When you think of religion does your body get invigorated? Do you feel your soul flutter? Does your brain reach a higher state of functioning? In answer to the last question, Jeffrey Anderson, assistant professor of nueroradiology at the University of Utah states that,
We think we have the tools now to do a study of brain activity during the really profound and deep types of emotional and social interactions associated with religion, and we’re really excited to try and understand more.
Religion constantly falls under the close scrutiny of science.
Anderson and other researchers are launching a new study that will examine exactly how religion and spiritual rituals impact the human brain. The study will consist of participants between the age of 20 and 30 who are currently active in their faith. An MRI scan will be performed while the participants are surrounded by faith oriented activities, such as listening to spiritual music, listening to proclamations from their religion, and acting out religious rituals associated with their particular faith. Very interesting indeed, but it will take some time before the results of the study are posted. If you believe your self to be a prime candidate for the study, and of course as long as you are in the immediate area of the University of Utah, you can apply to be a participant on the Religious Brain Project website.
The study does beg another set of questions however: can religion and belief be measured by science? Or rather, should science be used to gauge religion? Is it morally correct to accept religion over science, or vice versa? Essentially we arrive at a very pertinent question: should religion be completely replaced by science within the school system as a more viable teaching strategy?
Which Religion is right? Which book do your prefer? sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com
In the debate, Ken Ham defends religion by stating that science should be split into two separate categories. The first would pertain to observational science (a science based on models). This category involves what we experience now and how the world works today. The second category involves historical science (a type of theoretical science of origin) which is used to define our origins and makes sense of the world around us from a historical perspective. He stresses the importance of separating the two to help with the confusion that children are being exposed to. He gives the example that by only teaching evolution, which to most starts with a random beginning for no reason other than “it happened,” we limit children to thinking that science is just as random. This randomness can crate incredible confusion when making conclusions about existential quandaries children are trying to work through. Ken Ham asserts that instead, children should be taught religion and to embrace the idea of God because it empowers them to think they are indeed special, as they are made in the image of God.
Bill Nye on the other hand focuses on accepted scientific evidence to disprove Ham’s assertions regarding religious truth. For example, he refers to the different layers in stone and snow that have been compressed to form ice which would take far longer than the amount of time Creationism allows for. He talks about the allotted four thousand years since the Great Flood and the improbability of the amount of species we see today to exist with the limited time that Creationists claim elapsed since then. He stresses the idea that we need to depend on natural law and orders, not religious or divine laws, to predict practical and accurate future theories and laws. He asserts that the basis of scientific education must be information derived through the scientific process, such as evolution, in order for children and future scientists to make reasonable scientific predictions in the future. In essence, he is claiming that one must understand and accept theories like evolution which have been supported with scientific evidence in order to understand why a fish can come to walk on land, why there are over 8.7 million different species on Earth, why layers in rocks and trees and ice exist, and so on. He stresses that by allowing religion and Creationism to thrive in academic settings we are impeding the scientific literacy of future generations and essentially stifling the United States in future scientific breakthroughs.
The debate finished with questions and rebuttals, but the underlying theme of the debate, I fear, was lost. Instead of trying to prove why one or the other is wrong in the school system, it turned into a contest of ego and the denouncing of each others ideals.
Some surprising statistics about religion and science. blog.faithlife.com
I wonder, why not accept both ideas? Why not teach every child in every classroom the idea of science, and then, on your own time, teach your children your worship, your religion, and your belief. Allow for both religion and science to be taught in their own settings (in schools and at home/place of worship respectively) and allow for the child to then choose which idea they support and believe. What is with this unyielding hatred between the two schools of thought? What ever happened to being free and allowing for choice? Most importantly though: can’t we all just get along?
In the end, much of the issue is largely based on opinion, some opinions stemming from facts, others stemming from observed information. One thing is for certain, all this debate and speculation on religion is definitely causing your brain to function at an elevated level. Maybe you’ve been unintentionally participating in Anderson’s experiment this whole time!
To feed your own opinions further, or for the sake of debate itself, check out the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate on Creationism vs. science in the video below!
Our preconceptions of how much pain we can tolerate vary from person to person, but we’ve only just discovered that there is a biological role to play in pain tolerance. According to a recent study,
Highly sensitive individuals had the least grey matter density in the bilateral precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and left primary somatosensory cortex.
This might not mean much at first glance, but its content affects you more than you realize. The density of grey matter, the substance most of the human brain is made of, heavily influences a person’s tolerance for pain.
The study begs the question: Could all the hurt we experienced in the past have been more tolerable had we been someone else? Someone else with more grey matter in their noggin? Do I just give up and submit to the possibility of getting hurt and feeling it more intensely than others? Maybe. But at least you can now justify your pain with science. Good news is possible even in complete disappointment, right?
Now I am not talking about heartbreaks and sensual experiences or anything of that sort; I’m talking good ol’ wrestling hurt. The kind that you get when you step on a nail and it breaks the skin, the kind you experience only when you are drunk and in a shouting match with the bouncer. But most importantly the kind that makes you cringe and say: That’ll hurt in the morning. Yeehah!
It seems that pain tolerance has more to do with your brain’s grey matter than just your overall size and body build. A study was conducted by the lovely people at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., with the help of 116 volunteers, to prove this hypothesis on pain tolerance. The subjects were exposed to light pain while MRI’s were taken of their brain and its activity. It was found that those with a higher grey matter density in areas of the brain associated with internal thoughts and control of attention, were more resistant to pain than those with a lower grey matter density.
I guess the saying men are tougher than women, just does not apply in this instance. Finally people will understand why my girlfriend is so much tougher than me when it comes to actually going to the gym!
So why exactly is this information useful? Well if you consider soldiers, for instance, and what they have to go through in the army, training and battles, we could potentially build a much stronger army and take over the world if we selectively breed and choose our soldiers. But really, there is some research that points to increasing grey matter density through practice and mindfulness meditation. So go for it; increase your pain tolerance and enjoy some meditation while you are at it. Otherwise, Cheers to World Domination!
A relatively new field of study called optogenetics is affording scientists the ability to activate and deactivate individual neurons of the brain using only light. This light-switch method is paving the way to an exponentially brighter future in neuroscience.
In April 2013 President Obama announced that he would ask congress for $100 million in 2014 in what he called The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The initiative seeks a more thorough understanding of the human brain. According to Obama, the goal is to “better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.” Optogenetics will undoubtedly play a vital role in attaining this goal.
While Obama’s goal seems straightforward, the brain is one of the most complex structures humans have ever come across. According to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health,
It’s an amazingly ambitious idea. To understand how the human brain works is about the most audacious scientific project you can imagine. It’s the most complicated structure in the known universe.
Until a few years ago, before the method of optogenetics had been created, scientists depended on fMRI technology to scan areas of the brain and observe which areas are most active. If an area of the brain was found to be inactive, the only way to activate it was by using a wire probe. While the probe was invasive, it still gave scientists a powerful and effective tool, and allowed them to activate individual brain cells. But, what if we want to investigate and understand a single neuron, or a group of neurons, or different groups all at once?
