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Simple and quick hemp seed recipes – our Top 7

Sensi Shake (vegan)

For many years, the Sensi Seeds Café in Amsterdam – for which you only had to cross the canal bridge from the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum – had the Sensi Shake on the menu; a delicious and nourishing mix of fresh fruit and hemp seeds. Its recipe was kept a secret, of course, but since the café was renovated and turned into a Sensi Seeds Shop a few years ago, drinks are no longer served, which means that the recipe can now be shared. Here it is.

Hemp seed banana bread

This delicious cake is easy to make and quite impressive. Plus, it will only take about 10 minutes to mix the ingredients. The only difficult part is waiting until it has cooled down once it’s out of the oven! You’ll find the recipe here.

Hemp seed pesto (vegan)

It will only take you about 5 minutes to prepare our basil and hemp seed pesto, perhaps 10. It contains no dairy or gluten, and tastes delicious. You’ll find the recipe here.

Hemp seed porridge (vegan)

This nutritious, tasty and dairy-free dish will provide the perfect start to your day. Try it. You’ll find the recipe here.

Hemp seed hummus (vegan)

Hummus – which is essentially chick pea puree – is a lovely snack and therefore quite popular at parties and picnics. It’s also great on a cracker when you feel a little peckish in between meals. This quick recipe is flavourful as well as healthy, as the hemp seeds provide your body with essential fatty acids and protein. The chick peas are high in fibre, iron and other important minerals, while tahini supplies calcium. Here is the recipe.

Homemade hemp milk (vegan)

Looking for an alternative to cow’s milk? Why not try hemp milk? It is easy to make, healthy and it tastes wonderful. Hemp milk provides your body with the necessary fatty and amino acids, as well as minerals. Making the hemp milk takes no longer than 5 minutes. This how you do it.

Homemade hemp muesli (vegan)

This wonderful breakfast with hemp seeds is packed full of delicious ingredients and tastes excellent. Hemp muesli only takes a few minutes to prepare and will give your day the kick-start it needs. Why not try it? Here is the recipe.

 

If you have ever prepared one of the above recipes or if you are interested in more, please let us know in the comment field below. We are looking forward to receiving your responses.

Author: Stefanie @ Sensiseeds

Cannabinoids – what are they and what do they do?

Cannabinoids are naturally present in plants of the Cannabis Sativa L. species. We ingest them when consuming cannabis or hemp – more or less depending on what exactly is consumed, and how. The human body also produces cannabinoids, and there are many ways we are still discovering their properties, benefits, and manifestations.

 

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors present in the human body, as well as in the organism of certain other mammals. Cannabinoid receptors have a direct impact on neurotransmitter release in the brain. In other words, they influence the way it processes data and other chemical compounds.

Cannabinoid receptors that we know of have been named CB1 and CB2 receptors. They are located in different areas of the brain and the nervous system, which means they can control different functions and impact different aspects of one’s health (although they are known to work in concert in certain cases).

Cannabinoids – what are they and what do they do?

Some cannabinoids are quite familiar to the public, due to the increasing amount of common knowledge around cannabis.
The current most popular cannabinoids are THC, known for its psychoactive properties, and CBD, because of its increasingly exposed medicinal benefits.

Sensi Seeds offers a range of high quality, varied CBD products.

There is a plethora of others – at this point, 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated via research.

Where are cannabinoids found?

In plants

Cannabinoids can be found in all variations of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, in more or less high amounts. Other plants produce cannabinoids too, but not to the same extent (and not in the same manner) than cannabis or hemp do.

In the human body

Cannabinoids naturally produced by the human body are called endocannabinoids. This network of cannabinoids and corresponding cannabinoid receptors is called the endocannabinoid system, and it is quite essential to the functioning of our bodies. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency has actually been linked to a number of illnesses and conditions, despite still not being prioritized when it comes to advances in medical research. For instance, Cystic Fibrosis could be caused by a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system.

What do cannabinoids do?

Early development

Cannabinoids – what are they and what do they do?

Many advances have already shown how cannabinoids are an intrinsic part of our bodies’ most essential functions from the earliest stages of life.

Indeed, a properly functioning endocannabinoid system is essential to embryo implantation, as well as to the triggering of the instinctive suckling response that leads to breastfeeding. These are only a couple of the many vital components of a human’s early development that are directly linked to the endocannabinoid system.

Neuroprotective properties & appetite stimulant

Ongoing research regarding conditions such as dementia, or other neurodegenerative diseases, have confirmed the neuroprotective effects of cannabis. A number of – generally psychoactive – cannabinoids have been linked to neuroprotection, especially THC, THCA, and possibly THCV, which has been found to have a structure very similar to that of THC.

THCV is also known to curb appetite, a property shared by other cannabinoids such as anandamide. Anandamide, an endogenous analogue of THC, together with 2-AG, is known to interact with CB receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system.

And more …

There are many more properties attributable to THC and CBD, as well as to all the aforementioned cannabinoids. Anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antispasmodic, etc. In fact, they have been linked to various major conditions, such as multiple sclerosisAlzheimer’s diseaseParkinson’s diseaseTourette syndromeepilepsyasthma, and more.

We do have some information on other cannabinoids that aren’t currently at the heart of research. Some of these are cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidivarin (CBV), and cannabicyclol (CBL). In most cases, these cannabinoids share properties that have already been confirmed in more potent cannabinoids (such as media favourites THC and CBD). However, too little research is conducted on them at the moment, which means that in the future, we may hear much more about these mysterious compounds! Soon, in your pharmacies?

Choose vaporising

Vaporizing cannabis is, as far as is known, the best method to optimize one’s intake of cannabinoids. In addition to this, it is a healthy method of consumption that can accommodate most, including those who cannot smoke cannabis due to lung-related medical issues.

Check out our selection of vaporizers if you haven’t found your own favourite yet.

Cannabinoid research vs. prohibition

Cannabinoids seem to show up in a very wide array of research. Unfortunately, due to the current illegality of the cannabis plant in most countries, it can be challenging to find plant material to conduct research on in the first place.

In numerous countries, associations and even political parties attempt to focus on advances in cannabinoid research. Medical professionals crave for more information, more clinical tests, or anything that can help them counsel their patients.

Despite that, only a handful of cannabinoid-based medications are available to patients to this day. While legalisation of cannabis is progressing at high-speed, if compared to the situation a decade ago, it may take decades for things to truly change, and for cannabinoids to be seemingly part of society, without suffering from one chunk or another of the “Reefer Madness” stigma.

In the meantime, standard drug tests still include cannabis, which is why the topic of how to flush cannabis out of your system is very much of a popular one.

Author: Silent Jay @ Sensiseeds

10 Reasons Why Hempseed Is The Best Protein Source

Protein is essential for health because it is composed of chains of amino acids, which provide the components for haemoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood), antibodies to fight infection, a large number of hormones, and enzymes which enable all the chemical reactions inside cells. Unlike fats and sugars, protein cannot be stored by the human body, so it is vital to eat it on a daily basis. If we do not get the required amount of protein each day, our bodies will actually break down muscle tissue to make up the shortfall. Now we know why it is so important, let us look at why hempseed is the best protein source.

1. Hempseed contains all nine essential amino acids

Of the twenty amino acids we need, nine are classed as ‘essential’. These are the ones our bodies cannot synthesise from other amino acids and metabolic particles. This is why they must be consumed as part of our diet. Hemp seed contains significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids, making it the perfect way to ensure your body is getting the right nutrition on a daily basis.


2. Hempseed contains more useable protein per gram than almost all other foods

Hempseed contains 25 grams of protein per 100 grams. This is higher than all other plant sources, and higher than or equivalent to almost all meat and fish. On paper, soy appears to out-perform hemp as a protein source in a few ways. Hemp seed is 25% protein, whereas soy is 32%. Soy also contains slightly higher levels of eight out of the nine essential amino acids. However, it is important to look at how much of this protein can actually be used by the body. Soy, unlike hempseed, contains high levels of trypsin inhibitors (see below) which prevent all of its protein and essential amino acids being absorbed by the body.


