Consensus-Based Recommendations for Titrating Cannabinoids and Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain Control

International Journal of Clinical Practice“Opioid misuse and overuse has contributed to a widespread overdose crisis and many patients and physicians are considering medical cannabis to support opioid tapering and chronic pain control. Using a five-step modified Delphi process, we aimed to develop consensus-based recommendations on: 1) when and how to safely initiate and titrate cannabinoids in the presence of opioids, 2) when and how to safely taper opioids in the presence of cannabinoids, and 3) how to monitor patients and evaluate outcomes when treating with opioids and cannabinoids.

Results: In patients with chronic pain taking opioids not reaching treatment goals, there was consensus that cannabinoids may be considered for patients experiencing or displaying opioid-related complications, despite psychological or physical interventions. There was consensus observed to initiate with a cannabidiol (CBD)-predominant oral extract in the daytime and consider adding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When adding THC, start with 0.5-3 mg, and increase by 1-2 mg once or twice weekly up to 30-40 mg/day. Initiate opioid tapering when the patient reports a minor/major improvement in function, seeks less as-needed medication to control pain, and/or the cannabis dose has been optimized. The opioid tapering schedule may be 5%-10% of the morphine equivalent dose (MED) every 1 to 4 weeks. Clinical success could be defined by an improvement in function/quality of life, a ≥ 30% reduction in pain intensity, a ≥ 25% reduction in opioid dose, a reduction in opioid dose to < 90 mg MED, and/or reduction in opioid-related adverse events.

Conclusions: This five-stage modified Delphi process led to the development of consensus-based recommendations surrounding the safe introduction and titration of cannabinoids in concert with tapering opioids.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33249713/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcp.13871

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The effect of cannabidiol on canine neoplastic cell proliferation and MAP Kinase activation during autophagy and apoptosis

“Low tetrahydrocannabinol Cannabis sativa products, also known as hemp products, have become widely available and their use in veterinary patients has become increasingly popular. Despite prevalence of use, the veterinary literature is lacking and evidence-based resource for cannabinoid efficacy.

The most prevailing cannabinoid found in hemp is cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and becomes cannabidiol (CBD) during heat extraction; CBD has been studied for its direct anti-neoplastic properties alone and in combination with standard cancer therapies, yielding encouraging results.

The objectives of our study were to explore the anti-proliferative and cell death response associated with in vitro treatment of canine cancer cell lines with CBD alone and combination with common chemotherapeutics, as well as investigation into major proliferative pathways (e.g. p38, JNK, AKT, mTOR) potentially involved in the response to treatment with CBD.

CBD significantly reduced canine cancer cell proliferation far better than cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) across five canine neoplastic cell lines when treated with concentrations ranging from 2.5-10 μg/mL. Combinatory treatment with CBD and vincristine reduced cell proliferation in a synergistic or additive manner at anti-proliferative concentrations with less clear results using doxorubicin in combination with CBD. The cellular signaling effects of CBD treatment, showed that autophagy supervened induction of apoptosis and may be related to prompt induction of ERK and JNK phosphorylation prior to autophagy.

In conclusion, CBD is effective at hindering cell proliferation and induction of autophagy and apoptosis rapidly across neoplastic cell lines and further clinical trials are needed to understand its efficacy and interactions with traditional chemotherapy.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33247539/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/vco.12669

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Cannabis and its Constituents for Cancer: History, Biogenesis, Chemistry and Pharmacological Activities

Pharmacological Research “Cannabis has long been used for healing and recreation in several regions of the world. Over 400 bioactive constituents, including more than 100 phytocannabinoids, have been isolated from this plant. The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and the psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are the major and widely studied constituents from this plant.

Cannabinoids exert their effects through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that comprises cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2), endogenous ligands, and metabolizing enzymes. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated the potential of cannabinoids against leukemia, lymphoma, glioblastoma, and cancers of the breast, colorectum, pancreas, cervix and prostate.

Cannabis and its constituents can modulate multiple cancer related pathways such as PKB, AMPK, CAMKK-β, mTOR, PDHK, HIF-1α, and PPAR-γ. Cannabinoids can block cell growth, progression of cell cycle and induce apoptosis selectively in tumour cells. Cannabinoids can also enhance the efficacy of cancer therapeutics. These compounds have been used for the management of anorexia, queasiness, and pain in cancer patients.