There are approximately 84 billion neurons in the human brain. This number has always seemed daunting, especially with the relatively limited tools of the past. Optogenetics, however, throws this hurdle aside in a blaze of innovation.
The method of optogenetics involves using only light to activate neurons based on their genetic type. Optogenetics is non-invasive and can even be performed on freely moving animals while still retaining exceptional precision.
Elizabeth Hillman, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University, is very excited about the optogenetic breakthrough, explaining that,
[Through optogenetics] you can select that very specific genetic cell type, and you can tell that specific cell type to react when you shine light on it.
For example, in the video below, scientists selected a specific motor neuron in a mouse to be affected by light. Just by shining a blue light on its head, they tell the mouse to start running. When the blue light disappears, so does the mouse’s movement.
While the methodology is opening doors left and right, optogenetics does not come without faults. Because neurons don’t naturally respond to light, it is necessary to alter the gene with additional genetic material so that it reacts to the optogenetic process. Genetic engineering in humans isn’t exactly mainstream right now. We know that using viruses to alter genes in humans works very well, but there are obvious risks associated with that process.
So, how will optogenetics personally influence your life when it is commercialized? Depression, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, and even fear may one day be flipped off with a simple flash of light. Consequently, these illnesses could be activated with a flash of light as well.
The future is clear: multicolored laser pointers will become the new standard tool for doctors and soldiers alike.
Director Christopher Nolan’s (of Batman and Inception) fame has a distinct fascination for memory, a theme he frequently explores in his films. In 2000’s Memento, protagonist Leonard Shelby suffers from a real (but extremely rare) condition that disallows him from making new memories. He remembers his childhood and his past but exists solely in a short-term memory present tense that fades after a minute or two, only to be erased and replaced again and again. In the film his wife is brutally raped and murdered. Unable to experience the tempering effects of time and psychologically incapable of moving on, he lives with a constant and fevered desire to catch her killer.
He frequently burns possessions of her in an attempt to gain some sense of closure, but these memories he tries to create never stick. He dispiritedly utters one of my favorite lines of the film:
Recently scientists at MIT may have found a way to replace memories or to erase them altogether.
Publishing in Science, a team of researchers claim to have created false memories in mice. The team was able to condition mice to behave fearfully in an environment that was different than the one in which they had actually been exposed to electric shocks. The study, performed by Steve Ramirez, Xu Liu, et. al., could fundamentally alter our understanding of the physical, neuronal aspects of memory function. The team also speculates that this research could be used to literally turn memories on or off, a revolutionary idea that many people likely find liberating and terrifying in equal measure.
To train the mice, the researchers first had to locate a specific memory in their brains. In this Ted Talk, Liu and Ramirez detail how they were able to identify the specific cells responsible for a memory. When a mouse was put into a new environment, its brain would light up with neuronal activity. Liu explains that when these cells are activated, they leave behind a “footprint” that makes it possible to track their activity and put a sort of neuronal bookmark on them. Using a technique called optogenetics, the team was able to install an artificial “switch” that lets them literally turn these brain cells on or off by shooting them with laser pulses.
To summarize the complicated and detailed experiment: Individual mice were put into a new environment, a blue box. The neurons responsible for creating the memory of the blue box were traced and made to activate in response to pulses of light. The mouse was then put into a different new environment, a red box. While in the red box, the researchers administered mild electric shocks to the mouse while activating the cells responsible for remembering the blue box. The mouse was, in effect, being reminded of the blue box while being shocked in the red box. Then, the mouse was put back into the blue box, where it fearfully responded as if that were the environment it was conditioned to fear, despite the fact that the mouse had no historical reason to be afraid of the blue box.
The scientists very literally Incepted a mouse with a false memory that made it afraid of an environment it had no reason to fear.
In addition to being able to turn a memory on, Liu and Ramirez maintain that they can also turn it off, and even believe it will be possible to customize and edit memories in the future. These alterations can be viewed as a controlled version of the way our minds naturally distort our recollections, which is one reason why eyewitness testimony is so fundamentally flawed—our brains are famously prone to misremembering. This groundbreaking technology could change one of the most important aspects of being human: the obviously profound relationship we all have with our past.
The possibility of erasing bad breakups or the sources of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to creating new versions of our old selves, can be both an invigorating horizon of opportunity as well as the introduction to an Orwellian nightmare, depending on both the individual involved and what memories are being tinkered with.
One of my fundamental beliefs is that every human being fully owns themselves and may do anything to their body they wish, with the important caveat that they alone are responsible for their actions. The idea of a third-party deleting or installing memories is of the utmost abhorrence. However, for better or for worse, I believe that individuals should be allowed to selectively modify their own past as they see fit, despite all the inherent troubles of getting the rest of the world to go along with the story you’ve created. (Imagine having to tell everyone to never bring up an ex before you get your memory of him/her erased…and how that totally wouldn’t work.)
I like to focus on this research as being a way for mankind to better understand memory and the neuronal processes in the brain. However, the idea of erasing or manipulating memories is interesting and does create a fundamental paradox. If I change my own recollections, my perception of the past that created my personality and worldview will have been altered by a person that I no longer fully recognize or accept as truly being “me.” The person who altered their memories would in a very real psychological sense no longer be the person that had the memories changed in the first place.
So who would you truly be? The Before or the After?
On a humorous note that I simply couldn’t pass up, writing about this story has brought up one of my favorite moments from Seinfeld. In the show, Jerry Seinfeld is dating a cop and is nervous about taking a lie detector test. Jerry asks George Costanza, the consummate and ubiquitous teller-of-fibs, for advice. George, absolutely deadpan, gives his counsel:
Critics are quick to point out the consistently noted dangers of cannabis ingestion. These are the same arguments that have been used for decades. They remain aggressively debated without compromise, despite decades of rational evidence suggesting falsity and fallacy. The seemingly valid concerns regarding cannabis use that top the critics’ list are: the gateway drug theory, short-term memory loss, psychosis, decreased intelligence, harm from cannabis smoke, depression, an elevated heart rate, and worries over driving while high. Let’s allow science and logic to save the day, shall we?
An historically major issue concerning cannabis is the worry that it may induce schizophrenic symptoms or intensify various forms of latent schizophrenia. The subjective experience of ingesting cannabis is highly personal and varies greatly among users around the world. Common experiences include:
Greater enjoyment of food taste and aroma
An enhanced enjoyment of music
A greater enjoyment of comedy and humor
Distortions in perception of time and space
Short-term memory loss
Improved long-term memory recall
Heightened sensitivity to external stimuli
At extremely high doses common experiences include:
Altered body image
Hallucinations (extremely rare)
Mild dissociation of mind and body
While the vast majority of the effects of cannabis are viewed as positive, panic attacks and paranoia are obviously unwanted. Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis.
While these symptoms usually occur due to thoughts of legal ramification for ingesting cannabis, exaggerated worry over a thought process, or general anxiousness over trying something new, it has been reported that the symptoms can happen spontaneously as well. It is possible and plausible that these symptoms could lead to greater and more persistent symptoms of psychosis. However, there are multiple aspects of the psychosis worry that needs to be discussed.
