Hemp Paper May Cost More But its Environmental Benefits Are Worth it

Hemp Paper May Cost More But its Environmental Benefits Are Worth it

Hemp paper is stronger and more environmentally sound than wood paper.

Hemp is a truly remarkable plant. It’s essentially the gift that keeps on giving. In addition to CBD oil, food, clothing or fuel, it can also make hemp paper. This paper type is likely the ideal replacement to wood pulp paper in our quest for a greener, cleaner world.

What is Hemp Paper?

The hemp plant is rich in cellulose. When boiled, beaten, or shredded into tiny fibers it can then be spread onto sheets that are pressed and dried to make a pulp.

When compared to wood pulp, hemp pulp offers several advantages. Fibers are generally four to five times longer than those found in wood pulp. This is something that leads to higher tear resistance and tensile strength in the resulting paper.

Hemp paper is commonly used in applications where there’s a need for high-strength paper as in the case of banknotes, stamp papers, and postal stamps. While many view it as a viable alternative to wood pulp, production costs are higher, something that currently prevents its widespread adoption.

The Benefits of Hemp Paper

The benefits of hemp paper extend far and wide as seen below. They include the quality of the paper itself to the associated efficiencies in cultivation as well as the wide-reaching environmental benefits.

  • Hemp offers superior quality paper: Hemp paper fibers do not decompose or deteriorate by turning yellow or brown like wood pulp paper does.
  • Quick growing: Hemp stalks grow in four months, while trees take between twenty to eighty years.
  • Increased yields: One acre of hemp on average will produce as much paper as four to ten acres of trees.
  • Environmentally friendly: Recycling hemp paper up to eight times is normal, while pulpwood paper can only tolerate three times.
  • Less harmful chemicals: Bleaching must occur with woodpulp paper via a process that uses many toxic chemicals. Hemp pulp requires no bleaching.
  • Reduced deforestation: Disturbed and angered by the images of the Amazon rainforest burning this year? Well, the wider adoption of hemp paper substantially reduces the alarming rates of deforestation.
  • Abundant cellulose: Cellulose is the principal component of paper. Trees contain thirty percent cellulose, while hemp plants contain up to eighty-five percent cellulose.

Can Hemp Reduce the Global Carbon Footprint

Hemp has some notable advantages when it comes to carbon footprint. This is something of great relevance in these challenging times for the global climate.

An Australian parliamentary report recently studied the role of industrial hemp in carbon farming. It concluded that hemp can absorb “more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop and is therefore the ideal carbon sink.”

The abilities of hemp to sequester carbon is nothing short of remarkable. Hemp begins to sequester carbon as soon as it is seeded. And one hectare of industrial hemp can absorb twenty-two tonnes of CO2. This translates to 1.62 tonnes of sequestered CO2 per ton of harvested hemp.

The fact that fast-growing hemp can grow to heights of thirteen meters in less than four months means that it’s often seen as the ideal solution when compared to other agroforestry alternatives.

In addition, hemp grows even in nutrient-poor soil. It requires minimal amounts of water and no artificial fertilizers are necessary.

Pulp Paper is a Big Source of Pollution

As the raw material for pulp paper, trees have always been widely available and affordable. With such affordability comes high consumption and high waste levels. But how does the production of pulp paper contribute to the global carbon footprint?

Science disputes just how much of a polluter the paper industry is. Studies exist that put forward strong arguments for both sides. One Chinese case study, published in Applied Energy (2015), claimed that within China, CO2 emissions from the paper industry, “ranged from 126.0 Mt to 155.4 Mt”. The report touted it as being the “largest source of carbon emissions.”

report published in the Environmental Engineering and Management Journal (2012), provided a thorough breakdown of the environmental impact of pulp and paper mills. Researchers attributed the environmental impact from the wood pulping industry to come from the bleaching process. The resulting pollutants that are subsequently introduced to the environment are chiefly made up of harmful sulfur compounds and nitrogen oxides that pollute the air.