3. Hempseed does not contain trypsin inhibitors

Trypsin is a digestive enzyme which is secreted by the pancreas as trypsinogen. The essential function of trypsin is to break down proteins in the small intestine so that the body can use all the available amino acids and other nutrients it contains. Trypsin inhibitors block the function of this enzyme, so less protein is broken down and digested. Hempseed is rare among food protein sources in that it does not contain trypsin inhibitors, so all of the protein and essential amino acids it contains are available to the body. Meat, nuts, soy, lima beans and raw egg white all contain trypsin inhibitors.

 


4. Hempseed contains easily digestible protein

Since it is dense, fibrous animal muscle, meat is hard to digest and requires more acid and enzyme secretion. Dairy products that are high in lactose are also difficult to digest and can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhoea. Nuts contain phytic acid, which is indigestible and can cause discomfort for some people; it also blocks the absorption of zinc and iron, which are also essential for good health (and found in hempseed!). Protein from eggs becomes difficult to digest if they are boiled. Beans, though good sources of protein, contain saponins which prevent protein digestion, and phytic acid. All in all, hempseed – which contains edestin and albumin, two high-quality proteins – is unquestionably one of the easiest proteins to digest.


5. Hempseed contains the perfect 2.5:1 balance of essential fatty acids

Hempseed and hempseed oil are extremely generous sources of the essential fatty acids linoleic acid, commonly known as omega-6, and alpha-linoleic acid, also called omega-3. As with the essential amino acids mentioned above, they are classified as ‘essential’ because they are indispensable for heath, yet cannot be created by the human body and must be a part of our diet. Just as essential as these fatty acids themselves is the ratio in which they are consumed, since proper absorption and use of both depends on this. An excess of omega-6 can actually cause serious health problems. As recently as 1995, it was believed that the best balance of omega-6 to omega-3 was between 5:1 and 10:1. More recent research indicates that this is an unhealthily high ratio. It is now known that between 2:1 and 3:1 is the most beneficial balance. Interestingly, this is the balance usually found in traditional diets in Japan and the Mediterranean, both places with a historically low rate of heart disease. Hempseed has a ratio of around 2.5:1, making it the ideal balance. For comparison, soy has a 7:1 ratio.


6. Hempseed farming is beneficial to the environment

Much has been written about the benefits of farming hemp: it requires less water, fertilizers and pesticides than other food crops, it improves the soil for the following crops instead of depleting it, and it can lock in large amounts of carbon both while growing and when used in products for the building and textile industry. The meat farming industry, on the other hand, is both environmentally destructive and causes extremely high carbon emissions. A study on the potential for agriculture to create carbon ‘sinks’ rather than carbon production calls for a radical change in farming practices, and hemp fits the need for a high-protein crop perfectly.


7. Hempseed is naturally hypoallergenic

Many common sources of protein can cause allergic reactions. Nuts, legumes such as peanuts, eggs, fish, seafood, and dairy products are all well-known allergens and in some cases can be fatal. People with Celiac disease are gluten-intolerant, and cannot eat foods such as wheat, barley and rye, all of which are protein sources. Hempseed does not contain gluten, and for so far as is known, does not cause any allergic reactions. However, it is important to note that the same anti-colagulant properties in hempseed that reduce the risk of blood clots (see below) could cause problems for people who have to take blood-thinnning drugs such as Warfarin, and haemophiliacs. If you fall into one of these two groups, it is advisable to consult your medical practitioner before adding large amounts of hempseed to your diet.


8. Hempseed is visibly free of contaminants and additives

Processed foods, especially meat, are treated and packaged to make them look attractive. This usually involves the addition of preservatives, flavour enhancers and bulking agents that are not visible to the naked eye, but which can have adverse effects on the body. There is also a lack of transparency in much of the production chain that can mean meat sold as beef is actually horse meat that was not intended or approved for human consumption, as happened not so long ago. Hempseed and hemp oil are advantageous in that what you see is what you get! In addition, the ethos that tends to accompany hemp farming means that producers are more likely to refuse such practices as being against the best interests of the consumer, rather than increasing profit at their expense.


9. Hempseed reduces inflammation, cholesterol and the risk of blood clots

The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids mentioned above enables the body to make full use of the omega-3, which is probably the best of all the poly unsaturated fatty acids for human health. Various studies have confirmed that consuming large amounts of omega-3 does not have any negative side effects, and it is only in combination with too much omega-6 that adverse effects occur, i.e. when the ratio of the two is unbalanced. The positive effects of omega-3 include lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, regulation and normalization of fat metabolism, reduced dependence on insulin in diabetics, an increase of the overall metabolic rate, better membrane fluidity and marked anti-inflammatory action, especially beneficial to people suffering from arthritis.


10. Hempseed is really easy to add to any diet

A factor that dissuades many people from making dietary changes is the inconvenience of long preparation times or having to add elaborate new recipes to their already busy schedules. As a food for health, hempseed is exceptional in that it needs no preparation! It is best to consume it raw, since the chemical changes that take place in at and above 180 degrees C, making it ideal to add to salads and cereals. However, if it is added to warm dishes just before serving, all its nutritional properties are preserved. Together with its very subtle, almost neutral flavour, this makes it incredibly easy to incorporate into your existing diet. This is as true for mainstream diets as it is for specific ones. For example, it can be added to baked beans, mashed potato, pasta sauce, soups and stews. Hempseed is perfect whether your diet is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, Paleo, lactose-free, sugar-free, macrobiotic or raw food.

Author: Scarlett Palmer @ Sensiseeds

Could Cannabis be a Performance-Enhancing Drug?

Cannabis is stereotypically associated with lethargy, delayed reaction times and impaired concentration, and certainly not with notable athletic performance. But more and more, evidence is beginning to demonstrate that cannabis can in fact have significant positive benefits during times of exercise and exertion.

 

Cannabis is stereotypically associated with lethargy, delayed reaction times and impaired concentration, and certainly not with notable athletic performance. But more and more, evidence is beginning to demonstrate that cannabis can in fact have significant positive benefits during times of exercise and exertion.

Could Cannabis be a Performance-Enhancing Drug?

Cannabis Use In Sport Throughout History

Cannabis has been used to make warriors feel calm, confident and fearless throughout history, by cultures from all around the world.

In many historic cultures, the line between warriors and athletes was blurry – indeed, for much of history, athletic sports were an important way to prove one’s potential or ability as a soldier, and to keep the male population trained, unified, and fit for military service. In Ancient Greece, home of the original Olympic Games, both athletic sports and military service were compulsory for young male citizens.

Cultures that made use of cannabis in warfare may well have also allowed their athletes to use it. While there is no evidence of cannabis use in Ancient Greek warfare, there is certainly evidence that both soldiers and athletes used wine, hallucinogenic potions and herbs to enhance performance.

In India, bhang (traditional cannabis paste) has been used by both warriors and athletes for centuries, and is strongly associated with wrestler and bodybuilding castes to this day. It is also probable that various sub-Saharan African tribes known to make use of cannabis in warfare during the nineteenth century, such as the Zulu, also used it in their many competitive sporting events.

There is no direct evidence of this fact, but there is evidence that the Zulu made extensive use of other performance-enhancing substances during both battle and sport. In fact, the term “doping” possibly derives from a Zulu term, dop, which referred to a concoction of grape skins thought to give warriors strength in battle.

Athletes are increasingly turning to cannabis, for multiple reasons (© Pexels.com)
Athletes are increasingly turning to cannabis, for multiple reasons (© Pexels.com)

Cannabis Use By Present-Day Athletes

In recent years, cannabis use to enhance performance has become increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Research is also beginning to uncover intriguing information about the endocannabinoid system and its fundamental role in physiological processes related to exercise and fitness.

An article from the Guardian in May 2016 describes the case of Avery Collins, a 25-year-old ultramarathoner that makes extensive use of cannabis edibles during training, which he believes allows him to “stay in the moment and embrace what’s going on right then and there”. While he never uses cannabis during competitions, and does not feel that his success should be credited to cannabis, he believes that use during training enhances his experience considerably.

An excellent article from Men’s Journal in 2014 discussed the case of multiple triathlon winner Clifford Drusinsky. A Colorado gym owner, Drusinsky not only makes extensive use of cannabis during his own training, but also leads group sessions in which up to two dozen participants will train while under the influence of cannabis!

According to Drusinksy: “Marijuana relaxes me and allows me to go into a controlled, meditational place…When I get high, I train smarter and focus on form.”

His clients appear to be very much on board with Drusinsky’s approach to physical training. One client is reported as stating, “I work out longer high”; another states, “If I take a little bit before heavy training, I am totally dialed in”.