First, through our increasing knowledge of cannabinoids and the role they play on the endocannabinoid system, researchers have discovered that certain cannabinoids have a marginally stronger effect than others with regards to producing hallucinations delusions, and subjective psychological stress.
While the THC (the most psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) offers incredible physio/psychological health benefits, it has been linked to being the sole culprit of producing more schizophrenia-like symptoms.
When comparing multiple subjects under the influence of only THC, a mixture of THC and CBD (cannabidiol), and no cannabinoids, researchers found that only THC produced subjectively negative psychological effects. The subjects with no additional cannabinoids in their system and the subjects with the mixture of THC and CBD both experienced a nearly identical psychological effect. The only major difference was that the subjects who had ingested the mixture reported less anhedonia (unable to experience pleasure) then the other two groups. The researchers concluded that if anything, their research highlighted
the importance of distinguishing between different strains of cannabis.
Once we break cannabis down into its component cannabinoids it is easy to see why users describe such incredibly varied experiences. Cannabidiol is extremely effective in treating and preventing symptoms of schizophrenia, as research continues to suggest. Many researchers believe that cannabis legalization will herald a revolution in the treatment of various psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. According to a 2005 double-blind study analyzing the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, researchers found that:
cannabidiol treatment was accompanied by a significant increase in serum anandamide levels, which was significantly associated with clinical improvement. The results suggest that inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol potentially representing a completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Other studies on the topic affirm that many subjects report
A group of Dutch scientists say that there is no proof that cannabis induces schizophrenia. These findings will be embarrassing for the Dutch government, which has been bearing down on Marijuana Coffee Shops saying the drug induces schizophrenia.
The truth is that much of the research done thus far has been skewed and largely unscientific. Under proper guidance, and using the correct strains, researchers all around the world agree that cannabis is a wonderfully effective psychotropic medication. Researchers discussed the consistently shown promise and proof of cannabis as an effective psychotropic medication in the British Journal of Psychiatry:
I considered Arseneault et al‘s (2004) search for evidence of the association between cannabis and psychosis as quite skewed. They did not explore the evidence regarding positive, therapeutic or beneficial psychoactive effects of cannabis in mental health in the context of appropriate, rational and clinical usage…Signalling, mostly inhibitory, suggests a role for cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in central nervous system disease where inhibition of neurotransmitter release would be beneficial. Evidence suggests that cannabinoids inhibit the neurotransmitter glutamate, counteract oxidative damage to dopaminergic neurons and may be potent neuroprotective agents (Croxford, 2003)…knowing [cannabis’] potent neuroprotective function, its potential role in psychiatric practice should not be discarded lightly.
The most important thing to remember is that symptoms of schizophrenia generally (nearly always) precede cannabis use. Schizophrenia and general psychosis have far more to do with genetic make up than anything else (refer to the graph).
Research regarding the connection between cannabis and psychosis, especially symptoms of schizophrenia, remains historically lacking and skewed with regards to component cannabinoids in cannabis. Cannabis produces highly varied subjective experiences, and research has revealed that each cannabinoid within cannabis has a markedly different effect on individuals. Multiple recent studies have shown that cannabis, specifically the cannabinoid CBD, is a highly effective agent in treating schizophrenia and other psychological disorders. Most importantly, symptoms of schizophrenia precede cannabis use in the vast majority of cases. There is currently no clear evidence that cannabis is directly responsible for causing psychosis and schizophrenic symptoms in users.
This is one of the most commonly used arguments against the use of cannabis as a form of medicine or recreation. Like the psychosis argument debunked above, the depression argument is always portrayed in a skewed and exaggerated fashion. The most important thing to remember as we discuss this is that correlation does not imply causation.
Over 4400 adult internet users [who] completed The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and measures of marijuana use. We employed an internet survey in an effort to recruit the most depressed and marijuana involved participants, including those who might prove unwilling to travel to the laboratory or discuss drug use on the phone or in person. We compared those who consumed marijuana daily, once a week or less, or never in their lives. Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales, those who used once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users. The three groups did not differ on interpersonal symptoms.
Cannabis users, whether they ingested the substance less than once a week or every day, reported far less depressive symptoms and far more happiness and satisfaction than non-users. The study goes on to say that:
The media continues to report links between marijuana and depression. In a recent review, Degenhardt, Hall, and Lynskey (2003) identified a modest relationship only among problematic users. Many studies show no link between cannabis and depression despite appropriate statistical power, measurement, and design (Fergusson & Horwood, 1997; Fergusson, Lynskey, & Horwood, 1996; Green & Ritter, 2000; Kouri, Pope, Yurgelun-Todd, & Gruber, 1995; McGee, Williams, Poulton, & Moffitt, 2000; Musty & Kaback, 1995; Rowe, Fleming, Barry, Manwell, & Kropp, 1995). One neglected source of depression among marijuana users may stem from medical use. Separate analyses for medical vs. recreational users demonstrated that medical users reported more depressed mood and more somatic complaints than recreational users, suggesting that medical conditions clearly contribute to depression scores and should be considered in studies of marijuana and depression. The data suggests that adults apparently do not increase their risk for depression by using marijuana.
Just like we discussed in all of the other arguments, the public only sees what the media picks and chooses to show, which is usually negligible data that has been exaggerated and skewed to fit their hype. The previous study also brought up an excellent point that has never been discussed before: are the results of studies concerning cannabis and depression that get aired by main stream media corrupted by reports of depression that originate from medical suffering? The use of cannabis is so wide spread around the world, especially in the US, that it should not be discounted.
Finally, in a longitudinal study completed in 2009 regarding cannabis and suicide,researchers found that:
Although there was a strong association between cannabis use and suicide, this was explained by markers of psychological and behavioural problems. These results suggest that cannabis use is unlikely to have a strong effect on risk of completed suicide, either directly or as a consequence of mental health problems secondary to its use.
The depression argument is false in many of the same ways as the psychosis argument. In the vast majority of cases depressive behavior precedes cannabis use. Additionally, in most cases where cannabis is used to self-treat depression it is found to be successful. Cannabis is a clear biological antidepressant and exhibits incredible therapeutic properties. Depression is highly subjective and everyone experiences it differently. The truth is that in multiple studies both light and heavy cannabis users report far less depressive symptoms than non-users. There is no evidence whatsoever that cannabis use predicts or causes depression. Many depressed people use cannabis and report positive results far more often than people using contemporarily prescribed prescription medication.
Driving While Stoned
(*Note: this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of any substance, including cannabis. The aim of this section is to view the credible findings on how cannabis affects drivers.)
drivers who drank alcohol overestimated their performance quality whereas those who smoked marijuana underestimated it. Perhaps as a consequence, the former invested no special effort for accomplishing the task whereas the latter did, and successfully. This evidence strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution, at least in experiments.
The [findings] contrast with results from many laboratory tests, reviewed by Moskowitz (1985), which show that even low doses of THC impair skills deemed to be important for driving, such as perception, coordination, tracking and vigilance. The present studies also demonstrated that marijuana can have greater effects in laboratory than driving tests. The last study, for example showed a highly significant effect of THC on hand unsteadiness but not on driving in urban traffic.
