may be baked, fried, steamed, poached,6 added to other foods and, as one adventurous backyard griller found, they can also be grilled. Bon Appetit magazine7 describes the adventure during which author Emily Farris’ husband discovered the complex flavors grilling produced in fresh eggs.
During a season when their chickens were laying six eggs a day, they were searching for other unique ways of using them. One night, after grilling dinner, Farris’ husband popped a few eggs on the grill and put the lid on.
Left alone for 10 minutes, the eggs cooked through perfectly with a slightly smoky flavor. After being peeled, they found the eggs had “grill marks” or two small spots on the whites of the eggs where the shell had been in contact with the hot grate.8
The shells became slightly spotted but otherwise remained intact. And, unlike smoked eggs that can take up to two hours to cook, grilling fresh eggs may be completed in six to 14 minutes — depending how soft you like the yolks — with nearly the same results.9
Eggs are not responsible for heart disease
Humans have been eating eggs throughout history. But in the 1970s concerns were raised chicken eggs may increase your blood cholesterol.10 In the 1980s the average person in the U.S. had dropped from eating two or three eggs each week to one or two a week. Data from a 1999 study by Harvard University11 changed this when they found no association between eggs and heart disease.
Enrolling 117,933 men and women who were free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or cancer, the researchers followed their daily consumption of eggs and the incident of nonfatal and fatal coronary heart disease and stroke over one year.
They found the data suggested eating up to one egg per day did not have a substantial impact on heart health, but did suggest further research on diabetics who eat eggs, as the study excluded diabetics at baseline.12
Although concerns were raised when scientists believed the cholesterol level in eggs were an issue, later discoveries found dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol.13 Instead, the effect eggs have on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared to trans fats.14
Unfortunately, many continue to lump saturated fat in the same category as trans fats, declaring saturated fat is responsible for triggering your body to produce cholesterol and increasing your risk of heart disease.15,16,17,18
However, as I’ve reviewed several times, research on saturated fat doesn’t uphold this theory and in fact, a reduction in healthy, organically raised saturated fat may increase your risk of diabetes and obesity. You’ll find more information in my past articles, “Great Britain’s most outspoken cardiologist sets the record straight on saturated fats” and “Could eating the right fats save 1 million lives per year?”
Eggs: Rich in the essential nutrient choline
One of the essential nutrients found in eggs is choline. This vitamin-like nutrient is involved in several physiological processes, not the least of which includes normalizing metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis and the regulation of homocysteine.19
A deficiency in choline may trigger abnormal deposits of fat in the liver resulting in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Additionally, deficiency may also lead to muscle damage. The recommended adequate intake of choline is set at 425 mg per day for women and 550 mg per day for men.20
Choline is found in the yolk of an egg and just one large egg yolk provides 126 mg of choline.21 Research22 has found a relationship between high dietary choline and better cognitive performance. In a group of 1,391 men and women from the Framingham Offspring population, researchers found performance factors were better in individuals who had higher choline intake.
These findings add to the evidence that your nutritional intake over a lifetime makes a difference in how your brain ages.23 Animal studies have also found choline intake during gestation and early postnatal development improved brain function during adulthood, and importantly, prevented age related memory loss.24
While some believe25 most people get enough choline from their diets and deficiency only occurs in rare cases, it’s important to identify your choline food sources to determine whether your intake is sufficient to meet your daily needs.
Protect your gut health and protect your heart
Researchers have identified a complex relationship between microbiome and heart health associated with trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO).26 In 2013, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine27 suggested there was a new link between heart disease and eggs involving TMAO. However, in his analysis, Functional Medicine clinician Chris Kresser came to some interesting conclusions about the study:28
“Finally, this paper did not prove that eating choline-rich foods (or any other foods) increases TMAO levels over time. In fact, the researchers themselves seem to suggest this is unlikely in the discussion section of the paper.
The lack of association — or inverse association — between egg consumption and CHD is even more impressive when you consider that those who eat more eggs are also more likely to smoke and be physically inactive.29
Some studies suggest that eggs may even prevent heart disease. Egg consumption leads to the formation of larger, less dense LDL and HDL particles, which may be protective against atherosclerosis.”30
Within your gut, microbial metabolism of choline produces trimethylamine, which converts to TMAO. In animal studies,31 researchers have found TMAO increases the development of atherosclerosis. However, the microbes contributing to the productions of TMA and the extent of the diet and bioavailability of dietary choline continues to be unknown.
Research published in the American Society for Microbiology32 attempted to answer some of those questions. Using human intestinal isolates, they identified nine strains of microbes producing TMA from choline in vitro. They found low levels of colonization of these microbes reduced choline available to the host, which was more pronounced as TMA producing bacteria increased.
