By Michael Krawitz
Modern research into the endo-cannabinoid system has shown that the marijuana plant can produce a multitude therapeutic benefits for many chronic medical conditions.
A new paper by Dr. Ethan Russo* published in the October 2011 issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology terms the synergy of many different medicinal components of the plant working together ‘the entourage effect.’ The paper, titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,” was published as part one of a two-part themed series, “Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine.” Russo is a senior advisor to GW Pharma.
This entourage effect helps explain why patients have generally rejected marinol, the synthetic marijuana pill that contains a petroleum-based copy of THC only with none of the other, less psychoactive but apparently equally medically important, constituents.
While THC has been the primary focus of cannabis research since Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized it in 1964, Russo’s review will explore another echelon of phytotherapeutic agents, the terpenoids. He wrote that, if proven, phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy will point to an extensive pipeline of possible new therapeutic products from cannabis.
Many doctors who favor patient access to marijuana seem to have an insight into the entourage effects, whil other doctors often see the patient’s attempts at access to the whole plant as merely ‘drug-seeking’ behavior. Doctors of 100 years ago hadn’t yet discovered THC, nor did they know that cannabis operated a separate receptor system from that of opiates. They did understand that cannabis taken with opiates was more effective than opiates alone, and they also knew that a patient with stomach problems could tolerate the cannabis better than the opiates. Today medical patients are often forced to choose between opiates and cannabis, even though they are shown to work together symbiotically.
Krawitz is Director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, Advisor to Patients Out of Time and US Patient Representative in the Int. Assn. for Cannabis as Medicine.
* Br J of Pharm (2011) 163:1344+ medicinalgenomics.com /wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Taming-THC-Russo.pdf