The minor phytocannabinoid delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol attenuates collagen-induced arthritic inflammation and pain-depressed behaviors

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“Patients with arthritis report using cannabis for pain management, and the major cannabinoid Δ9-THC has anti-inflammatory properties, yet the effects of minor cannabinoids on arthritis are largely unknown.

The goal of the present study was to determine the antiarthritic potential of the minor cannabinoid Δ8-THC using the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mouse model.

Adult male DBA/1J mice were immunized and boosted 21 days later with an emulsion of collagen and complete Freund’s adjuvant. Beginning on the day of the booster, mice were administered twice-daily injections of Δ8-THC (3 or 30 mg/kg), the steroid dexamethasone (2 mg/kg), or vehicle for two weeks. Dorsal-ventral paw thickness and qualitative measures of arthritis were recorded daily, and latency to fall from an inverted grid was measured on alternating days, to determine arthritis severity and functional impairment. On the final day of testing, spontaneous wire-climbing behavior and temperature preference in a thermal gradient ring were measured to assess CIA-depressed and -conditioned behavior, respectively.

The Δ8-THC treatment (30 mg/kg) reduced paw swelling and qualitative signs of arthritis. Δ8-THC also blocked CIA-depressed climbing and CIA-induced preference for a heated floor without producing locomotor effects but did not affect latency to fall from a wire grid. In alignment with the morphological and behavioral assessments in vivo, histology revealed that Δ8-THC reduced synovial inflammation, proteoglycan loss and cartilage and bone erosion in the foot joints in a dose-dependent manner.

Together, these findings suggest that Δ8-THC not only blocked morphological changes but also prevented functional loss caused by collagen-induced arthritis. 

Significance Statement Despite increasing use of cannabis products, the potential effects of minor cannabinoids are largely unknown. Here, the minor cannabinoid Δ8-THC blocked the development of experimentally induced arthritis by preventing both pathophysiological as well as functional effects of the disease model.

These data support the development of novel cannabinoid treatments for inflammatory arthritis.”

An open-label feasibility trial of transdermal cannabidiol for hand osteoarthritis

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“Hand osteoarthritis (OA) is an irreversible degenerative condition causing chronic pain and impaired functionality. Existing treatment options are often inadequate. Cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in preclinical models of arthritis. In this open-label feasibility trial, participants with symptomatically active hand OA applied a novel transdermal CBD gel (4% w/w) three times a day for four weeks to their most painful hand. Changes in daily self-reported pain scores were measured on a 0-10 Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS). Hand functionality was determined via daily grip strength measures using a Bluetooth equipped squeeze ball and self-report questionnaire. Quality of life (QoL) ratings around sleep, anxiety, stiffness and fatigue were also measured. All self-report measures and grip strength data were gathered via smartphone application. Urinalysis was conducted at trial end to determine systemic absorption of CBD. Eighteen participants were consented and 15 completed the trial. Pain ratings were significantly reduced over time from pre-treatment baseline including current pain (- 1.91 ± 0.35, p < 0.0001), average pain (- 1.92 ± 0.35, p < 0.0001) and maximum pain (- 1.97 ± 0.34, p < 0.0001) (data represent mean reduction on a 0-10 NPRS scale ± standard error of the mean (SEM)). A significant increase in grip strength in the treated hand (p < 0.0001) was observed although self-reported functionality did not improve. There were significant (p < 0.005) improvements in three QoL measures: fatigue, stiffness and anxiety. CBD and its metabolites were detected at low concentrations in all urine samples. Measured reductions in pain and increases in grip strength seen during treatment reverted back towards baseline during the washout phase. In summary, pain, grip strength and QoL measures, using smartphone technology, was shown to improve over time following transdermal CBD application suggesting feasibility of this intervention in relieving osteoarthritic hand pain. Proof of efficacy, however, requires further confirmation in a placebo-controlled randomised trial.Trial registration: ANZCTR public trials registry (ACTRN12621001512819, 05/11/2021).”

