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Education & Research

Plant Medicine

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In Grass Roots America Magazine, we discuss plant medicines and the science surrounding their uses, along with stories about the people’s lives they affect. Our previous issue featured interviews with U.S. Army Veteran, Matt Kahl, and Dr. Sue Sisley. Matt shared about his positive experience with ayahuasca, and how it helped with his PTSD. Dr. Sisley, the world’s leading researcher on cannabis and PTSD in veterans, also discussed how she’s heard reports of veterans feeling better and more joyful after going on their own journey with things like psilocybin, ayahuasca, and/or ibogaine. In addition to our interviews, the GRAM team attended the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference West in Portland, OR, where Olivia Newton John explained how cannabis helped her get off morphine and how ayahuasca allowed her to quit taking antidepressants.

In addition to these powerful testimonials, psychedelic legal reform is continuing to progress around the country. In 2019, Denver became the first major city to decriminalize psilocybin possession and personal use for those ages 21 and above. A month later, Oakland became the second major city to decriminalize psilocybin, as well as other psychedelics that come from plants and fungi, including ayahuasca, ibogaine, and peyote. Supporters share how they found the plants helpful for overcoming trauma, depression, addiction, and anxiety. This psychedelic movement is advancing quickly with Portland, Dallas, Chicago, and Berkeley proposing to decriminalize some sort of psychedelic plants. 

It’s a priority to share these new discoveries.

Even scientific research in the United States is beginning to rapidly expand as people become more interested in the possibility of psychedelic therapies becoming a natural option for medical treatment. In the fall of 2019, a group of private donors gave $17 million dollars to start a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients,” says Paul B Rothman, Dean of the Medical Faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.” 

Inspired by our interviews, the progression of decriminalizing natural plant medicines like cannabis, psilocybin, and ayahuasca throughout the U.S., and the advances of plant medicine research, we feel it’s a priority to share these new discoveries. This is why we’re beginning this plant medicine column, which will be featured every month, leading up to an entire issue focused on all plant medicines, later this year. Plant medicine topics we will cover will include things like cannabis and psychedelics, but also how different plant foods work as a medicine, the health benefits of things like essential oils, and more. If it’s a natural medicine that comes from plants, we’ll cover it here, because we are dedicated to delivering Great Research About Medicine, one GRAM at a time, with informative material empowering you to take control of your health and well-being.

Scientists & Researchers

Russo’s Research

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Dr. Russo comments in his latest editorial how the medical community has failed to appropriately manage chronic conditions such as pain and other debilitating diseases.

“The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine opined in 2017 that “there is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective: for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.”2

 Russo states that we need to face the facts:

– What doctors are currently using (opioids and non-opioids) is not effective in managing patients’ symptoms, and the lack of willingness tof many medical professionals to consider other options leaves the patients suffering.

– There is no longitudinal data that shows the efficacy of using opioids long term for chronic noncancer pain, and there is not much being developed in the drug market that aims to make any difference in how we currently treat patients.

 – Whether anyone likes it or not, increasingly millions of people around the globe are utilizing cannabis to treat their pain, and observational studies and surveys repeatedly demonstrate that pain is the top medical indication for cannabis usage, in the range of 70% of all patients.5

– No medication is deemed commercially successful unless the patient reports clinical improvements and perceives that they are improving due to the drug.

– There truly is no way to take an objective measurement of pain in the clinical field.

In order for anything in the medical/ biotechnology field to be taken seriously, there needs to be a randomized, double-blind placebo study with results that can be easily replicated and that is why cannabis has not been taken seriously for its therapeutic benefits. Due to the schedule 1 nature it makes it extremely difficult for researchers to do double-blind placebo studies. There is so much red tape on the subject that we are left with anecdotal evidence from patients along with the few clinical trials that are available using Sativex, the synthetic version of a 1:1 THC CBD oral mucosal spray.

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Scientists & Researchers

Dr. Ethan Russo

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If you have done any research on cannabis science, then you likely have come across the name Dr. Ethan Russo. He is a board-certified neurologist who is dedicated to the research and development of plant medicines. He did not come from a family of herbalists. According to Dr. Russo, he had “no familial exposure. When I was a teenager I was interested in Euell Gibbons,1 a plant explorer and herbalist. I always considered herbalism to be a part of medicine. At that time, it was sort of considered old fashioned and folk belief, but it was of definite interest to me.”

Seven years into running his neurology practice, Dr. Russo felt he really had a grasp on the limitations of the medicines that were being used. “There are so many treatments that were unsuccessful or downright intolerable. My philosophy became: there needs to be a better way, and I need to think about broadening the field back into herbal treatments,” Dr. Russo explains. “I knew that I wanted plant medicines to be the focus of my work henceforth.”

Dr. Russo’s work with plants has been extensive over the years. In his neurology practice he worked with herbs such as St. John’s Wort, kava, ginkgo biloba, and ginger. Each of these plants were used extensively in combination with conventional medicines. “I didn’t start out with a concentration on cannabis, but that has now come to the forefront as the premier phytomedicinal. It is certainly the most versatile that we have,” says Dr. Russo. 

According to Dr. Russo, deciding what to research comes fairly easy. “Sometimes it comes in the form of what people are requesting, beyond that it’s about identifying holes in our current knowledge. I try to find topics where cannabis may have been underutilized, or it hasn’t yet received the attention that it deserves, or trying to treat conditions where conventional treatment really hasn’t met the mark. There are a lot of those conditions. The most common conditions are probably pain, cancer, and things of that sort.”