An interesting perspective is offered by journalist and ski enthusiast Gordy Megroz in a February 2015 issue of Outside Online. Megroz stated that he was not a habitual cannabis user, but had heard enough positive reports from other sports enthusiast friends that he decided to try it out one day.

After eating a medicated gummy chew, Megroz experienced a “slight yet very functional high”; he “felt invincible and proceeded to attack the steepest lines without fear”. This “fearlessness” may be akin to the reaction sought by ancient tribal societies who ritualised use of cannabis before battle.

Indian wrestlers have used cannabis for centuries (© Wiki Commons)
Indian wrestlers have used cannabis for centuries (© Wiki Commons)

Aggression, Fearlessness, Anxiety – What Role Does Cannabis Play?

For his article, Megroz took the initiative of contacting Stanford Medical School professor Keith Humphreys to find out why this may be. “We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our brains, and when the THC hits those receptors, it triggers a system that reduces anxiety,” Humphreys responded. “That you would feel more aggressive is a natural reaction to the drug.”

It seems arguable that aggression is a natural reaction to a reduction in anxiety. Cannabis is known the world over as an anxiety-reducing substance, and rather than being commonly known to induce aggression, it is far more well known for producing a state of contemplative relaxation.

So why is there such a discrepancy between the traditional stoner stereotype and this subset of cannabis-fuelled super-athletes – who, it must be noted, do not represent a new phenomenon, but rather a Western version of bhang-using Indian bodybuilders or African tribal warriors?

Cannabis can make the user feel relaxed and anxiety-free (© Pexels.com)
Cannabis can make the user feel relaxed and anxiety-free (© Pexels.com)

As Always, The Truth Is Complex

The answer almost certainly lies in the complexities of cannabinoid dose and ratio, along with personal variables such as individual genetics, state of health, and various other factors. Several cannabinoids have been seen to produce one effect at low doses while producing the opposite effect at higher doses, and when combined with other cannabinoids, the potential psychological outcome becomes even more variable – as this 2013 study on cannabinoids and anxiety highlights.

As well as dose, the effect of tolerance is crucial in cannabinoid science, and can mean that a substance such as THC can have markedly different effects between individuals of different tolerance. Furthermore, certain genetic traits may make certain individuals respond to an identical dose of cannabinoids in completely different ways – or it may even be the case that those in prime physical condition (as athletes mostly are) respond differently to the “average” or sick human.

Another layer of complexity to add to the scenario is the question of what makes a substance “performance enhancing”, and in which ways cannabis can be said to fulfil this role, particularly given its diverse and often opposite effects between individuals. Even for a specific individual, the effects of cannabis may be inconsistent, and could even be altered by such variables as fatigue or hunger.

Or an individual may find certain effects to be beneficial while other simultaneous effects are found to be detrimental. In Mergoz’ article for Outside Online, the author noted that cannabis provided a “flowy and fast” feeling that increased confidence and enabled him to endure for longer, but also caused a subjectively impaired ability to judge speed and distance.

Cannabis use during exercise can reduce chance of inflammation and muscle injury (© Wiki Commons)
Cannabis use during exercise can reduce chance of inflammation and muscle injury (© Wiki Commons)

 

What Does The Science Say About All This?

As is so often the case, we need to conduct a lot more studies on the effect of cannabis on physical exertion in humans before we can get a full understanding of what’s going on. The existing research on cannabis often consists of rodent studies, and may not always be relevant to humans, given the many differences between the expression and role of the endocannabinoid system between animal species.

However, we do have various pieces of research that are relevant, and which indicate that cannabis could indeed have a beneficial effect on athletic performance in humans. For example, we’ve known for many years that cannabis can certainly have an effect on anxiety levels. This effect may be positive or negative, depending on various factors, but there are plenty of people out there that rely on cannabis for its anxiety-alleviating effects, and it’s probably a big factor in enhancing the performance of many pro-cannabis athletes.

It is also well-known that several cannabinoids (including both CBD and THC) have potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This fact not only means that the cannabis-using athlete can expect to feel fewer aches and pains the day after exercise, but may also mean that pain and muscle strain can be minimized during exercise too. In fact, plenty of NFL players have acknowledged using cannabis, and there is a strong argument that it works better (and is safer) for football-related pain and injuries than many existing painkillers.

We also know that cannabis can act as a bronchodilator, and increase airflow to the lungs. It is for this reason that cannabis has been investigated for its asthma-fighting properties – and it is yet another reason that it could help athletes enhance their performance. The heart, brain and muscles all need a steady supply of oxygen to work, and if oxygen supply can be boosted, the maximum performance of the entire body can be boosted as a result.

Another area of research throws up the intriguing possibility that endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body are involved in the “natural high” produced by exercise, a phenomenon that also involves endorphins (just as endocannabinoids are naturally-occurring cannabinoid-like compounds, endorphins are naturally-occurring morphine-like compounds). Thus, using cannabis can enhance that “natural high” and make exercise feel even more effective and empowering.

One fact that repeatedly stands out is the concept of cannabis allowing one to become “dialled in” and able to easily and exclusively focus on the exercise at hand. This echoes the concept of “hyperfocus” that has been discussed in relation to cannabis elsewhere on the Sensi blog, and implies that there is a psychological element to the performance-enhancing effect of cannabis that goes far beyond its known physical effects.

Cannabis may lead to impaired fine motor control… (© bill85704)
Cannabis may lead to impaired fine motor control… (© bill85704)

 

What about negative effects?

While it appears that there are various ways in which cannabis can enhance performance during exercise, there are also potential side-effects that may detract from one’s performance, and even prove dangerous in very rare cases.

Cannabis has long been associated with impaired reaction times and motor control, and it appears that there is some basis for this association (which again, appears to be a dose-dependent effect. The bigger the dose, the greater the degree of impairment). Anecdotal reports from athletes such as Gordy Mergoz do however indicate that it is an effect experienced by some. Thus, for sports which require fine motor control, such as cycling and skiing, cannabis may prove to hinder more than it helps.

Furthermore, cannabis use can lead to elevated heart rates in some individuals and may even increase the risk of heart attack in a small subset of susceptible individuals(again, this effect is not universal, and studies are inconsistent). Thus, athletes with known heart conditions should use extreme caution if attempting to exercise under the influence of cannabis.

As always, it is all but impossible to answer the question “could cannabis be a performance-enhancing drug” with a simple yes or no answer. The effects are too variable to make generalisations at this stage – but it may be in these specific, non-general effects that cannabis will prove to come into its own.

In some rare cases, cannabis may increase risk of heart attack (© Wiki Commons)
In some rare cases, cannabis may increase risk of heart attack (© Wiki Commons)

Every sport (and every individual playing sports) is different, and the possibilities for tailoring cannabis drugs for specific applications are endless. But before we can do that, we need to push forward with legalization and research so that we give ourselves the best possible chance of having all the facts.

Author: Seshata @ Sensiseeds

How do edibles affect you?

How do edibles work? Many a first-time cannabis consumer has asked themselves this question. And with absolute reason, as enjoying such products necessitates a minimum of understanding of their process. In this article, we break down the 101 on cannabis edibles for you. Read on, and consume responsibly!

 

Indeed, it is important to know what an edible will do to you, for how long, and how. This is why such products always come with a label, on which you can find warnings (“DON’T PANIC”), indications about serving size, onset time, and other details regarding the composition of your treat.

How do edibles work?

A more accurate question would be: how do cannabinoids work? When you consume cannabis, it is processed by your body in different ways, depending on your chosen method of distribution. However, the effects are fairly similar, albeit more or less intense, and more or less durable.

When you smoke cannabis, the smoke, in which cannabinoids such as THC and CBDare contained, travels directly to your lungs, where it meets the millions of alveoli that line its walls. These alveoli absorb cannabinoids and redistribute them into the bloodstream. In a matter of seconds, they travel up to your brain, and ta-da! You are medicated.

When you consume an edible, there are two possible scenarios. If cannabinoids are released in more or less liquid form directly in the mouth, and especially under the tongue, they take the direct route to the bloodstream.

If your edible is not of the kind that melts in your mouth, it needs to be digested in order to be processed by your organism. More specifically, it needs to reach the small intestine/liver.

