Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘endocannabinoid

The Miracle Of Healing.

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Whatever your religious belief, if any, the stories of Christ’s miraculous healing have persisted for more than 2,000 years. Such legends develop from oral history and we can never be certain how much is truth, how much is myth and what is a combination of both.  Those of faith carry their own certainty in their soul.  What is remarkable is the coincidence of several factors that together strongly suggest that the Holy anointing oil used by Christ, his disciples and other healers of the time may have contained cannabis as one of its major active ingredients.

The recipe for Holy anointing oil appeared in ancient Hebrew texts and, unsurprisingly, there are conflicting views about translation.

‘Kaneh-bosm’ ‘qneh-bism’, etc, etc are variants on a word used in ancient Hebrew texts which can be interpreted, credibly, as cannabis.  So can ‘calamus’ or ‘sweet calamus’. Different sources seem to use the words interchangeably.  However, if you add in the other factors, the healing, the region, its flora, the archaeological evidence and the well established use of cannabis in the region at the time then there is a very, very strong hypothesis.  To anyone who understands the miraculous healing properties of cannabis, now explained by modern science it seems common sense.

One CLEAR member, David Boylan, wrote these beautiful words about his faith and cannabis:

“God must have spent a lot of time and effort to produce your endocannabinoid system.

 An incredibly complex neurological system in everyone, with the sole purpose of being a receptor for cannabinoids. That must have taken our creator a lot of thought and effort to design…

Trillions of cells devoted to receiving THC and other compounds found ONLY in cannabis. God also ensured that this plant shows up all over the world and grows all around man where ever he looked… So God took all that care for what?

Did God say – “Let there be cannabis”? Then said “Let man have an endocannabinoid system which is stimulated only by cannabis”?

Then did he say…”And now let man get an £80 fixed penalty ticket if man uses it?? Did he say that? NO! Makes no sense, and there is nowhere in the bible I can find that.

I can’t see why Christians don’t have a problem with the government making Gods work illegal? Who are the government to ban God’s work?

It must have been God’s intent for us to at least experiment with cannabis.

That is my only logical conclusion, knowing the facts about the endocannabinoid system. The only conclusion I can make on a creator and pot.”


Peter Reynolds’ Letter Published In The Daily Telegraph, 18th April 2014

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Cannabis And Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Medicalization And Recreational Use

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Reproduced from Pharmacology Matters,
the Newsletter of the British Pharmacological Society
Volume 3 Issue 2, December 2010

By Professor Roger Pertwee

Discovery of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol

Cannabis has been used as a medicine, for religious ceremonies and recreationally for over 5000 years. Indeed, an alcohol-containing tincture of cannabis (Figure 1) was a licensed medicine in the UK until its withdrawal in the early 1970’s.

In contrast, the discovery that cannabis contains (–)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and that many of the effects experienced when cannabis is taken recreationally are caused by this ‘phytocannabinoid’ was made less than 100 years ago (Pertwee, 2006). These effects include altered mood (usually euphoria); altered perception such that colours seem brighter, music more pleasant and ‘felt time’ appears to pass more slowly than ‘clock time’; an increased desire for sweet food (the ‘munchies’); changes in thought processes; impaired memory…and eventual drowsiness. They can also include increased heart rate, a lowering of blood pressure resulting in dizziness and, at high doses, hallucinations and feelings of paranoia. There is good evidence too that Δ9-THC targets the reward centres of the brain in a manner that can lead to psychological dependence, and that abrupt termination of repeated use of cannabis or Δ9-THC can trigger a transient physical withdrawal syndrome that in abstaining recreational cannabis users most commonly includes disturbed sleep, reduced appetite, restlessness, irritability, sweating, chills, a feverish feeling and nausea.