Wastewater is also a concern, and discharged bleaching effluence consists of chlorinated organic compounds. These human-made chemicals, known as xenobiotics, persist in the environment for considerable periods. Pulp mills are also voracious consumers of water. With the discharging of waste waters often taking place at a rate of twenty to one hundred cubic meters per ton of product.

The Counter Evidence for Hemp Paper

Evidence put forward from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency paints a rather different picture, however. The research claims that, “greenhouse gas emissions from the pulp and paper industry has dropped from 44.2 to 37.7 million metric tons CO2”. The fifteen percent betterment is due to improved energy efficiency and the, “increased use of less carbon-intensive fossil fuels.”

Furthermore, a report published by the National Emissions Inventory (2014) claims that “the pulp and paper industry in North America produced only about 0.5 percent of the total carbon emissions in 2014.”

Paper Production and Deforestation

While the short term effects of the industry will inevitably cause a debate, few can argue with the increased rates of deforestation.

The destruction of forests around the globe essentially results in the destruction of, not only local habitat, but . Birds and animals thrive in the forest and are much more vulnerable to predators with the continuous cutting down of trees.

An article that appeared in National Geographic (2019) cited the fact that much of the wood that fuels the paper industry comes from illegal logging operations in the Amazon. In the past fifty years, seventeen percent of the Amazonian rainforest has been destroyed. While not all of this can be attributed to paper production, it certainly does make the case for sustainably sourced hemp as a viable alternative.

The Future of Hemp Paper

With the recent spread of legalized cannabis across much of North America, the aversion by association that many have toward hemp is slowly beginning to wane. With the recent passing of the Farm Bill, hemp has once again become a viable crop. And along with paper production, it’s wide and varied uses may just be the catalyst for some positive global changes.

This story first appeared at RX Leaf.

Hemp Cleans up Radioactive Soil and so Much More

Hemp Cleans up Radioactive Soil and so Much More

Could hemp be the plant that saves the planet? It is the best soil contaminant cleaner, and that includes radioactive waste. 

Editor’s Note: some text has been updated for clarity (11/30/2019) following feedback from readers. Please see comments for more information.

Is there anything hemp can’t do? The mostly outlawed plant, once cultivated by George Washington at his Mount Vernon home, can be made into fabric, paper, pasta, and fuel, but now scientists have discovered a more subtle and astonishing use for cannabis sativa: saving the planet from our waste. Hemp can even get rid of radioactive soil contaminants.

Industrial hemp, the common name for low-THC varieties of cannabis grown for non-medicinal-related uses, has been shown to be extremely adept at sucking up harmful chemicals from the soil, allowing former radioactive spill sites to become fertile (and safe) once again.

How Do They Clean Up Soil Contamination?

Ordinarily, unusable soil that has been sullied by heavy metals or nuclear material is fixed through a process called remediation, which involves sowing designer chemicals into the earth that “eat up” the poisons. Think of it like using a magnet to collect tiny bits of metal floating in a glass of water. Remediation, however, doesn’t come cheap. It’s a billion-dollar industry.

However, all of that can happen naturally—and much less expensively—through what’s known as phytoremediation (phyto- from the Greek for “plant”). In phytoremediation, the roots of plants like hemp or mustard, dig deep into contaminated soil and, through their natural growth process, suck up the harmful chemicals right alongside the beneficial nutrients that remain. These polluting elements are completely removed from the ground and stored within the growing plants—usually within the leaves, stems or stalks.

Phytoremediation with Hemp

Scientists at Colorado State University (CSU), including Elizabeth Pilon-Smith, have spent decades pondering how plants can help clean the soil. This link to a CSU student summary of hemp phytoremediation gives a nice review of that we know so far (2012), including links to peer-reviewed studies on the subject.

There is always more research coming in, but hemp has been thrust into the phytoremediation spotlight because it has a few genetic perks that make it ideal for the job:

Hemp has a Long Root System

This plant can grow to eight feet below the surface, giving soil a deep clean.

Hemp is Fast Growing

Hemp reaches full maturity in six months and isn’t harmed by soil contaminants.

Hemp is Inexpensive

When compared to chemical remediation, hemp is far less expensive, and can then be harvested and used as a cash crop.