“The current study suggests that transdermal CBD gel may have a beneficial effect on pain and grip strength in participants with symptomatic hand OA but requires further exploration in a randomised controlled trial. This pilot study contributes towards closing this evidence gap and demonstrates that transdermal CBD may provide some promise for a safe treatment option for symptomatically active hand OA.”

Antiarthritic and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabis sativa Essential Oil in an Animal Model

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“Arthritis and inflammatory conditions require effective therapies, but conventional drugs have side effects. This study explored Cannabis sativa L. essential oil (CSEO) as a safer alternative.

A chemical characterization of EO conducted via GC/MS showed the presence of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (67.63%), oxygenated sesquiterpenes (25.91%), and oxygenated monoterpenes (0.99%). The study used three established inflammation induction tests: xylene-induced ear swelling, carrageenan-induced paw inflammation, and inflammation in the paw induced by Freund’s complete adjuvant (CFA). Xylene triggered acute inflammation in the ear, while carrageenan-induced acute inflammatory responses through edema and immune-cell recruitment in the paw. CFA-induced arthritis simulated chronic inflammatory conditions.

The obtained results demonstrated that treatment with CSEO significantly reduced ear weight in the xylene-induced ear-swelling test, indicating potential inhibition of neutrophil accumulation. In the carrageenan-induced paw inflammation test, CSEO reduced paw volume, suggesting interference with edema formation and leukocyte migration. In the CFA-induced paw inflammation test, CSEO decreased contralateral paw volume, restored body weight, and reduced C-reactive protein levels.

Conclusion: this study provides compelling evidence supporting the antiarthritic and anti-inflammatory effects of CSEO. The findings indicate the therapeutic value of EO in the management of arthritis and inflammatory diseases while highlighting the need for further in-depth research to study the molecular mechanisms and validate their safety and efficacy for clinical applications. Preliminary data from this study suggests encouraging prospects for advancing the treatment and prevention of inflammation.”

Medicinal cannabis for Australian patients with chronic refractory pain including arthritis

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“Objectives: To examine the tolerability and effectiveness of medicinal cannabis prescribed to patients for chronic, refractory pain, with a subset analysis on arthritis.

Methods: This was an interim analysis of the CA Clinics Observational Study investigating self-reported adverse events (AEs) and changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) outcomes over time after commencing medicinal cannabis. Patients were prescribed medicinal cannabis by a medical practitioner, containing various ratios of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD).

Results: The overall chronic pain cohort, and specifically the balanced CBD:THC products, were associated with significantly reduced pain intensity scores (p = 0.003, p = 0.025), with 22% of patients reporting a clinically meaningful reduction in pain intensity. Patients in the arthritis subset (n = 199) reported significantly reduced pain intensity scores (p = 0.005) overall, and specifically for those taking CBD-only (p = 0.018) and balanced products (p = 0.005). Other HRQoL outcomes, including pain interference and pain impact scores were significantly improved depending on the CBD:THC ratio. Products that contained a balanced ratio of CBD:THC were associated with improvements in the most number of PROMIS-29 domains. Approximately half (n = 364; 51%) of the chronic pain cohort experienced at least one AE, the most common being dry mouth (24%), somnolence (19%) or fatigue (12%). These findings were similar in the arthritis subset.

Discussion: Medicinal cannabis was observed to improve pain intensity scores and HRQoL outcomes in patients with chronic, refractory pain, providing real-world insights into medicinal cannabis’ therapeutic potential.”

Cannabidiol-loaded poly lactic-co-glycolic acid nanoparticles with improved bioavailability as a potential for osteoarthritis therapeutic

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from cannabis sativa that has demonstrated efficacious against inflammation, which can be considered as a potential drug for arthritis treatment. However, the poor solubility and low bioavailability limit its clinical application. Here, we report an effective strategy to fabricate CBD-loaded poly lactic-co-glycolic acid nanoparticles (CBD-PLGA-NPs), with a spherical morphology and an average diameter of 238 nm. CBD was sustained release from CBD-PLGA-NPs, which improved the bioavailability of CBD. The CBD-PLGA-NPs effectively protect the damage of LPS to cell viability. We observed that CBD-PLGA-NPs significantly suppressed LPS-induced primary rat chondrocyte expression of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin 1β (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13). Remarkably, CBD-PLGA-NPs also showed better therapeutic effects of inhibiting the degradation of the extracellular matrix of chondrocytes than equivalent CBD solution. In general, the fabrication CBD-PLGA-NPs showed good protection of primary chondrocytes in vitro and is a promising system for osteoarthritis treatment.”

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabigerol in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Cultures Are Partly Mediated by TRPA1


“Since its medical legalization, cannabis preparations containing the major phytocannabinoids (cannabidiol (CBD) and δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) have been used by patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to alleviate pain and inflammation. However, minor cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG) also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, but due to the lack of studies, they are not widely used. CBG binds several cellular target proteins such as cannabinoid and α2-adrenergic receptors, but it also ligates several members of the transient potential receptor (TRP) family with TRPA1 being the main target. TRPA1 is not only involved in nnociception, but it also protects cells from apoptosis under oxidative stress conditions. Therefore, modulation of TRPA1 signaling by CBG might be used to modulate disease activity in RA as this autoimmune disease is accompanied by oxidative stress and subsequent activation of pro-inflammatory pathways. Rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RASF) were stimulated or not with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) for 72 h to induce TRPA1 protein. CBG increased intracellular calcium levels in TNF-stimulated RASF but not unstimulated RASF in a TRPA1-dependent manner. In addition, PoPo3 uptake, a surrogate marker for drug uptake, was enhanced by CBG. RASF cell viability, IL-6 and IL-8 production were decreased by CBG. In peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures (PBMC) alone or together with RASF, CBG-modulated interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, TNF and immunoglobulin M and G production which was dependent on activation stimulus (T cell-dependent or independent). However, effects on PBMCs were only partially mediated by TRPA1 as the antagonist A967079 did inhibit some but not all effects of CBG on cytokine production. In contrast, TRPA1 antagonism even enhanced the inhibitory effects of CBG on immunoglobulin production. CBG showed broad anti-inflammatory effects in isolated RASF, PBMC and PBMC/RASF co-cultures. As CBG is non-psychotropic, it might be used as add-on therapy in RA to reduce IL-6 and autoantibody levels.”

“Therefore, CBG might be suited as an adjunct therapy for RA to reduce cytokine and autoantibody production.”

Application of Oil-in-Water Cannabidiol Emulsion for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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“Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease with unknown cause. It mainly affects joints and, without proper treatment, negatively impacts their movement, causes painful deformities, and reduces the patients’ quality of life. Current treatment options consist of various types of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), however 20-30% of patients are partially resistant to them. Therefore, development of new drugs is necessary. Possible option are compounds exhibiting their action via endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in pain and inflammation modulation. One such compound – cannabidiol (CBD) has already been shown to attenuate synovitis in animal model of RA in in vivo studies. However, it has low bioavailability due to its low water solubility and lipophilicity. This issue can be addressed by preparation of a lipid containing formulation targeting lymphatic system, another route of absorption in the body. 

Materials and Methods: CBD-containing emulsion was prepared by high-shear homogenization and its droplet size distribution was analysed by optical microscopy. The relative oral bioavailability compared to oil solution as well as total availability of CBD were assessed in a cross-over study in rats and absorption of CBD via lymphatic system was observed. The effect of CBD on the animal model of RA was determined. 

Results: Compared to oil solution, the emulsion exhibited higher absolute oral bioavailability. Significant lymphatic transport of CBD was observed in all formulations and the concentrations in lymph were calculated. The therapeutic effect of CBD on RA was confirmed as an improvement in clinical symptoms as well as morphological signs of disease activity were observed during the study. 

