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(This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity.)

Project CBD: I’m Martin Lee with Project CBD, and today we’ll be speaking with Dr. Bonni Goldstein. Dr. Goldstein is a pediatrician and a pioneering cannabis clinician. She’s the director of Canna-Centers, a California-based physician network that focuses on cannabis therapeutics. And Dr. Goldstein is also the author of the highly recommended book Cannabis is Medicine. Welcome Dr. Goldstein.

Dr. Goldstein: Good morning, Martin. Thanks for having me.

Project CBD: My pleasure. I wanted to talk to you today about an article you co-authored which was recently published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Let me start by reading the title of the paper: “Cannabis Responsive Biomarkers: A Pharmacometabolomics-Based Application to Evaluate the Impact of Medical Cannabis Treatment on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” That’s an intimidating title, I think, for someone who is not a doctor or a scientist. So maybe you can explain in a broad sense what the findings are and what is “metabolomics”? What does that mean, and how is it related to cannabis?

Dr. Goldstein: Sure. Just the same way that we can draw bloodwork to measure white blood cell count or how much sodium you have in your bloodstream, we can measure different types of chemicals in the body. And these chemicals reflect the pathways and the changing chemical nature of kind of how cells are working.

So, a couple of words that need to be defined: Biomarkers. What we’re using is something called cannabis responsive biomarkers – these are just chemicals in our body that are part of chemical pathways that help our cells functions. For instance, one of the biomarkers that we measured is what’s called “spermine” – funny name, but it’s called spermine – and it has been associated with inflammation and pain. It’s a chemical that can be picked up in saliva, in blood, and it can be measured. By establishing – just the same way when you measure white blood cell count in somebody, any time you get infection or you get a doctor check-up – every year they check what’s called your CBC, your complete blood count. Doctors look at your white blood cell count to make sure your immune system is functioning. It’s a reflection of what’s going on in your body.

If you were to have a bad bacterial infection, your white blood count would be elevated, that’s a tip-off to a doctor, okay, we have to start looking for some serious bacterial infection. If your blood count is low, it may reflect some other pathologic illness. And of course, we have what’s called the physiologic range. So, your white blood cell count will vary, and normally it’s between for most people 4,000 and 12,000 cells. When we measure it, we can see if you are within normal limits. The idea is that you have all kinds of chemicals in cells in your body that can be measured.

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