It is apparent that despite multiple laboratory studies displaying favorable results, real world driving tests are even more positive. When we actually test the effects of cannabis on drivers in the real world, we see very little safety issues, if any at all.
Drivers under the influence of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize they are under the effects of a substance and successfully compensate for their altered state of mind by driving slower and by giving themselves more space between other vehicles. One of the first actual road tests with cannabis studies drivers in the lab, on the highway, and in congested urban areas. The results affirmed that as far as cannabis’ effect on actual driving performance:
Driving quality as rated by the subjects contrasted with observer ratings. Alcohol impaired driving performance according to the driving instructor but subjects did not perceive it; marijuana did not impair driving performance but the subjects themselves perceived their driving performance as such….Thus there was evidence that subjects in the marijuana group were not only aware of their intoxicated condition but were also attempting to compensate for it…drivers become overconfident after drinking alcohol…and more cautious and self critical after consuming low THC doses by smoking marijuana.
Drivers under the effects of cannabis pay more attention to the road; drive more slowly, and leaving themselves more room between other cars.
The truth is that alcohol is a far more serious problem than cannabis when it comes to driving. Studies performed from 1982 to 1998 demonstrate time and time again that alcohol is significantly more dangerous than cannabis on the road. Alcohol use is also far more prevalent in crash statistics.
Blood and/or urine from fatally injured drivers in Washington State were collected and tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol. Drug and/or alcohol use was a factor in 52% of all fatalities. Among single vehicle accidents, alcohol use was a factor in 61% of cases versus 30% for multiple vehicle accidents. Drugs most commonly encountered were marijuana (11%), cocaine (3%), amphetamines (2%), together with a variety of depressant prescription medications.
The study even found that it was far less likely to find alcohol in a person’s system in the presence of cannabis, implying that cannabis use lessened the prevalence of alcohol use on the road:
Trends noted included an association of depressant use with higher blood alcohol levels, while marijuana use was associated with lower blood alcohol levels.
The objective of this study was to estimate the association between psychoactive drug use and motor vehicle accidents requiring hospitalization.
The risk for road trauma was increased for single use of benzodiazepines and alcohol…High relative risks were estimated for drivers using combinations of drugs and those using a combination of drugs and alcohol. Increased risks, although not statistically significant, were assessed for drivers using amphetamines… No increased risk for road trauma was found for drivers exposed to cannabis.
The largest study ever done linking road accidents with drugs and alcohol has found drivers with cannabis in their blood were no more at risk than those who were drug-free. In fact, the findings by a pharmacology team from the University of Adelaide and Transport SA showed drivers who had smoked marijuana were marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free. A study spokesman, Dr Jason White, said the difference was not great enough to be statistically significant but could be explained by anecdotal evidence that marijuana smokers were more cautious and drove more slowly because of altered time perception. The study of 2,500 accidents, which matched the blood alcohol levels of injured drivers with details from police reports, found drug-free drivers caused the accidents in 53.5 per cent of cases. Injured drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.05 per cent were culpable in nearly 90 per cent of accidents they were involved in. Drivers with cannabis in their blood were less likely to cause an accident, with a culpability rate of 50.6 per cent. The study has policy implications for those who argue drug detection should be a new focus for road safety. Dr White said the study showed the importance of concentrating efforts on alcohol rather than other drugs.
The BBC and CNN both filmed their own research on the actual effects of cannabis on driving ability. The BBC study focused on a single driver and found that he actually drove better while ‘high’; driving more cautiously and paying more attention to the driving test. The CNN study was a bit more extensive and controlled.
The study, conducted in Washington where recreational cannabis use is legal, focused on 3 volunteers who drove under the effects of different amounts of cannabis. They drove alongside a driving instructor with drug recognition experts (police officers with specific drug recognition training) watching them from outside the vehicle. The volunteers included a heavy daily user, a weekend user, and an occasional user. Even at 7x the legal limit of driving under the influence, 5x the legal limit, and 4x the legal limit respectively, all of the volunteers passed their driving tests, received positive reviews from the driving instructor, and would not have been pulled over by the drug recognition experts.
It’s just safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than it is drunk….Drunk drivers take more risk, they tend to go faster. They don’t realize how impaired they are. People who are under the influence of marijuana drive slower, they don’t take as many risks.
From a theoretical point of view it makes sense that people would be concerned over potential risks of ‘driving while stoned.’ However, the research speaks for itself. Laboratory and real world test results have confirmed time and time again that cannabis does not have a detrimental effect on driving ability. People under the effects of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize their altered state of mind and compensate successfully for it. In most instances cannabis users drive more safely; driving slower, paying more attention to the road, and remaining more cautious and vigilant. Cannabis does not pose any serious danger to drivers or anyone else on the road.
Cannabis Smoke and Lung Damage
There are endless reports that claim cannabis harms the lungs and bronchial airways, as well as increasing the risk of lung cancer. What you’ll quickly notice though is that the studies these reports are quoting from are completely theoretical studies based on comparisons with cigarette smoke, as opposed to actual findings from research. Additionally, they only focus on one mode of cannabis ingestion, one that destroys many of the medical benefits of cannabis; smoking.
It is true that there are over 50 potentially carcinogenic substances found in cannabis. Additionally, because smoked cannabis is not completely dry and is smoked without a filter, there is roughly 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes. One can see why studies would speculate that cannabis may increase the risk of lung cancer. As usual, when you look at the actual science, the opposite is true.
First of all, there is currently not a single known case of cancer originating from the ingestion of cannabis. As stated numerous times in this report, there has never been a death that cannabis was directly responsible for.
A study in 2005, the largest ever conducted of its kind, left Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at UCLA‘s David Geffin School of Medicine, scratching his head. Tashkin and his research team had hypothesized an association between cannabis and lung cancer, but even after 30 years of observing thousands of subjects they were unable to find a connection between cannabis and lung cancer.
We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. We expected that we would find that a history of heavy marijuana use – more than 500 to 1,000 uses – would increase the risk of cancer from several years to decades after exposure to marijuana. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.
The heaviest users in Tashkin’s study smoked more than 60 joint-years worth of marijuana, or more than 22,000 joints in their lifetime. Moderately heavy users smoked between 11,000 and 22,000 joints.
That’s an enormous amount of marijuana [however] in no category was there any increased risk, nor was there any suggestion that smoking more led to a higher odds ratio. There was no dose-response, not even a suggestion of a dose response, and in all types of cancer except one, oral cancer, the odds ratios were less than one. This is the largest case-control study ever done, and everyone had to fill out a very extensive questionnaire about marijuana use. Bias can creep into any research, but we controlled for as many confounding factors as we could, and so I believe these results have real meaning.
That being said, Dr. Tashkin wisely notes:
It’s never a good idea to take anything into your lungs, including marijuana smoke.
Smoke does not belong in your lungs, and just as this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of cannabis, it equally does not recommend smoking cannabis. What this report does suggest is using a vaporizer, cooking the cannabis into food, or making a cannabis oil. All of these methods make this entire argument irrelevant as they do not involve any form of smoke.
