Alcoholism and the Endocannabinoid System

by Msnbctv news staff


Excerpted from Smoke Alerts: A Social Historical past of Marijuana—Medical, Leisure and Scientific.

A grapevine and a hashish plant are depicted side-by-side on a bas-relief from a ruined Roman temple at Baalbek in Lebanon’s fertile Bekaa Valley. One of many world’s candy spots for rising hashish, this area can be recognized for its high quality wines. It’s a place the place wine and cannabis combine geographically in addition to culturally.

Poets and thinkers within the Muslim world have lengthy debated the virtues and pitfalls of alcohol and marijuana. An epic poem written by Muhammad Ebn Soleiman Foruli, a sixteenth-century Turkish poet from Baghdad, portrays a dialectical battle between wine and cannabis. The 2 inebriants interact in an allegorical fencing match because the poet describes the euphoric properties of each substances and their penalties, a topic a lot mentioned amongst Muslim students. Foruli considered wine because the drink of the wealthy, “whereas cannabis,” he stated, “is a pal of the poor, the Dervishes and the lads of information.”

One of many excellent options of cannabis was its inexpensiveness, which made the resinous herb accessible to just about anybody desirous of the enjoyment and repose that it might confer. Massive numbers of Muslims used hashish as a result of, in contrast to alcohol, it was not expressly forbidden beneath Koranic regulation. Islam is the one main faith that banned booze, whereas hashish remained a topic of theological dispute amongst Muslim intellectuals.

Drugs of Immortality

Because the Islamic religion expanded, using hashish unfold throughout the Center East. Symptomatic of its far-reaching cultural impression, cannabis acquired quite a few Arabic appellations — “rouser of thought,” “bush of understanding,” “department of bliss,” “shrub of emotion,” “drugs of immortality,” and so forth.

By the thirteenth century, hashish consumption had turn into commonplace in Persia and the Arab lands, giving rise to many colourful legends. In A Thousand and One Nights, a number of characters take cannabis and fantasize about a greater life. One down-and-out fellow swallowed the potent resin and imagined that “an amazing Lord was shampooing him.” In one other story, two cannabis eaters encounter the Sultan and mock him whereas dancing within the road.

An antiauthoritarian streak characterised the hashish-imbibing Sufis, the marginalized Muslim sect that embraced hashish as a method of religious uplift. To the magical Sufi, consuming cannabis was “an act of worship.” Sufism all the time had a subversive edge as a result of the declare of the direct expertise of God threatened the prerogatives of the orthodox spiritual institution. The brutal Ottoman emir Soudoun Scheikhouni, in search of to implement spiritual and social conformity, issued the primary edict in opposition to using cannabis within the Muslim world in 1378. A number of extra such edicts would observe amid allegations that cannabis precipitated immorality, sloth, poverty, psychological derangement, and a disrespectful perspective towards the true religion.

Rising hashish to be used as an intoxicant was forbidden, however rising the herb for medicinal functions was allowed in line with the lengthy custom of hashish therapeutics within the Center East and North Africa. Muslim leaders acknowledged that cannabis had vital medicinal properties that have been missing in wine.1

Heavy ingesting shrinks the mind

Though small quantities of wine can shield in opposition to sure diseases corresponding to coronary heart illness (due partly to resveratrol, a flavonoid compound in grape pores and skin), extreme alcohol consumption poses critical well being dangers. Heavy ingesting shrinks the mind, causes painful neuropathy, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney harm, and will increase the probability of breast most cancers, colon most cancers, and abdomen ulcers.

Alcohol is a pivotal think about some two-thirds of all circumstances of spousal abuse in the US. Booze is implicated in additional than 100,000 sexual assaults annually and 100,000 annual deaths in the US attributable to drunk driving and alcohol-related violence. Worldwide, alcohol kills greater than 2.5 million folks yearly. If medication have been categorized on the idea of the hurt they do, alcohol can be ranked proper up there with heroin and crack cocaine, if not larger.

But booze is just not solely authorized in our society, it’s so pervasive and accepted that many individuals don’t even consider alcohol as a drug. “In my period, everyone smoked [cigarettes], everyone drank, and there was no drug use,” then DEA chief Thomas Constantine blithely asserted in 1998. That yr, the World Well being Group revealed a toothless report that had initially described hashish as much less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco — a conclusion deleted beneath stress from U.S. officers.

In the US, an estimated 60 p.c of adults devour alcohol commonly. Fifteen million Individuals — one-tenth of the grownup U.S. inhabitants — are both hooked on or significantly debilitated by booze. Ten to twenty p.c of all of the alcohol guzzled in America is consumed by underage drinkers. The extent of alcohol consumption amongst U.S. youth far exceeds using marijuana. Ditto for younger folks in Nice Britain, the place a fifth of ten-to-fifteen-year-olds admit to getting drunk commonly.

Alcohol & endocannabinoid deficits

Whereas the dangerous results of alcoholism are well-known, scientists have solely just lately begun to analyze and perceive the vital function that the endocannabinoid system performs in alcohol dependancy and associated temper issues. In keeping with a number of research, ethanol publicity alters endocannabinoid ranges in numerous areas of the mammalian mind. The quantity of 2-AG, probably the most prevalent endocannabinoid within the mind, will increase in direct proportion to the quantity of ethanol consumed. When an individual drinks booze and will get somewhat tipsy, his or her 2-AG ranges enhance barely; when somebody will get drunk, lots of 2-AG sloshes across the mind; and as inebriation fades, 2-AG returns to its regular baseline stage.

Why does the endocannabinoid system kick into excessive gear when an individual hits the bottle? It’s well-known that ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, a carcinogen and a mutagen that causes many dangerous results in important organs. Merely put, alcohol is protoplasmic poison, and scientists have decided {that a} primary perform of the endocannabinoid system is neuroprotective in nature: therefore the spike in 2-AG in numerous elements of the mind throughout ethanol publicity.

The human mind is a fragile organ, stoutly defended by a thick cranium and a blood-brain barrier primed to maintain undesirable international substances from penetrating. The endocannabinoid system is a vital element of the mind’s protecting equipment. In 2009, the scientific journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology offered medical knowledge indicating that compounds in marijuana helped to “shield the human mind in opposition to alcohol-induced harm.” This research, performed on the College of California in San Diego, discovered that adolescents who smoke marijuana could also be much less prone to mind harm from binge ingesting. Researchers on the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being have demonstrated that CBD reduces alcohol-induced cell dying within the hippocampus, which performs an vital function in reminiscence and spatial navigation.

Whereas acute alcohol publicity quickly will increase endocannabinoid ranges within the mind, power alcohol use leads to a systemic decline in endocannabinoid signaling and poor endocannabinoid baseline ranges.2 Lengthy-term alcohol abuse induces endocannabinoid deficits, and this, in flip, has an adversarial impression on quite a few physiological processes which might be modulated by the endocannabinoid system. If alcoholism is an endocannabinoid deficit dysfunction, then it makes good sense that some folks may efficiently wean themselves from booze by smoking marijuana, which amplifies cannabinoid receptor signaling.


This text is tailored from Smoke Alerts: A Social Historical past of Marijuana – Medical, Leisure and Scientific by Martin A. Lee, director of Mission CBD.

Copyright, Mission CBD. Is probably not reprinted with out permission.


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