Monthly Archives: November 2012

Alternative Therapies

In Blog // on November 26th, 2012 // by // No comment

Westcoast Medicann Society will soon be introducing a doctor of Chinese Medicine as part of staff in our Cambie St. clinic.

There are several types of alternative medical practices that are being used all over the world.  Their ideals are similar, and rather than the ‘take a pill, feel better’ approach I believe most conventional medical practices take advantage of, alternative therapies present concepts that say, with a little help from an expert, and commitment, healing is capable from within the patients themselves.

Here are brief summaries outlining the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, spinal manipulation, and reflexology.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) holds the view that the healthy body is a harmonious function of entities, including digestion, breath, age, etc.  Disease, then, is interpreted as disharmony between entities.

The balance, or harmony in the body one hopes to achieve is called qi, pronounced “chi”. In order to maintain good health, body qi must also be harmonious with the energies found in the environment.

TCM therapy is based on “patterns of disharmony”, and examinations include things like the color and shape of the tongue, the relative strength of pulse-points, the smell of the breath, the quality of breathing or the sound of the voice.

Blocked qi is said to be characterized by pale complexion, low spirit, lack of strength, spontaneous sweating, laziness to speak, non-digestion of food, shortness of breath (especially on exertion), and a pale and enlarged tongue.

Qi is believed to be partially generated from food and drink, and partially from air (or by how one breathes).  Another considerable part could be inherited from parents.

The general theory of acupuncture is also based on the regulation, or harmony, of qi; and that disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease.  Acupuncture aims to correct imbalances in qi by stimulating anatomical locations on or under the skin, most commonly by thin metal needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.

Naturopathy, or Naturopathic Medicine, is a type of alternative medicine rooted in enhancing vitality.  Naturopaths believe that a vital energy runs our metabolism, reproductive abilities, growth and adaptation, which can be improved through non-invasive treatments.

Naturopathic practitioners are split into two groups: traditional naturopaths and naturopathic physicians, the latter who use the principles of their practice and conventional medical practices.

Naturopathy is made of many different types of treatment ideologies, and is accepted on varying scales by many medical communities.  Not unlike the use of cannabis, naturopathy has helped millions, but doesn’t have a fully recognized status – yet.

Ayurveda the knowledge for long life“, is a Hindu system of traditional medicine native to India, and another form of alternative medicine

Hinduism and Buddhism have influenced many of ayurveda’s central ideas, especially the idea of balance (not unlike the idea of qi in TCM).  Ayurveda basically supports everything in moderation.

Ayurvedic doctors regard physical and mental existence together, including personality as a unit, and this unit having the capacity to influence others. It is fundamental, during Ayurvedic therapy, to take this idea into account.

Hygiene is essential to Ayurveda therapies, as is plant-based medicines including spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, as are fats (eaten and used topically).  Ayurvedic medicines may include heavy minerals like sulfur, arsenic and lead – which adds some concern to their use.  This particular practice of minerals is called rasa shastra.

Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to align bones, joints, and muscles to improve health and relieve pain.

Osteopaths use spinal manipulation combined with traditional chiropractic techniques, adding mind-body techniques to treat the whole unit.

Although spinal manipulation (chiropractic or osteopathic) is generally safe, it is seen as complimentary medical treatments that is meant to be combined with other types of therapy and rehabilitation.

*Spinal manipulation may also pose a serious risk for stroke patients, or those with artery and nerve-related damage.  “Some doctors even warn that choosing spinal manipulation for pain could cause patients to miss signs of serious diseases, such as cancer [source: Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine].

The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as:

A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, crèmes or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.

Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.

Concerns have been raised by conventional medical professionals that “treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology, [or other alternative medicines], could delay appropriate medical treatment”.

This type of attitude towards alternative medicines is popular, and unfortunately makes those held captive by harsh medications and invasive ‘scientific’ treatments wary of pursuing them.

The British Medical Journal published this definition: “Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period.

Nowhere in this statement does it say CAMs are not worthwhile pursuing or don’t have beneficial results,  and that is important to note.

Disease happens for many reasons, and sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s not, why we become afflicted.  When there is pain, there is fear, depression and more debilitation.  If there are avenues that can lead one towards health or improve quality of life, why should they not be explored?

Relaxation, release, synergy, peace of mind, decrease in anxiety and/or depression are words and actions associated with alternative medicines – including medicinal marijuana!

I do believe, and it is believed in many of these alternative practices, if not all – that stress or disharmony is a leading cause of disease.  When one can be liberated of that stress, along with the physical toxins it creates, the chance of overcoming illness are most definitely improved.  And this will optimize recovery and get one back to natural health.