Once there, fats contained in the edible will be broken down, and eventually sent to your bloodstream in order to deliver nutrients, cannabinoids, and more, to the rest of your body.

Depending on what you are ingesting, it can take from 20 minutes (under the tongue) to 2-3 hours (digested) for you to start feeling medicated.

How do edibles affect you?

(More on smoking cannabis vs. eating cannabis here.)

What are the different types of edibles?

Which edible is best for which situation? There is a large gap between 20 minutes and 2 hours, a gap that could make or break you evening or day. So choose your edible wisely for a tailored experience.

1. Space cakes

Space cakes and other gastrointestinal edibles may be the most widespread type of edibles. They include cakes of all sorts, pretzels, cookies, biscuits, and anything that has been infused/cooked/baked with cannabis, rather than coated with it.

This type of treats has been appreciated by cannabis enthusiasts for literal decades. Is it the absolute simplicity of making them, or the fact their wholesome flavours can perfectly mask a cannabis taste some prefer on the stealth side? Regardless, they are very popular not only in retail, but also when it comes to your average consumer making their own cannabis treats.

The process of digesting such products takes just as much time as any other food would take to be digested. This time depends mostly on your metabolism: if you have a fast metabolism, you may feel the effects of the ingested edible as soon as 1 hour later. If you have a slower metabolism, you may have to wait 2 to 3 hours before the desired effects kick in.

2. Cannabis lollipops

Cannabis lollipops and other sublingual edibles do not dispense effects as immediately as combustion does, but they perform faster than the aforementioned type of edibles. They include lollipops and similarly consumed products (such as hard candy).

The main difference between sublingual edibles and gastrointestinal edibles is that the former release cannabinoids directly into the mouth, which allows them to  enter the bloodstream through tissue.

There is no sure-fire way to guarantee a sublingual edible will be as efficient as possible. Thoroughly ensuring it is properly absorbed under the tongue is something you can do, but ultimately, the efficiency of the delivery method will depend on the technique used to infuse cannabis into the edible, as well as the composition of it (fats, alcohol and emulsifiers do facilitate the process).

All things considered, the worst case scenario is that you may not benefit fully from the desired sublingual delivery method. Yet, do not worry: wait a few hours for the cannabinoids to reach your liver, and you will eventually get right where you wanted to be.

For those looking for immediate medical relief without the possibility to inhale, consider vaporising instead.

How do edibles affect you? Girl with a cannabis lollipop.

It is to be noted that certain edibles are meant to be (or happen to be) “hybrids”. First, they release cannabinoids into the mouth as you enjoy them, and once swallowed, they take the long route towards your digestive system. These are edibles that can be ‘sucked on’ before being properly ingested: chocolate, fudge, drinks, etc.

What will an edible do to me?

An ordinarily potent edible provides effects that are experienced in a much more intense manner than with any other mean of enjoying cannabis. The intensity of these effects depend largely on how much cannabis is contained in the edible, and in which form.

In order to obtain optimum information on this specific parameter, it is always a good idea to ask your dispensary/coffeeshop/baker friend.

Yet, dosage is not the only thing at play. Regardless of it, of what you have eaten/drunk, and of which activities you are performing while medicated, the culprit is 11-hydroxy-THC.

Indeed, when main psychoactive cannabinoid THC enters the human body, it is metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is significantly more potent. Moreover, this metabolite has the capacity to enter the brain much more easily, providing the consumer with much stronger exposure.

The conversion rate is especially high when cannabis is ingested, while somewhat inconsequential when combusted or vaporized: this is why edibles are the number one player on the potency front!

How do edibles affect you?

While the range of effects provided by cannabis is large and colourful, edibles have a tendency to be more body-focused. This does not mean that other effects will not be experienced. On the other hand, it means that edibles can be ideal for patients, notably for chronic pain, nausea, or inflammation.

However, many tend to seek immediate relief, whether they primarily use cannabis for medicinal or recreational reasons. With cannabis in edible form, the process is not always time-efficient. But with a minimum of preparation, it is still possible; plan ahead, and take in your edible mindfully for maximum impact.

Best practices for enjoying your edible

Commercially available edibles generally contain very high concentrations of cannabis. Even for a frequent consumer, they can turn out to be overwhelming when the consumption process itself is uninformed or careless. Make sure you check all items of this list before you partake.

1. Read the label of your edible attentively

You may not be accustomed to reading labels of the food or other items you buy. In the case of edibles, doing so is a rule of thumb. Labels will provide you with information on serving size, and possibly on other elements such as cannabis strain, dose, etc. If you have been gifted a homemade edible, do question your baker friend. Do not underestimate the potency of a serving, even if you are an experienced cannabis smoker/vaper.

2. Do not experiment on an empty stomach

Consider having a snack or even a meal before you consume an edible. However, avoid consuming important amounts of food while waiting for your edible to release its effects. Depending on your metabolism, the potential added fats might enhance your experience (you may want to cross this bullet point off your list once you are more edible-savvy).

3. Do not get impatient

Once you have determined the size of your serving, consume it, and wait for the recommended time before considering consuming more. Do acknowledge from the get go that your first serving may be inefficient and stand your ground until you have waited for a sufficient amount of time.

4. Do expect potency

Consuming cannabis in edible form constitutes a completely different experience than that procured by a joint (see above). If you are prone to experience intense effects when out and about as opposed to quietly sitting at home, maybe do stay at home, and/or surround yourself with at least one sober person you trust.

5. Relax

Why is it that regular consumers of cannabis stop experiencing most of the “undesired” side-effects cannabis can be responsible for? Of course, there is the question of tolerance, one that develops over time in case of frequent use. Some effects however, such as paranoia or anxiety, simply disappear because they were never meant to be there to begin with.

A vicious circle of sorts takes place: one tries cannabis for the first time with apprehension, fear of the unknown escalates, eventually leading to anxiety and paranoia. Thus, if you embrace the experience with positivity, relax, and remember you are surrounded by trusted peers, cannabis will help mirroring all this back to you.

Are you an edible expert? Do you have tips and tricks? Challenging anecdotes about your first time dealing with an edible? Let us know in the comments.

And don’t forget: always help your novice friends by ensuring they are enjoying cannabis in a safe, friendly environment!

Author: Silent Jay @ Sensiseeds

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds

During winter, coughs and colds affect most of us. Although the simple, ubiquitous viruses that cause these common illnesses are very hard to “cure” outright, there are various ways that cannabis can be used to ease their symptoms. Read on to find out how to incorporate cannabis into your diet and health care regime to prevent and treat colds!

 

What causes Coughs and Colds in Winter?

The common cold is a viral, highly contagious illness, which is more likely to affect people during the winter months. Responsible for a range of symptoms including dry or chesty cough, runny or congested nose, sore throat, fever, and fatigue, the common cold is not caused by just one virus. Instead, it is associated with as many as 200 different strains.

One type of virus particularly associated with the common cold is the rhinovirus (with “rhino” meaning “nose”, this literally just means “nose-virus”!). There are three main species of rhinovirus, and at least 99 different serotypes (strains). As well as rhinovirus, the common cold is also associated with various strains of coronavirus, adenovirus, enterovirus, and influenza virus.

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds - Sensi Seeds Blog
Most common colds are caused by different types of rhinovirus (© wellcome images)

How Do Cold Viruses Cause Symptoms?

Cold viruses are passed from person to person by hand-to-hand and hand-to-surface contact, as well as airborne transmission of viral particles. Hence, it’s important to cover the mouth or nose while coughing or sneezing, and to wash hands regularly!

Once a cold virus has infected a human host, it gets to work – infiltrating the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and throat, and reproducing rapidly. For the most part, cold viruses such as rhinovirus don’t cause any particular damage to the body – they simply cause an immune response as the body recognises unwanted invaders exploiting its resources. But for immunocompromised people, or individuals suffering from asthma or COPD, catching a cold can be seriously bad news.

Many rhinovirus serotypes bind to an immune protein known as intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1). This protein is present on the outer cell membrane of certain epithelial cells (which make up the upper layer of the mucous membranes); the rhinovirus essentially hijacks it to gain entry to the interior of the cell. Once the virus has gained entry to its first host cell, it can take control of the cell and hijack its reproductive system in order to reproduce itself!