Hemp that has been used to remove the fertility-killing elements cesium and cadmium, for instance, can be used as fuel in biomass engines, processed into insulation or paper. It probably should not, however, be eaten or smoked.

Industrial hemp is already being used as a phytoremediator in heavily contaminated areas throughout the world. One town in southern Italy saw its agriculture and livestock industries go bust after a local steel mill’s output polluted the ground for miles around. A shepherd there was forced to euthanize his 600-member flock, so he took up planting hemp, which has been steadily cleaning his soil ever since.

Can Hemp Be Used for Cleaning Up Radioactive Soil?

The most famous uses of hemp as a way to clean and revive soil could from some of the worst environmental disasters of the modern era. The nuclear accidents in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan may benefit from soil detox thanks to industrial hemp. Scientists working in Chernobyl in 1990s reported that hemp, along with mustard, are able to remove heavy metals from the soil.

For one plant to be able to clean up the most hazardous material mankind has ever created is simply amazing. Cannabis is literally saving the human race from itself.

And now, thanks to loosening government restrictions on the use and cultivation of cannabis, the practice may be expanding to polluted sites all over the United States and the world.

For example, the University of Virginia, which is located relatively close to grounds that have been toxified by coal mines throughout the region, has partnered with a biotechnology company to genetically modify hemp plants to make their pollutant uptake even stronger. The project could lead to vast amounts of reclaimed land that could be used for farming

The idea is simple. Just as phytoremediation was an improvement on chemical remediation, using industrial hemp was another head and shoulders above using other plants, like trees or sunflowers. In addition to its long roots, which allow the plant to absorb more soil contaminants, and its quick lifecycle, hemp is also a hardy plant. It requires much less watering and regular tending than do sunflowers.

The biggest problem for this potentially world-saving solution? Government regulations.

Cultivating hemp is still illegal in Japan, which is directly impacting how quickly cleanup around the Fukushima nuclear power plant can proceed. And in the U.S., the semi-legality of cannabis makes everything from testing plants to securing research loans harder than it needs to be.

This story first appeared at RX Leaf.

The World’s First Marijuana Mall Opened in Colorado

The World’s First Marijuana Mall Opened in Colorado

History is being made in Trinidad, Colorado, as the world’s first marijuana mall is scheduled to open this upcoming April.

Developers Chris Elkins and Sean Sheridan deemed Trinidad as the perfect location to build their dream project given Trinidad’s views on law and tourism.

In an interview with local news station KRDO, Elkins said, “This town has a zero-foot setback, which allows us to put five dispensaries here right next to one another. As far as we know, we are the only town in Colorado that can do this.”

Elkins and Sheridan have received city permits and have already purchased a building in downtown Trinidad on Commercial Street. Their next step is waiting for City Council to give their approval.

According to Elkins, four of the five spaces have already been leased to marijuana-based businesses, and if the City Council gives their approval, they are hoping to open their doors to the public in April.

Along with their passion for marijuana, Elkins and Sheridan are also incorporating their entrepreneurial skills into this project, and they are excited about the benefits the mini-mall will bring to the town.

Elkins expects the mini-mall to boost the local economy, and it seems as though many local residents agree.

Mechelle Duran, a Trinidad local who lives nearby the mini-mall location, said, “I’m excited to see it open. We have a lot of pot stores already and there is a lot of benefits.”

 There are other locals who have expressed their concern with the mini-mall attracting homeless people and transients.

Tamara Johnson, a Trinidad local, said, “To be honest, I don’t have any problems with marijuana or marijuana users but I do know we have had a lot more problems with theft. I know Walmart is having problems. And transients, that’s becoming a huge problem.”

Regardless of the differing opinions of Trinidad locals, Elkins and Sheridan remain optimistic and anxiously await the grand opening of the world’s first marijuana mini-mall.

This story first appeared at CannaSOS

Construction Complete on B.C.’s First Sustainable ‘Lego’ Home

Construction Complete on B.C.’s First Sustainable ‘Lego’ Home

A Vancouver Island home built using cutting-edge green technology is now move-in ready.

