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Cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol) and other hemp products are currently experiencing a huge hype.

Will this continue to bejust a phase, or the beginning of much needed medical advancements?


What effects can they have have on mood, well-being,appetite and sleep?


Cannabinoid combinations, how cannabinoids interact, risk assessments & research findings from the European Cannabinoid Therapy Association. 

Cannabinoids: Hype or Medicine?

26.01.21. Original Article appears in Raum & Zeit, Ausgabe 223 by Martin Möhrke, Achthuizen (Netherlands). Tranlsated by Liam Aierstock, Amsterdam (Netherlands), January 2021.

The hemp plant itself has been around for over 5,000 year, an old story. Because of this, there exist today several thousand varieties and crossings of the original plant, some of which can contain the highest possible amounts of THC or CBD these plants should be able achieve.

A main goal is the extraction of these cannabinoids and other substances that may have medical potential.Compared with previous years, we have seen a huge increase in research carried out with ingredients from the cannabis plant rather than synthetic substances. In the medical meta-database of Pubmed there are now thousands of peer reviewed studies, independent research, scientific reviews and more work in which the mechanisms of action of various cannabinoids are detailed [1].

It is a common misconception that the effects of cannabis products are solely dependent on THC levels. The specific effects of certain types of cannabis plants become much more apparent with a combination of several cannabinoids like THCV, CBG, CBC, CBD,CBN, CBDV and other, not yet fully determined cannabinoids and terpenes.  They also appear in differing concentrations within the plant. Therefore, every cannabis strain is unique in its medicinal effects/properties.

Cannabinoids are active ingredients that can be found mainly in the plant species Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. They possess strong pharmacological effects in practically every synaptic transmission of the central and peripheral nervous system as well of our body’s immune system. There are now an estimated 120 identified cannabinoids and over 400 other substances from the cannabis plant have been isolated. These are almost all found exclusively in the female hemp plant. The male plant is used mainly for industrial purposes such as paper production and building materials.

The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) cannabinoid contained in the hemp plant bears a strong resemblance to the naturally occurring endocannabinoid produced in the human body, anandamide. This explains how both molecules interactwith our CB-receptors, which werediscovered in 1992 and are found on cellsacross the body. Like a key & lock, both endocannabinoids(human) & phytocannabinoids (plant) canbind with these receptors, resulting in cellreactions like for example in nerve cellswhere they can influence the actionpotential.

Cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and CBG (cannabigerol) are medicinal substances obtained from the flowers of the female hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa). Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), they are not psychoactive and are not subject to the Narcotics Act in Germany or Europe. Cannabinoids are now being researched pharmaceutically worldwide and have a wide range of applications, from Alzheimer’s to eating disorders, skin conditions and cancer, to insomnia, nausea and vomiting. 

Endocannabinoids are the body’s own active ingredients that are involved in important key processes of the body such as digestion, sleep, forgetting (trauma) and protection (strengthening the immune system). They influence the regulation of the entire brain, intestinal and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axes [2].

Endocannabinoids belong to the neurotransmitter system of the body. The receptors in this system work together precisely with endocannbinoids; for example THC binds with the CB1 receptor while CBD binds with the CB2 receptor.

These receptors are protein complexes on or in the cell membrane of body cells. When THC molecules bind to this CB1 receptor -for example a brain cell- it triggers a change in the action potential of the cell. This then triggers an excitation signal along neurotransmitters and synapses to the immune system where defence cells take action.

(The diagram presented here is the property of Bedrocan and is used educational purposes.)

There are hundreds of different receptors which can be found in all types of cell types throughout our central nervous system (brain) and in the peripheral nervous system (body). 

The CB1 and CB2 cell surface receptors are only the most commonly occurring receptors, both in our organs (brain, smooth muscle tissue, sex & digestive organs) as well as in the immune system (B cells and cytotoxic T-cells).

The CB1 and CB2 receptors are almost universal in their transmission of nerve impulses through almost every known neurotransmitter involved in bodily functions.


Phytocannabinoids, the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant, cancompete with and mimic the bodies own endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids can directly influence neurotransmitter uptake.

Cannabinoids from external sources compete with these transmitters around the CB receptors and release effects similar to those of the body’s own neurotransmitters. For example, CBG (cannabigerol), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs in various types of cannabis, can inhibit GABA reuptake and therefore can promote sleep and positively influence stress & fear responses. GABA reuptake inhibitors are already used like this to treat anxiety in some cases.

Overall, external cannabinoids suchas those from the cannabis plants can have various effects on the activity of numerous messenger substances in the brain, not just GABA. These alsoinclude dopamine, acetylcholine, endorphins, prolactin, glutamate, histamine, norepinephrine, prostaglandins, serotonin, opioid peptides and many more. This explains why cannabis products can have an influence on diseases and illness.

“With a natural, ‘full spectrum’ hemp oil and many different cannabinoids inside, it is almost impossible to predict the effects”

Martin Möhrke, Cannabinoid Researcher & Natural Healthcare Specialist

This is why we are seeing a growing reliance on isolated cannabinoid oils which contain the single cannabinoids separately and at higher concentrations to provide targeted relief and treatment. An oil high in CBD only can therefore provide targeted relief to help with sleep disorders, anxiety, spasms and epilepsy. CBD can also stimulate bone growth, whereby overall using cannabinoids in these targeted ways can help alleviate symptoms more efficiently.