Usually, ICAM-1 helps cells adhere (stick together), particularly after injury or stress. But when it gets hijacked by the rhinovirus, it sparks off a release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (cell signalling proteins), which leads to inflammation of the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. This inflammatory response is key to the congested and sore feeling associated with having a cold. For most people, that’s pretty much the worst of it – but it can lead to severe complications, including pneumonia, for certain individuals.

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds - Sensi Seeds Blog
The common cold causes nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing (© tinafranklindg)

Cannabinoids and ICAM-1

The endocannabinoid system is now well-known to be deeply involved with the immune system, and cannabinoids have been repeatedly demonstrated to cause complex immunological effects. But when it comes to ICAM-1, there is sparse research available, and apparently nothing on the direct relationship between cannabinoids, ICAM-1 and rhinovirus.

There is evidence that cannabinoids can have an effect on ICAM-1 expression levels in certain situations. One study reveals that CBD and THC can both cause increased expression of ICAM-1 on breast cancer cells, which leads to an increased rate of cell “lysis” (cell death via disintegration of the membrane).

This may be good news for cancer research, but increased expression of ICAM-1 is certainly not what one needs when trying to prevent a rhinovirus from taking hold. In fact, there is evidence that rhinovirus can increase the expression of ICAM-1 in order to provide itself more hijacking opportunities! However, perhaps more useful is the discovery that certain cannabinoids can reduce the expression of ICAM-1 in other situations.

For example, the synthetic cannabinoid R(+)WIN 55,212-2 may indirectly block the expression of ICAM-1 by blocking the activity of interleukin-1, another important immunological protein. This particular study investigated MS and how cannabinoids can help slow its progression – and intriguingly, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that rhinovirus could be instrumental in the pathogenesis (development) of MS.

Clearly, there is still much to learn about the transmission and pathology of rhinovirus and other types of common cold virus – as well how all this relates to chronic autoimmune disorders like MS. But it’s clear that the endocannabinoid system is fundamentally involved, and there may be potential for certain cannabinoids to help prevent the transmission of rhinoviruses in certain situations, by reducing the expression of ICAM-1.

So How Can Cannabinoids Help Treat Coughs and Colds?

Despite all our best efforts, and no matter how healthy we are, it’s almost inevitable that sooner or later one of those 200 viruses is going to overcome the body’s defense systems and cause a cold or cough. When that happens, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to actually cure the illness – cold viruses are so numerous and so quick to mutate that developing effective antivirals and vaccines is all but impossible.

So when we catch cold, it is pretty much inevitable that we will have to let the virus run its course, and that we will feel significantly subpar for several days. But there are various ways in which we can ease the symptoms of colds and coughs – honey, salt-water gargles, saline drips, ibuprofen, or paracetamol may confer antiseptic, analgesic or anti-inflammatory benefits, for example.

So what about cannabis? There’s plenty of evidence that various compounds in cannabis have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. THCCBDCBC and CBG are all known to exert varying degrees of anti-inflammatory and analgesic action, and there are plenty of terpenes and terpenoids in cannabis with similar properties, such as linalool, limonene and eucalyptol.

As well as this, various cannabinoids and terpenoids are known for their relaxing, anti-anxiety or sedative effects. During times of illness, such properties may be very useful in increasing subjective feelings of wellbeing. Furthermore, common colds can also cause appetite loss in some people, and THC in particular has been repeatedly demonstrated to have appetite-stimulating properties.

How to Use Cannabis During a Cold

When we catch cold, we are likely to experience nasal congestion and sinus pain, sore throat, dry or chesty cough, and irritated eyes – and none of these symptoms are improved by smoking of any substance. Even vaping or dabbing will probably exacerbate sore throats and coughs – even if these methods are usually not as hot or as harsh as smoking itself.

For this reason, it’s best to stick to ediblestopicals, and anything else that doesn’t cause irritation to the throat and lungs. Hard candies infused with CBD or THC can help soothe throat inflammation and soreness. At least one US company, Jolly Meds, offers THC-CBD lozenges with added menthol and eucalyptus oils for added soothing and decongestant effects.

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds - Sensi Seeds Blog
Cough drops infused with cannabinoids and terpenoids may bring relief (© Jolly Meds)

Another method that many people report to provide subjective relief is cannabis tea. Teas and herbal infusions can offer soothing, warming and comforting relief from cold and cough symptoms, and when cannabis extracts are added, they may provide extra help in the fight against inflammation and pain.

There are various ways to make cannabis tea, but the general idea is to ensure that at least some fat or oil is used, in order to allow the cannabinoids to dissolve and infuse through the mixture. Hot water alone will not dissolve cannabinoids. Therefore, making some cannabutter or cannabis-infused milk and adding that to a hot-water infusion will yield improved results.

As well as cannabinoids themselves, various other plant compounds could provide benefits if infused into tea. For example, tea (particularly green tea) contains catechin flavonoids, which have been found to be beneficial against cold and flu viruses.

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds - Sensi Seeds Blog
Many people find that cannabis tea helps during a cold (© Radosław Kut)

Echinacea, Endocannabinoids & Rhinovirus

Interestingly, valuable insight into the endocannabinoid system’s response to rhinovirus comes from research into a plant that isn’t even cannabis – echinacea, which contains compounds known as alkylamides that bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. There is even some evidence that these natural “cannabimimetic” compounds exert a directly antiviral effect, reducing the duration of symptoms by up to four days.

Cannabis for Coughs and Colds - Sensi Seeds Blog
Echinacea contains cannabis-like compounds effective against cold (© Lumiere2005)

Echinacea has been demonstrated in clinical trials to significantly reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms. There are various compounds in the plant thought to have an effect, including cichoric acid (a natural antioxidant), various polysaccharides, and the aforementioned alkylamides.

Echinacea’s biological activity is complex and still not fully understood, and it has been shown that the active compounds within it work in ways that may be either CB receptor-dependent or independent. But what is certain is that the endocannabinoid system is fundamentally involved.

In one 2009 study, echinacea extracts high in alkylamides were shown to cause a reduction in the pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor A (TNF-α), and an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 – through activation of the CB2 receptors.

Furthermore, this study suggested that root and leaf extracts, which contained different alkylamide profiles, were more effective in combination than alone, suggesting that echinacea has an “entourage effect” of its own.

Therefore, use of both cannabis and echinacea extracts can benefit people suffering from coughs and colds, in various complex ways that are yet to be fully researched. Although the common cold is generally not a serious risk to health, it is nonetheless responsible for up to 40% of employee absences from work due to illness in the US, and throughout the world, billions of dollars are spent each year on remedies that may be of little to no effectiveness.

We have a lot left to learn about how these complex biological mechanisms interact and exert their effects, but as time goes on, it’s increasingly clear that we need to completely rethink plant medicine and radically reassess its potential contribution to human health.

Author: Seshata @ Sensiseeds

Top 5 reasons to grow organic cannabis

Many small-scale growers who intend to smoke their harvest themselves already grow organic cannabis; the same can be said for most medical growers in the U.S., both caregivers and dispensaries. However, commercial growers for the recreational market often don’t grow organically, due to various outdated misconceptions.

 

Improved yield

A close up image of a hand pouring brown compost liquid from a glass into potted plant soil. A plant is growing from the soil.

One of the primary concerns of commercial growers is the possibility of reduced yield when growing organically. However, this is not necessarily the case—and in fact, if all conditions are optimum, you may be able to achieve higher yields than if using conventional methods.

If the micro-environment is not optimum, yields may well be comparatively lower than with non-organic grows. This was certainly the case in the past; however, commercially-available organic fertilisers, growing media, and additives have improved greatly over the years, along with the understanding of how best to utilise them.

One major new innovation in organic growing is the development of “super-soil”—a growing medium that has been painstakingly tweaked in order to contain exactly what cannabis needs to grow in abundance, without the need for fertiliser. With this method, you can give your plants nothing but water and achieve incredible results.

Prepared mixes are commercially available; however, “super-soil” can be easily homemade from organic potting soil mixed with worm castings, blood meal, bone meal, guano, and various other additives. Preparing your own means you can develop the precise mix for your preferred strain.

Increased potency

Giving your cannabis plants exactly what they need, down to the very last microbe in the soil, is a fundamental part of contemporary organic growing. Like any plant, cannabis has specific and highly complex requirements to grow optimally, and matching those requirements as accurately as possible allows your plants to achieve their full potential.

