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Cannabis Receptors & Food

Researchers discover a food that stimulates human cannabinoid receptors.

December 9, 2010 |
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Transcript

In 1973, scientists discovered that we have specific receptors in our brain for opiate drugs like heroin and morphine. Since we didn’t evolve shooting up, it stood to reason that there were natural compounds produced by our bodies that fit into those receptors. So we went looking, discovered them, and named them “endogenous morphines,” or endorphins for short. And endorphins are good, they’re our natural pain relievers, released during exercise, the consumption of spicy food, and orgasm. So, there are healthier ways to stimulate these receptors than shooting up heroin.
In 1990, scientists discovered that we have specific receptors in our brain for the active ingredient in marijuana as well, cannabinoids like THC. Since we didn’t evolve toking up, it stood to reason that there were natural compounds produced by our bodies that fit into those receptors. So we went looking, discovered them, and named them endocannabinoids, endogenous cannabinoids. And endocannabinoids are good, they’re one of our bodies ways to ease nausea, ease pain, generally chill us out. The question is, is there a way to get the good without the bad, stimulate these receptors without smoking marijuana.
What’s so bad about smoking marijuana? Lung cancer. Smoking just a single joint is like smoking an entire pack of cigarettes. The worst death I ever witnessed in my medical career, the one that gives me the most nightmares, was a lung cancer victim gasping for breath being drowned by their tumors. It was hideous. Please don’t smoke—anything. Smoke inhalation is bad no matter what the source.
Thankfully, researchers discovered a food this year that stimulates cannabinoid receptors, so you can get the benefits without the risks. Which food was it? Was it broccoli, coconuts, garlic, green tea, mushrooms, or tomatoes? It was the tea.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions

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  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/veguyan/ Veguyan

    Michael,

    How can we believe in any study? It seems they can always refute each other.

    Veguyan

    By Marc Kaufman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, May 26, 2006
    The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2007) — The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1294863558 John Furr

      It’s not conflicting data. The 2007 study used cannabis extract. If you want to get that same effect then you should juice a few ounces of marijuana and drink that daily. Unless you heat it the THC won’t be activated and you won’t get high..or in the case of consuming a few ounces you won’t pass out for a few day’s.

      Smoking marijuana does not provide you with nearly enough cannabinoids and you still get all the toxic effects of smoke.

      If you are going to use recreationally then either eat (after heating it..brownies) it or vaporize it to minimize the harmful combustion products.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/veguyan/ Veguyan

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 29 — Smoking a single marijuana joint may be as carcinogenic to the lung as 20 tobacco cigarettes, researchers here determined.

    ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2008) — A new study finds that the development of bullous lung disease occurs in marijuana smokers approximately 20 years earlier than tobacco smokers.

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 5, 2009) — In a finding that challenges the increasingly popular belief that smoking marijuana is less harmful to health than smoking tobacco, researchers in Canada are reporting that smoking marijuana, like smoking tobacco, has toxic effects on cells.

    • Damien

      All of these, tests were done on Chimpanzees, the only way to “Make” Them smoke a marijuana cigarette is to FILL the room with smoke until they dont breath anything but smoke, further causing respiratory problems, so on so on, the actual effects of Marijuana are much less harmful then smoking Tobaco, i got cancer from smoking tobaco, and got cured by….you guessed it, MARIJUANA

    • Richard K

      wrong! ccic.net get reading! I’m sooo in Cannada and you gotta read the wholes studies eh! And remember they are controlled studies by corps. and gov.s to make their drugs be in the best light. Veguyan you will be convinced of radiation and chemo, nothing I can do about that other than to get you to trust the earth dude. Be your first opinion. Meducate yourself! .trythis … http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21749363

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/veguyan/ Veguyan

    BOTTOM LINE: I AIN’T SMOKIN’!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you for bringing up this important larger point. What does one do in the face of conflicting evidence? The answer is to look at the balance of evidence and ask yourself before making any decision “What does the best available evidence show right now?” Unfortunately, sometimes the media fails to put new study results in context and so you get this kind of intellectual whiplash back and forth. In terms of the purported link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer, although doubts have been raised, the latest review continues to raise strong concerns. It seems smoke inhalation is not good for your lungs, whether from a burning building or bogie.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ryanseaton Ryan 船 Seaton

        What about the benefits of medical cannabis or drinking marijuana tea etc ? ie vs smoking it ? Currently discussing this on my Facebook page …

        • Andrew Cerone

          To Ryan.. I have the same question. Smoking anything is bad, so that does not make marijuana bad. Im sure smoking GREEN TEA is bad! We seem to be avoiding the question of whether or not the cannabinoids in marijuana are bad themselves, not the smoke. Why has this not been addressed?

          • http://www.facebook.com/ryanseaton Ryan 船 Seaton

            Hey Andrew, thanks for reminding me about this post. Cannabis Sativa (Ganja/Marijuana/Weed) has a greater deal of complexity in regards to the cannabinoids that have been found to have medicinal value with continuing studies suggesting its usefulness against diseases such as cancer and maybe more.