It’s called the Harmless Home, and the exterior walls are constructed out of Lego-like building blocks, made essentially of compressed hemp, lime and water.

Now, it’s being hailed as the most sustainable, safest and most energy-efficient house possible.

Homeowner Arno Keinonen recently settled in.

“We are very happy with the end result,” he said.

The product itself is being manufactured in Calgary. It doesn’t mould and is virtually fire-resistant.

“We heat it up to over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and it barely has an impact,” said Just Bio Fiber builder Mark Faber. “Very unlikely for this house to catch fire.”

The blocks also absorb carbon, making them grow even stronger over time. As for the cost, it’s in line with other alternatives.

“With those aspects and the condition the world is in now, this just has to go — it just has to,” said Just Bio Fiber director Michael DeChamplain.

The Harmless Home was the first project of its kind, and two more are now in the works.

The hope is to make this a standard in the building industry, Faber explained.

“So far, we’ve seen that it is easy to use and put together — once we develop and really dial in the system, I think we’ll be able to be competitive with all other building systems out there.”

The home, located just outside Victoria, will continue to be monitored to make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible.© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

This story first appeared at Global News.ca

Hemp, Phytocannabinoids & The Endocannabinoid System: New Perspectives Clinically & Legally! An Interview with Carl Germano, CNS, CDN

Hemp, Phytocannabinoids & The Endocannabinoid System: New Perspectives Clinically & Legally! An Interview with Carl Germano, CNS, CDN

Knowledge of the health benefits of cannabinoids appears to be spreading to the general population and many people are asking how cannabinoids work to benefit health. The short answer is that cannabinoids act through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to modulate the activity of many organs.

If the biological action of cannabinoids is a new subject to you, let’s begin with a few facts about hemp. First, hemp is not Marijuana. Hemp does not contain significant amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in Marijuana. Secondly, hemp has been an important crop in the USA for its industrial and health uses since the early settlers of this country. U.S. Presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, and Franklin Pierce grew hemp as a cash crop and for personal health use. Ben Franklin owned a paper mill that used hemp as a raw material for paper. Hemp has saved millions of trees from being cut down for paper.

Hemp has advantages over many materials and once was a multi-billion-dollar crop accounting for about 80% of textiles and fabrics. However, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act in 1934 and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 lumped hemp in with Marijuana, which led to falsely making hemp illegal. As a result, millions of citizens were not able to achieve their best health as they couldn’t optimize their ECS.

Fortunately, my colleague Carl Germano, CNS, CDN, has recently written a book that explains why cannabinoids are important for optimal health, so I have called upon him to chat with us.

Carl Germano, CNS, CDN, is a NY Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Vice President for Verdant Oasis. He holds a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University and has over 37 years’ experience as VP of product development for several of the largest vitamin supplement companies in the trade. He is a prolific author with several bestselling trade books including The Misled Athlete, Nature’s Pain Killers, The Osteoporosis Solution, The Brain Wellness Plan and his most recent Road To Ananda: The Simple Guide To The Endocannabinoid System, Phytocannabinoids & Your Health. He has also held a progressive nutrition practice at The Nutrition Therapy Center in New York and is a frequent lecturer and radio guest.

Passwater: Well, it has been a quite a while since I have collaborated in this column with my old colleague and friend Carl Germano, CNS, CDN. Far too long. He has always been ahead of his time and an interesting and informative lecturer. 

Carl, you have written a new book called “Road To Ananda: The Simple Guide To The Endocannabinoid System, Hemp Phytocannabinoids, and Your Health.” You have written several groundbreaking books over the years, and this book undoubtedly covers one of the most important topics for this decade and many to come. Please provide a glimpse as to this subject and its importance.

Germano: Thank you for your kind words and thank you for the decades of education, contributions and support you have given so many—it is truly a pleasure to be your friend. The subject of cannabinoids, while controversial, has always intrigued me and the way hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) has been mistreated in the U.S. for the past 80 years has served as a springboard for me to further investigate the science and unravel the truth about this plant. It is without question that hemp signifies the most important botanical on this planet. Its active class of compounds called phytocannabinoids (CBD being only 1 of almost 100 phytocannabinoids in hemp) represents the most important, clinically relevant plant compounds to come to the marketplace since the inception of this industry.