Cannabinoid based products such as dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols, and epidyolex are now approved for medical use in cancer patients. Cannabinoids are reported to produce a favourable safety profile. However, psychoactive properties and poor bioavailability limit the use of some cannabinoids. The Academic Institutions across the globe are offering training courses on cannabis. How cannabis and its constituents exert anticancer activities is discussed in this article. We also discuss areas that require attention and more extensive research.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33246167/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661820316108?via%3Dihub

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Use of Cannabinoids to Treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Cytokine Storm Associated with Coronavirus Disease-2019

Frontiers in Pharmacology (@FrontPharmacol) | Twitter“Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. A significant proportion of COVID-19 patients develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) resulting from hyperactivation of the immune system and cytokine storm, which leads to respiratory and multi-organ failure, and death. Currently, there are no effective treatments against hyperimmune syndrome and ARDS.

We propose that because immune cells express cannabinoid receptors and their agonists are known to exhibit potent anti-inflammatory activity, targeting cannabinoid receptors, and endocannabinoids deserve intense investigation as a novel approach to treat systemic inflammation, cytokine storm, and ARDS in patients with COVID-19.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33240092/

“The fact that cells of the immune system produce endocannabinoids and express both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors provides unique opportunities into investigating how the cannabinoid system can be engineered to suppress inflammation using both exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids. Because cannabinoids are potent suppressors of inflammation as evidenced by their ability to suppress cytokine storm in animal models, they may serve as novel therapeutic agents to treat cytokine storm and ARDS that are seen in patients with or without COVID-19. There is a dire need for novel anti-inflammatory agents that exert broad spectrum cytokine suppression associated with ARDS considering that currently up to 40% of such patients, including those with COVID-19, die because currently there are no FDA-approved drugs that are highly effective against cytokine storm and ARDS.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.589438/full

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Cannabidiol enhances cytotoxicity of anti-cancer drugs in human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

 Scientific Reports“Cannabidiol (CBD) has anti-tumorigenic activity. However, the anti-cancer effect of CBD on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains unclear. The cytotoxicity of CBD on HNSCC was analyzed using cell survival and colony-forming assays in vitro.

CBD treatment significantly reduced migration/invasion and viability of HNSCC cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. HNSCC mouse xenograft models revealed anti-tumor effects of CBD. Furthermore, combinational treatment with CBD enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs.

We identified CBD as a new potential anti-cancer compound for single or combination therapy of HNSCC.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33244087/

In conclusion, our study determined the anti-tumorigenic potential of CBD. In addition, single treatment of CBD or co-treatment with chemotherapeutic agents promoted HNSCC cell death along with apoptosis and autophagy processes. Therefore, our study suggests that CBD can be an excellent therapeutic agent against HNSCC. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the components in the Cannabis sativa L. (marijuana) family of plants.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-77674-y

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Antinociception mechanisms of action of cannabinoid-based medicine: an overview for anesthesiologists and pain physicians

 Pain Rounds“Cannabinoid-based medications possess unique multimodal analgesic mechanisms of action, modulating diverse pain targets.

Cannabinoids are classified based on their origin into three categories: endocannabinoids (present endogenously in human tissues), phytocannabinoids (plant derived) and synthetic cannabinoids (pharmaceutical). Cannabinoids exert an analgesic effect, peculiarly in hyperalgesia, neuropathic pain and inflammatory states.

Endocannabinoids are released on demand from postsynaptic terminals and travels retrograde to stimulate cannabinoids receptors on presynaptic terminals, inhibiting the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids (endogenous and phytocannabinoids) produce analgesia by interacting with cannabinoids receptors type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2), as well as putative non-CB1/CB2 receptors; G protein-coupled receptor 55, and transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1. Moreover, they modulate multiple peripheral, spinal and supraspinal nociception pathways.

Cannabinoids-opioids cross-modulation and synergy contribute significantly to tolerance and antinociceptive effects of cannabinoids. This narrative review evaluates cannabinoids’ diverse mechanisms of action as it pertains to nociception modulation relevant to the practice of anesthesiologists and pain medicine physicians.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33239391/

https://rapm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/24/rapm-2020-102114

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Prescribed medical cannabis in women with gynecologic malignancies: A single-institution survey-based study

Gynecologic Oncology Reports “Research within a gynecologic oncology population has lagged behind the uptake in use of medical cannabis for symptom control. This study seeks to evaluate patient experience with prescribed medical cannabis obtained through licensed dispensaries in women with gynecologic malignancies.