Dr. Russo recently released an editorial on cannabis for pain.2 “One of the interesting things about using cannabis for the treatment of pain is that as opposed to morphine that acts directly on the pain, cannabis works differently, and it has a stronger ability to treat the emotional aspect of pain. People may feel the pain is still there, but it does not bother them like it did before and that is extremely important. It certainly can be a big part of how a patient may improve. Without that, the patient will still be miserable in the face of chronic pain, with that they can regain a better perspective on life and be better to function more effectively.”

Unfortunately, we still suffer the obstacles politically in trying to do this research.

Dr. Russo is very busy these days. He is currently in the process of starting a new research and development organization. He tells us, “We are in the midst of fundraising and getting some intellectual property rights protection at this time, so I can’t be very specific. I can say that I am working on a novel method of extraction, and we are developing a couple of diagnostic tests for disorders that do not currently have proper ways of diagnosing them. I am also working on a treatment for a very common condition where current treatment is either toxic or ineffective. We are also working on a line of nutritional products that may fill a niche that has not currently been addressed.”

In addition to nutritional products, “An area we are involved in is still trying to identify and develop different chemovars, or chemical varieties of cannabis that are going to emphasize other components. It’s thinking about the world beyond THC and CBD. What people call the minor cannabinoids, and really they are only called that because people have not done selective breeding up till this time to increase their concentration and figure out how they can be used therapeutically.” 

… cannabis works differently, and it has a stronger ability to treat the emotional aspect of pain. 

Dr. Russo thinks we have only begun to uncover the potential of cannabis as both a medicinal plant and as a source of nutrition. He tells us, “Unfortunately, we still suffer the obstacles politically in trying to do this research. It is not really different now as it was in the beginning when prohibition was still in full force. There are still many places in this country where people do not have legitimate access and that needs to change. I have been doing this for 24 years, and every day I realize the increasing potential for cannabis-based medicine. It’s never gotten old; I have never gotten bored with it and I think that there are countless opportunities to come.”


REFERENCES:

1. McPhee, J. “A Forager.” The New Yorker. March 30, 1968

2. Russo, E. Pain Medicine, 20(11). 2019. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnz227

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Education & Research

What’s Working for Parkinson’s Symptoms?

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ReLeaf is a free mobile app that encourages patients to mindfully track their cannabis experiences. They believe you will strengthen your relationship with yourself while also learning how cannabis can help alleviate your specific symptoms and ailments. GRAM is proud to share with our readers data gathered using ReLeaf from individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease. 

They reported the effectiveness of products for specific symptoms that individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease predominantly experience. The data reflect their individual experiences self-reported using the ReLeaf App.

Top Rated in USA

Tremors

Selite – 9 Lb Hammer, Concentrate | Select Elite | Arizona

Gt Rare Darkness, Concentrate | Giving Tree | Arizona

Tahoe Og, Concentrate  |Timeless | Arizona

Purple Kush, Flower | Fireleaf – Norman | Oklahoma

Purple Durban Poison, Flower | The Honeypot Shop | Oklahoma


Muscle Spasms

707 Headband Live Resin Budder, Concentrate | Cresco | Pennsylvania

Honey Boo Llr Vape, Concentrate | Cresco | Pennsylvania

Caribbean Breeze, Flower | One Plant | Florida

Sour Space Candy – Cbd, Flower | Chronic Guru | Florida

Chem Pie Og, Flower | Gleaf | Pennsylvania


Pain

Birthday Cake Kush – Rso, Concentrate | GrassRoots | Pennsylvania

Gg4 Live Resin, Concentrate | Omega | Ohio

Forbidden Fruit, Flower | Donovan | West Virginia

Rare Darkness, Flower | Verdes Foundation | New Mexico


Anxiety

Jillybean, Flower | Baseball 18 | Colorado

Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra | Florida

Ac/Dc, Flower | Opc Cultivation | Ohio

Purple Haze #44 Wax, Concentrate | Prime Wellness | Pennsylvania

Ghost Town, Flower | Ultra Health | New Mexico


Top Rated in Florida

Tremors

Jilly Bean, Flower | Grow Healthy

Pink Ice, Flower | One Plant

Yellow Brick Road, Flower | Grow Healthy

Tikun Olam Alaska, Concentrate | Vidacann

Blueberry Muffin, Flower | One Plant  Indica


Muscle Spasms

Caribbean Breeze, Flower | One Plant

Sour Space Candy – Cbd, Flower | Chronic Guru

Blueberry Muffin, Flower | One Plant

Revive, Concentrate | Surterra

Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra


Pain

Sour Space Candy – Cbd, Flower | Chronic Guru

Caribbean Breeze, Flower | One Plant

Blueberry Muffin, Flower | One Plant

Revive, Concentrate | Surterra
Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Tincture | Surterra


Anxiety

Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra

Super Sour Diesel, Concentrate | Trulieve

Sunset Sherbert, Concentrate | Trulieve

Ac/Dc, Concentrate | Trulieve

Mind Brazilian Orange, Sativa Tincture | Growhealthy


DATA COLLECTED BY

DOWNLOAD RELEAF APP TODAY TO TRACK, LEARN FROM, AND IMPROVE YOUR USE OF CANNABIS BY VISITING: releaf.at/GRAM

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