The media has bombarded the public with seeming ‘proof’ that cannabis leads to lung cancer. The truth is that all of this ‘proof’ has been entirely speculative. Despite cannabis smoke containing carcinogens and up to 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes, long term studies confirm that there is no increased risk of lung cancer from smoking cannabis. On the contrary, the cannabinoids found in THC work to fight against cancer and even protect healthy cells. Most importantly, because cannabis can be ingested in many ways that don’t involve smoke, this entire argument is irrelevant.
Scientists have found a pathway in our brains that is responsible for the acquisition of new words, an ability unmatched by any other species; chimps coming in second place with a limit of no more than a hundred words. This could be exciting news for those who are polyglots or who are learning a new language for either travel, school, or the workplace.
The common notion is that we learn new words through hearing them first and then spitting them back out, in other words, input and output, or recognition and recall. Very little is known about what happens inside the brain itself within the intricate neural mechanisms.
Researchers from King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry have been able to draw out the pathways in the brain which are activated when learning new words. What the researchers found was that a collection of nerve fibers called the arcuate fasciculus connect the auditory and motor regions and is responsible for our ability to articulate new words. Depending on how this region is developed, everybody’s ability to acquire new words and languages will vary.
The researchers have also concluded that this pathway does not exist in other species, and that it is unique to humans. Yes, chimps can learn new words, however, their vocabulary is limited to double digits on average. Also, consider how many species you know that are bilingual or trilingual? We are pretty awesome if you take that into consideration. This newfound research could have implications on how new words are taught in language courses across schools and how quickly we can discover language disorders in individuals.
The study was composed of twenty-seven volunteers. The individuals’ brain structures were imaged before a word learning task and MRI was used to detect regions of the brain that were most active.
They found a strong relationship between the ability to remember words and the structure of arcuate fasciculus, which connects two brain areas: the territory of Wernicke, related to auditory language decoding, and Broca’s area, which coordinates the movements associated with speech and the language processing.
Participants who had higher success in learning new words had one thing in common: their arcuate fasciculus was more myelinated, which basically means that electrical signals moved more quickly back and forth than they did in other participants. You can think of it as a faster data transfer rate like (or unlike, depending on your provider) your internet.
All this means is that in order for our kids to learn new words and to continue to acquire new language skills, it is important that we speak to them orally rather than through text messages and Skype, unless you’re voice chatting that is.
Critics are quick to point out the consistently noted dangers of cannabis ingestion. These are the same arguments that have been used for decades. They remain aggressively debated without compromise, despite decades of rational evidence suggesting falsity and fallacy. The seemingly valid concerns regarding cannabis use that top the critics’ list are: the gateway drug theory, short-term memory loss, psychosis, decreased intelligence, harm from cannabis smoke, depression, an elevated heart rate, and worries over driving while high. Let’s allow science and logic to save the day, shall we?
Many critics of cannabis use claim that cannabis is a gateway to harder and more persistent drug use. They are implying that if a person uses cannabis, recreationally or medically, they are more likely to use dangerous drugs like cocaine (again, ironically listed as a schedule 2 drug) or heroin. Although multiple studies have found that cannabis users are more likely than non-users to engage in the use of more ‘hardcore’ substances (meaning higher addiction potential and/or more biologically detrimental), there are endless holes in this argument.
Much of their [US drug-policy leaders] rhetoric about marijuana being a ‘gateway drug’ is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to use harder drugs. If there is any true ‘gateway drug,’ it’s tobacco.
Alcohol and tobacco are more accessible and far more likely to be used by teens, consequently making those substances more likely to lead to further drug use. As stated by Elders, they are the true gateway drugs. In one of the most highly credible and sourced assessments on the science of drug use, the Institute of Medicine stated that:
In fact, most drug users do not begin their drug use with marijuana–they begin with alcohol and nicotine, usually when they are too young to do so legally…
There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.
Starting to see the trend here? Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous and addictive than cannabis. If the gateway drug theory did have any legitimacy, it would have to be applied to alcohol and nicotine, two completely legal substances, before it could be attributed to any other substance.
The best analogy I’ve ever encountered for the ridiculousness of the gateway drug theory comes from Lynn Zimmer, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Queens College at the City University of New York:
In the end, the gateway theory is not a theory at all. It is a description of the typical sequence in which multiple-drug users initiate the use of high-prevalence and low-prevalence drugs.
A similar statistical relationship exists between other kinds of common and uncommon related activities. For example, most people who ride a motorcycle (a fairly rare activity) have ridden a bicycle (a fairly common activity). Indeed, the prevalence of motorcycle riding among people who have never ridden a bicycle is probably extremely low. However, bicycle riding does not cause motorcycle riding, and increases in the former will not lead automatically to increases in the latter.
Nor will increases in marijuana use lead automatically to increases in the use of cocaine or heroin.
According to Igor Grant, MD, Executive Vice Chairman at the University of California, San Diego Department of Psychiatry:
Smoking marijuana will certainly affect perception, but it does not cause permanent brain damage. ‘The findings were kind of a surprise. One might have expected to see more impairment of higher mental function. Other illegal drugs, or even alcohol, can cause brain damage…
If we barely find this tiny effect in long-term heavy users of cannabis, then we are unlikely to see deleterious side effects in indivduals who receive cannabis for a short time in a medical setting…
If it turned out that new studies find that cannabis is helpful in treating some medical conditions, this enables us to see a marginal level of safety.
Government experts now admit that pot doesn’t kill brain cells.
This myth came from a handful of animal experiments in which structural changes (not actual cell death, as is often alleged) were observed in brain cells of animals exposed to high doses of pot. Many critics still cite the notorious monkey studies of Dr. Robert G. Heath, which purported to find brain damage in three monkeys that had been heavily dosed with cannabis. This work was never replicated and has since been discredited by a pair of better controlled, much larger monkey studies, one by Dr. William Slikker of the National Center for Toxicological Research [William Slikker et al., ‘Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Rhesus Monkey,’ Fundamental and Applied Toxicology 17: 321-32 (1991)] and the other by Charles Rebert and Gordon Pryor of SRI International [Charles Rebert & Gordon Pryor – ‘Chronic Inhalation of Marijuana Smoke and Brain Electrophysiology of Rhesus Monkeys,’International Journal of Psychophysiology V 14, p.144, 1993].
Neither found any evidence of physical alteration in the brains of monkeys exposed to daily doses of pot for up to a year.
The surprising truth is that cannabis actually promotes the creation of new neurons in hippocampal regions of the brain, the part of the brain most responsible for memory. Xia Zhang, an expert at the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada along with other medical researchers, points out that cannabis is the only illicit drug ever found to promote the creation of brain cells:
We show that 1 month after chronic HU210 [high-potency cannabinoid] treatment, rats display increased newborn neurons [brain cell growth] in the hippocampal dentate gyrus [a portion of the brain] and significantly reduced measures of anxiety- and depression-like behavior.Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- [anxiety reducing] and antidepressant-like effects.
College students who smoke cannabis demonstrate comparable or even higher grades than their cannabis abstinent classmates, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree.
The short answer is yes, cannabis alters your mind and body, like any other substance in the world, but it does not make you stupid (certainly you’re not going to claim any of these highly successful cannabis-users are stupid), and all of the physiological and psychological effects are temporary.