References:

“Ayurveda”. New Delhi, India: Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

Kunz, Kevin; Kunz, Barbara (1993). The Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology. Reflexology Research Project.

NIH Consensus Development Program (3–5 November 1997). “Acupuncture –Consensus Development Conference Statement”. National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. 24 Nov. 2012

Sarris, J., and Wardle, J. 2010. Clinical naturopathy: an evidence-based guide to practice. Elsevier Australia. Chatswood, NSW.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chiropractic-adjustment/ MY01107.

“Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics & Code of Conduct” (doc). Reflexology Association of Canada. 2005. 24 Nov. 2012

“Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Introduction.” Home Page. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 01 Mar. 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/ chinesemed.htm.

 

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Cannabis and Cancer

In Blog // on November 16th, 2012 // by // No comment

There has been an influx of ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer’ headlines I’ve noticed cropping up on Facebook and other daily scannings of social media websites.

I have first hand knowledge of the therapeutic benefits cannabis provides to cancer patients, but what are the facts behind the research of cancer and cannabis?

A blanket organization, The International Cannabinoid Research Society, has put together a few great fact sheets to help answer some questions around the how.

Here’s a summary of their answer to the question: Can cannabinoids treat cancer?

The cannabinoid is a much researched molecule at the moment. There have been many experiments done in-lab that support the claims behind cannabinoids treating cancer. However, the ICRS warns that lab results do vary from real-world scenarios, so keep in mind the complexity of the human body and the human condition when analyzing their results.

It has been discovered that various cannabinoids (both natural and synthetic) have a wide range of effects, including:

– Triggering cell death, through a mechanism called apoptosis
– Stopping cells from dividing
– Preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumours
– Reducing the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body, by stopping cells from moving or invading neighbouring tissue
– Speeding up the cell’s internal ‘waste disposal machine’ – a process known as autophagy – which can lead to cell death

They do warn that nothing is entirely miraculous (so far). The killing of cancer cells may also harm blood vessel cells. The body may develop a tolerance rendering cannabis of little help to the destruction of cancer cells. There is also fear there could be interference with the immune system recognizing harmful tumour cells.

But then again, some researchers have discovered that certain cannabinoids enhance the immune system, and defend specifically against cancer.

So far, I’d want cannabis in my corner.

The combination of cannabinoids with other chemotherapy drugs may be the best approach.

This idea is supported by lab experiments combining cannabinoids with other drugs including gemcitabine and temozolomide.”

In a clinical trial, nine people with an advanced, aggressive and terminal brain tumour were given highly purified THC through a tube directly into their brain.

Eight out of nine showed a clear response to the treatment. The study showed that THC administered to patients with cancer, no matter how severe, is safe and without side effects. It may not be able to prolong life with great certainty, but if anything, cannabinoids are worth pursuing in more clinical trials.

There has been other intriguing results around prostate, breast, lung cancer, skin, bone and pancreatic cancers, glioma brain tumours and lymphoma.

Different cannabinoids seem to have different effects on various cancer types.

Most research has been focused on THC, which occurs naturally in cannabis plants, but researchers have found that different cannabinoids seem to work better for different types of cancer cells. Lab experiments have shown promising results with THC on brain tumours and prostate cancer cells, while pure CBD seems to work well on breast cancer cells.”

CBD is a cannabidiol that makes up 40% of the cannabis plant, and is effectively the ‘stoney’, relaxant property of the medicine. There is worry around the psychoactive effects of purified THC, but scientists argue that it can be counteracted simply by administering CBD in conjunction.

Administration is another big area of study. Cannabinoids aren’t easily dissolved in water, (and therefore do not travel easily within human tissue) which means, without invasive delivery through injection, it’s difficult to pinpoint where the medicine is going.

But researchers are investigating other delivery methods such as tablets, oil injections, mouth sprays or even microspheres (that resemble super-mini medicine capsules).

The ICRS fact sheets continually remind the reader that there are many medicines that have been helpful in the fight against cancer, and that cannabinoids are an addition to that – not a straight alternative. But when there’s so much positive response to how well this medicine works – how can it still be considered bad?

In a fantastic article written for the examiner.com by Jeffrey Phelps (November 10, 2012), the history of cannabis use is looked at through the eyes of someone scratching their head, wondering how it all went so wrong?

I share the same view: that profit-driven politicians and fear sold to the masses began the prohibition – and it’s been a real battle to get back to the days of cannabis acceptance that was so strong before the ‘big change’.

