The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain

Complementary Therapies in Medicine“The prior medical literature offers little guidance as to how pain relief and side effect manifestation may vary across commonly used and commercially available cannabis product types. We used the largest dataset in the United States of real-time responses to and side effect reporting from patient-directed cannabis consumption sessions for the treatment of pain under naturalistic conditions in order to identify how cannabis affects momentary pain intensity levels and which product characteristics are the best predictors of therapeutic pain relief.

Between 06/06/2016 and 10/24/2018, 2987 people used the ReleafApp to record 20,513 cannabis administration measuring cannabis’ effects on momentary pain intensity levels across five pain categories: musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, nerve, headache-related, or non-specified pain. The average pain reduction was –3.10 points on a 0–10 visual analogue scale (SD = 2.16, d = 1.55, p < .001).

Whole Cannabis flower was associated with greater pain relief than were other types of products, and higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels were the strongest predictors of analgesia and side effects prevalence across the five pain categories. In contrast, cannabidiol (CBD) levels generally were not associated with pain relief except for a negative association between CBD and relief from gastrointestinal and non-specified pain.

These findings suggest benefits from patient-directed, cannabis therapy as a mid-level analgesic treatment; however, effectiveness and side effect manifestation vary with the characteristics of the product used.

The results suggest that Cannabis flower with moderate to high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol is an effective mid-level analgesic.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229919308040

“UNM study confirms cannabis flower is an effective mid-level analgesic medication for pain treatment. Cannabis likely has numerous constituents that possess analgesic properties beyond THC, including terpenes and flavonoids, which likely act synergistically for people that use whole dried cannabis flower, Cannabis offers the average patient an effective alternative to using opioids for general use in the treatment of pain with very minimal negative side effects for most people.”  https://news.unm.edu/news/unm-study-confirms-cannabis-flower-is-an-effective-mid-level-analgesic-medication-for-pain-treatment

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Cannabis Use Motivations among Adults Prescribed Opioids for Pain versus Opioid Addiction.

Pain Management Nursing“Cannabis has been linked to reduced opioid use, although reasons for cannabis use among adults prescribed opioids are unclear.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether motivations for cannabis use differ between adults prescribed opioids for persistent pain versus those receiving opioids as medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

RESULTS:

More than half the sample (n = 122) reported current, daily cannabis use and 63% reported pain as a motivation for use. Adults with persistent pain were more likely to be older, female, and have higher levels of education (p < .05). Adults with opioid use disorder were more likely to report “enhancement” (p < .01) and relief of drug withdrawal symptoms (p < .001) as motivations for cannabis use. The most common reasons for cannabis use in both populations were social and recreational use and pain relief.

CONCLUSIONS:

Both studied populations have unmet health needs motivating them to use cannabis and commonly use cannabis for pain. Persistent pain participants were less likely to use cannabis for euphoric effects or withdrawal purposes. Nurses should assess for cannabis use, provide education on known risks and benefits, and offer options for holistic symptom management.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31375419

https://www.painmanagementnursing.org/article/S1524-9042(19)30096-7/fulltext

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Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges

Image result for frontiers in immunology“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (−)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.]. These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes. The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc. Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption. Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.