A 43-item survey exploring patient experience with medical cannabis was administered to women with gynecologic malignancies who used medical cannabis prescribed by a gynecologic oncologist. Thirty-six eligible patients were approached for consent, and 31 patients returned completed surveys (86%). Ninety-three percent had advanced or recurrent disease; 74% were receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Eighty-three percent reported medical cannabis provided relief from cancer or treatment-related symptoms including decreased appetite (41%), insomnia (41%), neuropathy (41%), anxiety (35%), nausea (29%), joint pain (29%), bone pain (29%), abdominal pain (25%), and depression (19%). Eighty percent of patients reported medical cannabis worked the same or better than other traditional medications for management of their cancer or treatment-related symptoms, and 83% reported medical cannabis had an equivalent or better side effect profile.

Of the subset of patients using medical cannabis for pain, 63% reported a reduction in opioid use. Patients perceive that medical cannabis was useful for relief of cancer and treatment-related symptoms, suggesting medical cannabis may be a reasonable alternative or adjunct therapy. Medical cannabis was well tolerated and may have the potential to improve neuropathic pain and decrease opioid use.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33204797/

“Patients with gynecologic malignancies perceive medical cannabis relieves multiple cancer-related symptoms. Medical cannabis is well-tolerated and perceived to have a favorable side effect profile. Patients using medical cannabis for pain control report an associated reduction in opioid use.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352578920301338?via%3Dihub

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Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders

biomolecules-logo“The potential therapeutic use of some Cannabis sativa plant compounds has been attracting great interest, especially for managing neuropsychiatric disorders due to the relative lack of efficacy of the current treatments.

Numerous studies have been carried out using the main phytocannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD displays an interesting pharmacological profile without the potential for becoming a drug of abuse, unlike THC.

In this review, we focused on the anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects of CBD found in animal and human studies. In rodents, results suggest that the effects of CBD depend on the dose, the strain, the administration time course (acute vs. chronic), and the route of administration. In addition, certain key targets have been related with these CBD pharmacological actions, including cannabinoid receptors (CB1r and CB2r), 5-HT1A receptor and neurogenesis factors.

Preliminary clinical trials also support the efficacy of CBD as an anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and antidepressant, and more importantly, a positive risk-benefit profile. These promising results support the development of large-scale studies to further evaluate CBD as a potential new drug for the treatment of these psychiatric disorders.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33228239/

https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/10/11/1575

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Cannabis in Parkinson’s Disease: The Patients’ View

IOS Press | Impacting the World of ScienceLittle is known about the patients’ view on treatment with medical cannabis (MC) for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Objective: To assess the PD community’s perception of MC and patients’ experience with MC.

Results: Overall, 1.348 questionnaires (1.123 nationwide, 225 local) were analysed. 51% of participants were aware of the legality of MC application, 28% of various routes of administration (ROA) and 9% of the difference between delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). PD-related cannabis use was reported by 8.4% of patients and associated with younger age, living in large cities and better knowledge about the legal and clinical aspects of MC. Reduction of pain and muscle cramps was reported by more than 40% of cannabis users. Stiffness/akinesia, freezing, tremor, depression, anxiety and restless legs syndrome subjectively improved for more than 20% and overall tolerability was good. Improvement of symptoms was reported by 54% of users applying oral CBD and 68% inhaling THC-containing cannabis. Compared to CBD intake, inhalation of THC was more frequently reported to reduce akinesia and stiffness (50.0% vs. 35.4%; p < 0.05). Interest in using MC was reported by 65% of non-users.

Conclusion: MC is considered as a therapeutic option by many PD patients. Nevertheless, efficacy and different ROA should further be investigated.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33216043/

https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-parkinsons-disease/jpd202260

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In search of preventative strategies: novel high-CBD cannabis sativa extracts modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 gateway tissues

 Archive of "Aging (Albany NY)".“With the current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), there is an urgent need for new therapies and prevention strategies that can help curtail disease spread and reduce mortality.

The inhibition of viral entry and thus spread is a plausible therapeutic avenue. SARS-CoV-2 uses receptor-mediated entry into a human host via the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is expressed in lung tissue as well as the oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes and gastrointestinal tract. The modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues may be an effective strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility.

Cannabis sativa, especially those high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been found to alter gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. However, its effects on ACE2 expression remain unknown.

Working under a Health Canada research license, we developed over 800 new C. sativa cultivars and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to down-regulate ACE2 expression in target COVID-19 tissues. Using artificial 3D human models of oral, airway and intestinal tissues, we identified 13 high-CBD C. sativa extracts that decrease ACE2 protein levels. Some C. sativa extracts down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells.

While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is important for future analyses of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19. The extracts of our most successful novel high-CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the prevention/treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33221759/

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