Database of Traditional Cannabis Uses

Photo by cannabispictures via Flickr, reproduced according to Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0.

This article presents a database of traditional uses of cannabis:

Balant M. et al. (2021). CANNUSE, a database of traditional Cannabis uses—an opportunity for new research. Database, Volume 2021, 2021, baab024, https://doi.org/10.1093/database/baab024 .

Here is the abstract of the article:

Cannabis is one of the most versatile genera in terms of plant uses and has been exploited by humans for millennia due to its medicinal properties, strong fibres, nutritious seeds and psychoactive resin. Nowadays, Cannabis is the centre of many scientific studies, which mainly focus on its chemical composition and medicinal properties. Unfortunately, while new applications of this plant are continuously being developed, some of its traditional uses are becoming rare and even disappearing altogether. Information on traditional uses of Cannabis is vast, but it is scattered across many publication sources in different formats, so synthesis and standardization of these data are increasingly important. The CANNUSE database provides an organized information source for scientists and general public interested in different aspects of Cannabis use. It contains over 2300 entries from 649 publications related to medicinal, alimentary, fibre and other uses from different geographical areas and cultures around the world. We believe this database will serve as a starting point for new research and development strategies based on the traditional knowledge.

Database URL: http://cannusedb.csic.es

The Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) in Western Herbalism

If the image is too small for you to read the words, enlarge your window by holding down ‘Control’ and scrolling up with your mouse wheel.

I may cover the Auyrvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine perspectives on Common Nettle in another post.

Copyright © Robert Hale 2021.

References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urticaceae Retrieved    
23/04/21.
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica Retrieved 23/04/21.
3. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/urtica#Etymology Retrieved 23/04/21.
4. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dioicus
Retrieved 23/04/21
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica_dioica
Retrieved 23/04/21.
6. Bone S., Mills K. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd ed. Edinburgh (UK): Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosales
Retrieved 28/04/2021.
8. http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2011/homolka_kail/habitat.htm
Retrieved 28/04/2021.
9. Holmes P. (1993). The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol. 1, Revised Second Edition. Berkeley, USA: NatTrop Publishing.
10. https://www.healthyhildegard.com/doctrine-signatures-healing-plants/
Retrieved 28/04/2021.
11. Hale R. D. (2021). My own “cheatsheet” summary.
12. Wood M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. (Berkeley (USA): North Atlantic Books.

Why Are Dosing Recommendations So Inconsistent in Herbal Medicine?

Photo of licorice root from wallpaperflare.com. Royalty-free image.

The good news is that dosing for dried herbs taken as such (for example by chewing or as a powder in a capsule or stirred into water), or in simple water-based preparations such as infusions and decoctions, are often remarkably consistent even across cultures (e.g. traditional Chinese and traditional Western).

The perplexing thing is that with other kinds of preparations, notably tinctures and other liquid extracts, dosing recommendations differ widely between authors and between schools of thought. And yet you will not meet a practitioner who does not claim good results.

What is happening here? Here are some possibilities which we ought to consider:

  1. Many plants have a very wide therapeutic window.
  2. Herbs work in different ways when prescribed at higher, lower or minute doses, however they work to the same end. For example, some practitioners believe that in small doses herbs nudge the body towards a healing response rather than taking over parts of its physiology, which happens with larger doses: the difference between a subtle suggestion and a command. Others believe that it is some “subtle energy” conveyed by the herb, rather than the chemicals it contains, that interacts with the body’s “energy” to produce a healing response. This, they say, explains its effectiveness when used in extremely tiny doses.
  3. Practitioners’ perceptions and beliefs are subject to considerable biases and therefore are not reliable reflections of reality. The reality might be that in many cases the patient’s encounter with them and the associated treatment did not materially affect the course of the patient’s condition.
  4. The patient’s encounter with them and the associated treatment did affect the course of the patient’s condition, but this was not due in any way to the kind of herb prescribed, its dose or the nature of its preparation. It was due to other factors in the context of the interaction which we shall call “non-specific factors” e.g. the patient liked the practitioner and perceived them to be trustworthy and competent, which engendered belief in the treatment prescribed.
  5. More than one of these things are happening at the same time.

Number 5 is my best guess, with the proviso that with regard to number 2, I do not believe in “subtle energies” disembodied from the chemistry of life. But I would like to direct people’s attention to numbers 3 and 4, the importance of which I believe most practitioners vastly underestimate, and some even deny. As practitioners of a non-conventional system of medicine, there is a tendency to be defensive on these matters, which is understandable as it is a commonplace for sceptics to assume, “Well, it’s all placebo, isn’t it?” But non-specific effects along with patient and practitioner biases and are normal phenomena occurring every day in all branches of medicine, conventional and non-conventional, all over the world. Only if we admit their importance and attempt to account for them can we move to a more mature understanding of our discipline and our art as practitioners.

Copyright © Robert Hale 2021.

Rosemary Extract Decreases Acetylcholinesterase Activity and Increases Antioxidant Capacity

The title of this study may be misleading: “Antioxidant and anticholinergic effects of rosemary extract: a double-blind randomized controlled trial”.

In this small-scale study, 1000 mg per day of rosemary powder was found to increase total antioxidant activity and decrease acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity. Decreased AChE activity means increased activity in cholinergic neurons; thus rosemary does not have an anticholinergic effect but a cholinergic one. The dysfunction and loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons and their cortical projections are among the earliest pathological events in Alzheimer’s disease (Wikipedia). Indeed the authors allude to the potential use of rosemary in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212958821000215

Plants Used for Urinary Stones in Traditional Iranian Medicine

This review of classic texts indicates that medicinal plants such as Feverfew, Chickpea, Bindii (Tribulus terrestris), Grape leaves, Lithospermum officinale, Carum copticum, Matricaria recutita, Grape, Prunus spp, Ferula persica, Apium graveolens, Nigella sativa, Peucedanum officinalis, Allium sativum, Centaurea cyan, Brassica rapa, Armenica vulgaris, Cucumber, Atriplex hortensis, Cucurbita maxima, Zingiber zerumbet, Arnebia euchroma and Origanum majorana are the most important medicinal plants used in traditional Iranian medicine for the treatment of kidney stones.

http://pbp.medilam.ac.ir/files/site1/user_files_7dh7d7/pirhadi-A-10-118-2-bf2b6d4.pdf

Pirhadi M. and Shahsavari S. An Overview of the Most Important Me-dicinal Plants Used in Iranian Traditional Medicine for the Treatment of Kidney Stones: A mini-review article. Plant Bio-technol Persa 2021; 3(1): 01-4.