Introductions

My name is Ethan Carruthers and I'm a medical cannabis pharmacist. While working at LeafLine Labs I became a passionate supporter of the use of cannabis in medicine. On this site, I want to provide a resource to people interested in using medical cannabis for their ailments. As a medical professional, I can provide unique knowledge and experience in the use of medical cannabis as a serious practitioner and not just a "bud tender" making unsupported recommendations. In this blog, I plan to discuss topics in medical cannabis I'm interested in and educate others on the role that medical cannabis can play in evidence-based Western medicine.

When I first started at LeafLine Labs, I knew nothing about cannabis nor the endocannabinoid system. I was skeptical of cannabis because it is used to treat a variety of unrelated conditions and has the surface appearance of a "cure-all". If there's one thing we know about cure-alls, it’s that they cure nothing.

However, after studying the deep pharmacology of the endocannabinoid system, it became clear why medical cannabis can be used for so many conditions. The endocannabinoid system functions as a feedback loop, shifting things back towards homeostasis in whatever system it operates. For example, in the brain, anandamide and 2-AG (our endocannabinoids) operate to reduce neuronal excitation when excitation gets to be excessive. Overexcitation in the brain can actually be quite damaging. For example, epilepsy is akin to an electrical storm in the brain and the result is very visible in a patient having one. 

Most of the standard drugs we have that are effective against epilepsy basically affect the "brakes" of the brain in one way or another usually affecting the universal brakes of the brain called GABA or certain sodium channels. These drugs apply the brakes in the brain to stop or prevent seizure acuity. Cannabis on the other hand, actually lets up on the brakes somewhat (GABA) but instead affects the accelerator of the brain called glutamate.  Basically, if a neuron senses too much signal being transmitted through it, it sends a signal to the neurons that are signaling it to back off. The signaling neurons sense this and also signal the other neurons to quiet down. No other drugs affect the accelerator of the brain like this which is why cannabis is so effective in intractable epilepsy when all other drugs fail like in Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastault syndrome.

Cannabis’ ability to reign in neuronal excitotoxicity is also incredibly useful in other conditions where neuronal overactivity is a problem, such as multiple sclerosis, nerve pain, obsessive compulsive disorders, Tourette syndrome, sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD and other disorders. In addition, the effect of cannabis on neuronal death in spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and stroke due to excitotoxicity is so potent that it could be used in emergency medicine to reduce the cascade of cell death that is the hallmark of neuronal injury. This excitotoxic cascade is what typically causes neurons to die in tremendous numbers around the injury site. Damaged or killed neurons leak out their glutamate, which signals the neurons around them to go into a suicidal overdrive, spreading away from the initial site of injury. Cannabis can stop that cascade and even prevent paralysis if injected into damaged spinal columns. 

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you return soon!

 

 

Ethan Carruthers