Some Cannabinoid Pharmacology

The discovery of Δ9-THC was followed by the development of synthetic compounds capable of inducing Δ9-THC-like effects. Results obtained from pharmacological research with some of these compounds culminated in the discovery that they produce many of their central effects by activating specific sites on nerve terminals called cannabinoid CB1 receptors in a manner that influences the normal functioning of the brain (Pertwee, 2006). This finding prompted a search for molecules within our own bodies that can activate these receptors and, in 1992, led to a second major discovery – that we do indeed produce and release such molecules. The first of these ‘endocannabinoids’ to be identified was an ethanolamide of the omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid. It was named
‘anandamide’, ananda being the Sanskrit word for internal bliss. It has subsequently emerged that there is at least one other cannabinoid receptor (CB2), that there are other endocannabinoids, and that this ‘endocannabinoid system’ of receptors and endogenous receptor activators plays major roles in the control of our health and in ameliorating unwanted symptoms such as pain.

The search is now on for additional cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. Indeed, we have obtained evidence that ethanolamides, which are converted in our bodies from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found, for example, in fish oil, can both activate cannabinoid receptors and attack cancer cells (Brown et al., 2010).

The Medicalization Of Cannabinoids

Fig. 1. Tincture Of Cannabis

Individual cannabinoids first entered the clinic in the 1980’s (Crowther et al., 2010). The first of these was Nabilone (Cesamet), a synthetic Δ9-THC-like compound that is used to suppress nausea and vomiting produced by cancer chemotherapy. Synthetic Δ9-THC (Marinol) was licensed soon after Nabilone for the same purpose, and subsequently as an appetite stimulant, particularly for AIDS patients. Nabilone
and Marinol were recently joined in the clinic by Sativex: in Canada (2005) for the relief of multiple sclerosis and cancer pain and in the UK (2010) to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Sativex has also received regulatory authorisation in Spain. Its main constituents are two phytocannabinoids, Δ9-THC and cannabidiol, both extracted from cannabis.

Importantly, whereas exogenously administered cannabis and individual cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC and Nabilone target all cannabinoid receptors in the body and so ‘flood’ the whole endocannabinoid system, endocannabinoids released endogenously are somewhat more selective since they seem to be released in a manner that only targets subpopulations of their receptors. Although such release is often ‘autoprotective’ it can sometimes be ‘autoimpairing’, leading for example to CB1 receptor-mediated obesity. There is, however, currently little interest in developing medicines from compounds that block CB1 receptors, as such a blockade could well also suppress CB1 receptor-mediated autoprotection. Indeed, the CB1 receptor blocking drug, Rimonabant, was recently withdrawn from the clinic because of an increased incidence of depression and suicidality in patients taking it as an anti-obesity agent.

The fact that Cesamet, Marinol and Sativex are all in the clinic is of course an indication that, as prescribed, these medicines do significantly more good than harm. Even so, there is considerable interest in developing a second generation of cannabinoid medicines that display even greater ‘benefit-torisk ratios’ (Pertwee, 2009). Possibilities include compounds that avoid the production of unwanted cannabinoid CB1 receptor-mediated effects by:

(1) Only activating cannabinoid receptors that are located outside the brain and spinal cord.

(2) Only activating cannabinoid receptors in particular tissues such as skin or spinal cord by being administered directly into these tissues.

(3) Activating cannabinoid CB2 but not cannabinoid CB1 receptors.

(4) Being administered at low doses that produce a cannabinoid receptor-mediated enhancement of the sought after effects of  non-cannabinoid medicines but are insufficient to produce significant cannabinoid receptor-mediated unwanted side effects.

(5) Boosting the levels of endocannabinoids when these are being released in an ‘autoprotective’ manner, for example to relieve pain.

(6) Targeting ‘allosteric’ sites that we have discovered to be present on cannabinoid CB1 receptors in a manner that will boost the ability of autoprotectively released endocannabinoids to activate these receptors.

