Dispatches

All About EVOO

old olive tree david monteleone

By O’Shaughnessy’s News Service

People in Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain have lower rates of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer than Northern Europeans. This is attributed to differences in diet. In the Mediterranean diet, the primary source of fat is extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO); the Northerners use butter and lard.

The EVOO benefit is dramatic —an almost 50% lower rate of colon cancer, for example. Extra-virginity is important because the polyphenols in freshly pressed olive oil degrade with aging and re-processing.

Andrea Di Francesco and colleagues in Mauro Maccarrone’s lab have been studying EVOO’s mechanism of action. Exposing colon cancer cells (Caco-2) to EVOO or an extract of its phenolic compounds resulted in “a selective increase in CB1 gene expression” and “inhibited proliferation of Caco-2 cells and arrested their cycle.”

The researchers also fed healthy rats with a standard diet and an EVOO supplement, then looked for changes in cells lining the colon. Ten days of EVOO supplement led to “a significant increase in CB1 gene expression levels in colon.”

This was due to “epigentic mechanisms.” As explained by Maccarrone, “We found that CB1 is less expressed in cancer cells because it is more methylated at the promoter level. The gene is there, but it is not expressed.”

A “promoter” is a region of DNA that initiates transcription of a particular gene. It’s where DNA is turned into RNA.  Methylation refers to the addition of methyl groups  (CH3) to a molecule. 

Catalyzed by specific enzymes, methylation is involved in regulating gene expression and protein function. In normal cells, the promoter region is not highly methylated and the gene is expressed. But in cancer cells, the promoter region is highly methylated and the gene is silenced. More methylation of the gene means less CB1 expression and weaker endocannabinoid tone.

Aberrant methylation appears to be a precipitating factor in the development of cancer. But methylation doesn’t just happen on its own. If a gene is inappropriately methylated, then some process in the body is causing this to happen.

Psychological trauma and high level activation of the body’s stress system, especially in early childhood, are known to trigger abnormal methylation that changes DNA and disables genes. So, too, in animals. There have been studies that show differences in maternal care during the first six days of a rat’s life result in different methylation patterns in promoter regions, thereby influencing gene expression.

Poor diet and exposure to environmental toxins can also skew gene expression.

“Attack of the Fastidiosi”

No sooner do we begin to appreciate the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, than a bacterium starts destroying Italy’s best trees. Jim Yardley’s piece in the NY Times May 11 is scarier than any of those Hollywood movie ads we’re bombarded with while trying to watch the NBA playoffs. Here’s an excerpt:

Scientists estimate that one million olive trees in the peninsula, known as the Salento, are infected with the bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa, a figure that could rise rapidly.

To prevent the bacterium from spreading north, officials are trying to quarantine the outbreak in the lower half of the Salento, where most of the contaminated trees are, by carving a buffer zone that would serve as a sort of biological firebreak…

The bacterial outbreak — which is believed to have arrived with plants imported from Costa Rica and has already destroyed citrus trees in Brazil and vineyards in California — poses a new danger for all of European agriculture.

In Brussels, the European Commission has backed off earlier proposals to cull millions of trees in the Salento and instead endorsed the Italian buffer zone as well as other surveillance ones north of the peninsula.

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New Cannabis Encyclopedia Immediately Useful

April 9  By Fred Gardner   A beautifully produced 596-page “Cannabis Encyclopedia” by Jorge Cervantes arrived just as we were looking for a graphic to run with a letter to O’Shaughnessy’s from  a grower bedeviled by Russet Mites up where the Klamath River runs into the ocean.  

The Encyclopedia provided two usable pix —a blown-up photomicrograph of the disgusting little creatures, and a photo by Karl Hillig showing them on a leaf petiole.

read more

Is Cannabis-Based Medicine a Viable —and Valid— Specialty?

Jeff in Croatia3

March 25, 2015  By Fred Gardner   

A spectre is haunting California physicians who have been practicing Cannabis-based Medicine: the likelihood of “legalization” in 2016. The economic viability of their specialty may depend on how the new law is worded.