Phelps writes, “Fortunately for freedom of choice and for the future development of many hemp-based products and medicines, countless studies have failed to find a link between cannabis smoke and cancer and have, in fact, shown that heavy marijuana smokers have fewer cancers than the general population and, surprisingly, even less than those who smoke nothing at all.

The heart-breaking story of Cash Hyde, a 4-year-old boy who succumbed to cancer after two full remissions, begs again: how can cannabis be bad? Because of the legal damnation of cannabis, Cash was denied the therapeutic and medicinal properties of marijuana, a denial that his parents belief cost him his life. (read more here)

Clinical tests concluding the positive effects marijuana has on battling cancer; historical evidence that cannabis was used for centuries in the fight against illness; and stories of today where those who use the medicine benefit greatly, certainly back up the claim that cannabis can cure cancer.

I hope the headlines keep coming.

References:

Arney, Kat. “Science Update Blog.” Cancer Research UK Science Update Blog. Cancer Research UK, 25 July 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. <http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/>.

Phelps, Jeffrey. “Will Cancer Rates in Colorado and Washington Drop Thanks to New Marijuana Law?” Examiner.com. Clarity Digital Group, 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. <http://www.examiner.com/article/cancer-rates-colorado-and-washington-to-drop-with-new-marijuana-law?cid=rss>.

Roberts, Chris. “Cash Hyde Succumbs to Cancer, Family Says Medical Marijuana Extended His Life.” SF Weekly Blogs. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. <http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/11/cash_hyde_dies_marijuana.php>.

Sarfaraz, S. et al (2008). Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise, Cancer Research, 68 (2) 342. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-2785

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The votes are in

In Blog // on November 7th, 2012 // by // No comment

Lots of excited shop talk today at Westcoast Medicann Society!

Colorado has passed an amendment to the constitution adopting a progressive and groundbreaking stance against marijuana prohibition in the state.

Amendment 64 essentially allows persons over the age of 21 to legally obtain from state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores, and carry and use up to one ounce of marijuana without a doctor’s prescription.  Individuals can also grow up to six mature marijuana plants privately in a locked space, and give as a gift to other citizens 21 years of age or older.

The idea is to regulate marijuana like alcohol, including adding taxes to the growing, and purchase, of cannabis, which could help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year.  The legalization will also reduce small-time, pot-related arrests and, “give supporters a chance to show whether decriminalization is a viable strategy in the war on drugs.”  

Not to mention, perhaps a sudden surge in Colorado tourism?

The ruling is a huge step towards the legalization of marijuana in America – and it will have an impact on Canadian laws.  But it will take time.

A brand new initiative comes with lots of regulations that need installation and time to exercise, including several testing procedures for the cannabis itself.

Allowing marijuana to be purchased for the enjoyment of non-medicinal reasons validates cannabis’ presence in society.  Amendment 64 admits the use of cannabis is here to stay – and it’s not bad.

There are, of course, arguments against the legalization of marijuana that mainly open with worry of youth use.  Increasing the accessibility of marijuana, they say, will create an addicted new generation, and more abuse of the ‘drug’.

On the future of our youth, I have an opinion.  It is not just teenagers who like to push the boundaries.  When something is withheld or deemed inappropriate, even dangerous, the urge to experiment, use and abuse, for whatever human reason, becomes stronger.  With education, discussion and safe practices, these ‘temptations’ lose much of their ‘naughty’ appeal, and instead, gain respect.

Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said:

“…voters are more informed about marijuana than ever before. They have also experienced the emergence of a state-regulated medical marijuana system that has not produced any serious problems, but has provided a number of benefits. We now know that marijuana cultivation and sales can be regulated, and that medical marijuana businesses do not contribute to increased crime. We have also seen marijuana use among high school students decrease since the state began implementing regulations, whereas it has increased nationwide where there are no regulations. And, of course, localities and the state have seen how much revenue can be generated through the legal sale of marijuana that would have otherwise gone into the underground market. Voters in Colorado no longer need to imagine what a legal and regulated system of marijuana sales would look like; they have seen it.”

Others have concern that the regulations may harm those who need marijuana for genuine medical needs.

In Canada, (and in Vancouver particularly), patients in need of medicinal marijuana have had the benefits of obtaining their product from medicinal dispensaries that offer quality medicine with reasonable price tags.  How will a regulated system for growers and dispensaries effect the cost to the patient?  With the legalization of marijuana to anyone over the age of 21 jack up prices for those who need it as a healthy alternative to the strongest of narcotics?  Will there be discrepancies between pricing for patients and recreational users? Or, because of greater access, and more legal participants, will pricing go down?