Passwater: That covers a lot of ground.

Germano: I make such a bold statement based on the fact that phytocannabinoids help to influence and support one of the most important physiological systems in the human body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Passwater: As important as the ECS is, many readers are not familiar with it yet. Please explain a little about the ECS and why it is so important.

Germano: The ECS is composed of cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2, and others presently being investigated) and the components that attach to them called endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG). Our CB1 and CB2 receptors are doorways into the cell to pass on information activated by endocannabinoids. While anandamide and 2-AG initiate activity to the CB receptors found on every organ, they are quite promiscuous in that they influence other receptors such as the GABA, 5HT3, PPARS, TRP, opioid, and endorphin receptors as well. 

Globally, the ECS acts as the conductor of the beautiful symphony of intricate communication that occurs between organs and cells throughout the entire body. There is no physiological function that is not influenced by the ECS. Its proper support is essential to maintain health and its dysregulation is associated with numerous disease conditions. Unfortunately, due to the stigma attached to cannabinoids, the ECS has been buried since the 1990s and there has been little to no education or research conducted here in the U.S. In December 2018, the Farm Bill was signed into law that deregulated hemp and we are just beginning to unravel the stigma and begin the process of education and research into the ECS.

Unfortunately, decades of stifled education and research on hemp, phytocannabinoids, and the ECS has represented both a travesty and tragedy in medicine. Therefore, in order for people to embrace and understand phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), it is crucial to understand how they influence and support the ECS. Road To Ananda (roadtoananda.com) was necessary for me to write so that people can begin the journey into this very subject.

Passwater: Your book is indeed an excellent road to the ECS scientific literature, and you make it easy for the non-scientist as well as the scientist to understand. There are many faces behind its discovery. Who has been your inspiration on this subject and why is it so important?

Germano: While the U.S. has been in the dark ages regarding the ECS, hemp and phytocannabinoids, Israel and Europe have been championing research on the ECS as well as cultivation and commercialization of hemp. The 1990s happened to be a most
important decade of discovery for the ECS, and at the helm of this unearthing was the work of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has been my source of inspiration in this field. He is best known for his work on the isolation and synthesis of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) as well as the cannabinoids we produce in the body(endocannabinoids) called anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonylglycerol). He has been called the “Father of Cannabinoid Research” and has published over 350 scientific articles and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. In addition, there were several of his colleagues that played instrumental roles in the discovery of the ECS and its inner workings including Hanus, Devane, Howelett, and Herkenham who collectively belong on what I call Mt. Hempmore.

Passwater: I notice that he wrote an Introduction to your book.

Germano: Yes. While there were several players involved in the discovery of the ECS, Dr. Mechoulam stands out the most. Due to its role in modulating most, if not all, physiological functioning in the body, the ECS is one of the most important medical discoveries in quite some time. Thanks to Dr. Mechoulam’s work and many others around the world, we are getting closer to unraveling the enormous potential of how supporting the ECS can impact health and its usefulness in preventing and treating diseases. From the earliest moments of development to the last stages of your life, your ECS is involved in constant mass communication with every organ system in your body and intimately involved with modulating their activity.

Passwater: Briefly, in what ways? We’ll discuss this in more detail later.

Germano: Through its communication with all organ systems, the ECS helps regulate all biological functions, including your appetite, digestion, immune function, inflammation, motor control, mood, memory, sleep, etc. It does so by influencing various intricate pathways that the CB, TRVP, GABA, 5HT3, etc. receptors control. At the cellular level, the ECS exerts numerous regulatory roles too lengthy for this article, but here is a glimpse:

Brain: The ECS governs neurotransmission, brain cell development, mood and memory, and provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that help protect the brain from further damage after trauma or stroke.

Metabolism: The ECS governs energy storage, involved in energy production, insulin sensitivity.

Stress: The ECS regulates the HPA pathway by altering stress response hormones.