Active Components of Cannabis sativa (Hemp)—Phytocannabinoids (pCBs) and Beyond

It is known since ancient times that consumption of different parts of the plant Cannabis sativa can lead to psychotropic effects. Moreover, mostly, but not exclusively because of its potent analgesic actions, it was considered to be beneficial in the management of several diseases. Nowadays it is a common knowledge that these effects were mediated by the complex mixture of biologically active substances produced by the plant. So far, at least 545 active compounds have been identified in it, among which, the best-studied ones are the so-called pCBs. It is also noteworthy that besides these compounds, ca. 140 different terpenes [including the potent and selective CB2 agonist sesquiterpene β-caryophyllene (BCP)], multiple flavonoids, alkanes, sugars, non-cannabinoid phenols, phenylpropanoids, steroids, fatty acids, and various nitrogenous compounds can be found in the plant, individual biological actions of which are mostly still nebulous. Among the so far identified > 100 pCBs, the psychotropic (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychotropic (−)-cannabidiol (CBD) are the best-studied ones, exerting a wide-variety of biological actions [including but not exclusively: anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti inflammatory effects]. Of great importance, pCBs have been shown to modulate the activity of a plethora of cellular targets, extending their impact far beyond the “classical” (see above) cannabinoid signaling. Indeed, besides being agonists [or in some cases even antagonists of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, some pCBs were shown to differentially modulate the activity of certain TRP channels, PPARs, serotonin, α adrenergic, adenosine or opioid receptors, and to inhibit COX and lipoxygenase enzymes, FAAH, EMT, etc.. Moreover, from a clinical point-of-view, it should also be noted that pCBs can indirectly modify pharmacokinetics of multiple drugs (e.g., cyclosporine A) by interacting with several cytochrome P 450 (CYP) enzymes. Taken together, pCBs can be considered as multitarget polypharmacons, each of them having unique “molecular fingerprints” created by the characteristic activation/inhibition pattern of its locally available cellular targets.

Concluding Remarks—Lessons to Learn from Cannabis

Research efforts of the past few decades have unambiguously evidenced that ECS is one of the central orchestrators of both innate and adaptive immune systems, and that pure pCBs as well as complex cannabis-derivatives can also deeply influence immune responses. Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases. Moreover, in depth analysis of the (quite complex) mechanism-of-action of the most promising pCBs is likely to shed light to previously unknown immune regulatory mechanisms and can therefore pave new “high”-ways toward developing completely novel classes of therapeutic agents to manage a wide-variety of diseases.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01487/full

www.frontiersin.org

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Cannabinoids reduce hyperalgesia and inflammation via interaction with peripheral CB1 receptors.

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“Central antinociceptive effects of cannabinoids have been well documented.

Our results indicate that cannabinoids produce antihyperalgesia via interaction with a peripheral CB1 receptor.

This hypothesis is supported by the finding that anandamide inhibited capsaicin-evoked release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from isolated hindpaw skin.

Collectively, these results indicate that cannabinoids reduce inflammation via interaction with a peripheral CB1 receptor.”

“The Endocannabinoid System and Pain. Cannabis has been used for more than twelve thousand years and for many different purposes (i.e. fiber, medicinal, recreational). However, the endocannabinoid signaling system has only recently been the focus of medical research and considered a potential therapeutic target. Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands are present at supraspinal, spinal and peripheral levels. Cannabinoids suppress behavioral responses to noxious stimulation and suppress nociceptive processing through activation of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptor subtypes. These studies suggest that manipulation of peripheral endocannabinoids may be promising strategy for the management of pain.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2834283/

“The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids. Historically and anecdotally cannabinoids have been used as analgesic agents. Moreover, cannabinoids act synergistically with opioids and act as opioid sparing agents, allowing lower doses and fewer side effects from chronic opioid therapy. Thus, rational use of cannabis based medications deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3728280/
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Cannabis and cannabinoids on treatment of inflammation: a patent review

The inflammatory process is a physiological response to a vast number harmful stimulus that takes place in order to restore homeostasis. Many drugs used in pharmacotherapy are effective to control inflammatory responses, however there is a range of adverse effects attributed to steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

In this sense, herbal medicine and derivatives gain more adepts because of their effectiveness and safety, showing the importance of medicinal plants, especially the Cannabis genus and the cannabinoid derivatives.
The aim of this prospection was to identify data related to patents involving Cannabis and cannabinoids for the treatment of inflammation.
A total of 370 patents were found, of which 17 patents met the inclusion criteria.
Although reports show synergistic effects of the plant components, patents involving Cannabis and cannabinoids focus on isolated substances (CBD e THC). However, patents related to Cannabis and cannabinoids are promising for future use of the plant or its derivatives on the treatment of inflammation.”
“Cannabis-based drugs have been shown to be effective in inflammatory diseases.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29110674
“Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15864274
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Opioid-Sparing Effects of Cannabinoids on Morphine Analgesia: Participation of CB1 and CB2 Receptors.