Conventional nutrient systems are relatively simple in their make-up, containing just the basic nutrients required for cannabis to survive and grow. There are six essential macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium) and six essential micronutrients (manganese, boron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and iron) that are present in most nutrient mixes for cannabis.

Conversely, organic nutrient systems often contain other trace elements that can provide extra benefits to cannabis, even if they are not traditionally classed as essential. Nickel, sodium, cobalt and chlorine are all examples of nutrients that have been demonstrated to be beneficial for higher plants such as cannabis, but are often overlooked in commercial feeds. Organic growers the world over report that organically-grown cannabis is superior in effect and potency due to the complex make-up of the nutrient mixes used.

Improved flavour and aroma

A photograph of a flowering marijuana plant. Hints of purple can be seen in the buds and leaves.”

Organically-grown cannabis is widely considered superior in flavour and aroma to conventionally-grown cannabis for similar reasons to those outlined above. As the micro-environment is optimised for vigorous, healthy growth, plants are able to produce optimum quantities of terpenes and terpenoids as well as cannabinoids themselves.

Terpenes and terpenoids are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis and many other plants their fragrance. Dozens of these compounds are present in cannabis, and are responsible for giving its strain its sweet, citrus, spicy or pine-like aroma. The more abundant these terpenes and terpenoids are, the more fragrant and flavoursome your final product will be.

Richer microbiome

Another aspect of organic cannabis cultivation that can enable improved yields, flavour and potency is the richness of the soil microbiome (“microbiome” refers to the community of microbes present in a particular environment). Organic soil mixes are complex living ecosystems in their own right, which contain an abundance of bacteria, fungi and other microscopic organisms such as nematode worms; the sterile environment found within many non-organic growing media does not support this level of complexity.

A substantial amount of research into cannabis and other important crops has demonstrated that establishing a rich soil microbiome has multiple benefits—it enables nitrogen fixing and water retention, stimulates growth and helps to prevent diseases of the roots. Making your own super-soil and leaving it to mature for around thirty days before use allows an abundance of fungi and other beneficial microorganisms to establish a niche and populate the soil.

Organic compost tea is another excellent way of culturing the beneficial bacteria required for a healthy microbiome. Compost tea involves steeping well-made compost in water and constantly running a bubbler to provide oxygen (allowing conditions inside the “brewer” to become anaerobic cause unhealthy bacteria to develop instead of the beneficial types).

Lighter environmental impact

A photograph of a gloved hand feeling the soil in a large white pot. Also visible around the pot are flowers, a yellow rain boot, and the concrete ground.

Of course, the least environmentally-impacting way to grow cannabis is to grow outdoors in natural sunlight, as the single greatest environmental impact of cannabis growing is electricity consumption when growing indoors. However, persistent unfavourable legislation in many countries ensures that cannabis is grown indoors, even if the local climate can support outdoor cultivation!

For ultimate green credentials, organic outdoor growing is the clear winner, but if this is not a viable option for you, at the very least care can be taken to minimise overall environmental impact indoors. Growing organically is one important way of reducing overall impact, as production of organic nutrients generally requires less processing compared to conventional nutrients (which also require substantial use of energy to produce, mostly derived from fossil fuels). Furthermore, organic pest-control techniques are often far less environmentally impacting—for example, ladybirds (or “ladybugs” in the U.S.) can be used to control spider mites, negating the need for the toxic chemical brews used in conventional growing.

Author: Seshata @ Sensiseeds

 

Top 6 benefits of cannabis for migraine

Chronic migraine is a painful and debilitating condition that affects up to 5% of people worldwide. The biological mechanism behind migraine is still not fully understood, but it is known to be fundamentally associated with serotonin signalling. Cannabis, which also affects the serotonin system, has been shown to reduce symptoms.

 

1. Analgesic: pain reducing

Migraine is a painful condition that can be treated with cannabis (© r.nial.bradshaw)
Migraine is a painful condition that can be treated with cannabis (© r.nial.bradshaw)

The most immediately-apparent one of all benefits of cannabis for migraine sufferers is its ability to reduce pain, which can be intense and even immobilizing in many sufferers. It is thought that the body’s own endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide reduce the pain of migraine by regulating the entry of pain signals into the brain via the CB1-receptors.

A 2013 paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience demonstrated that sufferers of chronic migraine experience pain due to sensitization of trigeminovascular nociceptive pathways (pathways of the pain-sensing trigeminovascular nerves of the cranium); cannabinoids are known to inhibit pain responses of the trigeminovascular nerves, indicating one means via which cannabis can reduce migraine pain.

As well as the cranial nerves, CB1-receptors in the neurons surrounding the brainstem are antagonized by endocannabinoids to inhibit transmission of pain stimuli from the brainstem to other parts of the brain, ultimately providing a dual benefit to individuals experiencing migraine.

2. Serotonin inhibitor

It has been known for some time that there is a relationship between the serotonin signalling system and the incidence of migraine. Immediately prior to an attack, serotonin levels increase dramatically, then fall to below-normal levels following the attack.

In 1985, a study was published investigating the effects of Δ9-THC and CBD on serotonin release from blood platelets that had been incubated with plasma obtained from patients undergoing episodes of migraine. It was concluded that Δ9-THC at various concentrations had an statistically significant inhibitory effect on serotonin released from the platelets.

Conversely, plasma obtained from patients during attack-free periods showed no inhibitory effect on serotonin release, despite being treated with Δ9-THC at the same concentrations. Furthermore, CBD showed no significant inhibitory effect either on plasma from attack-free periods or from attack periods.

This study, and various similar studies that have been conducted since then demonstrate that cannabis Δ9-THC inhibits serotonin release during migraine attacks but not in migraine-free periods, and that CBD has a negligible effect in either situation.

3. Vasoconstrictor

It is thought that the pain of migraine is partly caused by a complex process of widening and narrowing of blood vessels in the cranium; when the blood flows through a wider section of blood vessel then meets a narrowed section, the pressure of the blood attempting to flow through the suddenly-reduced channel cause waves of intense pain. Generally, it is thought that serotonin release causes the larger veins and arteries to become constricted, while the smaller peripheral veins become dilated.

Immediately before an attack, visual disturbances are common (© Tudedude)
Immediately before an attack, visual disturbances are common (© Tudedude)

Due to this, vasoconstrictor drugs (drugs that narrow the blood vessels) are often used in the treatment and prophylaxis of migraine, as the likelihood of pain is reduced if the dilation effect does not happen. Cannabis has a known vasoconstrictor effect, and it is believed that its efficacy at reducing migraine pain is partly due to this.

4. Preventative

In the period immediately before a migraine attack, serotonin release increases. This is itself is not necessarily discernible to the individual, but there are several discernible signs that may be present that can indicate to a sufferer that an episode is about to commence, such as auras or other visual disturbances. As well as improving the symptoms of individuals experiencing the full pain of an attack, if cannabis is taken as soon as initial symptoms are noticed, it may actually prevent the onset of migraine entirely.

As previously mentioned, imbalances in serotonin levels are associated with onset of migraines, and it has been variously demonstrated that there is a relationship between the endocannabinoid system and the serotonin signalling system, and that use of cannabinoids can lead to a reduction of serotonin levels. As serotonin release increases immediately prior to a migraine, use of cannabinoids at this point may inhibit the abnormal increase and prevent the resultant processes that lead to the generation of migraine.

5. Anti-tremor benefits

Sufferers of chronic migraine are at risk of developing a common movement disorder known as essential tremor (ET). ET is characterized by uncontrollable shaking, typically of the hands and arms but occasionally affecting the head or vocal cords, and often becomes worse if attempting to use the affected body part, e.g. for writing or talking.

While there have been no studies specifically investigating the relationship between migraine-induced essential tremor and cannabis use, there are some anecdotal reports of migraine sufferers experiencing subjective relief from tremor after using cannabis. There is also abundant research into the ability of cannabis to improve tremors in a range of other conditions, several of which (such as Parkinson’s) may cause tremors via similar biological mechanisms at work in migraine.

Again, it appears that the serotonin signalling system may have a fundamental role to play in the manifestation of tremor symptoms, in Parkinson’s and related conditions as well as in chronic migraine. Specifically, it appears that low serotonin is often associated with tremors; while cannabis may inhibit serotonin release from the platelets in cases of migraine, it has also been shown to induce synthesis  of serotonin in other studies, so it may have a role to play in raising serotonin to normals levels in individuals suffering from depleted levels.