Bone: The ECS influences brain to bone communication, suppresses osteoclast activity (cells that break down bone) and stimulates osteoblasts (cells that build up bone).

Inflammation/Pain: The ECS is intimately involved in nociceptive pain signaling to the brain and as well as being intertwined in many inflammatory pathways including the eicosanoid pathways that omega 3’s influence.

Anxiety/Depression: The ECS exerts its regulatory effects on various hormones and neurotransmitters involved in the development of several psychological pathologies.

Passwater: Many people will be surprised to learn that their bodies produce cannabinoids. About how many naturally produced compounds in the body activate the cannabinoid receptors, and are any of the phytocannabinoids produced in hemp bioidentical (the same) as cannabinoids produced in the human body?

Germano: In addition to anandamide and 2-AG, other lipid-based molecules have also been classified as endocannabinoids due to their effects on cannabinoid receptors including arachidonoyl dopamine, virodhamine, palmitoyl ethanolamide, oleoylethanolamide, and several byproducts of omega-3 fatty acids. Which brings us to an important relationship between omega-3s and the ECS. Several papers have been published to demonstrate this intimate relationship. Basically, when you are omega-3 deficient, your ECS suffers and we see the same conditions as those who are endocannabinoid deficient—pain/inflammation, stress/anxiety, etc. With omega-3 deficiency, your CB receptors are not as active, and omega-3s are used as backbone materials to produce cannabinoids in the body. Therefore, it makes sense to take omega-3s when taking hemp phytocannabinoids—the collectively serve as a “multivitamin” for your ECS.

Passwater: What happens when they don’t produce enough cannabinoids?

Germano: They are so important that when we don’t produce enough, disruption in the normal state (homeostasis) occurs and sets the stage for acute and chronic conditions. In certain ways, our endocannabinoids serve as biomarkers and are associated with certain disorders when their levels are too low. Stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation, insomnia, eye health, bone health, neurological maladies are conditions where we see depressed levels of endocannabinoids requiring dietary ECS support. Clinically, we are seeing that utilizing hemp phytocannabinoids serves as the foundation for any nutritional protocol addressing these issues. Dr. Ethan Russo’s papers on this very subject provides greater insights into conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other disorders associated with inflammatory and neurological origins to be what he called Endocannabinoid Deficiency states—all of which can be suitably treated by providing dietary phytocannabinoids. Hemp happens to be the richest and most important source!

Passwater: Disruption of homeostasis opens up one’s susceptibility to illness and the ECS plays a pivotal role in maintaining health, balance, and well-being. With that said, we have been hearing a lot about CBD these days and wondered how it fits in to supporting the ECS. What are your thoughts?

Germano: Homeostasis is critical to the body and your ability to adapt to the daily bombardment of stressors. When your ECS is not supported properly, you enter a state of imbalance that can jeopardize your health and well-being and set the stage for illness. In order to support the ECS, it is the entire family of phytocannabinoids that are required, and no single one can properly do so—this includes CBD!

CBD has been popularized due to the significant results achieved in trials on treating epilepsy and cancer therapy induced symptoms utilizing GW Pharmaceuticals FDA approved drugs that contain isolated CBD. Unfortunately, some companies have been trying to follow the popularity and media attention of CBD by big pharma and have myopically focused on single magic bullet CBD only. This is quite a disappointment for so many reasons. First, when has the dietary supplement industry ever followed big pharma’s single magic bullet approach to health and disease treatment—NEVER! So, why begin here? With all the botanicals sold in the industry, have we ever just focused on one compound in a plant? The answer is simply no.

There is not just one ginsenoside in ginseng, there is not just one curcuminoid in curcumin, there is not just one ginkgolide in ginkgo, etc.—I can go on, but you get the point. So, knowing there are close to 100 different phytocannabinoids in hemp, why in the world do we think that the only clinical relevancy of hemp is due to one phytocannabinoid—CBD? Those of us in botanical medicine know very well that the synergy of all compounds in a botanical is more important than singling out just one—no difference with hemp.