Cannabis: A Complex Scenario

Δ9-THC is synthesized in the cannabis plant from a nonpsychoactive precursor, Δ9-THC acid. This process can be greatly accelerated by heat which is why cannabis is usually smoked, often with tobacco, consumed in preheated food or inhaled from ‘volcano’ vaporizers that create fumes by heating cannabis without burning it or producing smoke. Other pharmacologically active phytocannabinoids can also be
formed from their acids by heating cannabis. These include the non-psychoactive yet pharmacologically active compounds, cannabidiol (CBD), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Δ9-THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG), each of which has actual (CBD) or potential medical applications. Some of these phytocannabinoids are really ‘fighto’ cannabinoids, their presence in cannabis making it a pharmacological ‘battlefield’. Thus
we have discovered that although CB1 receptors are activated by Δ9-THC, they can be blocked by Δ9-THCV. It has also been found that CBD can oppose certain effects produced by cannabis or Δ9-THC. Indeed, whilst there is evidence that the presence of Δ9-THC in cannabis increases the risk of developing schizophrenia for certain individuals, there is also strong evidence that cannabidiol is a potential medicine for the treatment of schizophrenia. A further complication is that the relative concentrations of different phytocannabinoids are not the same in all strains of cannabis, in all parts of the same cannabis plant or in male and femalecannabis plants, the female flowering heads of sinsemilla (‘without seeds’) being particularly rich in Δ9-THC. This may have important consequences for those who take cannabis either recreationally or for the quite different purpose of self-medication, as high CBD:THC or THCV:THC ratios may lessen the risk from cannabis of developing schizophrenia or cannabis dependence…although probably also alter the perceived nature of a cannabis-induced ‘high’.


One notable recent event has been the arrival in the recreational cannabis world of herbal mixtures laced with synthetic cannabinoids (‘designer drugs’) such as JWH-018 (e.g. Spice or K2, named after the second highest mountain on earth). These little-investigated synthetic cannabinoids share the ability of Δ9-THC to activate cannabinoid CB1 receptors and hence to produce a ‘high’. Moreover, any of them that
activate these receptors more strongly than Δ9-THC will most likely produce a more intense ‘high’ and perhaps also more serious unwanted effects than usually experienced by recreational cannabis users. They probably also differ from THC in other ways. Thus, although Δ9-THC shares its ability to target cannabinoid receptors with many synthetic compounds, the additional pharmacological actions it possesses provide it  with a unique ‘pharmacological fingerprint’ that distinguishes it from many of these other compounds.

Harm Minimization For Recreational Cannabis

One important challenge for the International Narcotics Control Board that monitors and implements United Nations drug control conventions is to select an optimal but workable strategy for minimizing the harm that is now being caused both to themselves and to Society by some of the many  millions of people world-wide who currently take cannabis (or Spice) recreationally and also, indeed, by some of those who self-medicate with ‘street’ cannabis. For the UK, options include leaving the present law unchanged and increasing or
decreasing current penalties for the supply and/or possession of ‘street’ cannabis. It would also be advisable to develop strategies directed (i) at discouraging cannabis from being taken by adolescents or other individuals who are thought to be at particular risk from cannabis-induced harm and (ii) at providing advice (a) about combinations and levels of cannabinoids in cannabis that are thought to be the least
harmful and (b) about how to take cannabis as an inhaled unburnt vapour or in other ways that avoid the lung damage caused by smoked cannabis. It will be important that policy makers have discussions with cannabinoid pharmacologists whilst considering these and any other potential strategies for minimizing the harm caused by recreational cannabis.

