Weed or Feed- Cannabis versus Fish Oil

You may have seen the recent connections between “medical” marijuana and Omega 3 fish oil.

I must tell you that this is not really new information.

A while back I wrote several blogs and emails about the endocannabinoid system that was discovered in the brain. The initial research suggested that fish oil was indeed a raw material for one of the end products that binds to cannabinoid receptors and produces very much the same pain relieving effects in your body.

I actually became interested from a medical political stand point. About 8 years ago the giant French drug company Rhone, tried to penetrate the U.S. diet pill market with a drug called Remonabant. This drug was the first I had seen that attempted to utilize the cannabinoid system to prevent over eating.

I guess it was the first anti-munchie drug as well. The reason it was not accepted into the lucrative U.S. market was supposedly that it had a placebo (tested out the same as inert pills) effect of 50%. Which meant that half the people that took the so-called sugar pill lost weight to the same degree as people who took the drug!

I was surprised to see this report as the reports from Europe were very different. Then I noticed that Orilistat now called “Alli” was just released off patent. As a prescription drug Orlistat could be considered a failure in terms of gross revenues. Speaking of gross, the orange fatty trail of poop that was often left inadvertently by its users was probably one reason its sales did not hit the mark. Having been involved in the cleanup detail at the office back in the day, I did not prescribe it for my patients very often.

I think Remonabant, the first endocannabinoid drug may have died a quiet death for other reasons than its placebo effect.

But one thing I think it did do was validate the research into medical marijuana. Even the hard core anti-dope lobby had to look at the fact that a natural system of receptors existed in the human body for cannabis. And if you believe in evolution it had probably been there for millions of years in the species that eventually became homo sapiens. Maybe just maybe there was some use for this social pariah aside from lazy people getting stoned and eating too much.

Of course, the proponents of medical marijuana knew this all along! What everyone seemed to forget was the protean (global or wide spread) effect of fish oil in the human body. This includes stimulation of the “anti-pain” receptors in the brain and spinal cord to lessen discomfort and improve mood.

This effect by the way is separate and distinct from the wide spread anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil. The latter is the reason why fish oil may be effective in treating arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
But here is the good and not so good part of the equation.

You cannot get “stoned” from fish oil. You might however get “high” especially if you are someone down in your mood. The mood elevation effects of fish oil are no doubt due to its effect on endocannabinoid systems in your brain.

I will close today’s email with a question that comes up over and over again often from people who question my veracity. It goes like this, “Doc according to you fish oil is good for just about everything. How comes the drug companies don’t make it and how can it be good for everything!”

Well the above diatribe gives you some insight into what motivates drug companies. Remember the best you can do with a natural product is a “use patent” and that does not leave you with a whole lot of profit margin!

As far as the good for everything part: I think we forget the word “essential” when talking about fish oil and the essential fatty acids that make it up. It is essential for human health and function the way food and water are. If you get no Omega 3’s and only Omega 6’s you will die plain and simple.

If you get enough (which is usually far more than people realize hence my 4-6 pills a day recommendation) you can literally soar with better health according to most studies.

And, you don’t have to smoke anything!


PS I had a conversation recently with a lovely stem cell client. We were talking telomeres and stem cells. As you have seen I often sprinkle my personal experiences in with the science. I hope you enjoy the real-world aspect of things that comes from my background as a practicing physician in a changing world. I promise you it’s not something you will find anywhere else. Experience counts and you can’t find it on google!

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