Critics of cannabis use argue that memory loss, especially short-term memory loss, occurs more prominently in cannabis smokers. They also claim that it is a permanent effect. All of these claims are either exaggerated or wrong. We’ve already discussed how all the effects of cannabis ingestion are completely temporary; the same applies to memory.
but appear reversible and related to recent cannabis exposure rather than irreversible and related to cumulative lifetime use.
Furthermore, after extensively studying cannabis use, lead researcher and Harvard professor Harrison Pope came to the conclusion that:
From neuropsychological tests chronic cannabis users showed difficulties, with verbal memory in particular, for ‘at least a week or two’ after they stopped smoking.Within 28 days, memory problems vanished and the subjects ‘were no longer distinguishable from the comparison group.’
These tests affirm that the physio/psychological effects of cannabis are temporary and reversible.
long-term cannabis use [is] only marginally harmful on the memory and learning. Other functions such as reaction time, attention, language, reasoning ability, perceptual and motor skills [are] unaffected. The observed effects on memory and learning, [show] long-term cannabis use [causes] ‘selective memory defects’, but that the impact [is] ‘of a very small magnitude.’
In fact, rather than having deleterious effects on memory, Ohio State University scientists have shown that
Research supports this claim as past studies have revealed that cannabinoid receptors stimulated by cannabinoids in cannabis act as an anti-inflammatory agent and serve to improve memory in old rats.
Surprisingly, recent research into the activity of the hippocampus suggests that the key to a good memory is forgetting. Think of the brain as a computer with enormous hard drive space. Despite this incredible amount of storage, it is still finite. The more memories our brains create, the harder it is for our working memory to properly remember and recall. In this way, forgetting a few things actually isn’t a bad thing. It is in fact highly beneficial overall.
Another important point is that different cannabinoids found in cannabis affect memory centers in the brain in remarkably different ways. Through further legalization, scientists will have the freedom to perform more extensive research, while growers will have the opportunity to create strains of cannabis that have an even more minimal effect on the memory centers of the brain.
These studies reveal that in the short run, short-term and working memory are disrupted by the ingestion of cannabis by creating new neurons in the memory centers of the brain. These additional neurons disrupt working memory by acting as additional ‘noise’ to the active, recalling mind. These short-term memory lapses are completely temporary though, and in the long run the brain is actually left with additional neurons and a more expansive memory center. To use the analogy of a computer again, think of heavy-cannabis ingestion as a temporary lapse in primary memory functionality for the sake of upgrading the storage capabilities of secondary memory.
Elevated Heart Rate
It is true that many cannabis users describe symptoms of panic and consequently an elevated heart rate, especially during their first time trying cannabis. What still remains debated is whether cannabis itself biologically causes heart rate to increase.
The most well known study done on the correlation between cannabis and heart rate, and subsequently the only truly credible and widely used study, is one performed by a man named Dr. Murray A. Mittleman. Mittleman’s study focused on:
information on cannabis use from 3,882 middle-aged and elderly patients who had suffered heart attacks. A total of 124 patients were identified as current users, including 37 who reported smoking the drug up to 24 hours before their attack, and nine who had used it within an hour of experiencing symptoms.
Mittleman’s conclusion was that the first hour after taking cannabis heart attack risk is 4.8 times higher than during periods of non-use. In the second hour, the risk drops to 1.7 times higher. According to Mittleman this was the first study to document that smoking cannabis could trigger a heart attack, but that the trigger mechanism remained unknown. So what’s the issue with this constantly cited study?
Besides the fact that any type of smoke entering the lungs produces the same effect (it is not necessary and not medicinally optimal to smoke cannabis, a subject that is covered later in this report), Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who is one of the world’s foremost cannabis researchers as well as Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a former senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for 40 years, explains why this study should be dismissed. Dr. Grinspoon tells an interviewer, in response to Mittleman’s study:
..let me say that since 1967 there have been numerous reports and studies, each of which the American media has blown out of all proportion, stating one or another supposed ill effect of marijuana use. I can list them, if you’d like. ‘Increase in the size of the ventricles, decrease in testosterone, destruction of chromosomes.’ All were front-page stories, none of them have ever been replicated. In other words, they didn’t pan out scientifically. Of course, the studies that contradicted them ended up on page 31 or thereabouts, if they got mentioned at all… I would point out that out of 3,882 patients, we’re talking about 9 who used marijuana within an hour of the onset of a heart attack. That’s around 0.2%. By sheer mathematics, given that people sleep eight hours per day or so, we can deduce that 6.7% of those patients emptied their bowels within an hour of onset. It’s incredible to me that the numbers here could be said to constitute a significant risk factor.
So, as is typical of the main stream media, a report was utterly sensationalized and relatively negligible data was heralded as proven truth. Dr. Grinspoon elaborates on the shortcomings of the study by reminding the interviewer that:
[Mittleman] put that increase [in heart rate] at 40 beats per minute. In truth, that number is closer to 20 beats per minute, which is probably consistent with running up the stairs in one’s house...I blame the media far more than I do Dr. Middleman. I read his abstract, and in its conclusion he cautioned against making too much of the data…in 1997, Kaiser Permanente did a large-scale study which included more than 65,000 admitted marijuana users, and they could not demonstrate any impact of marijuana use on mortality. If marijuana use really was a significant risk factor for heart attack, it is hard to believe that it didn’t turn up there. Again, I’m not saying that there is absolutely no risk demonstrated here. But given the history of the research since 1967, I’d be surprised if these findings don’t go down the same chute as all of the other front-page scare stories.
With regards to actual significant scientific data, cannabis has in fact been shown (as stated in the ‘Cannabis Cures Everything’ section of this report) to treat and protect the heart, as well as help prevent heart disease through the interaction with the endocannabinoid system of the heart and surrounding regions of the body. It is consequently a likely tool for fighting and preventing obesity (along with hemp seeds). The science is still emerging, but what little research exists strongly suggests that cannabis will serve an extremely positive role in keeping the heart healthy in the future.
The single study that is consistently used to argue that cannabis poses a danger to cardiovascular health is far from significant and only became prominent through sensationalized media. Repeat studies suggest the cannabinoids found in cannabis play a pivotal role in cardiovascular health and the prevention of heart disease.
According to Scientific American, a woman, after giving birth, retains some of her child’s cells in her brain. Did you ever wonder why your mom knows exactly what you’re thinking or what you are about to do? Well this is not the answer to that question, she just knows. This has to do with your DNA and what it can do for your mother. More specifically, these left over cells can both help and harm the mother through lung, liver, kidney, heart, and skin defects. This process is known as microchimerism, where cells that are left over are adapted naturally by the mother and used for different reasons. Scientists are still unsure whether or not these cells are actively being used or if they are participating in harming or helping the mother.
Why is this relevant? Let us imagine they are indeed harming the mother after birth, in fact that they are affecting her lifestyle and worsening her response to disease. Maybe the cells are increasing the mother’s risk for cancer, or maybe they are simply causing a slower response time to what would be an easily curable sickness. In this case it is extremely important to help find a way to get rid of the cells after a female gives birth, rather than waiting on a side effect to develop. Side effect, only of course, if it in fact deals with harming the mother.