            HOWEVER, regarding NUTRITION, Cannabis Indica is of more interest to me as its a complete protein with only between .03-1.5% of the psychoactive compound known as Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has higher concentration of between 5-10% in Cannabis Sativa. Since most if not all of the THC is removed in Industrial Hemp (aka Cannabis Indica) , I would like to see more nutrition facts about Hemp Milk and Hemp Seeds which imported to us here in Jamaica from America and (mostly ) Canada. Oh the Irony ….

      • TheLance3185 .

        Bogie. HAHAHA! How West Coastal of you.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/DonnaMagrina/ Donna Magrina

    what? one cig of marijuana causes cancer? Breathing air not smoke is definitely better; even so, I have a hard time believing one marijuana cig does all that damage
    …..

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/psychwoman1/ psychwoman1

      That is not what the statement is. The statement basically is that one joint is equal to roughly 20 regular cigarettes.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/herehere/ HereHere

    Anyone who thinks that incense is ‘cleaning the air’ is completely delusional. As the Dr says, any kind of smoke inhalation is not good for your lungs. This is due to the toxicity of small particulates. I heard a lecture about small particulates about 15 years ago from an air quality expert. By the way, to all smokers, it makes your breath, your clothes, your car, and your house smell very bad, too. You can’t really cover up the smell, it still seeps through the other smells, but your nose is used to the smoke, unlike everyone else’s noses.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/justsomedude/ justsomedude

    It seems like eating or drinking cannabis would be safer and healthier. That’s why “a friend of mine” always eats his pot.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/procyan/ Procyan

    So we should you know smoke tea right, heh

  • kerleyc

    Hi Dr. Greger…excellent information, as usual. I’m just wondering are there other foodstuffs which can influence cannabinoid receptors? Thanks…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004054822788 Charles Worl

    decaf or regular!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • Aksel

    Hey, does herbal teas ( like hibiscus tea ) stimulate endocannabinoid receptors too? or in the video does all kinds of tea stimulate them?

    • Dr. Connie Sanchez, ND

      Herbal teas, such as hibiscus, are not truely teas because they are not part of the Camellia sinensis family. Teas in that family, such as green and white tea, contain catechins. Catechins stimulate cannabinoid receptors found in the brain.

  • Francesca

    Dr. Greger I have a question. The fat foods stimulate the endocannabinoid receptors and they cause a sort of addiction, why we can’t stop eating chips but we don’t feel the same when we drink green tea?

  • Becky

    Can you do more videos on all aspects of marijuana and its different forms of consumption

  • Simon

    HI!

    I don`t have the patience to read all the comments. :)

    So, you maybe have get this question before; Is it just tea thats stimulates cannabinoides?

    Or are there any other supplement or food that stimulates cannabinoides?

    Kindly regards/ SImon

  • Mirko
  • Frank

    There is NO evidence that smoking marijuana causes cancer.

  • mark

    What about smoker’s vaporizors?.. which can be used with marijuana extract cartridges.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    What about Marijuana tea? Meaning, what about when Marijuana is not smoked but drank? I’m not a user and neither for or against, I’m just curious.

  • Kosmos

    Ah, there is a documentary I watched today about medicinal marijuana and they don’t recommend smoking it for treatment BUT said that there was an epidemiological study that found no connection between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.

    Just wonder who has the write info here Doc.

    This is the doco I watched –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvVQ-s-o0nA

    I think its somewhere in the second half they cite a study they did to find that.

  • NoSmokin

    I was discussing medical marijuana use with my neighbor, who said that a Dr. William Courtney M.D. advocates drinking un-heated juice that is juiced or blended from cannabis leaves. The doctor asserts that CBD and THCA are powerful antioxidants that are beneficial in the treatment of many forms of cancer.

    Your thoughts Dr.?

  • Jay

    Isnt that study talking about cannabis cigs that are mixed with tobacco? because my friend told me about a study that sounds very similar to this and when I googled it I came across some info that what the study failed to mention was that in england (where it took place I guess) they add tobacco to the cannabis mix, and because when you smoke weed you hold it into your lungs, mixing it with tobacco makes it to where you are not just holding cannabis in your lungs but also tobacco! and holding the tobacco is the reason for the increased risk of cancer, since cig smokers never ever hold in a cig but they do when its mixed with the cannabis in an attempt to hold in the goodys.

  • Jonathan Ahern

    I invite anyone interested to do further research into: smoking cannabis and lung cancer; ingesting raw cannabis; cannabinoids present in cannabis and their effects; us government patents on cannabinoids. It’s mind blowing (even without smoking it) what this plant is capable of, despite how it was demonized for decades.

  • Poster

    What about eaten cannabis or eaten CDB(non-carboxylated non-THCA active) or cannabis oil (descarboxilated THCA active)?