If legalization involves a steep tax on cannabis sold for recreational use, many people will continue visiting MDs to confirm that their use is medical. This is the situation in Colorado, where a doctor’s authorization letter effectively confers a 25% price break from dispensaries, and cannabis-oriented medical practices are flourishing.

But what if the tax is not steep enough to induce cannabis users to get a doctor’s approval? How many people using the herb to treat common conditions such as pain, depression and anxiety will feel the need to seek annual renewals? read more

Notes From Prison

DC Costa and friends

By Dustin Costa   The prison camp in Florence, Colorado is about as decent as prison gets. I arrived here a little over four years ago, transferred from the Federal Prison in Big Spring, Texas.

The prison complex lies just outside of town along route 67.  My first impression on seeing the camp on the hill above the highway was that it looked like a high school campus.

Across the way was the medium security facility, which looked a lot like the camp, except for all the razor wire surrounding it. Just past the shoulder of the highway, four-foot-tall reinforced concrete spikes jutted out of the ground, about six feet apart. It looked like they could stop a tank.

Finally, after nearly five years in prison, I was coming to a camp. I was still a prisoner, but I felt like a kid opening presents at Christmas. This would be paradise compared to where I’d been. That’s what I thought then. I still pretty much feel that way, but it’s still prison. The government still owns me…

Here’s DC’s complete dispatch, laid out for the Spring 2015 O’Shaughnessy’s.

The Launch of Phytecs

By Fred Gardner   

When Raphael Mechoulam entitled his 2012 talk to the International Cannabinoid Research Society, “Planning Research for the Next Half a Century,” he did not anticipate an ambitious start-up taking him literally. 

Los Angeles attorney Gary Hiller has engaged Mechoulam, professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem —and the co-discoverer of THC and CBD in 1964, and of anandamide in 1992—  to help develop the research agenda of a new company called Phytecs. (Synthesized from Phyto, which is Greek for “plant,” plus EndoCannabinoid System.)

In his ICRS talk, Mechoulam suggested that investigators might profitably explore new applications for CBD, the uses of the CB-2 receptor, and the role of numerous fatty acids that are close chemical relatives of the body’s own cannabinoids.  “I am glad that my work has played a catalytic role in drug development,” he commented in a March 1 email.    read more

Simon Grinspoon

Simon Grinspoon

A Remembrance by Lester Grinspoon

My father was born in Russia in 1898. There is some uncertainty about where in Russia; his death certificate lists Moscow as the place of birth, but there is some reason to believe that it was somewhere in the Pale. Apparently some months before his birth his father, Louis, left for America with the understanding that he would send for his wife, whom I called Bubbe, and the children to join him once he was settled. In 1900 Bubbe and her two children, Sarah who was four and Simon, now two, set out for the United States, and the family was reunited in West Newton where my grandfather now owned a dairy farm. read more

Med Board Update

MBC logo

By Fred Gardner   January 30, 2015

Joe D. Goldstrich, MD, and I drove out to a meeting of the medical board’s Enforcement Committee in Sacramento yesterday. We had been alerted by Frank Lucido, MD, that medical marijuana was going to be on the agenda. At the previous meeting, the board discussed revising the guidelines concerning medical marijuana approvals it adopted in 2004 (eight years after the passage of Prop 215).

Read the proposed changes here. 

Also attending yesterday’s session was R. Stephen Ellis, MD, of San Francisco who has for years been urging the board to crack down on doctors who conduct only cursory exams before authorizing patients to use marijuana. read more

Teflon Bill Bennett Preaches Anti-Pot Gospel

Family Research Council Hosts Voter Values Summit

February 1, 2015  By Fred Gardner

Bill Bennett, who had been Secretary of Education under Reagan and Drug Czar under George H.W. Bush, is on the talk shows this morning plugging his new book, “Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America.” Co-author Robert White is a former federal prosecutor.

