“Plant-based therapies date back centuries. Cannabis sativa is one such plant that was used medicinally up until the early part of the 20th century.
Although rich in diverse and interesting phytochemicals, cannabis was largely ignored by the modern scientific community due to its designation as a schedule 1 narcotic and restrictions on access for research purposes. There was renewed interest in the early 1990s when the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered, a complex network of signaling pathways responsible for physiological homeostasis. Two key components of the ECS, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), were identified as the molecular targets of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC).
Restrictions on access to cannabis have eased worldwide, leading to a resurgence in interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Much of the focus has been on the two major constituents, Δ9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis contains over 140 phytocannabinoids, although only a handful have been tested for pharmacological activity. Many of these minor cannabinoids potently modulate receptors, ionotropic channels, and enzymes associated with the ECS and show therapeutic potential individually or synergistically with other phytocannabinoids.
The following review will focus on the pharmacological developments of the next generation of phytocannabinoid therapeutics.”