Molecular Pharmacology of Phytocannabinoids.

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“Cannabis sativa has been used for recreational, therapeutic and other uses for thousands of years.

The plant contains more than 120 C21 terpenophenolic constituents named phytocannabinoids. The Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol type class of phytocannabinoids comprises the largest proportion of the phytocannabinoid content.

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol was first discovered in 1971. This led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in mammals, including the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol exerts its well-known psychotropic effects through the CB1 receptor but this effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol has limited the use of cannabis medicinally, despite the therapeutic benefits of this phytocannabinoid. This has driven research into other targets outside the endocannabinoid system and has also driven research into the other non-psychotropic phytocannabinoids present in cannabis.

This chapter presents an overview of the molecular pharmacology of the seven most thoroughly investigated phytocannabinoids, namely Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin, cannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabidivarin, cannabigerol, and cannabichromene.

The targets of these phytocannabinoids are defined both within the endocannabinoid system and beyond.

The pharmacological effect of each individual phytocannabinoid is important in the overall therapeutic and recreational effect of cannabis and slight structural differences can elicit diverse and competing physiological effects.

The proportion of each phytocannabinoid can be influenced by various factors such as growing conditions and extraction methods. It is therefore important to investigate the pharmacology of these seven phytocannabinoids further, and characterise the large number of other phytocannabinoids in order to better understand their contributions to the therapeutic and recreational effects claimed for the whole cannabis plant and its extracts.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28120231

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Synthesis of Phytocannabinoids.

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“The changing legal landscape including medicinal and recreational consumption of Cannabis sativa has led to renewed interest to study the chemistry and biology of cannabinoids. The chemistry in this chapter highlights approaches to cannabinoid total synthesis with an emphasis on the implementation of modern methods and tactics, which provide access to modified structures and enable investigations of the biology of the cannabinoid product family.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28120230

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Phytochemistry of Cannabis sativa L.

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“Cannabis (Cannabis sativa, or hemp) and its constituents-in particular the cannabinoids-have been the focus of extensive chemical and biological research for almost half a century since the discovery of the chemical structure of its major active constituent, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC).

The plant’s behavioral and psychotropic effects are attributed to its content of this class of compounds, the cannabinoids, primarily Δ9-THC, which is produced mainly in the leaves and flower buds of the plant.

Besides Δ9-THC, there are also non-psychoactive cannabinoids with several medicinal functions, such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), and (CBG), along with other non-cannabinoid constituents belonging to diverse classes of natural products.

Today, more than 560 constituents have been identified in cannabis.

The recent discoveries of the medicinal properties of cannabis and the cannabinoids in addition to their potential applications in the treatment of a number of serious illnesses, such as glaucoma, depression, neuralgia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and alleviation of symptoms of HIV/AIDS and cancer, have given momentum to the quest for further understanding the chemistry, biology, and medicinal properties of this plant.

This contribution presents an overview of the botany, cultivation aspects, and the phytochemistry of cannabis and its chemical constituents. Particular emphasis is placed on the newly-identified/isolated compounds. In addition, techniques for isolation of cannabis constituents and analytical methods used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of cannabis and its products are also reviewed.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28120229

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Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses cannabis withdrawal symptoms.

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“This study assessed whether oral administration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) effectively suppressed cannabis withdrawal in an outpatient environment.

The primary aims were to establish the pharmacological specificity of the withdrawal syndrome and to obtain information relevant to determining the potential use of THC to assist in the treatment of cannabis dependence.

METHOD:

Eight adult, daily cannabis users who were not seeking treatment participated in a 40-day, within-subject ABACAD study. Participants administered daily doses of placebo, 30 mg (10 mg/tid), or 90 mg (30 mg/tid) oral THC during three, 5-day periods of abstinence from cannabis use separated by 7-9 periods of smoking cannabis as usual.

RESULTS:

Comparison of withdrawal symptoms across conditions indicated that (1) the lower dose of THC reduced withdrawal discomfort, and (2) the higher dose produced additional suppression in withdrawal symptoms such that symptom ratings did not differ from the smoking-as-usual conditions. Minimal adverse effects were associated with either active dose of THC.

CONCLUSIONS:

This demonstration of dose-responsivity replicates and extends prior findings of the pharmacological specificity of the cannabis withdrawal syndrome. The efficacy of these doses for suppressing cannabis withdrawal suggests oral THC might be used as an intervention to aid cannabis cessation attempts.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16769180

“The endocannabinoid system as a target for the treatment of cannabis dependence” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647947/

“Cannabidiol for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndrome: a case report. CBD can be effective for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndrome.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23095052

“Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses cannabis withdrawal symptoms.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16769180

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Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects inflammatory insults from sulfur dioxide inhalation via cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

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“Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution in the atmospheric environment causes brain inflammatory insult and inflammatory-related microvasculature dysfunction. However, there are currently no effective medications targeting the harmful outcomes from chemical inhalation.

Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are involved in neuronal protection against inflammation-induced neuronal injury. The 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), the most abundant eCBs and a full agonist for cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), is also capable of suppressing proinflammatory stimuli and improving microvasculature dysfunction.