On the flip side, lets say its not a side effect but a blessing; some research suggests that the mother benefits from having cells left over after birth. They can even help with autoimmune disorder and rheumatoid arthritis. There is some research being done that suggests it may be similar to stem cells in that they help with regenerative properties. In fact, these stem cells may even help with the creation of new eggs for future births.
The biggest thing to gather from all of this is that it isn’t just males that are thought to imprint themselves on women’s brains because of their rowdy and reckless behaviors. Now all of you girls are also held accountable for actively being on your mother’s mind. Literally.
We all know soda and diet soda aren’t exactly good for us. Pretty much in the same way that any sugar filled treat isn’t good for us right? Fatally wrong. Soda, yes, even diet soda, is one of the most harmful substances that you could possibly fill your form with, yet people still down the stuff like a dehydrated cactus lapping at a single drop of water. Even the cans that soda normally come in are incredibly harmful. The truth is that even a single gulp of soda is like a 120 mph head on collision with a brick wall for your organs. Need an extra push to kick your soda habit? Do yourself a favor and read on.
If everyone knows soda is bad for them, why do millions of people still tilt their heads back and indulge? The answer is simple: it’s easy. Soda is tasty, cheap, convenient, and EVERYWHERE! No matter where you go you’re bound to see an advertisement for some type of can or bottle of sugary satisfaction. There’s a reason advertisements exist, and it’s not for aesthetics: Advertising works!
Your brain is constantly processing every minute detail of information that your senses even remotely capture. Whether you remember it or not, all of this information is stored in your brain. If a Mountain Dew advertisement steps into your peripheral vision for even a moment it seeps into the murky depths of your mind and the next time your friend even mentions the word ‘mountain’ or ‘dew’ – BAM! Your synapses fire, a connection is made to the instantaneous glance of the Mountain Dew advertisement you saw earlier and your mouth begins to water. Why does your mouth water? Because you are addicted.
Soda is almost entirely water, sugar and caffeine, and sugar and caffeine happen to be two of the most addictive substances on the planet, nearly equal in their biological sway to heroin and meth. Consumption of sugar and caffeine are associated with a whole slew of attractive words like ‘binge,’ ‘craving,’ and ‘withdrawal.’
But that’s okay, people can become addicted to anything, whether it be carrots, television, or sex, so what’s the big deal?
The Big Deal: Soda Vs. Diet Soda
Soda and diet soda each have their own disgusting face that the advertisements hide, but let’s start with good ol’ regular soda first.
9. Finally, there is a high addiction potential when it comes to soda. As stated above, caffeine and sugar are insanely addictive. Many researchers are suggesting that sugar to be as controlled as alcohol and tobacco due to its harmful effects on the body and incredibly addictive nature.
At this point you might be thinking “I’m no fool, I dropped soda years back and replaced it with diet soda, the healthy alternative to all my sugary-sweet woes.” Think again, diet soda is even worse.
A lot of what you read about soda still applies to diet soda. A common misconception is that diet soda is better for you than regular soda due to being calorie free as it does not contain high fructose corn syrup. Allow me to explain to you how diet soda is even worse!
1. Although diet soda doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, it does contain artificial sweeteners so that your tongue can still get excited. The most common artificial sweetener used is aspartame, which is closer to a toxin than anything else. People from all over the world have reported adverse reactions to aspartame and double blind studies verify the results. The toxicological dangers of aspartame are well documented and the general rule of thumb that you will hear from medical professionals regarding the substance is to treat aspartame like a desperate Louis Vuitton wielding female and, “stay far, far away!”
2. Just like regular soda, diet soda is nutritionally useless, containing carbonated water, caramel color (depending on the soda), aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavors, citric acid, and caffeine. There is no conceivable benefit to consuming soda or diet soda besides the fraction of a second pleasure your tongue devilishly persuades your brain is worth the well documented risks.
How could a zero-calorie drink raise your risk of obesity? Researchers have a few theories. Some people may feel that drinking diet soda gives them a “free pass” to eat more foods that may not be so low in calories, thereby leading to weight gain. Another theory posits that the sweet taste of diet pop alerts our digestive system that high-calorie foods are coming. When they don’t, our bodies are confused and our appetite increases in anticipation of the food it’s expecting.
4. Keep in mind that diet soda still contains phosphoric acid so the risk of bone loss is still ever present for diet soda drinkers.
5. Although the pH level (acidity) of diet soda is not as strong as regular soda, it is still extremely acidic, and leads to enamel loss in the same way that soda does.
6. Remember the kidney problems that were associated with regular sodas? Same applies to diet sodas. Sorry ladies and gentleman, diet soda is not going to fix the kidney stone problem.
7. If you’re fond of dark sodas, I have bad news for you. Researchers have found that the seemingly harmless caramel coloring found in dark sodas may lead to an increase risk of multiple forms of cancer.
9. To sum up, diet soda involves all the same risks as soda, and is also associated with a higher risk of obesity, greater toxicity due to aspartame, and even greater DNA damage.
So what should you drink?
Water, tea, and every so often 100% fruit juice, but not too much as fruit juice contains a hefty amount of sugars, even if they are natural. Seem like a boring list? Well guess what? Doing a crossword puzzle in the comfort of your home might be boring but it beats dying of cancer as an obese diabetic 50 year old on a semi-sterile hospital bed.
Besides, tea is a world of variation regarding taste and physical effect. I guarantee there are at minimum 100 diferent types of tea out there that you will discover and fall eternally in love with, if only you make a conscious effort and kick the soda habit. One of my favorite brands of tea is Yogi.
Make no mistake, soda is an addictive drug, and it will take time to wean yourself off of it. Once you do though, you will wonder how you ever stomached the horrid junk in the first place.
Even more amazingly, studies all around the world have concluded with exponentially growing empirical affirmation that cannabis completely and totally cures cancer. It additionally acts as a preventative, stopping cancer from ever coming back. Don’t believe me? Continue reading, or just ask the US government; they own the patent for cannabis as a successful cure and/or treatment for a whole array of medical conditions.
Before we delve into the medicinal benefits of cannabis, we must first understand the vehicle through which cannabis performs its medicinal magic, the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabis is one of the most highly effective medicinal substances in the world. It has the power to treat and/or cure a countless number of illnesses and syndromes, including a whole array of different types of cancer. But how can a single substance have such an extraordinary effect on our biology? It all begins with the endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesized on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs, such as echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well.
The information above focuses on the two most well known endocannabinoids in the body, as well as the most well known cannabinoids in cannabis, but there are far more. Cannabinoids are split into three categories:
It is through the encocannabinoid system that cannabis is able to perform its magic. Cannabis has the ability to treat and/or cure a constantly growing list of illnesses, including cancer. Dependent on the individual and the type of cannabinoid used, most types of cancer have been observed responding positively to the introduction of cannabis in the system, including cancer found in the breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, colon, skin, pituitary gland, ovary, pancreas, as well asmelanoma, leukemiaandmore! The cannabinoids in cannabis act through the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to cure and/or treat cancer in several ways, the most prominent and well researched being:
One of the greatest benefits of cannabis as medicine is that it stimulates and acts in harmony with a system that is already present throughout the body. Instead of prescribing five or more different, highly addictive pills to treat various symptoms, and additional pills to treat the endless side effects (often worse than the illness itself) of all the pills, doctors are able to use cannabis and the cannabanoids within it, as a single, natural medicinal source without any physical addiction potential and little to no harmful side effects. Plus, don’t forget, it is impossible to overdose on.