They believe their work suggests TMA-producing gut microbiota should be considered when making recommendations about choline intake.33 This information provides yet another link to the relationship of the health of your gut microbiome and your cardiovascular system.
Long-term risks of fatty liver disease
In addition to being important for healthy fetal development,34 your nervous system,35 DNA methylation36 and mitochondrial function,37 choline deficiency may also be a primary driver for NAFLD. This is the most common form of liver disease in the U.S.,38 which may be triggered in part by obesity and insulin resistance.39
Another identified trigger for NAFLD is choline deficiency. Chris Masterjohn, who has a Ph.D. in nutritional science, believes choline deficiency may be a more significant trigger than excess fructose. It his review40 of the medical literature, he discusses supporting scientific evidence of the links between choline and NAFLD.
Additionally, researchers evaluating the effects of treatment and long-term health conditions associated with NAFLD using animal models create the condition through the use of methionine and choline deficient diets.41
There are two forms of fatty liver disease not associated with alcohol consumption. The first is called nonalcoholic fatty liver in which the liver suffers from fatty deposits but has little to no information or cellular damage.42
The secondary form is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a condition that occurs when you also have hepatitis. In this condition, the liver is also inflamed, and cellular damage is present as a result of the hepatitis. This may cause fibrosis of the liver, leading to cirrhosis or liver cancer.43
In one animal study44 evaluating the importance of choline, researchers found choline supplementation in the diet normalized cholesterol metabolism. This appeared to prevent nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and also demonstrated improvement in liver function.
The perfect hard-boiled egg
If you don’t have access to a grill, or there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground — or other weather calamities that make grilling difficult or impossible — you might be in search of how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg for your salad or snacking pleasure. To enjoy the best taste and nutritional value, seek out organic, pastured eggs as I discuss below.
There are several cooking alternatives, so I recommend you try each method until you find the one that suits you best. In each case you’ll not want to crowd the pot with eggs, leaving enough room for water to circulate freely between them. Cover the eggs with at least 1 inch of cool water and turn the burner on high to bring to a boil.
Here is where the different methods diverge. Adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar helps the eggs from cracking while boiling, especially fresh eggs. Some prefer adding a teaspoon of baking soda or salt to older eggs instead to help loosen the shell when you’re peeling.45
Once the eggs come to a boil you may choose to continue to let them boil at a slightly lower temperature for up to seven minutes. Remove them from the stove and run them under cool water or put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Another option is to bring them to a boil, turn off the electric burner, cover the pot and allow them to sit.46 If you’d like a softer center remove them at seven minutes. However, even left this way up to 15 minutes they won’t get over cooked. These can then be run under cold water or placed in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Overcooked eggs will have a grey-green ring around the yolk. While they are safe to eat, they may not be pretty if you’re serving guests.47 Test the cooking times at your altitude, pot size and number of eggs. Once you have a time that works best for you, stick with it.
If you’re making deviled eggs and would like the yolks centered in the egg, stir them clockwise for several minutes while they’re boiling and then counterclockwise for several more.48
Peeling hard-boiled eggs is easier when the eggs are warm to room temperature. If you refrigerate your eggs to use later, remove them approximately five minutes before peeling to make the process easier.
Seek out local, organic, pastured dairy products
Unfortunately, producers have used terms giving the public the illusion they’re purchasing organically grown and pastured dairy products when they’re not. The terms “free run,” “free-range” and “pastured” may sound interchangeable but in reality, the definition isn’t necessarily what you might expect.
In my past article, “How do different eggs stack up in terms of flavor, nutrition and animal welfare?” you’ll discover more about the confusing number of labels used on eggs. While they are a part of a healthy diet, the type of eggs you purchase and eat are important.
As a general rule, you can tell the difference between pastured eggs and not by the color of the egg yolk. Hens allowed to forage will produce eggs with a bright orange yolk as opposed to the dull, pale yellow yolks you’ve found from caged hens raised on CAFO farms.
You have several choices to find high-quality, pasture-raised hens producing eggs. Local farmers, selling in farmers markets, is one option. Another alternative is to raise your own backyard chickens, which is a choice I have made.
Your third choice is to look for store-bought eggs with the right label. Be sure to check out The Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Egg Scorecard rating 136 different producers based on 28 organic criteria.49
1 Enzymes are required for:
2 Which of the following conditions has been shown to provide prime growth conditions for Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacterium typically contracted by swimming in the ocean with an open cut or scrape?
3 Which of the following nutrients has been shown to ameliorate the hallmarks of migraine, including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, homocysteine neurotoxicity and glutamate excitotoxicity?