Brown I, Cascio MG, Wahle KWJ, Smoum R, Mechoulam R, Ross RA, Pertwee RG and Heys SD. Cannabinoid receptor dependent and independent anti-proliferative effects of omega-3 ethanolamides in androgen receptor positive and negative prostate cancer cell lines.
Carcinogenesis 2010; 31: 1584-1591.
Crowther, SM, Reynolds, LA and Tansey, EM (eds). The Medicalization of Cannabis. Witness Seminar Transcript. Volume 40. The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, at UCL. 2010;
Pertwee RG. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. Br J Pharmacol 2006; 147: S163-S171.
Pertwee RG. Emerging strategies for exploiting cannabinoid receptor agonists as medicines. Br J Pharmacol 2009; 156: 397-411.
Professor Roger Pertwee has three degrees from the University of Oxford: MA (in biochemistry), D.Phil. (in pharmacology) and D.Sc. (in physiological sciences). He is Professor of Neuropharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, Director of Pharmacology for GW Pharmaceuticals, co-chairman of the International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR) Subcommittee on Cannabinoid Receptors, a co-ordinator of the British Pharmacological Society’s Special Interest Group on Cannabinoids and visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire. He has also served as chairman of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM; 2005-2007) and as President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS; 2007-2008; 1997-1998) and is currently ICRS International Secretary and a member of the IACM board of directors. He was the recipient of the 2002 Mechoulam Award “for his outstanding contributions to cannabinoid research” and in 2005 was recognized to be an “ISI Highly Cited Researcher” and hence among “the world’s most cited and influential researchers” (see Pertwee at His research has focused mainly on the pharmacology of  cannabinoids. This he began in 1968 at Oxford University and continued when he moved to Aberdeen in 1974. His research has played major roles in:
• the discovery of endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system;
• the recent discovery that ethanolamides formed from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to be endocannabinoids;
• the gathering of evidence supporting cannabinoids for the management of multiple sclerosis;
• the discovery that tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a phytocannabinoid;
• the pharmacological characterization of certain phytocannabinoids and of novel synthetic cannabinoids, e.g. the phytocannabinoids THCV, cannabidiol and cannabigerol, the first water-soluble cannabinoid (O-1057), the first CB1 receptorselective agonists (e.g. methanandamide), and a widely-used CB2 receptor antagonist (AM630);
• the discovery of a cannabinoid CB1 receptor allosteric site;
• the development of cannabinoid bioassays, some widely used (e.g. the “ring test”).
See also

Cannabis Is A Wonderful Thing

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Two days ago, I found this marvellous image of Hunter S. Thompson which reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write about for ages.

Cannabis is a wonderful thing.  We spend so much time having to engage in intellectual, scientific, medical, moral and human rights arguments that we forget to tell the truth.  We forget to say what’s good.  We forget to advance the wonderful, beneficial, delightful, life-enhancing qualities of this amazing plant.   Cannabis is good.  It does you good.  It’s done so much good for me in my life and for so many people that I know.  It opens hearts and minds and understanding.  It reveals truth and beauty and music and conversation and the joy of existence on our beautiful planet.

Now, I can even substantiate this with science.   Cannabis has been treated with reverence and as a religious sacrement by some yet demonised and reviled by the forces of darkness and evil.  The positive benefits of God’s herb, known to mankind for thousands of years but shrouded in mystery and superstition,  are now revealed by science as an integral part of the universe.  The Endocannabinoid System (ECS), only discovered in 1988 but now known to be fundamental to life, is the reason that the natural supplement of the plant is a good, good thing.  A nutrient that can benefit us all.  See here.

The ECS, present in mammals, fish, reptiles and birds, is now known to be vital in pain relief, sensation, appetite, taste, weight control, mood, memory, motor skills and fertility.  Contrary to the idea that each pull on that joint kills millions of brain cells, in fact the ECS facilitates neurogenesis, the birth of neurons.  In 2003, the US government registered US patent no. 6630507 for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants for limiting neurological damage following stroke or physical trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.

Cannabinoids have been shown to have analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-convulsant, anti-tremor, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic and appetite-stimulant or appetite-suppressant properties.

Is it any wonder that cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years? Is it any wonder that millions of us have known instinctively for so long that cannabis is a wonderful, beneficial, health-giving plant?

Cannabis really is the wonder drug that the hippies rediscovered in the 1960s.  It really does offer so many benefits to mankind.  However much the prohibitionists lie and dissemble and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt, the truth is out.  Science now knows what we knew all along.  Cannabis is a wonderful thing!

Spectacular Spectator Drivel On Cannabis

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Melanie Phillips

A Zionist, Labour supporting, Daily Mail journalist – it’s hardly a good start is it? I should have known better than even to start reading her article in The Spectator.

This woman is a dangerous liar and propagandist.  Astonishingly, with breathtaking hypocrisy in promoting the most dangerous of drugs, The Spectator describes itself as “Champagne for the brain”.

Here is her article, reproduced without kind permission of The Spectator and my letter to the editor in response.