Conclusion: In this work, we prepared a simple stable emulsion formulation, determined the pharmacokinetic parameters of CBD and calculated its absolute bioavailability in rats. Moreover, we successfully tested the pharmaceutical application of such a formulation and demonstrated the positive effect of CBD in an animal model of RA.”

Design and function of targeted endocannabinoid nanoparticles

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“Nanoparticles and nano-delivery systems are constantly being refined and developed for biomedical applications such as imaging, gene therapy, and targeted delivery of drugs. Nanoparticles deliver beneficial effects by both release of their cargo and by liberation of their constitutive structural components. The N-acylethanolamines linoleoyl ethanolamide (LEA) and oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA) both exhibit endocannabinoid-like activity. Here, we report on their ability to form nanoparticles that when conjugated with tissue-specific molecules, are capable of localizing to specific areas of the body and reducing inflammation. The facilitation of pharmacological effects by endocannabinoids at targeted sites provides a novel biocompatible drug delivery system and a therapeutic approach to the treatment, patient management and quality of life, in conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, and cancer.”

Long-term effects of a diet supplement containing Cannabis sativa oil and Boswellia serrata in dogs with osteoarthritis following physiotherapy treatments: a randomised, placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trial

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“Dogs are commonly affected by Osteoarthritis (OA). Different approaches can be used to alleviate animals’ symptoms. In this randomised, placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trial, we performed a three months follow-up study assessing the efficacy of a food supplement containing natural ingredients (Cannabis sativa oil, Boswellia serrata Roxb. Phytosome® and Zingiber officinale extract) in dogs with OA after the interruption of physiotherapy that was performed during the previous three months. Inflammation and oxidative stress were reduced in the treated group (higher glutathione (GSH) and lower C-reactive protein [CRP] levels in blood) as well as chronic pain.”

Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study

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“Introduction: An estimated 54 million Americans currently suffer from debilitating arthritis. Patients who have exhausted conservative measures can be subject to chronic pain and resort to symptomatic management with anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen, and opioids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has shown promise in preclinical studies to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. The purpose of this study was to explore patient perceived effects of cannabidiol on symptoms of arthritis.

Methods: A novel anonymous questionnaire was created to evaluate perceived efficacy of cannabidiol for the treatment of arthritis. A self-selected convenience sample (N=428) was recruited through online methods including social media accounts and newsletters (The Arthritis Foundation and Savvy Cooperative) between May 5, 2020, and November 5, 2020. Statistical analysis was performed to determine differences between types of arthritis and improvements in quality-of-life symptoms. Furthermore, a regression analysis was performed to identify variables associated with decreasing or discontinuing other medications.

Results: CBD use was associated with improvements in pain (83%), physical function (66%), and sleep quality (66%). Subgroup analysis by diagnosis type (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, or other autoimmune arthritis) found improvements among groups for physical function (P=0.013), favoring the osteoarthritis group. The overall cohort reported a 44% reduction in pain after CBD use (P<0.001). The osteoarthritis group had a greater percentage reduction (P=0.020) and point reduction (P<0.001) in pain compared to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritis. The majority of respondents reported a reduction or cessation of other medications after CBD use (N=259, 60.5%): reductions in anti-inflammatories (N=129, 31.1%), acetaminophen (N=78, 18.2%), opioids (N=36, 8.6%) and discontinuation of anti-inflammatories (N=76, 17.8%), acetaminophen (N=76, 17.8%), and opioids (N=81, 18.9%).

Conclusion: Clinicians and patients should be aware of the various alternative therapeutic options available to treat their symptoms of arthritis, especially in light of the increased accessibility to cannabidiol products. The present study found associations between CBD use and improvements in patient’s arthritis symptoms and reductions in other medications. Future research should focus on exploring the benefits of CBD use in this patient population with clinical trials.”

“The present study, while exploratory in nature, suggests there may be therapeutic benefits to CBD use and highlights the need for research in a field where the science lags behind popular use.”