4 Which of the following drug ingredients is known to have anticholinergic effects, meaning it blocks acetylcholine, a side effect of which is a significantly increased risk for dementia?
5 Which of the following herbs has a sweet licorice flavor?
6 Which of the following is a natural psychological need that every human being has?
7 Consuming acetobacter in the form of this food may help you break down glyphosate:
Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) has been the topic of a lot of discussion in the U.S., not just in recent decades but for more than a century. It’s been one of the most controversial plants worldwide, arguably more than poppies and peyote.
What’s hard to argue with, however, are the clinical findings that the pain-relieving effects of the cannabis plant are 30 times more potent than aspirin for decreasing inflammation, according to scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, a country where cannabis use became legal as of October 17, 2018.1
Tariq Akhtar and Steven Rothstein, professors in the molecular and cellular biology department at McGill University Health Center, worked with five colleagues on the study, observing that besides the psychoactive aspects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the pharmacological features of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) derived from C. sativa varieties, there’s potential for numerous medicinal uses.
One of the points made by the study, published by the journal Phytochemistry,2 is the plant’s “medicinal versatility,” and its focus on two specific molecules, cannflavin A and cannflavin B. Interestingly, the research notes that cannflavins A and B first came to light in 1985 when the benefits were compared to acetylsalicylic acid, the product sold as “aspirin.”
Because research on cannabis has been regulated diligently in Canada, not to mention the U.S., decades of stymied opportunities for discovery were lost due to the ban on its use. Once the ban was lifted, however, Akhtar and Rothstein proceeded, further armed with advanced genomic research.
What’s next: Engineering the molecules
The team’s stated objective was to “better understand how these molecules are made,” Akhtar noted. “There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of Cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you’re looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”3
To identify the biosynthesis producing the two “medicinally relevant cannabis compounds,” the scientists explained:
“Evidence is presented for an O-methyltransferase (CsOMT21) encoded within the C. sativagenome that specifically converts the widespread plant flavone known as luteolin to chrysoeriol, both of which accumulate in C. sativa. These results therefore imply the following reaction sequence for cannflavins A and B biosynthesis: luteolin ? chrysoeriol ? cannflavin A and cannflavin B.”4
Separate studies establish that flavones serve as antioxidant,5 neuroprotective6 and anticancer7 resources when ingested. It’s worth noting that while other plants have been examined to determine similar biosynthetic pathways, oddly, cannabis had not until recently.8
Now, however, the team is working with Canadian company Anahit International Corp., which holds a licensed patent from the university, to develop a “biological system to create these molecules, which would give us the opportunity to engineer large quantities,”9 Rothstein said.
Anahit executives said the company plans to work further with the researchers to “develop effective and safe anti-inflammatory medicines from cannabis phytochemicals that would provide an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” according to chief operating officer Darren Carrigan, who explained what will come next:
“Anahit will commercialize the application of cannflavin A and B to be accessible to consumers through a variety of medical and athletic products such as creams, pills, sports drinks, transdermal patches and other innovative options.”10
The reason that’s important, is that currently in the U.S., people looking for pain relief often turn to opioids, popular because they can effectively block the pain receptors in your brain, but there are two major downsides: numerous side effects and a very real likelihood of addiction.
The continuing case for cannabis
Cannflavins A and B were also discussed in a collaborative study in 2014, which found the foundational source of their potent action came from “two pro-inflammatory mediators, prostaglandin E2 and the leukotrienes.”11 The seeds were found to lack the usual phenolics found in hemp leaves and flower heads, and sprouting them produced cannflavins A and B, they did not trigger cannabinoids. Further:
“Hemp seeds are of great nutritional value, containing all essential amino acids and fatty acids in sufficient amount and ratio to meet the dietary human demand. Hemp seeds do not contain cannabinoids, and because of their high contents of ? fatty acids, are enjoying a growing popularity as a super-food to beneficially affect chronic inflammation.”12
In 2018, another Canadian study produced by McGill University Health Center and led by Gabriella Gobbi, professor of psychiatry and researcher in the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program at McGill, reported that CBD, being free from side effects, is a safe alternative to prescription drugs for pain relief, without the “high” associated with THC.
The team was able to demonstrate that CBD doesn’t work on CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the way THC does, but rather through the specific receptor mechanisms concerned with anxiety, called serotonin 5-HT1A, as well as pain, known as vanilloid TRPV1.