An obsequious piece about the book in the Washington Times refers to “Mr. Bennett’s research revealing that more Americans are admitted to treatment facilities for marijuana use than for any other illegal drug…”  As Bill Bennett well knows, almost everyone receiving “treatment” for marijuana is court-mandated or parent-mandated or job-mandated. In other words, forced.  Very few marijuana users consider themselves in need of treatment.  And  nobody gives up their drug of choice until they themselves really want to, according to the 12-steppers’ collective wisdom. read more

McPartland’s Correct(ed) Vernacular Nomenclature

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January 4, 2015  By O’S News Service

An ambitious call to standardize the names used by non-scientists in reference to Cannabis plants —to create an accurate vernacular nomenclature— was made by Dr. John McPartland at the 2014 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and will be published in O’Shaughnessy’s upcoming print edition. McPartland’s ICRS paper, co-authored by Dr. Geoffrey Guy, used “DNA barcodes” to determine whether or not Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa are separate species. The answer was not. C. indica and C. sativa are subspecies —separate varieties of one Cannabis species. read more

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The Second Column

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Photo-illustration by Brobel Design for TIME. Mouse: Getty, Lighter, Joint, Smoke: iStockphoto

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Willie and Merle

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Takeda Pharmaceuticals Actos diabetes pills are arranged next to a bottle of the medicine for an illustration at C O Bigelow Pharmacy in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007.  Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan's largest drugmaker, may forecast its biggest jump in full-year profit in six years on sales of the Actos diabetes pill it counts on for almost a third of revenue. Photographer: JB Reed/ Bloomberg News

By O’S News Service April 28, 2015    Some 9,000 people who developed bladder cancer after using Actos —a diabetes drug in pill form— have been offered a $2.4 …

Ethan Russo, Local Hero

Russo : VIMEA

 April 22 From O’S News Service   Ethan Russo, MD, a mild-mannered neurologist, has lived inconspicuously for almost a decade on Vashon Island, a ferry ride from Seattle. Russo’s secret identity was …

FDA Warns CBD Scammers

FDA Warning

Dr. Rik Musty, the first U.S. researcher to investigate CBD, alerted us to this item posted on the US Food and Drug Administration website, March 3, 2015: Warning Letters …

Big PhRMA Seeks Stoner Cred

Kevin Nealon

The comedian Kevin Nealon is pushing a blood thinner called Xarelto, aka Rivaroxaban, which is made by Bayer, FDA-approved and distributed by Janssen. Xarelto can cause a type of internal bleeding …

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Musicophilia

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Mechoulam’s Democratic Perspective

Mechoulam preface

April 8, 2015   Istvan Ujvary sent in  this essay published in 1973 by Raphael Mechoulam, commenting: “I thought you would like the last sentences of the attached preface …

Other Products, Other Labs (Good Old Costco)

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By O’S News Service   Ever since we heard Raphael Mechoulam associate olive oil in the Southern European diet with significantly reduced cancer rates, we have been on the look-out …

Addiction Specialists are the Drug Warriors’ “Brain Trust”

THM Resigns

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Remembering Murphy Brown

phot by Damon Winter/NYT

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Senate Bill Would Move Cannabis to Schedule II

Official Portrait

Hanya Barth, MD, forwards a press release announcing a Senate bill introduced March 10 —the “CARERS” Act— that has been endorsed by leading drug policy reform groups, including Americans for Safe Access …

Dr. Malka Joins KPIX Attack on 420MD

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By O’S News Service March 17   KPIX, the Bay Area’s CBS affiliate, is covering the prosecution of a “potdoc” chain called 420MD. Read the background here.  Last night …

NYPD Chief Says Marijuana Causes Murder

Bratton Oregano Platt

 March 9   A front-page article  in the New York Times was given a rare two-sentence headline.   Back in November 2014 Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police …

Phrenology in the 21st Century

marijuana-brain

March 12, 2015   Nancy Sajben, MD, forwards a meant-to-frighten story from the Daily Mail based on a paper just published in Hippocampus by psychiatrists at Northwestern University.  The headline and subhead: Smoking …

Pill Pushers Preying on Women

abilify

In 2010 Julie Holland, MD published an excellent anthology called “The Pot Book.” Lester Grinspoon, MD, and SCC president Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, were among the clinicians and researchers who …

Tylenol kills, Statins ‘associated with’ diabetes (ho hum)

tylenol

This snippet is from the British Medical Journal 3/3/15:  “…The true risks of taking the drug [paracetamol in England,  acetaminophen in the US, brand name Tylenol] may have been underestimated, …