While products & oils with various cannabinoids are almost widely available, they often differ greatly in terms of quality. In combination, cannabinoids can offer synergistic, antagonistic and greater additive effects while at the same time offering the potential to lower adverse effects of other drugs or illnesses. This is what results in such far-reaching effects and applications of medical cannabis; it can provide sedation, pain relief, appetite stimulation, sleep aid, nausea suppression, cramp release, stimulation and so much more. 

Some of the most suited applications of medical cannabis, cannabinoids and oil-based extracts include:

Cannabis & Geriatric Medicine

Based on their demonstrated safety, there are several specific cannabis preparations with strong analgesic (pain relief) and, if needed, euphoric effects which are very well suited to geriatric or palliative treatments.

These cannabis preparations, often cannabinoid-specific, can improve mood, increase appetite and can provide a deep and comforting sleep. Consumable in many forms either as a pure oil or in teas and baked foods [3].

Nerve Cells & Healing

An increasing number of studies from Pubmed and the European Cannabinoid Therapy Association have shown the strong effect of CBD on nerve cells, axons and dendrites and how it may have the potential to heal them. Nerve endings are reconstructed and receptors can communicate again [4]. 

CBD has been found to be the first non-toxic, external substance that can significantly lower expression of ID-1 Inhibitors in metastatic breast cancer cells, which in turn leads to lower tumour aggressiveness [5].

Relaxation / for Anxiety

For those often caught up in stressful situations or with generalised anxiety, a few drops of CBD can often lead to instant tension release and relief in just a few minutes. Those with sweaty palms and anxiety are noticeably quiter and more relaxed after only 3 to 5 minutes. These measurements from our blood work in the laboratory and practical assessments demonstrate the actual effects of CBD oil drops. Using HRV measurement (heart rate variability) we are able to differentiate between acute and chronic stress. 


The increase in popularity of CBD could be attributed to its ability to potentially eliminate the need for many existing medicines. It is for these reasons that we are perhaps also seeing more lawsuits regarding the matter. Internet retailers such as Amazon block the sale of CBD and cannabis products, while the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has placed several cannabinoids on the list of Novel Foods, making it difficult to sell these products despite the fact that cannabinoid products have existed on the market since before 1997.

Nevertheless, there is still a bright future ahead for cannabinoids and cannabis products. Researchers studying and uncovering new variants and components of the cannabis plant continue to make new findings daily. 

An increasing number of countries continue to adopt new legal cannabis legislation, including individual states of the US. At this time CBD productsin the EU are not permitted to contain more than 0,2% THC. Most contain extracts from cannabis sativa plants in hemp seed oil as a carrier oil. Many cultivars contain relatively low amounts of THC with high CBD concentrations. Through new cross-breeding and patented technologies it is now possible to create specific highly concentrated cannabinoids or a mixture of the different or most important cannabinoids for which the effects are known. When the end product contains only 5 of the more than 200 existing substances, it is then possible to properly evaluate the effects and metabolism of the product in question. 

In general, the CBD percentage of an oil does not need to exceed 10%. In this way it remains impossible to overdose on CBD despite its potential to influence the effects of blood thinners or thyroid medication. This is due to the fact that CBD can accelerate the rate at which toxins, but also medications, are eliminated from the bloodstream. In the case of some medications this is not the desired scenario.

Those who opt to consume cheaper CBD oil variants with over 200 substances due to lack of impure extraction, put themselves at risk due to the still undefined range of effects. A more favourable approach is taking isolated cannabinoids, that is, consuming single extractions or a blend of isolated extracted cannabinoids where the interactions with other medications have been documented. 

Thanks to the continuous findings and ongoing medical research we can look toward more frequent improvements in knowledge of cannabinoids and their interactions. As this continues, we see an almostinfinite expansion of the potential cannabinoids and their effects. We can also accept that the quality of raw materials will play a defining role in terms of market success. Hemp cultivators should for example favour natural and non-chlorinated water for irrigation purposes.Processing and extraction method sare also significantly improving, giving us the ability to develop patented methods that can yield up to 99,9% guaranteed pure cannabinoids.

Quality is a deciding factor, and standardisation is necessary for pharmaceutical compliance. CBD products therefore belong in pharmacies and not health food stores. This enables pharmacists to engage doctors and ask about side effects and more information. It also enables patients to find reliable treatment options and suitable cannabis products that have demonstrated effects for their symptoms. 

Martin Möhrke works for a dutch company active in the research and production ofcannabinoids, Optima Formula BV

These products can be ordered in many pharmacies and online. Martin has worked with complimentary therapy and medicine such as acupuncture orthomolecular medicine, homeopathy, thermography, and energy therapy. Heruns a natural health clinic for natural treatment in Numansdorp, Netherlands. 

Martins’ current focus is research on cannabinoid combinations for the treatment of sleep disorders, obesity, anxiety and depression. 


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