There is also the conundrum of the state of Colorado passing legalization, but the federal government maintaining their ground in prohibition land.

President Obama’s former senior drug policy advisor said that if the marijuana initiatives pass, a war will be incited between the federal government and the states that pass them. “”Once these states actually try to implement these laws, we will see an effort by the feds to shut it down.””

Although this is a valid quandry, supporters of the movement believe that the United States Federal Government will stay quiet and cooperative when push comes to shove.

This is a sign of good faith I believe that more education and practice of policies will happily see through.

References: 

http://www.king5.com/news/politics/Washington-voters-approve-marijuana-177586181.html

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/11/john_suthers_marijuana_critic_defend_amendment_64.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Amendment_64_(2012)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/amendment-64-passes-in-co_n_2079899.html

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Vaporizing

In Blog // on November 2nd, 2012 // by // No comment

There are a couple of products at Westcoast Medicann Society that have been getting a wave of attention.

They are quite sleek and shiny, and come with chargers that plug into the wall.

They are vaporizers.

Westcoast Medicann Society is quite dedicated to selling medicine. There is a lot of variety to our products: we sell herb, oils (edible and smokable), cookies, brownies, popcorn, suckers, gummy candy, capsules and budder (just to mention a few).

Although our equipment selection is very limited, we have had one herbal vaporizer in stock for some time.

The Arizer Solo is a battery powered portable vaporizer made by a Canadian manufacturer and produced by Arizer Tech. Equipped with a ceramic heater core, the Arizer Solo heats up extremely fast and is easy to use. The Arizer Solo also features an all glass mouthpiece and a borosilicate glass bowl. The battery on the Arizer Solo is a long lasting lithium battery that recharges in only 4 hours and will give 4 hours of continuous use depending, on the temperature setting.

The Arizer Solo will shut off automatically after 12 minutes of non-use. The LED indicators show the current temperature of the vaporizer. The Solo is designed to remember the previous used temperature when turned off/ on.

The Arizer Solo measures about the size of a small energy drink can and weighs less than 200 grams making it a highly portable vaporizer. The Solo vaporizer is easy to use, fast, efficient and quickly concealed in a pocket or purse. This unit has been recognized as the best portable vaporizer is many Arizer reviews and customer feedback agrees that the Arizer Solo is a great choice for a new vaporizer.

On top of being such a conveniently totable little piece of equipment, there are health benefits to choosing a vaporizer over the traditional marijuana cigarette.

Flame, as in a burning cigarette, creates smoke and gaseous toxins that can be harmful when inhaled. Vaporizers heat dried cannabis (or other organic matter) at lower and even temperatures – to the point just before combustion, or flame. This method captures the vital elements (the cannabinoids and THC) and enhances them with the heat, basically turning them into their purest forms, without damage to the product or the patient.

The patient breathes the vapor. Which, as a side effect of the heating process, has little to no odour.  So the possibility of publicly taking one’s medication without worry of judgement, or lawful interference, increases.

Because the essential elements of the medicine are accentuated through the vaporization process, the effects are concentrated as well. Clear, clean feelings of well-being are experienced, and one has more control over the stony strength.
Only dried herb should be used in this particular type of vaporizer. There are also oil vaporizers, one which we now carry as well.

The premise is the same, however oil vaporizers use cartridges of concentrated hash oil (or honey oil) and are heated the same way. A slow and steady rise in temperature (which actually isn’t that slow) warms the oil into a vapor which can be inhaled. The exhale is relatively odorless as well.

Anytime anything, including cannabis, is converted into an oil, the potency increases. Oil vaporizers promise very strong effects with very little use. One cartridge of oil used in a vaporizer can last up to three weeks, or 300 pulls.

When using a vaporizer, a patient usually finds they buy less product as their medicine lasts longer. The long-term economical advantage of vaporizing is worth the initial output of money to purchase the equipment up front.

Westcoast Medicann Society is dedicated to providing healthy choices to all its patients. The vaporizers we supply are small and discreet, work well, and are reasonably priced. However, our selection is not the widest in the land, so let us refer you to some fantastic smoke equipment shops in Vancouver that have a greater range of vaporizers for you to choose from.

Cottonmouth Smoke Shop

Puff

Ignite Smoke Shop

New Amsterdam Cafe

Westcoast Medicann specializes in personal client attention and quality medicinal knowledge. Come and meet with us!
Open 11 – 7 Monday through Saturday, and 12 – 5 on Sundays.

References:
http://arizer.org/arizer-solo-vaporizer.htm

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