Have you ever tried medicinal cannabis for your anxiety, pain, achy joints or other condition, experienced cannabis side effects and written it off as a natural medicine that won’t work for you?  Were you aware that cannabis works on the endocannabinoid system within the body, and with some personalization, through genome testing, you can have help finding cannabis that works for you? EndoCanna Health uses your genes to determine ways in which your system interacts with cannabis.

Personalized genomics in the context of medicinal cannabis can help you to understand which cannabis is right for you. We know that certain strains or terpenes are better for particular ailments, however, if you’re a slow metabolizer, or if you have a predisposition to anxiety, for example, you may have a different experience than your friend or even family member using the same amount/strain of medicinal cannabis.

Listen to Dave Korsunsky of Heads Up Health interview Len May, Co-Founder of EndoCanna Health about genetic testing for cannabis. Learn more about the endocannabinoid system and how your genetics can help you to find the right cannabis for you, to help with things like anxiety, mood, sleep, pain, and more. EndoCanna takes its privacy very seriously, so if you’re not happy running a 23 and Me for genetic information, you can order a kit directly from EndoCanna Health who can run your results on their own secure system(no sharing of genetic data and they are HIPAA compliant).

Click here to learn more about testing with EndoCanna Health.

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In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • About Len May’s history of involvement in the medical cannabis regulations and acceptance as a medical treatment since the early 1990s [4:10]
  • About Elvy Musikka who is legally blind due to glaucoma – a participant in the NIDA program that allowed the federal government to cultivate cannabis in the University of Mississippi and send to a location to roll into cigarettes that even comes in a tin with a USDA label. She could light up in front of Federal rangers…in the 1990s! [4:25]
  • Len started in California in a dispensary where patients were using medical cannabis for various reasons and his experience was that while they recommended certain strains for certain conditions, he began to see that within those ailments people would have wildly different experiences of the same strain/profile [7:20]
  • Your DNA dictates your personal experience.  Len and his team spent 2 years to evaluate every gene that has a direct or indirect connection with the endocannabinoid system, knowing that it’s an ongoing thing due to emerging science – they continue to study genetic info as it comes out in relation to how it affects the endocannabinoid system [8:55]
  • EndoCanna Health has developed a direct to consumer kit ($199) similar to a 23 and Me, with a simple mouth swab that they genetically sequence that to find out which cannabis would work best for you and help regulate the entire endocannabinoid system. You can also bring your own raw data over to run through their system for $49 [10:00]
  • Genetic conditions that are affected by a gene expression help them learn what the optimal ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes for their particular genetic expression of symptoms [12:20]
    • The 8 genetic expression symptoms that are affected by which are:
      • Anxiety
      • Pain
      • Metabolism
      • Psychosis
      • Sleep
      • Cognition
      • Dependence
      • Depression
  • While they can use 23 and Me or other data that you have already their interpretation is only as good as the array that the original test included. (23 and Me provided more genetic data prior to August 2017, so older tests may offer more info) The more genes tested will give a better interpretation to give better suggestions based on your genes. They do not make recommendations but instead provide suggestions of what may be beneficial to you [13:50]
  • That the endocannabinoid system is a regulatory system that supports digestion, immune, hormones, and more.  We are all born with this system and the ability to produce our own endogenous endocannabinoids within our bodies, and it regulates based on our body needs. Lifestyle, stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition can create deficiencies in our own endocannabinoid system and our immune system responds because we don’t have enough of our own endocannabinoids to support everything it needs to, which is how cannabis can support the endocannabinoid system [15:10]
  • There are receptor cites built into our bodies which turn on in response to the cannabis plant. CB1 effects the central nervous system and THC.  CB2 is activated by enzymes through CBD and has a lot to do with immune and digestive systems [16:55]
  • Info about how to look for a cannabis medicine from a dispensary- from state to state it can be different in what information they publish on terpenes. EndoCanna Health gives you the profile that you’ll want to look for, and then you’ll need to locate the product within your state. You can also take the profile to your local dispensary and ask them to help you find what you’re looking for [17:55]
  • About why some people have a great experience, while others taking the same amount and strain of cannabis can have completely different experiences [21:20]
  • Have you ever tried medicinal cannabis and gotten anxiety?  If you have a predisposition of anxiety due to your genes (FAAH), then you are more likely to experience anxiety in a threatening situation.  Because anandamide is lower and cortisol higher, giving that fight or flight feeling, THC exacerbates that. There are terpene profiles like limonene that are dominant in Savita hybrids that can trigger that gene to express itself. If you know this ahead of time, lower your THC, increase your CBD and modify your terpene profile to decrease chances of having an issue with anxiety, for example, include linalool instead of limonene for a more calming effect [22:16]
  • People call up or go to the ER, and think they’re dying, but you cannot have a toxic overdose of cannabis. What often happens with edibles that rely on the liver to convert the THC is that it actually becomes more potent, and due to the delayed impact, people often eat more and then end up with way more than they need. They could use less or take it sublingually and have a much better experience [25:15]
  • Len talks about how individuals can empower themselves with these reports and take them to their doctors to support them with this wealth of info. He mentions that if you have a doctor who doesn’t support the use of cannabis for treatment, there are other doctors out there with this cutting edge information that will [28:30]
  • EndoCanna Health takes its security and how they handle it very seriously.  Their DNA is in one server and the reports are in another server, and an encoded keycode associated with each.  They are HIPAA compliant so they can’t show a sample report due to their high level of security [29:30]
  • Using Heads Up Health with a service like EndoCanna Health reports can help you track to see whether your inflammation is coming down or other markers you may be interested in following [31:00]
  • EndoCanna Health is in a partnership with a company in Australia called WARD Management and is in 6 clinical trials to track data markers that show the effectiveness of your treatment with cannabis [31:40]
  • About drug to drug interaction with cannabis, and how things like CBD can be an uptake inhibitor which can reduce the effectiveness of your prescription depression medications. It’s important to know how one affects the other [32:50]
  • How using their service is like GPS in guiding you to know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there using cannabis [34:00]
  • Dave mentions research that’s coming out on how cannabis can be used with opioid addiction because it can bind to some of those opioid receptors and help you titrate off of medications. Make sure you understand interactions if you’re on meds [35:20]
  • Opioids bind to those CB1 receptors for pain as an analgesic and their test can tell you if you have a predisposed dependence to opioids and if you’re likely to have more unfavorable results to opioids than most people SUPER USEFUL to know beforehand [35:45]
  • How understanding how your genes work with opioids and cannabis can affect how you live your life and even potentially prevent you from traveling down a road you never want to go down with addiction as well [38:00]


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