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Effects of Cannabis Roots On the Heart

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#1 Storm Crow

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 01:08 AM

The URL is for an incomplete version of the text- and I'm not paying $30 for the full one! I know the full version is out there, free, so this URL will have to do until I find the full one!


Effects of Cannabis Roots On the Heart

To the Editor.p=m-Rodger (217:1705, 1971) mentioned a not widely known cardiac action of an extract of Cannabis roots in whiskey (about 45% alcohol). We report here our experiments on the supposed action of these roots in 50% alcohol, diluted to 18.4 mg/ml in 4% ethanol in water. This solution contained 18.4 mg dry substance/ml. This was injected in the perfusion fluid of an isolated guinea pig heart in vitro (Langendorff technique). Injection of 0.1 ml of the preparation was followed by bradycardia; the rate dropped from 240 beats/minute to 60 beats/minute. A quick recovery was seen when administration was stopped.

In our next experiment we studied the effect of root extract on the electrocardiogram of three guinea pigs under urethane anesthesia. The preparation was infused in the jugular vein at the rate of 0.2 ml/min. After
some time bradycardia developed with prolongation of the PR interval and the QRS complex and inversion
of the T wave (Fig 1).

When the infusion was stopped the ECG wave recovered quickly. These phenomena reminded us of the effects of excess of potassium on the heart. Therefore, we recorded also the ECG in four guinea pigs during

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infusion of potassium chloride in 4% alcohol. Bradycardia was observed, a prolonged PR interval and QRS complex and T wave inversion appeared in about 50 minutes (Fig 2). After a few minutes the heart stopped, but recovered soon after the infusion was discontinued.

We wanted to know if the potassium content of the root extract could be responsible for the cardiac effects
and, therefore, the K-content was determined flame-photometrically. The K-content of the root extract appeared to be 140 millimol/liter.

The Fig 1.—Guinea pig electrocardiogram before and after potassium chloride administration.

Fig 2.—Electrocardiogram before and after infusion of alcoholic Cannabis extract. dose of potassium, hich our cavies received in the Cannabis extract, was in agreement with the quantity administered as potassium chloride (Table) until cardiac effects became Potassium Administered Until Cardiac Arrest
Kin K, Alcohol, t extract, millimol*_ml_millimol
1 1.68 13 1.82
2 2.79 10 1.40
3 1.34 11 1.54

*K (potassium) infused as potassium chloride solution until cardiac arrest. Alcohol extract infused until cardiac arrest. apparent. We concluded that if an alcoholic extract of Cannabis roots exerts any influence on the heart, this is caused by the potassium content and, thus, is not specific.

M. ten Ham, PhD
J. Fokkens, PhD
National Institute of
Public Health

R. J. J. Ch. Lousberg, PhD
C. A. L. Bercht, PhD
State University
Utrecht, The Netherlands
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