Dr. Ethan Russo wrote an eloquent paper on this very subject that was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology where he discussed how all of the phytocannabinoids in cannabis have unique properties that contribute to their clinical benefits and are greater than any single magic bullet approach. So, why all the attention given to just CBD when we know there are so many other phytocannabinoids that are equal to or have greater activity than CBD? There is no answer or excuse to focus just on CBD—period! Some of the more important synergistic players such as cannabigerol (CBG), beta caryophyllene (BCP), the cannabis flavonoids (CannFlavin A, B & C), and many others will share the spotlight as more research is unravelling their effects in the body. The bottom line is that the importance of the entire class of hemp phytocannabinoids and how they support the ECS should have been the lead-out story.

Unfortunately, it is bad enough that the U.S. government has misled us for the past 80 years, now we have been misled by companies trying to minimize the story and make it just about CBD, diminish hemp’s importance and efficacy of all of its phytocannabinoids, and insulting our intelligence by shoving the myopic CBD story down our throats.

Passwater: With many focusing on inflammation and stress, what are some of the more interesting conditions where the ECS is involved in?

Germano: With data supporting the role of the ECS in inflammation/pain, stress/anxiety, sleep, ocular health, bone support, and neurological conditions, emerging data reveals applications of hemp phytocannabinoids in addressing the GUT/brain/immune connection—a subject I covered in my book The Brain Wellness Plan many years ago. We know the ECS regulates motility and inflammation in the GI tract, but new studies demonstrate an interesting role for our endocannabinoids assisting with foreign antigen tolerance, HPA stress pathway, and immune response in our GUT—the largest immune organ in the body! In addition, what is unraveling is a major communication in the GUT between our microbiome and what I call the endocannabidiome.

It seems that probiotics and our endocannabinoids and receptors are involved with an intimate dance of communication to keep the GUT/brain/immune system functioning properly—a system that is crucial in maintain health and prevent disease.

Another fascinating topic is the role of the ECS in consciousness. Knowing the ECS governs neurotransmission and is involved with all aspects of how we perceive the external environment, it is no stretch to understand the connections here. In general, our consciousness is tied into our thoughts, sensations, and feelings. Every conscious thought, perception or feeling and everything we think of or do is influenced in many ways by the level of endocannabinoid tone in the body.

In subtle ways, the ECS helps to form our personality—are you clear thinking, focused, laid back, relaxed, anxious, etc.—all this is due to the ECS and its regulatory roles in the brain.
Lastly, the role of the ECS in sports medicine is about to explode. In my book The Misled Athlete, I cover many aspects of sports nutrition including energy production, reduction of inflammation, and recovery as major concerns to address nutritionally as opposed to stimulants and excess protein. Supporting the ECS with hemp phytocannabinoids will serve as a foundation to all nutritional protocols since is involved with ATP production, protecting mitochondria, reducing elevated inflammatory and oxidative markers after activity, and responsible for the “runners high.” Yes, you will have to rethink your thinking about feeling good after exercise being due to endorphins. We now know that elevated endocannabinoids influence the endorphin and opioid receptors responsible for the euphoric feeling after exercise.

Passwater: You and I have actively been involved in research and clinical practice for many decades and have witnessed the scientific/clinical story being diminished by not focusing on the entire class of phytocannabinoids. Nevertheless, the CBD story continues for now, yet legal issues abound. What are your thoughts?

Germano: I am thoroughly disappointed in the industry, legal counsel, and the FDA for letting an inept story and market develop the way it has. I am also perplexed by the complete dismissal by companies and legal counsel of a federal law you and I have been involved in back in 1994—the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA law is very clear and tells us that if a substance has not been in commerce prior to 1994, it cannot be grandfathered as a dietary supplement.

CBD has not been in commerce prior to 1994, yet hemp and its naturally occurring class of phytocannabinoids have been as a food ingredient—strike one against CBD on a label being called a dietary supplement. The only option is to submit a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) application to FDA for CBD. Why has no company submitted such? Probably due to the other clause in DSHEA that states if a pharmaceutical company takes a natural substance and obtains FDA approval as a drug, it’s hands-off to the dietary supplement industry. Well, GW Pharmaceuticals has done just that with its approved Epidilox drug with isolated CBD in it—strike 2 against CBD being a dietary supplement.