6. cannabis as an Anti-nausea remedy

Serotonin released from the blood platelets causes migraine pain (© Euthman)
Serotonin released from the blood platelets causes migraine pain (© Euthman)

Nausea is a common side-effect of migraine, and is also thought to be associated with depleted serotonin levels immediately following migraine attack. Cannabis has been demonstrated to be an effective anti-nausea remedy for various serious conditions, as well as lessening the nausea experienced as a side-effect of chemotherapy.

While there have been no specific studies into the ability of cannabis to manage migraine-induced nausea, there are numerous anecdotal reports of patients self-medicating with cannabis and experiencing subjective relief. There are also various other conditions in which excess serotonin can cause nausea that can be managed by cannabis; for example, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy that experience nausea due to excess serotonin irritating the gastrointestinal tract.

Author: Seshata @ Sensiseeds

Top 5 benefits of cannabis for cancer sufferers

Much is being made of the potential of cannabis to cure cancer, but the scientific community is far from reaching consensus on this. However, what is far more certain is cannabis’ ability to improve quality of life for cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. Here, we look at how it can help.

 

1. Cannabis as an Antiemetic/antinauseant

Nausea and vomiting are extremely common side-effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs (primarily cisplatin) cause nausea by producing excess serotonin in specialised enterochromaffin cells, which are found in high concentrations in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The excess serotonin irritates the mucosa (inner lining) of the GI tract and stimulates the serotonin (HT-5) receptors of the vagus nerve— the main nerve controlling the parasympathetic nervous system of the GI tract. The vagus nerve then sends stimuli to the area postrema—a small area within the medulla oblongata (lower brainstem) that is known as the vomiting centre.

Cannabinoids (particularly CBD) are thought to reduce symptoms in chemotherapy patients by binding to the HT-5 receptors and blocking the action of serotonin. Cannabinoid receptor agonists such as THC also appear to directly suppress vomiting and nausea by agonising the CB1-receptor –while antagonists of the CB receptors such as CBD are neutral, and inverse agonists actually cause nausea.

This suggests there is a role for both THC and CBD in managing nausea and vomiting—THC by agonising the CB1-receptor and CBD by antagonising the HT-5 receptors and blocking serotonin binding.

2. Appetite stimulation by cannabis

Chemotherapy drugs are well-known to cause anorexia (appetite loss), also partly due to their effects on the serotonin signalling system.

Studies have demonstrated that presence of cisplatin leads to excess production of serotonin and overstimulation of the vagus nerve. This then leads to a reduction of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’ that is secreted when the stomach is empty. Without ghrelin, the brain does not receive the stimuli needed to produce sensations of hunger.

Various studies have shown that presence of ghrelin or cannabinoid agonists such as THC cause increased production of an enzyme—AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)—in the hypothalamus. The enzyme is crucial to the metabolic processes that regulate energy homeostasis (energy balance) in the body, and is produced in response to stimulation of the GHS-R1a ghrelin receptors found in the GI tract.

Thus, THC can effectively do the job of ghrelin by activating the receptors and directly stimulating the brain to produce sensations of hunger.

3. Antidiarrhoeal

Diarrhoea can be a side-effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and may also be a direct symptom of several cancers, including lymphoma, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and some carcinomas and neuroendocrine cancers.

If episodes are prolonged, diarrhoea can cause dehydration, weight loss, fever and abdominal pain. Secretory diarrhoea, where the body release excess water or hormones into the GI tract, is the most common form associated with cancer.

Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce symptoms of secretory diarrhoea—particularly Δ9-THC, which agonises the CB1-receptors in the GI tract and thereby assists in the regulation of intestinal motility and secretions.

Intestinal inflammation may also play a part in causing diarrhoea; use of cannabinoids is well-known to reduce inflammation.

4. Analgesic – cannabis for pain relieve

Cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy often report pain including headaches, sore muscles, stomach ache and neuralgia (nerve pain). Much of the pain arising as a result of chemotherapy occurs due to inflammation, although it may also be caused by the formation of lesions or ulcers in the mucous membranes.

As well as this, the disease itself can cause severe pain in its latter stages, often due to tumours exerting pressure on nerves, bones or organs as they grow.

Cannabis is widely used in the management of chronic pain arising from a range of conditions not limited to cancer. Cannabis’ ability to reduce inflammation is crucially important in the management of pain arising due to chemotherapy.

Both antagonists such as CBD and agonists such as THC (and the endogenous agonist 2-AG) are thought to reduce inflammation by inhibiting macrophage function—macrophages are large, specialised white blood cells that are fundamental to various immune responses.

Furthermore, the hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) and neuropathic pain that occurs due to tumour-induced damage to the peripheral nerves may be directly controlled through use of cannabinoids.

Studies have shown that cannabinoid receptor agonists such as THC and the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 reduce hyperalgesia in deep tissues affected by tumour growth, by agonising the cannabinoid receptors on the nociceptors, or pain-sensing neurons.

5. Antidepressant

Depression in cancer patients is one of the most overlooked symptoms, but can be severely detrimental to quality of life, and is experienced by the majority of  sufferers. If untreated, depression can lead to a range of complications that can work together to effectively make the patient even more ill—for example, the appetite loss associated with chemotherapy can be significantly increased in depressed patients.

It may also affect sleep quality and stress levels, both of which can lead to physiological health issues. Cancer patients treated with antidepressants also report feeling reduced fatigue, anxiety, and pain.

The ability of cannabis to treat depression is disputed, and there is substantial evidence on both sides. Several studies have indicated that Δ9-THC, CBD, and cannabichromene (CBC) can exert an antidepressant effect. The endocannabinoid system is known to play an important role in mood regulation and subjective levels of happiness, and endocannabinoids such as anandamide are fundamental to the process.

It is believed that certain genetic variations in the expression of CB1-receptorsrender some individuals more susceptible to the mood-elevating effects of cannabis.

Cannabis may not benefit every individual suffering from cancer, and may even cause adverse effects in a small number of people—although any adverse effects experienced are usually far less severe than the side-effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

However, as our understanding of the properties of cannabis increases, we are beginning to comprehend just how important it could be in the management of cancer symptoms. Drugs with the ability to simultaneously treat a broad set of symptoms such as nausea, anorexia and diarrhoea are rare, and those can do so without causing severe side-effects of their own are rarer still.

Author: Seshata @ Sensiseeds

The Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Can you name all of the parts of the cannabis plant? Can you explain what they all do? Do you want to be able to? This article gives an introduction to the anatomy of a cannabis plant, and whether you are a novice or a more experienced gardener, we hope you find it entertaining and interesting!

 

Roots

Appearance:

The roots of cannabis plants are long, white, and grow in a tangled mass directly down from the base of the plant. The main, thickest root is called the taproot and is the first root to appear when the seed germinates. That tiny thread develops into the main below-ground life support system for the whole plant.

The tap root, and the main roots, terminate in what is known as the root apex, which is tipped by the root cap. The root cap is a mass of cells which protect the hypersensitive tip of the roots, and also tell the plant which way is down – one of the reasons that it is important to be very careful with the ends of the roots!

The cannabis roots which grow at a rough perpendicular angle from the taproot are called the lateral roots. The entire root system is covered with a layer of fine white root hairs, so small that they can look like a coating of short silky fur. Although they are individually tiny, their combined surface area is far larger than it appears at first glance. This significantly increases the amount of water and nutrients that can be absorbed.

Role played in cannabis plant life cycle:

Cannabis roots absorb the minerals, nutrients and water from the substrate that the plant needs for photosynthesis, and store energy in the form of starches and sugars made by photosynthesis. Water is absorbed by cannabis roots in the bottom third of the root system, but they should never be left in a water-saturated substrate as they can drown in a matter of hours.

Oxygen is absorbed by specialized roots in the upper third of the root system. It is then used to convert the stored starch back into energy. This is especially vital during the flowering period, when the amount of photosynthesis that can occur is limited by the 12/12 light cycle so the plant relies on stored energy to create large healthy flowers.

Naturally, the other vital function of the cannabis plant’s root system is to keep it firmly anchored in its substrate. In free soil, some varieties, such as Durban, are capable of putting down tap roots up to two metres long, and others, like the Hindu Kush, can create a web that will withstand small storms.

