Dr. Ethan Russo is a board certified neurologist and has done immense research on psycho-pharmacology. Dr. Russo has a special qualification in Child Neurology. He has been on the faculty of three universities and served as a visiting professor at other schools. On his LinkedIn page, he stated “ I have always held a strong interest in medicinal plants, which I gradually incorporated into my practice and research endeavors, with the aim to bring cannabis-based and other botanical agents back into the mainstream of medicine. “He was the former president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and a former Chairman for The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines. Dr. Russo is recognized internationally for his research on cannabis compounds and their effects in the body.
After 20 years of clinical practice, Dr. Russo took a full-time consulting position with GW Pharmaceuticals in 2003. This company is based out of Britain and they develop cannabis based pharmaceuticals. In 2015, he became the Medical Director for PHYTECS. He described the company as “devoted to the research and development of medicines, supplements and lifestyle approaches to optimizing the function of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the critical homeostatic regulatory mechanism of human physiology.”Dr. Russo did extensive work to understand and explain the endocannabinoid system, which is a biological system within the body that helps stabilize physical and mental functions.
One of his most well know topics of study has been the “entourage effect.” His research found “complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts.” Dr. Russo discovered “synergistic effects” between different compounds that enhance and boost each other when combined.
Dr. Russo studied that way terpenes and cannabinoids worked together within the endocannabinoid system to boost and enhance each other’s benefits. His research revealed that terpenes “could produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.”
He also worked with Dr. Geoffrey Guy from GW Pharmaceuticals to explore the entourage effect between CBD and THC. The two looked at a pharmaceutical called “Sativex” that is marketed in Europe for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The results were a 1:1 ratio had better effects on relieving multiple kind’s chronic pain, sleep disturbances and muscle spasms than either cannabinoid working separately.
In 2017, Dr. Russo joined Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and held and webinar “Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis?” He spoke on the opioid epidemic and how medicinal plants, like cannabis, can work to combat it. Dr. Russo highlighted that it treat pain without the negative side effect and does not contribute to cardiorespiratory failure. He stated that cannabis can be used in lieu of pain medication or can be used with smaller doses of opioids to achieve a similar effect. Dr. Russo also referenced that studies showed cannabis’ capability to reduce withdrawal symptoms during opioid detox and can help with drug seeking behavior. Russo stressed that THC is not the only avenue and the CBD can help in fighting the opioid battle.