Yesterday morning, BBC Radio Four’s Today programme broadcast an interview with a professor of neuropharmacology, Roger Pertwee. Prof Pertwee was making an eyebrow-raising suggestion – that cannabis use should be licensed. His argument was as incoherent as it was irresponsible. He maintained, repeatedly, that all he wanted to do was to reduce the harm done by cannabis – from dangers which he appeared to define merely as smoking an adulterated form of the drug, or getting lung cancer from smoking it. So he wanted to restrict it to people whom it ‘wouldn’t harm’. They would use it in other ways than smoking it, so they wouldn’t get cancer. They would go along to their GP who would pronounce them fit enough to use it.


What about the harm that we know is done by cannabis itself to the brain — to cognition, to memory, to motivation, to personality? What about the tremendous increase in psychosis caused by cannabis use? What about the harm it does to other people in the user’s ambit?

Yes, said Prof Pertwee, indeed, his scheme wouldn’t reduce the harm done by cannabis itself.

What about all those millions more young people who would start using the drug and become addicted and do themselves and other people all that harm?

Yes, stammered Prof Pertwee, that would indeed be an enormous problem with his scheme. But all he wanted to do was, er, to reduce the harm. And when he’d chased his own tail round that pointless circle a few times, he fell back on ‘all I want to do is stimulate discussion’.

In short, it was a stupid and dangerous idea which even in its own terms made no sense whatever. Why on earth was this professor of neuropharmacology spouting such self-evident drivel on the BBC that even he himself had to keep demurring at his own argument?

What the BBC didn’t tell us was that Prof Pertwee was not some dispassionate expert who just happened to breeze into the studio with a cockeyed idea about turning GPs into cannabis pushers.

Prof Pertwee is Director of Pharmacology of GW Pharmaceuticals – which has a special Home Office licence to market a cannabinoid medicine called Sativex which is used to treat certain medical conditions.

His embargoed press release even said of his proposal:

‘I think this might be the way forward, but it might not work…  It depends on a private company being willing to produce a branded product’.

But it’s his own company which is best placed to do just that! In other words, the Today programme – as a result of its own lazy and frivolous bias in favour of drug legalisation,  which presumably meant it didn’t do due diligence in researching its interviewee because he had the Correct Opinion on drug policy – was played for a sucker by Big Pharma. It was used to give prime air-time to a piece of commercial advocacy which was passed off as a neutral policy discussion. Except that the product being promoted here wasn’t soap powder, but a drug that enslaves.

Who needs cannabis when the Beeb is so dopey already?

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 11:20 AM
Subject: Melanie Phillips, The Dopey Beeb, 15th September 2010

Dear Sir,

The disgraceful display of ignorance and propaganda about cannabis by Melanie Phillips cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Her biogtry plumbs new depths of scandalous nonsense.

In the 1930s they used to say that cannabis makes white women promiscuous with black men. Ms Phillips continues on this shameful path of crass misinformation. She needs to do some research before inflicting her ignorance on readers any further.

I agree that Professor Pertwee was incoherent but he is an academic, not a professional communicator.  At least he was dispensing facts. Ms Phillips’ diatribe was, to say the very least, economical with the truth.

Cannabis does not harm the brain or damage cognition, memory, motivation or personality – at least no more than breathing oxygen does and a whole lot less than any other recreational drug.  The phrase “tremendous increase in psychosis” is just a bare-faced lie and that it harms “other people in the user’s ambit” is the very worst sort of journalistic hogwash.

By all means, Ms Phillips, wallow in your own deluded opinion but don’t use your position to spead such wicked, dangerous nonsense.  You should be ashamed of yourself!

Authoritarian scaremongers, political cowards and cheap scandal-seeking journalists have been urging scientists to prove that cannabis is harmful for well over 100 years.  They haven’t succeeded yet.  On the contrary, all the latest research proves that cannabis is a remarkably benign substance yet with some extraordinary medicinal properties. The endocannabinoid system, which was only discovered in 1998 is now known to be fundamental to life and good health.  The only source of cannabinoids outside the body is the cannabis plant.

I used to have time for Melanie Phillips and some degree of respect for her opinion.  I see now that she is just the same as any tabloid hack who cares not one jot for the truth, merely for cheap sensation and worthless rhetoric.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds