Home DNA testing kits have become a popular phenomenon over the last several years with big name companies such as “23 and Me”, and “Ancestry DNA” leading the charge. Believe it or not, more people took a DNA test in 2018 than in all previous years combined.
At the start of 2019, it was estimated that over 26 million people have had their DNA tested! That number is expected to grow to over 100 million within the next 2 years.
It’s no surprise that DNA tests are in high demand. The things you learn from them are irresistible. Details such as Ancestry, Family History, Health Risks and Family Planning are no doubt what have driven the popularity. Can you imagine your DNA however being able to identify what cannabis strains are best for ailments that you might not even be aware you have? Although this sounds like something out of the future, this technology is available today through Endocanna Health‘s “Cannabinoid DNA Variant Test™” – the most comprehensive personalized cannabis DNA test available on the market today. The LA company has created a DNA test that uses a saliva sample to identify an individual’s genetic variants related to cannabinoid receptors and metabolism.
“ I accidentally discovered it hanging out with some friends in highschool and it became sort of my go to medicine that helped me focus. ” Len May CEO and Founder of Endocanna Health
Like many people in their early teens, Len May, CEO and founder of Endocanna Health, was diagnosed with ADD. As a result, he was put on a myriad of drugs only to accidentally discover that cannabis was the best treatment for his condition. As May explains, “ I accidentally discovered it hanging out with some friends in high school and it became sort of my go to medicine that helped me focus. I never realized that it was medicine for anybody else, I just thought it was me because everybody consumed it recreationally. “ May continues, “When you have ADD, you’re either multitasking and doing a million things at once or you hyper focus on something that really stimulates your dopamine production, because that’s what ADD is, a lack of that.”
“We started the first Cannabinoid library (for lack of terminology), called Cannapedia. ” – Len May
As May got older, he became aware that cannabis wasn’t just helping him with his condition, but was also being used to help many other people and their conditions. His mission became to try to educate as many people as possible on the benefits of cannabis, and became the president of the the Cannabis Action Network – an organization to fight for the legalization of cannabis. May eventually left his hometown of Philadelphia, and moved to LA. As May recalls, “The only thing that I could think of was to get into this dispensary business, and that’s what I started doing. We had an ownership interest in five different dispensaries, but it still wasn’t satisfying me because I really wanted to focus on helping people with their conditions.” He started working with one of his mentors, Kevin McKernan who was the chief science officer of a company called Medicinal Genomics. May’s job was to go around The U.S. and Canada to collect tissue samples from cannabis plants, purify them, extract DNA, purify that, and send it to a sequencer in Boston. As May puts it, “We started the first Cannabinoid library (for lack of terminology), called Cannapedia. I became hyper obsessed with human DNA and trying to figure out how genetic expression can be modified through the use of Cannabinoids and as it relates to different disease states.” That research allowed May an opportunity to launch Endocanna in its original state. Soon after, he met his partner Eric, who subsequently spent about a year and a half with May’s research team to look at every single gene that has a direct or indirect association with the endocannabinoid system. May explains ,”Once we did that we were trying to figure out how we communicate this information to the general public as a diagnostic tool while being compliant with the Food and Drug Administration. We came up with eight different symptomatic conditions for which people consume cannabis and where genes also play a role. They are anxiety, depression, pain, metabolism, dependence, cognitive function, sleep quality and psychosis. Once we did that, we were able to launch a direct to consumer kit.”
“We produce our own cannabinoids within our bodies and when we don’t have enough we’re lucky enough that we found this plant that is able to supplement that.” – May
How the Endocannabinoid System works
To better understand how the DNA testing works, one must first understand what in fact the endocannabinoid system is. It is primarily a regulatory system for many different functions within our bodies. Functions such as body temperature, blood sugar levels, a lot of brain functions, our bones and muscles, and even sexual organs. Our body produces endongenic endocannabinoids and there are two major ones that have been discovered called anandamide, and 2AG. The primary function of an anandamide is to regulate a lot of different brain functions – especially stressors, and the way we respond to different stressors. The second endogenous cannabinoid 2AG transfers to arachidonic glycerol. As May describes “What happens is when we produce the right amount of both of those, the endogenous cannabinoids for our body, our body is in what is called homeostasis. When we have a deficiency in our own natural producing endocannabinoids, our body then communicates to us usually through an immunol response that creates an inflammation. If somewhere in your body you produce an inflammatory spot, that spot sends a signal of pain or discomfort to your central nervous system to address that inflammation. When we have a deficiency we’ve been able to discover that in cannabis we have phytocannabinoids that mimic the way our endogenous endocannabinoids work.” He continues, “To put it a little less scientifically, we have a system that regulates a lot of different functions in our bodies. We produce our own cannabinoids within our bodies and when we don’t have enough we’re lucky enough that we found this plant that is able to supplement that.”