The scientists also extrapolated the precise dosage of CBD for analgesic and anxiety relief, as well as for chronic back, sciatica, diabetic, cancer and other types of pain. Postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and the study’s first author, Danilo De Gregorio, added, “We found in animal models of chronic pain that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated in neuropathic or chronic pain.”13
Gobbi called the research a “new advancement for an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine”14 — pain relief without the euphoria, and more importantly, without the risk of addiction. Notably, the FDA approved CBD oil15 in a purified form known as Epidiolex by prescription for two types of epilepsy.
The crucial difference between cannabis and hemp
While cannabis and hemp are often referred to interchangeably, important distinctions need to be made. Both come from Cannabis sativa and both contain cannabidiol (CBD), but the amount of CBD is the big difference, and that difference is crucial.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences are one of the few groups of scientists in the U.S. given federal authorization to study cannabis.
Following 12 years of study, published online at New Phytologist, U of M plant biologist George Weiblen explained, “While marijuana is rich in psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), hemp produces mostly a noneuphoric cannabidiol (CBD).”16 The implications of decades of confusion on the part of the medical community, legislators and the public at large were addressed by EurekAlert:
“The discovery of a single gene distinguishing the two varieties, which according to Weiblen took more than 12 years of research, could strengthen hemp producers’ argument that their products should not be subject to the same narcotics laws as hemp’s cannabinoid cousin.
The market for hemp seed and fiber in the U.S. surpassed $600 million last year alone. But despite the plant’s surging popularity as an ingredient in food, personal care products, clothing and even construction, commercial hemp cultivation is prohibited by the federal government. Currently, all hemp products are imported to the U.S.”17
March 22, 2019, the Congressional Research Service (CRS),18 which serves implicitly at the behest of the U.S. Congress, submitted a fact sheet to define hemp, comparing the differences in chemical and genetic composition from marijuana, as well as its production and use. As deputy director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Tom Melton succinctly explains:
“The difference is that hemp plants contain no more than 0.3 percent (by dry weight) of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive substance found in marijuana. By comparison, marijuana typically contains 5 to 20 percent THC. You can’t get high on hemp.”19
Brief history of hemp in the US
As previously stated, the U.S. has a long history of confusion and misinformation when it comes to the cannabis plant. A brief timeline from Origins,20 published by the history departments at Miami University and The Ohio State University, to show how different areas and legislatures viewed cannabis and its constituents:
- In 1862, hashish candy was advertised in Vanity Fair as a pleasurable and harmless stimulant and a way to treat “nervousness and melancholy,” along with the hype that “under its influence all classes seem to gather new inspiration and energy.”
- The first effort at establishing federal marijuana regulations were made June 2, 1906, when the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed.21
- Between 1914 and 1925, 26 states passed laws prohibiting the plant.
- Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970, placing marijuana “in the most restrictive category of drugs having no permissible use in medical practice.”
- Medical marijuana laws were passed in California in 1996, statewide, while Colorado became the first state to allow marijuana dispensaries to market marijuana for recreational use in 2014.
The 2018 Farm Bill22 made it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp for the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.” The American Farm Bureau Federation states its own clarification:
“Industrial hemp is not marijuana, although it is a different variety of the same species, a fact that has at times resulted in a negative association and stymied hemp’s growth. That species is Cannabis sativa L., a substance that has historically been classified in the U.S. as a Schedule I controlled substance and regulated under the Controlled Substance Act.
Since the 1990s, varieties of this plant containing low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the ingredient that lends marijuana is psychoactive properties, have been legalized in many European countries, as well as Canada and Australia. The common threshold level of allowable THC for industrial hemp is 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”23
Cannabis used for pain reduces addiction risk
One of the most ironic and thought-provoking points in regard to cannabis use as a remedy for pain and inflammation is this one: Using cannabis, especially when it’s so successful in bringing relief, is that it’s a natural (read: not synthetic) substance that could reduce the out-of-control addiction rates now being acknowledged by both the medical and law enforcement communities. Plus, as noted by Medical News Today side effects from CBD use are neither harmful nor lethal:
“Many small-scale studies have looked into the safety of CBD in adults. They concluded that adults tend to tolerate a wide range of doses well. Researchers have found no significant side effects on the central nervous system, the vital signs, or mood, even among people who used high dosages.
The most common side effect was tiredness. Also, some people reported diarrhea and changes in appetite or weight … There is still a lack of available long-term safety data.”24
According to the Department of Health and Human Services25 the essence of the problem, aptly coined the “opioid crisis,” stemmed initially from drug companies in the 1990s collectively assuring medical entities opioid pain relievers weren’t addictive, so they began prescribing them more often.
That resulted in a cascade of events: First, health care personnel started prescribing them more often, which naturally led to widespread consumption of prescription drugs first, then spilled over to nonprescription opioids before it became apparent that they could indeed be very addictive.