Here, we indicated that endogenous 2-AG protected against neuroinflammation in response to SO2 inhalation by inhibiting the activation of microglia and astrocytes and attenuating the overexpression of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin (IL)-1β, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).

In addition, endogenous 2-AG prevented cerebral vasculature dysfunction following SO2 inhalation by inhibiting endothelin 1 (ET-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expression, elevating endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) level, and restoring the imbalance between thromboxane A2 (TXA2) and prostaglandin I2 (PGI2).

In addition, the action of endogenous 2-AG on the suppression of inflammatory insult and inflammatory-related microvasculature dysfunction appeared to be mainly mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Our results provided a mechanistic basis for the development of new therapeutic approaches for protecting brain injuries from SO2 inhalation.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28115138

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Cannabinoids: Possible agents for treatment of psoriasis via suppression of angiogenesis and inflammation.

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“Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease also affecting other sites such as joints.

This disease highly depends on inflammation and angiogenesis as well as other pathways.

At each step of the psoriasis molecular pathway, different inflammatory cytokines and angiogenic growth factors are involved such as hypoxia inducible factor-1 α (HIF-1 α), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), matrix metalo proteinases (MMPs), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), Angiopoitin-2, interleukin-8 (IL-8), IL-17, and IL-2. Beside the mentioned growth factors and cytokines, cellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) which play roles in both angiogenesis and inflammation are also involved in the pathogenesis.

Cannabinoids are active compounds of Cannabina Sativa inducing their effects through cannabinoid receptors (CBs).

JWH-133 is a synthetic cannabinoid with strong anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory activities. This agent is able to inhibit HIF-1 α, VEGF, MMPs, bFGF, IL-8, IL-17, and other mentioned cytokines and adhesion molecules both in vivo and in vitro.

Altogether, authors suggest using this cannabinoid for treatment of psoriasis due to its potential in suppressing the two main steps of psoriatic pathogenesis.

Of course complementary animal studies and human trials are still required.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28110689

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Cannabidiol attenuates OGD/R-induced damage by enhancing mitochondrial bioenergetics and modulating glucose metabolism via pentose-phosphate pathway in hippocampal neurons.

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“Deficient bioenergetics and diminished redox conservation have been implicated in the development of cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury.

In this study, the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychotropic compound derived from Cannabis sativa with FDA-approved antiepilepsy properties, were studied in vitro using an oxygen-glucose-deprivation/reperfusion (OGD/R) model in a mouse hippocampal neuronal cell line.

This study is the first to document the neuroprotective effects of CBD against OGD/R insult, which depend in part on attenuating oxidative stress, enhancing mitochondrial bioenergetics, and modulating glucose metabolism via the pentose-phosphate pathway, thus preserving both energy and the redox balance.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28110213

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β-Caryophyllene promotes osteoblastic mineralization, and suppresses osteoclastogenesis and adipogenesis in mouse bone marrow cultures in vitro.

 

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“Osteoporosis is induced by the reduction in bone mass through decreased osteoblastic osteogenesis and increased osteoclastic bone resorption, and it is associated with obesity and diabetes. Osteoblasts and adipocytes are derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. The prevention of osteoporosis is an important public health concern in aging populations. β-caryophyllene, a component of various essential oils, is a selective agonist of the cannabinoid receptor type 2 and exerts cannabimimetic anti-inflammatory effects in animals. The present study aimed to identify the effect of β-caryophyllene on adipogenesis, osteoblastic mineralization and osteoclastogenesis in mouse bone marrow cell cultures in vitro. Bone marrow cells obtained from mouse femoral tissues were cultured in the presence of β-caryophyllene (0.1-100 µM) in vitro. The results revealed that β-caryophyllene stimulated osteoblastic mineralization, and suppressed adipogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. Thus, β-caryophyllene may be used as a therapeutic agent for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28105093

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

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Beta-caryophyllene protects against alcoholic steatohepatitis by attenuating inflammation and metabolic dysregulation in mice.

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“Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is a plant-derived FDA approved food additive with anti-inflammatory properties. Some of its beneficial effects in vivo reported to involve activation of cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2) that are predominantly expressed in immune cells. Herein, we evaluated the translational potential of BCP using a well-established model of chronic and binge alcohol-induced liver injury.

CONCLUSIONS:

Given the safety of BCP in humans this food additive has a high translational potential in treating or preventing hepatic injury associated with oxidative stress, inflammation and steatosis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28107775

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

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Modern History of Medical Cannabis: From Widespread Use to Prohibitionism and Back

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“Over the history of pharmacology there are numerous examples of drugs being widely distributed, almost ‘trendy’, prescribed by physicians in a certain period as a sort of panacea, and then neglected, forgotten, or even forbidden as they become considered dangerous in the light of clinical observations. One of these drugs is Cannabis, which was very popular in the 19th century until disappearing from the official Pharmacopoeia at the beginning of the 20th century and reviving again in the new millennium.”
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