Cannabis Cures Everything Else
Along with treating various forms of cancer, cannabis can be used to treat a constantly growing list of other diseases and syndromes as well. It may even slow the aging process. Additionally, the cannabinoids found in cannabis are exceptional anti-oxidants and neuroprotectants. It is such a remarkable substance that it is able to treat seemingly opposite illnesses simultaneously, like obesity and eating disorders/malnutrition. Again, the key is the activation and involvement with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis has shown results ranging from promising potential to revolutionary effectiveness in curing and/or treating:
It is because the cannabinoids in cannabis are so influential on the endocannabinoid system, a system that spans every part of our body, that they are able to have such an effective, overarching, revolutionarily positive effect. Keep in mind that the above is what researchers have found with limited funds, little time, and immense legal obstacles. The golden age of cannabis research hasn’t even started yet.
Cannabis Oil: Run From the Cure
The most medicinally beneficial way to ingest cannabis is by making a high potency cannabis oil. It should be clear now from this report that cannabis is far more effective than conventional medicine for a near-endless variety of ailments. This is especially true for cancer.
The point is, no matter what type of conventional medicine you use, your chances of survival are bleak, and the side effects are horrendous. On the other hand, there is a medicine available that has been proven to completely cure cancer in the majority of cases, as well as having little to no adverse side effects. Additionally, it is as non-toxic as a substance can get, and is impossible to overdose on. Plus, it focuses on treating the side effects of cancer along with the cancer itself. At this point, you recognize that I’m referring to cannabis, but in this case, I’m referring specifically to cannabis oil, also called hemp oil and hash oil (though hemp oil could also refer to a pressed oil derived from hemp seeds which contains a relatively low amount of medicinally superior cannabinoids, namely THC. To avoid confusion I will refer to it only as cannabis oil).
Cannabis oil refers to a highly potent extract of cannabinoids from cannabis, especially THC, usually in the range of 40-90% purity (though there are claims of higher purity), in the form of a thick oil that can be taken daily. The same science discussed above applies to cannabis oil as the same cannabinoids are present, only with the oil they are in much higher concentrations. It is due to the increased potency in cannabinoids, specifically THC, that cannabis oil is the most medicinal and beneficial form of the medicine.
The use of cannabis oil became most prominent due to a documentary made by a man named Rick Simpson. The documentary is called ‘Run From The Cure,’ ( the word cure referring to the conventional cures for cancer, like chemotherapy. The documentary focuses on the science of the endocannabinoid system, how to make the oil and what to expect, doctor testimonials, research regarding cannabis’ effect on cancer, and testimonials from patients that have used cannabis oil to successfully cure their cancer.
Another story that is making ground breaking news is a story that is dubbed: Brave Mykayla. It is the story of Mykayla Comstock, a 7 year old girl from Oregon who successfully used medical marijuana, specifically cannabis oil, to fully cure her leukemia.
Cannabis oil is effective to an unprecedented degree, so says science and the people who have used it successfully to treat their cancer. Unfortunately, unless you are approved to use cannabis medically, it is incredibly expensive and potentially dangerous to procure due to its legal status. Something obviously needs to change, but what can be done? What’s the next step? **This article is preceded by and continues in the report: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review.
*Note: Although it does not specifically contain a discussion on cannabis oil, this exceptional video speaks extensively on the overall science of cannabis’ effects on the endocannabinoid system, presents testimonials from doctors and patients, and discusses various government funded/peer reviewed studies verifying cannabis’ extraordinary effects. It is the video I recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the subject, and is a great introduction to the plethora of research on the issue. It contains the following credible credits:
Dr. Robert Melamede, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Biology Chairman
Biology Department at the University of Colorado
CEO and President of Cannabis Science
“Cannabinoids kill cancer cells in many cases, people are not aware of this”
Dr. Manuel Guzman, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Professor at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain
“Cannabinoids have the effect of inducing death in cancer cells”
Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D.
Vice President for Cannabinoid Research
University of South Carolina Columbia Distinguished Professor
“Cannabinoids can be used effectively as anti-cancer agents”
Dr. Sean McAllister CPMC Scientist
California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute http://thesethgroup.org/videos.html
“Cannabidiol inhibits aggressive breast cancers”
Dr. Donald Tashkin, M.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Emeritus Professor of Medicine
Medical Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory
“THC actually has an anti-tumor effect”
Dr. Robert Sterner, M.D.
UCSD General Surgeon
Graduate of Harvard & UCLA
“Marijuana seeks out cancerous cells and preferentially kills them”
Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, M.D.
Addiction Medicine Specialist
President of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians
“There are multiple mechanisms of action in which cannabis kills cancer cells”
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, M.D.
Canna Centers, Medical Director
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Cannabidiol has been found to make cancer cells commit suicide”
Dr. Josh Wurzer, Researcher
Laboratory Director, SC Laboratories
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Health benefits attributed to THC is actually because of the CBD content”
It should now be clear by reading this report that cannabis and hemp remain illegal for utterly irrational reasons that are actually damaging society as a whole. Most importantly, cannabis should not be labeled a schedule 1 substance as it contains, at the very last, a substantial amount of medicinal value. This medicinal effect comes with the added bonus of having little to no danger of addiction, overdose, or biological harm; something that cannot be said about most other substances approved by the FDA. Even aspirin, a substance millions of people around the world pop like candy, kills 1000’s of people every year. Let’s not forget that the most popular pain killer in the world has been found to substantially increase heart attack risk.
A slew of studies…show diclofenac — sold under the brand names Voltaren, Cambia, Cataflam and Zipsor — is just as likely to cause a heart attack as the discredited painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), which was pulled from the U.S. market in 2004.
We have so many issues with modern medicine, yet a cheap (free if you grow it) natural, highly effective medicine/pain killer already exists in the form of cannabis. Why is it still only available to less than half the country, and only after jumping through extraordinary loopholes? Even more ludicrous, although medical cannabis users are practicing their legal state right, and moreover, the natural right to peacefully preserve their own lives, they are still labeled by the federal government as criminals deserving up to life sentences behind bars. This is alarmingly unreasonable and irresponsible decision making at best. At worst it is pure foolishness and downright criminal in itself.
Regardless of medicinal comparisons between substances, what is important is that people have as many medicinally effective substances available to them as possible, without interference from Big Brother. As Lynn Zimmer, PhD, former Professor Emeritus at the Queens College, City University, New York explains:
The question is not whether marijuana is better than existing medication. For many medical conditions, there are numerous medications available, some of which work better in some patients and some which work better in others. Having the maximum number of effective medications available allows physicians to deliver the best possible medical care to individual patients.