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The Infusion of CBD in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Jul 9th, 2018

Perhaps, the most sickening thing about the western school of medicine is that it requires people to get sick first (pun not intended) and then get cured. However, more and more westerners are getting aware of its limitations with each passing day, and are looking for alternative ways of treatment.


Chinese herbal medicine offers several therapeutic methods that make use of concepts based on a five thousand years old cultural practices. It incorporates numerous variations of herbal medicine, Tui Na (massage), acupuncture, Tai Chi (exercise), and dietary therapies. Most people have heard about acupuncture and its applications, but a vast majority of folks are clueless about the role of cannabis in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Research is substantiating that acupuncture functions in conjunction with the Endocannabinoid System, and so does the cannabis. It will not be an exaggeration to draw this conclusion, if the patient is using cannabis for inflammation or pain, adding acupuncture could ease the pain.


Cannabis carries a significantly long history in Chinese Medicine. It is among the fifty fundamental herbs of Chinese school of traditional medicine and is routinely prescribed to treat a plethora of symptoms. Natively known as Má; which translates to hemp, numbness, or cannabis in Chinese; was utilized by Emperor Shen Nung; who also used to be a pharmacologist.


He penned a medical guide on treatment methods and therapies in circa 2737 BC, which was the first ever document that illustrated the role of Cannabis in Chinese Medicine. Shen Nung was worried about the shortcomings and flaws of Shamanism and researched the properties of several Chinese plants, often trying them on himself. He was said to be turned green and passed away one day from the adverse effects of a poisonous shrub after consuming it. He used to prescribe a hemp elixir, which was said to be a tea blended with flowers and leaves, and he often asked the patients to barter hemp for his consultations. The oldest pharmacopeia, Pen Ts’ao Ching, essentially a reference manual about herbs, was published in 1 AD and the book was a painstaking compilation of various traditions from the era of Shen Nung dynasty. The pharmacological guide aggregated more than a hundred of ailments that could be healed by cannabis; such as, gout, malaria, rheumatism, and poor or difficulty in concentration to name a few. Centuries later, an ancient Chinese inscription spoke of the benefits of cannabis in treating nausea and vomiting, hemorrhages, and parasitic diseases.


Hua Tuo (140-208 AD) was the first ever person to be acknowledged and duly credited for demonstrating the importance of (Cannabidiol, i.e., CBD in short; is a substance found in cannabis) CBD in TCM as an anesthetic. The Chinese word for anesthesia is incidentally comprised of the Chinese character meaning hemp, and the subsequent letter connotes intoxication. He dehydrated the cannabis plant and mixed its powder with wine to administer the concoction externally as well as internally. Hua Tuo presumably used the more potent Indian hemp or varieties with elevated CBD concentrations as anesthetics and blended them with wine for systemic and local administration; before surgically severing the decayed tissues of his patients. He firmly believed that cannabis eases the perception of pain to a great extent if appropriately used with acupuncture.  


Are acupuncture and Cannabinoid therapy an interesting combination?


People widely use acupuncture for chronic and acute pain, but the underlying mechanism is yet to be fully comprehended. Fine surgical needles are inserted into the superficial structures of a person, receiving this age-old alternative Chinese therapeutic practice, and those needles are subsequently glided by the specialist. The objective is to influence and alter the movement of Qi; the vital force that is surrounding and penetrating the human body all the time; by carefully sliding medical-grade needles down the skin, muscles, and subcutaneous tissues; typically at acupuncture points. Acupuncturists in China theorized that the inherent reason behind all the pain and dysfunction is the stagnation and absence of flow of this energy. The constructs of TCM are necessarily formulated upon the very belief that acupuncture facilitates the motion of Qi through various energy exit routes of the human body.


Acupuncture is often used side by side with moxibustion, where the mugwort herb is burned near the skin or after rolled in a cigar so that it can function as a useful source of concentrated heat energy. The Chinese characters that make up of the word acupuncture mean acupuncture-moxibustion. The TCM degree courses do teach moxibustion therapy, however, many of the therapists find it too good to be used at the office.


Many of the researchers argue that it was cannabis and not mugwort, which was used inside the cigar, and the latter was put to used to wrap the cigar. Mugwort does happen to be the wrap as well as the herb used as a floss material in the core of the cigar in modern times. Chinese quacks were, most likely, encouraging their patients to smoke; and some inferred that the smoke has medicinal properties and that the vapor stimulates the skin with heat. It was practiced before the inception of acupuncture.


During the 1970s, various scientific studies suggested that the endogenous opioids mediate the analgesic effects caused by acupuncture. The present research is focused on the psychology of endocannabinoids, which are produced by the human body and are chemically analogous to the cannabinoids, or CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in plants. About half a dozen of endocannabinoids and more than five dozens of cannabinoids are documented to date. Researchers showed that significant crosstalk happens between endocannabinoids and opioids. Present studies about the CB1/2 (cannabinoid type one/two) receptors aim to explain how and why cannabinoid binding boosts opiate performance and vice versa.


To summarize, acupuncture influences both the cannabinoid and opioid systems by liberating endogenous receptor ligands. Furthermore, the studies conducted in the 1970s exhibited increased opiate production. A research study performed in 2009, which employed the technique of electro-acupuncture, to soothe inflamed skin tissues; discovered a considerable increase in the quantity of anandamide, a type of endocannabinoid,in the treated tissues of the subject’s skin.

Author Name: Michell

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