While there are some that make the case that CBD was on the market before GW’s approval, I have yet to see this challenged. Even if this was the case, you still have the issue that CBD was not in commerce prior to 1994—back to square one! So, while the scientific/clinical case was made in favor of phytocannabinoids as a naturally occurring class of compounds in hemp over single magic bullet CBD, so is the case legally. Why are we trying to waste our time fighting an uphill battle with the FDA about getting CBD approved as a dietary supplement? Unless FDA is planning to change or dismantle DSHEA, it is futile and wasting a great deal of time and money. Rather, the industry should be embracing hemp as a botanical, phytocannabinoids as the most important class of naturally occurring plant compounds, and how to nourish/feed/support the body’s endocannabinoid system. Lastly, FDA needs to enforce DSHEA and the simplistic and inaccurate CBD story will go away and make room for the more important story to be told.

Passwater: So, how best do we support our ECS and do we rely only on hemp?

Germano: While I have been telling people to get over the fact that we produce cannabinoids in the body, similar to some of the ones found in hemp, they are equally shocked by the fact that we have been eating phytocannabinoids in the diet! While hemp is undoubtedly the richest source of phytocannabinoids in the diet, there are other foods where they may be found. Yes, carrots, hops, chocolate, Echinacea, pepper, clove, thyme, etc. are all foods that have minute levels of phytocannabinoids in them. I said minute, so don’t rely on them to truly have therapeutic value unless you either consume huge quantities or they have been standardized in certain foods.

Just placing milligram levels of some of these spices/foods in a product is nothing more than marketing hype and comical at best. Nevertheless, the best example of a truly beneficial phytocannabinoid in food that can be standardized in large quantities is beta caryophyllene (BC) as found in abundance in clove and unripe black pepper seeds. When standardized in specially processed oils, BC is a perfect complement to CBD since it attaches to the CB2 receptor that CBD does not. It is the CB2 receptor that is involved in bone building, inflammation and pain, insulin sensitivity, and many other functions. This is yet another example of the importance of having other phytocannabinoids present and not to rely on just CBD. CBD cannot support the entire ECS on its own—you need the full family present—period!

Passwater: With that said, what should consumers look for in products in this category?

Germano: First and foremost, they should get to know the strains that are being used in products. It is important to know if the strains have a history of proven use in humans prior to 1994 (DSHEA). The EU Commission has a website where you can see what strains have been used for human use for decades. These are strains that have been cultivated and consumed by humans and represent many decades of what true industrial hemp looks like. Also, they can request DNA analysis and proof that the strains are actually coming from true industrial hemp as opposed to the genetically manipulated “Frankenstein” marijuana hybrids that pervade our industry that have no history of human consumption.

In addition, are the products non-GMO, organic, Kosher, solvent free, and tested for all pesticides including Monsanto’s glyphosate? Are the products free of CBD isolate?
CBD isolate is a drug yet is found in numerous products in the market—either directly or indirectly. I am amused by looking at chromatograms of products showing CBD to be 70%, 80, or 90+% calling themselves full spectrum oils. It is absurd to think that such products can be full spectrum and retailers/consumers need stop “drinking the Kool Aid” and be diligent about the products and companies they choose. Essentially, the term full spectrum has been diluted in the marketplace. Ask for chromatograms of the material that can be very telling about whether the oil is spiked with CBD isolate or come from marijuana hybrids.

Essentially, when millions of marketing dollars get spent by companies trying to follow the coattails of GW Pharmaceuticals CBD approved drug, it is apparent that botanical medicine, the science of the ECS, and the legal aspects that plague CBD got completely ignored. There are a lot of questionable companies out there that have no clue about the science nor the DSHEA law—it’s buyer beware at the moment until FDA does its job.

Passwater: Carl, you have been researching this topic for many years. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us about the Endocannabinoid System and the health benefits of phytocannabinoids.

This story first appeared at Whole Foods Magazine