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The Origins of Prescription Opioids

Plants Not Pills

The search for a perfect painkiller is as old as humankind. For thousands of years ancient societies pressed herbs and flowers to try find a cure for chronic pain, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the discovery of a “miracle drug” changed the course of history like no other drug before.

In the early 1800s, a pharmaceutical assistant named Friedrich Wlhelm Sertürner began experimenting with opium poppies in northern Germany . By then it was well known that the sap from opium poppies could provide effective pain relief. The problem was that not all poppies (or sap for that matter) are created equal. Sometimes the sap wasn’t strong enough. In other cases it was so strong it would prove fatal. What Surtürner discovered was that by isolating a specific alkaloid found in opium, he could administer pain relief in precise doses.

A new drug was born: morphine.

In 1827, the owner of the Engel-Apotheke in Darmstadt, Germany, Emanuel Merck, began to supply morphine on a large scale. The success of his venture led to the foundation of the Merck pharmaceutical company, the first in what would become one of the world’s most powerful industries. Soon afterwards, doctors discovered that injecting the liquid morphine provided quicker and stronger results. The Civil War created an increased demand for the powerful analgesic. From that time on, morphine became a staple on battlefields around the world. Before long it had penetrated the civilian population. Beverages containing morphine were widely sold in US pharmacies. In 1897, a chemist at the Bayer company found and patented another morphine derivative called “Heroin” which was widely used as a cough medicine for children. In addition to opioids, Germany was quickly becoming the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, importing almost all of Peru’s production of the raw stuff for processing and sale.

The reason for Germany as the hub for pharmaceutical production was that it had (and still has) a high concentration of chemists and engineers. Germany also desperately needed to build up a powerful homegrown business that did not rely on foreign imports. Unlike Great Britain, France or Belgium, Germany did not have colonies to rely on for commerce.

World War I would prove another boon for the pharmaceutical industry (war always does), but it had some unexpected after shocks. Addiction to opioids and amphetamines sky rocketed around the world. At the time, pharmaceutical companies were happy to keep up with demand. Not coincidentally, this is the era when we find the first pharmaceutical lobby groups starting to align themselves with politicians, particularly in the US, to ban cannabis, a substance deemed amoral and deadly.

Ironically, long before opioids entered the mainstream market, cannabis in dried and oil form was sold in pharmacies to relieve migraines, indigestion and other common conditions. To give it a more foreign sounding and nefarious connotation, US politicians, with the help of the media, adopted the colloquial name for cannabis used by Mexican immigrant workers: marijuana. Ad campaigns against the substance featured immigrants and minorities, a way of making sure it was associated with race and bred discrimination. In the 1940s, cannabis was federally banned in the US, but opioids in all their ever changing forms have remained legal to this day. The same companies continue to flourish and sell prescription opioids rich in oxycodone. Merck famously supported lobby groups that tried to block legislation limiting the prescription of Oxycontin. 

But Canadians now have an alternative to opioids in the form of medical cannabis. Unlike opioids, which are responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses across Canada each year, there has yet to be a single death recorded as a result of cannabis use. In addition Licensed Producers are far more regulated than pharmaceutical companies and offer safe, effective cannabis in dried, oil and topical forms.

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis under Canada’s ACMPR guidelines, then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca

Why Licensing Will Matter When Legalization Happens

Tax Free Medical Cannabis

Anyone who lives in Ontario understands the burn of having harmonized sales tax (HST) added to nearly every retail purchase. Even when we don’t see the tax, it’s still there. Booze is a perfect example. On top of the LCBO’s significant mark up on imported wines, HST is also added into the price. The result is that what amounts to a $4 bottle of wine in Spain mysteriously turns into a $30 bottle once it hits Canadian shelves. We mention the LCBO because by many accounts (and if Premier Wynne has her way), this is the model the government will implement on recreational cannabis once it is legalized.

On the other hand, medical cannabis under a “Shopper’s Drug Mart” framework will likely be treated as all other medications which by law do not incur any federal taxes. Therefore, medical marijuana license holders may enjoy significant savings in this respect, though in many ways they already do considering they have access to strains for as little as $3,50/gram, compassionate pricing programs and are able to claim their medical marijuana as a tax deductible expense.

Recently, a high profile case has brought up another highly likely scenario: medical marijuana license holders may qualify for partial or even full insurance coverage of their medical marijuana. Imagine…millions of Canadians being able to treat their myriad of health conditions without paying a dime out-of-pocket for their safe, natural medicine…. Now wouldn’t that be something?

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca. Use the promo code Health17 and enjoy a $25 discount off all fees associated with licensing.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) and Migraines

Blackboard with the chemical formula of CBD

For millions of people worldwide, a perceived change in light, altered vision, nausea and even hallucinations are just a few of the potential early onset symptoms of a migraine. Here is a brief overview of this neurological syndrome and how cannabidiol (CBD) can potentially alleviate the throbbing (and often excruciating) pain experienced by migraine sufferers.

What is a migraine?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “migraines are typically moderate to severe headaches that only affect one side of the head. They usually come on very suddenly and are described as throbbing or pounding headaches.”

Though the exact cause of migraines are still unknown, research published by the Migraine Research Foundation states that the cause of a migraine is due to a disorder in the nerve pathways and brain chemicals. Furthermore, studies have shown the disorder is linked to genes. Therefore, genetics play a factor.

According to statistics published in 2011 by Health Canada, approximately 2.7 million Canadians reported that they had been diagnosed with a migraine.

CBD Oil and Migraines

In 1990, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, published the first study indicating that the brain contains cannabinoid receptors. In subsequent years, this group of receptors or portals came to be known as the endocannabinoid system, which according to research published in 2009 by the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia, is “where the brain produces and processes endocannabinoids, the brain’s own cannabis-like substances. Endocannabinoids are thought to be responsible for regulating inflammation and pain sensation.” A study conducted by researchers at the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante, speaks about the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a principal component of the cannabis plant and the second highest abundant in cannabinoids. According to the study, “cannabidiol has well-documented biological effects of potential therapeutic interest, such as anti-anxiety, anti-convulsive, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.”

In 2010, the first study showing a link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and migraines was published by the IRCCS Neurological Institute. The findings corroborated the research from the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante. In addition, the IRCCS study suggested that “activation of ECS could represent a promising therapeutic tool for reducing both the physiological and inflammatory components of pain that are likely involved in migraine attacks.”

Since medical cannabis was first made accessible to Canadians in 2014, thousands of migraine sufferers have chosen high CBD medical cannabis strains as an alleviant for their migraine symptoms.

When it comes to CBD oil, our preferred licensed producer is CannTrust, which offers the ONLY pharmaceutically STANDARDIZED oral solution for patients who prefer not to smoke their medical cannabis. Migraine sufferers interested in trying CannTrust’s new CBD Drops should call 1-855-794-2266.

For help with medical cannabis licensing or to sign up for a free medical cannabis consultation, please register on our website using the promo code CBD710.