Feb 2020 | Posted By:
Cannabis is one of humankind’s most ancient healing herbs, with medical applications first recorded for over 100 ailments in 2737 BC by Emperor Shen Nung, the father of Chinese medicine. Yet, as recently as 1992, researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a collection of cell receptors responsible for maintaining homeostasis (internal balance and stability) via the synthesis of internally produced cannabinoids. These are the same compounds found in abundance in the cannabis plant, and Israel has since continued to make large strides in Cannabis research.
The endocannabinoid system’s five main homeostatic roles can be summarized as: relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect. If any of these is not at ease, we are at ‘dis-ease’ which leads to illness. The human body naturally produces cannabinoids, and deficiencies supplanted by ‘phyto’ or plant-based cannabinoids (abundantly found in cannabis) stimulate the ECS and bring us back into balance. Simply put: the human body requires compounds such as those produced by the cannabis plant to find relief from dis-ease and maintain good health.
Medical Cannabis World History
Prior to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, cannabis as medicine evolved from ancient China to other known parts of the world for more than 1,000 years. Around 1500BC, India’s ancient Hindu text the Atharva Veda described cannabis as one of the five most sacred plants of India. Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical practice, was born from the Atharva Veda and draws on several hundred cannabis-based formulations.
In the early 1800s, Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis to western medicine. British royalty, including Queen Victoria for menstrual discomfort, openly used cannabis. Harriet Martineau, one of the first female sociologists and the great great great grandmother of Duchess Kate Middleton, wrote about cannabis during her 19thcentury travels. By the end of the century British colonialists became concerned about cannabis as an intoxicant and cause of psychoses. From 1893-1894 a massive Indo-British study of cannabis re-affirmed cannabis’ medical benefits for hay fever, cholera, dysentery, gonorrhea, diabetes, impotence, urinary incontinence, chronic ulcers, prevention of insomnia and relief of anxiety.
By the mid-1800s, cannabis was listed in the United States as an official pharmaceutical agent in the United States Pharmacopeia as treatment for opiate addiction, alcoholism, spasmatic disorders, mental illness and reproductive pain. It was sold in tinctures at pharmacies across the country by Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Squibb and Abbott Labs. Cannabis in the early 1900s fell out of favor for numerous political reasons, and by 1972 medicinal use became prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act. Thirty-four U.S. states today have legalized medical cannabis and, while cannabis is still federally illegal, a congressional amendment protecting medical cannabis patients (called Rohrabacher-Farr) became law in 2014.
Cannabis in India
The Indian medical cannabis movement is accelerating in both the public and private sector. In 2018, the Indian government initiated research to develop three ‘natural’ cannabis-based drugs to treat patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy and sickle cell anemia. In the fall of 2019, the northeast state of Manipur – where cannabis is grown in the wild – announced it would follow several other states to legalize cannabis for medical and industrial use.
Patanjali Ayurveda, the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company in India, recently created a Research & Development Center in Haridwar with a team of 200 scientists. Their purpose is to study 200 indigenous Indian plants, including cannabis, for medicinal and industrial use. Founder Balkrishna is supportive of legalizing cannabis in India for medical, business development and employment purposes and believes the country’s youth will benefit from an environment that inspires innovation along with a desire to learn and seek knowledge.
Modern Medical Science and Technology
The most common use for medical cannabis is for pain control. Researchers are re-introducing cannabis as medicine for many of the same illnesses identified thousands of years ago. The world is once again recognizing cannabis as safer than opiates and as a replacement for modern pain medication.
Two recent studies published in the 110-year-old medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine indicate the rate of opiate prescriptions is lower in states where medical cannabis laws have been passed. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists over 90 active studies currently being done in the space of cannabis medicine, directed toward the 500+ known compounds found in the plant.
Science is just at the tip of discovery for maximizing and fine tuning the plant’s healing properties. While the U.S. FDA prohibits companies from making medical claims about their CBD products, between 14% and 25% of U.S. adults claim to have used CBD recently or regularly. In addition, five million medical cannabis patients in North America are a significant proving ground for the power of medicinal cannabis in treating broad population ailments.
Outcomes of U.S. government completed cannabis drug trials show 53% positive and 34% neutral results for many of the following conditions. (Note: **completed. *underway):
- Ulcerative colitis**
- Fatty liver**
- Gastrointestinal disorder*
- Muscle tears
- Chronic pain** diseases such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis and arthritis (cannabinoids target root cause of pain)
- Cannabis dependence**
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)*
- Eating disorders
- Multiple sclerosis**
- Spasms and seizures**
- Epilepsy** (the FDA approved
- Epidiolex in 2018)
Over 99% of the 40,000+ U.S. cannabis companies are private and many are looking for capital to grow. Cannabis investors look for companies with the ability to produce high quality product consistently and at scale. Shepherding capital in a responsible and ethical manner within the cannabis industry will undoubtedly transform the health of our plants, our people, our planet and our portfolios in wonderful and unexpected ways.
A global pathway toward planetary homeostasis is being built as governments around the world begin to unleash the powerful qualities of this ancient superfood. We look forward to the community, compassion, creativity, compatibility and consciousness that are an inevitable consequence of cannabis use migrating toward ubiquity.