British Journal of Pharmacology banner“Much of the opioid epidemic arose from abuse of prescription opioid drugs.

This study sought to determine if the combination of a cannabinoid with an opioid could produce additive or synergistic effects on pain, allowing reduction in the opioid dose needed for maximal analgesia.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:

The ability of a cannabinoid to produce an additive or synergistic effect on analgesia when combined with morphine varies with the pain assay and may be mediated by CB1 or CB2 receptors. These results hold the promise of using cannabinoids to reduce the dose of opioids for analgesia in certain pain conditions.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31218677

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bph.14769

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Effectiveness and tolerability of THC:CBD oromucosal spray as add-on measure in patients with severe chronic pain: analysis of 12-week open-label real-world data provided by the German Pain e-Registry.

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“Objective: To evaluate effectiveness, tolerability and safety of an oromucosal spray containing Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as add-on treatment in patients with severe chronic pain (SCP).

Conclusion: THC:CBD oromucosal spray proved to be an effective and well-tolerated add-on treatment for patients with elsewhere refractory chronic pain – especially of neuropathic origin.”

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Selective modulation of the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor as an emerging platform for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

“Neuropathic pain is caused by a lesion or dysfunction in the nervous system, and it may arise from illness, be drug-induced or caused by toxin exposure. Since the discovery of two G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) nearly three decades ago, there has been a rapid expansion in our understanding of cannabinoid pharmacology. This is currently one of the most active fields of neuropharmacology, and interest has emerged in developing cannabinoids and other small molecule modulators of CB1 and CB2 as therapeutics for neuropathic pain. This short review article provides an overview of the chemotypes currently under investigation for the development of novel neuropathic pain treatments targeting CB1 receptors.”

Graphical abstract: Selective modulation of the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor as an emerging platform for the treatment of neuropathic pain
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Effects of cannabinoid administration for pain: A meta-analysis and meta-regression.

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“Chronic pain states have resulted in an overreliance on opioid pain relievers, which can carry significant risks when used long term. As such, alternative pain treatments are increasingly desired.

Although emerging research suggests that cannabinoids have therapeutic potential regarding pain, results from studies across pain populations have been inconsistent. To provide meta-analytic clarification regarding cannabis’s impact on subjective pain, we identified studies that assessed drug-induced pain modulations under cannabinoid and corresponding placebo conditions.

Results revealed that cannabinoid administration produced a medium-to-large effect across included studies, Cohen’s d = -0.58, 95% confidence interval (CI) [-0.74, -0.43], while placebo administration produced a small-to-medium effect, Cohen’s d = -0.39, 95% CI [-0.52, -0.26]. Meta-regression revealed that cannabinoids, β = -0.43, 95% CI [-0.62, -0.24], p < .05, synthetic cannabinoids, β = -0.39, 95% CI [-0.65, -0.14], p < .05, and sample size, β = 0.01, 95% CI [0.00, 0.01], p < .05, were associated with marked pain reduction.

These outcomes suggest that cannabinoid-based pharmacotherapies may serve as effective replacement/adjunctive options regarding pain, however, additional research is warranted.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31120281

https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fpha0000281

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CB2 receptor deletion on myeloid cells enhanced mechanical allodynia in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.

 Scientific Reports“Neuropathic pain can develop after nerve injury, leading to a chronic condition with spontaneous pain and hyperalgesia.

Pain is typically restricted to the side of the injured nerve, but may occasionally spread to the contralateral side, a condition that is often referred to as mirror-image pain.

Mechanisms leading to mirror-image pain are not completely understood, but cannabinoid CB2 receptors have been implicated.

In this study, we use genetic mouse models to address the question if CB2 receptors on neurons or on microglia/macrophages are involved.

We conclude that CB2 receptors on microglia and macrophages, but not on neurons, modulate neuropathic pain responses.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31097758

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43858-4

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