By 2017, HHS announced a public health emergency. Statistics helped flesh out the story; for instance, according to a CDC report in 2016, there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involving synthetic opioids in 2014 alone. Since 2000, the “age-adjusted drug overdose death rate has more than doubled,” and a “substantial portion … appears to be related to increased availability of illicit fentanyl,” a type of opioid that comes with severe side effects, including death.26
The CDC delineates two types of fentanyl: legal and illegal. Legal fentanyl is described as a “synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain,”27 usually for end-of-life care. The other type, nonpharmaceutical fentanyl, is defined as “Illicitly manufactured and often mixed with cocaine or heroin,” and “50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.”28
Common side effects from opioid use
A list of side effects caused by opioid use is addressed by the American Cancer Society.29 These include sleepiness, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. Nausea and/or vomiting; and itching are also common. Constipation or trouble urinating are also side effects people experience with opioid use, as well as mental effects such as confusion, hallucinations and nightmares.
While patients may find certain side effects diminish without further treatment intervention, a combination of side effects, such as swelling in your throat, hives or trouble breathing along with nausea, may be an allergic reaction to a drug.
Patients are cautioned to never stop taking their medications suddenly, and to rely on their health care providers for advice on increases or decreases, or interactions with other drugs they may be taking, which can exacerbate problems. Additionally, people often have different reactions to drugs, including over-the-counter kind, but there’s also the opioid epidemic to consider.
By Isabelle Z.,
When you’re taking a medication, you might only concern yourself with its active ingredient. After all, it’s what improves your condition. However, a new study shows that the list of inactive ingredients deserves equal weight as some are not quite as inconsequential as their name implies.
Oral pills typically contain anywhere from 8 to 35 inactive ingredients, which are added to enhance the medication’s properties and improve its ability to be absorbed by the body. Some are added to improve appearance or taste, and others are bulking agents. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients can cause other problems, such as allergic reactions, and others can exacerbate food intolerances.
The study’s senior author, gastroenterologist Dr. Giovanni Traverso, was inspired to look into inactive ingredients after treating a patient with celiac disease who had experienced a reaction to a medication used to treat stomach ulcers, omeprazole. Its inactive ingredients had been derived from wheat. (Related: Gluten could be in your medication and pills, AND Big Pharma doesn’t even have to label it.)
Dr. Traverso and a team of researchers looked at a public database containing information about more than 42,000 oral medications prescribed in the U.S. and the more than 350,000 inactive ingredients these drugs contain. They discovered that this was not a unique problem. For example, around 45 percent of pills contain lactose as an active ingredient, despite the fact that many people are lactose tolerant. Pills also often contain chemical dyes.
You might think that these inactive ingredients must be present in amounts that aren’t great enough to have much of an impact, but that isn’t it true. According to data from the National Library of Medicine, active ingredients make up just over a quarter of the weight of a pill, with the remaining weight coming from its inactive ingredients.
The researchers discovered that 93 percent of pills have at least one of 38 known allergens and nearly all of them have substances that can pose problems for those with intolerances to foods like gluten or sugar. Around 55 percent of them contain one or more FODMAP sugars.
Inactive ingredients can be very problematic for the elderly and those with food allergies
One of the researchers, biochemical data scientist Daniel Reker, said that such ingredients might not bother most patients, but added: “However, there is a subpopulation of patients, currently of unknown size, that will be extremely sensitive to those and develop symptoms triggered by the inactive ingredients.”
Another problem is that the relative amounts of these inactive ingredients aren’t usually listed on the medication’s packaging. Moreover, when doctors prescribe patients medication, they typically specify only the dosage of the active ingredient and not the overall formulation, making it hard to avoid certain inactive ingredients.
The complications might be even worse in elderly patients, considering how many different drugs they tend to take. This places them at risk of having a multitude of inactive ingredients that they could be sensitive to building up within their bodies.
The study’s authors wrote that a patient who takes 10 prescription medications per day – which is not an uncommon number for those in their golden years – will ingest 2.8 grams of inactive ingredients per day, on average. This is a “substantial” amount, they say, that needs to be considered.
They concluded that these excipients should be accounted for and that clinicians need to keep these ingredients in mind when selecting certain formulations for patients. Of course, many of these patients may find that skipping risky prescriptions altogether in favor of natural treatments could yield even more positive results without as many potential side effects.
Sources for this article include:
The Federal Bureau of Investigators now considers conspiracy theories to be a domestic terror threat. Seriously. This week, Yahoo News reports that the FBI “for the first time has identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat.”
According to the report:
“The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists a number of arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.