 Uses:

There are more uses for the roots of cannabis plants than many growers think! They are traditionally believed to have medicinal properties despite containing only miniscule levels of cannabinoids, and have been used in teas, poultices and even juice. This post goes into depth about the many uses of cannabis roots. And as a final tip, one of our commenters advises that the roots should be pulled on a New Moon, as this is when all the goodness is present in the highest quantities; this is a tip received from the Berber people of Morocco, who make frequent use of cannabis roots.

Stem and branches

Appearance:

Healthy cannabis plant stems can range in colour from vivid lime green to deep burgundy. In the early stages of growth, it is normal for them to appear a bit scaly, because the rate of growth outstrips the ability of the outer skin to stretch. On close inspection, a fine coating of tiny white hairs covers the stems. As the plant matures, vertical ridges from base to top become more pronounced.

The stem is divided by its nodes into sections called internodes. The nodes are the points at which the leaves, and later the branches, sprout out from the stem.

Role played in cannabis plant life cycle:

Healthy stems and branches are obviously essential for healthy buds! Not only do they transport essential building blocks of plant life to the leaves and flowers, they are the skeleton around which the buds will form. The stem of a cannabis plant is a highway for water, nutrients and minerals coming up from the roots in one direction, and newly produced starches and sugars that are not immediately converted into new plant matter going back down to the roots in the other.

In much the same way as human muscle is formed and increased by the muscle fibres tearing and then re-healing, cannabis stems and branches become thicker and stronger through the production of cellulose when the plants are moved by airflow. This is why it is essential to provide sufficient airflow for indoor grows; fans for ventilation are not usually sufficient to do this, so extra fans must create an artificial breeze. If the plants are visibly moving, this is a good indication that enough cellulose is being made.

In some varieties grown for extra large yields, such as Big Bud, the stems are sometimes not up to the task of supporting the weight of the buds even with enough air movement. Using stakes or plastic threads is usually sufficient to give enough extra help to the stems.

However, there is sometimes a good reason to (partially) break the branches on purpose. The technique known as ‘supercropping’ relies on the tops of branches being bent over to a 90 degree angle to the lower part. This creates a controlled, moderate amount of stress, causing the plant to produce extra branches and colas.

Uses:

If growing industrial hemp, the stems are one of the primary crops, highly valued for their bast fibres – the longest and strongest in the plant kingdom. Plants grown for this purpose can easily reach four metres in height, thanks to their exceptional stems.

Stems from plants from the psychoactive side of the family can be used to brew mild tea for the relief of headaches and nausea. Although there has, to our knowledge, been no large-scale testing of stems for their cannabinoid content, there have been some tests on stems. These revealed some THCA, negligible amounts of CBN and CBD, and surprisingly varied amounts of THC – out of three one-gram samples tested, two had barely any, but one contained over 80mg of THC

Leaves

Appearance:

An infographic shows three different strains of cannabis in a simple two-dimensional style. The top image shows a sativa leaf. The sativa leaf is thinner, lighter green and has more petals. Below it is an indica leaf. The indica leaf is thicker, with fewer petals, and is a darker green. Below that is the ruderalis leaf. The ruderalis leaf is medium green, smaller, with fewer petals spaced far apart.

The leaves are undoubtedly the most iconic part of the cannabis plant, almost universally recognised and adorning everything from t-shirts to tea-cosies. In their nascent stages, they have only one ‘leaflet’, or ‘finger’, as they are more commonly known. This number increases with the plant’s age and amount of leaves until usually about nine, although it can be as many as fifteen. These leaves are known as the feeder leaves, as their role is to feed the plant by soaking up as much light as possible.

The tiny leaves that protrude from the buds themselves in the later stages of flowering are known as the sugar leaves. This is due to their frequent coating of trichomes, giving the leaves a sparkling appearance as though they are coated with sugar.

More than any other parts of the cannabis plant, the leaves and the flowers vary in appearance depending on the strain, and on which part of the cannabis family the plant is from. Indicasativa and ruderalis can all, with a little practice, be identified by their distinctive leaves. This diagram illustrates those differences, and this section of our Frequently Asked Questions explains them in more detail.

Role played in cannabis plant life cycle:

The appearance of cannabis leaves can also give very important indications of the overall health of the plant – what it might lack, and what it might be getting too much of, in terms of nutrients, minerals, water, heat, and light.

The main purpose of the leaves, however, is to act as the tiny green photosynthesis factories that convert water, brought to the leaves from the roots, and light, absorbed by the chloroplasts in the leaf, into chemical energy. This energy then combines with carbon dioxide, which enters the leaves through the stomata (tiny holes in the bottom of the leaf) to make sugars, which fuel the plant’s growth.

This post, one of our most frequently consulted, covers cannabis leaves in detail.

Uses:

In years gone by, the leaves were considered pretty useless unless they were attached to the plant and helping it grow. Now, we know better, as the benefits of juicing and even cooking with cannabis leaves are becoming more well known. The sugar leaves can be smoked, or used to make psychoactive edibles.

The fan leaves don’t have enough trichomes to make them worth smoking, and all they would do is give you a headache! However, we do have suggestions for other things to do with them. Many are mentioned in the post linked to above, and this video explores the health benefits of cannabis leaf juice.

Buds

Appearance:

An elaborate infographic showing a photograph of a fully grown female cannabis plant. Highlighted are the buds, leaves, and internode node as well as the roots. Nearly each element is further diagrammed. Close up imagery reveals more detail and information. A close up image of the male plant is also shown in the top right corner.

Probably the most stared-at part of the cannabis plant, the flowers, or buds, can exhibit as many variations as roses, tulips, or any other flower bred for specific characteristics. They are also the part of the plant that displays its sex. Despite various urban myths to the contrary, the only way of telling whether a cannabis plant is male or female is to wait for the start of the flowering period, and examine the internodes.

This is the point where developing flowers could produce the tell-tale V-shape of white hairs that the majority of growers hope to see, and indicate the plant is female. If those hairs don’t appear, the emerging flowers will be male and eventually produce balls (a trait which makes it really easy to remember how to tell male from female).

As the buds thicken and grow, they cluster ever more densely around the stems to create the classic candle shapes known as colas. Looking at the buds closely, especially with a magnifying glass or loupe, reveals the trichomes. These tiny mushroom-shaped glands are where the cannabinoids are located, and are also responsible for the sparkling appearance of the buds.

The colours of these treasured flowers can range almost the full length of the colour spectrum, from almost white to almost black, with the most common shades between being greens, oranges, reds and purples.

Role played in cannabis plant life cycle: 

The flowers are the reproductive organs of the plant. Cannabis is dioecious, which means plants are male or female, although they can also be hermaphrodite under certain circumstances. Once they are ripe, the balls produced by the male flowersopen and release pollen which is carried by the wind (or by a clean paintbrush, if you’re a breeder) to the female flowers. Once it reaches the stigmas – the two hairs coming out of the pistil, the smallest part of the flower structure – it works its way to the egg cells, and a seed begins to form.

Uses:

If you have to ask about the uses of cannabis flowers, you’re in the right place! There are too many to list here, so instead, simply choose from our blog categories and see what appeals to you. Our posts are organised into medicinalculturalconsumptioncultivationvideoslegal and politicalopinionstrains, and Sensi Seeds News.                 

Seeds

Appearance:

Cannabis seeds vary in size from that of a large match-head to a little larger than a pin-head. Their colour is all the shades of brown, from tan to almost black, and often they are speckled or tiger-striped. The seeds are oval, rounded, and slightly flattened at one end with a point at the other. The skin has a slight sheen, and many people consider them to be as beautiful as the flowers, in their own way!

Role played in plant life cycle:

It all starts with a seed, as the saying goes! The seeds contain the precious genetic material plus all the stored energy needed to start the life of the plant. Germinationis the beginning of that life; seeing the husk split open and the first tiny white root emerge is always exciting.

Uses:

Apart from the obvious use, which is growing cannabis plants, cannabis seeds are a rich source of nutrition due to their high oil content. If pressed to make hempseed oil, the husks that remain can be used as animal feed. The seeds can also be ground to make hemp protein powder. Naturally, the seeds used for nutrition are from industrial hemp plants rather than their more expensive psychoactive cousins!

Author: Scarlett Palmer @ Sensiseeds