“The idea of an opioid is it works primarily as an analgesic which is a pain reliever” – May
Could cannabis be the panacea that will eventually help to stem the opioid crisis in North America? Time will only tell, but there is a stark difference between how opioids work within our system, vs. cannabis. We now understand that cannabis can augment the lack of endocannabinoids, and by extension, not only treat the pain but the symptom as well. Opioids on the other hand, simply mask the pain without getting to the root cause of the pain. May explains this in more detail. “The idea of an opioid is it works primarily as an analgesic which is a pain reliever. Think about it this way, you stub your toe, and you have a signal of pain or discomfort. It goes up to your central nervous system, and is blocked by the opioid that has put up a wall that’s attached to the CB1 receptor. You don’t feel the pain and that’s what opioids do. They also modify the way that your transmission actually works, so you start being dependent on that opioid. However, it didn’t do anything to address what caused that pain to begin with. So, it didn’t do anything to the inflammation to the area where you actually had the injury, it is just dealing with the pain. When you consume cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids from a plant, they do that same thing but in concert. Think about it this way, CBD along with terpenes addresses the inflammation and helps the inflammation in the area that it’s centred to subside, along with the reducing the actual feeling of the pain. It works in concert instead of just the way that opiates work to just alleviate the feeling of the pain.”
“There are genes like FAAH for instance that have an association with a stress response and the release of cortisol. When somebody consumes, and they have this genotype, THC may trigger an expression of that anxiety response ” – May
Endocanna health pride themselves in being the first endocannabinoid DNA test and the most comprehensive. The idea of the test is to identify what each individual’s potential is for genetic expression related to anxiety, pain, cognitive function etc. The objective of the test is to not only identity the genetic marker that makes an individual prone to one of the 8 commonly treated disorders, but to also identify the safest method to treat those disorders using cannabis. Understanding somebody’s genetic expressions, will also uncover the association between anxiety and cannabis use. May describes this in more detail “There are genes like FAAH for instance that have an association with a stress response and the release of cortisol. When somebody consumes, and they have this genotype, THC may trigger an expression of that anxiety response and release more cortisone to your blood stream. To explain it really easily, it triggers your fight or flight and it gets triggered much faster than the average population. If you know this genetically about yourself, the formulation that will be recommended to you is a higher CBD, lower THC formulation to be able to mitigate the possibility of a gene expressing itself. The second part of the secret sauce is the terpene profile. We then talk about a terpene profile along with the cannabinoid profile that’s more personally geared to be able to avoid that gene from expressing itself. For example, if they consume a formulation that is prevalent with a primary terpene like linalool, which is also found in lavender for instance, this is a calming terpene. We have studies to support that cannabinoids in concert with linalool actually help to reduce the anxiety that’s put out by THC. That type of formulation will actually allow a person to consume cannabis effectively without possibly triggering that anxiety response and they’ll be able to address their symptoms and have a really positive effect. “
“We’re going to learn from that experience through our AI and get even better at recommending personalized cannabinoid medicine.” – Len May
As mentioned from the outset, there are millions of people that have already taken a DNA test through one of the many providers out there. If you are one of those who have, you can avoid the swab test altogether. May describes the process in more detail, “We have a unique experience in that you don’t have to swab. If you have taken a 23 and Me, An Ancestry, Family tree DNA, or any of the other genetic tests that are out there, – and there’s around 40 million people globally who have taken a genetic test – you can just take your raw data from that test, upload it to our site, and we’ll give you an endocannabinoid report within 30 seconds. Now, it’s only as good as the version of that report that they use, so we may not have full coverage. It is however a much less financial taxing experience because our kit is $199 for the throat swab test and this is $49.95 for the raw data report. Another thing I want to mention is we’re a global company and currently ship to Canada. There’s a $25.00 flat fee rate, but we ship everywhere in the world. We’re in Europe, we’re in Australia and we are expanding globally as we speak. Finally, I want to mention we have a partnership with Ward Medication Management out of Australia to do clinical trials. We also are working on an EEG trial in the US right now. The reason why this is important to mention is because people are going to say “okay, just because he has a genetic predisposition how do you know?” Well you know by the feedback mechanism. We will know on a cellular level and our recommendations will be based on your profile, and how it’s working for that individual. Those are the studies that we’re doing right now. As a result, we’re going to learn from that experience through our AI and get even better at recommending personalized cannabinoid medicine.”
Edcoanna Health can be reached at the following:
Office: 833-363-6226 or www.endocannahealth.com