Cannabis, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system – is there therapeutic potential for inflammatory bowel disease?

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“Cannabis sativa and its extracts have been used for centuries both medicinally and recreationally. There is accumulating evidence that exogenous cannabis and related cannabinoids improve symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease such as pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea. In vivo, exocannabinoids have been demonstrated to improve colitis, mainly in chemical models. Exocannabinoids signal through the endocannabinoid system, an increasingly understood network of endogenous lipid ligands and their receptors, together with a number of synthetic and degradative enzymes and the resulting products. Modulating the endocannabinoid system using pharmacological receptor agonists, genetic knockout models, or inhibition of degradative enzymes have largely shown improvements in colitis in vivo. Despite these promising experimental results, this has not translated into meaningful benefits for human IBD in the few clinical trials which have been conducted to date. The largest study to date being limited by poor medication tolerance due to the Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol component. This review article synthesises the current literature surrounding the modulation of the endocannabinoid system and administration of exocannabinoids in experimental and human IBD. Findings of clinical surveys and studies of cannabis use in IBD are summarised. Discrepancies in the literature are highlighted together with identifying novel areas of interest.”

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The Role of Cannabis in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Review of Clinical, Scientific, and Regulatory Information: Commissioned by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Oxford University Press

“There is significant interest among patients and providers in using cannabis (marijuana) and its derivatives to treat a number of chronic illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disease. Despite the Schedule I classification of cannabis by the federal government, state governments have sought ways to make cannabis available for specific medical conditions, and some states have legalized cannabis outright. This white paper summarizes the preclinical data, clinical data, safety data, and the regulatory landscape as they apply to medical cannabis use in inflammatory bowel disease. Animal models of cannabinoid chemistry and physiology give evidence of anti-inflammatory, antidiarrheal, and nociceptive-limiting properties. Human studies have found benefit in controlling symptoms and improving quality of life, but no studies have established true disease modification given the absent improvement in biomarker profiles or endoscopic healing. Finally, this review describes the legal, regulatory, and practical hurdles to studying the risks and benefits of medical cannabis in the United States.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30358848

https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ibd/izy319/5144402?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Anti-Inflammatory Activity in Colon Models Is Derived from Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid That Interacts with Additional Compounds in Cannabis Extracts.

“Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) include Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Cannabis sativa preparations have beneficial effects for IBD patients. However, C. sativa extracts contain hundreds of compounds. Although there is much knowledge of the activity of different cannabinoids and their receptor agonists or antagonists, the cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory activity of whole C. sativa extracts has never been characterized in detail with in vitro and ex vivo colon models.

Material and Methods: The anti-inflammatory activity of C. sativa extracts was studied on three lines of epithelial cells and on colon tissue. C. sativa flowers were extracted with ethanol, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to determine the level of interleukin-8 in colon cells and tissue biopsies, chemical analysis was performed using high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance and gene expression was determined by quantitative real-time PCR.

Results: The anti-inflammatory activity of Cannabis extracts derives from D9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) present in fraction 7 (F7) of the extract. However, all fractions of C. sativa at a certain combination of concentrations have a significant increased cytotoxic activity. GPR55 receptor antagonist significantly reduces the anti-inflammatory activity of F7, whereas cannabinoid type 2 receptor antagonist significantly increases HCT116 cell proliferation. Also, cannabidiol (CBD) shows dose dependent cytotoxic activity, whereas anti-inflammatory activity was found only for the low concentration of CBD, and in a bell-shaped rather than dose-dependent manner. Activity of the extract and active fraction was verified on colon tissues taken from IBD patients, and was shown to suppress cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) gene expression in both cell culture and colon tissue.

Conclusions: It is suggested that the anti-inflammatory activity of Cannabis extracts on colon epithelial cells derives from a fraction of the extract that contains THCA, and is mediated, at least partially, via GPR55 receptor. The cytotoxic activity of the C. sativa extract was increased by combining all fractions at a certain combination of concentrations and was partially affected by CB2 receptor antagonist that increased cell proliferation. It is suggested that in a nonpsychoactive treatment for IBD, THCA should be used rather than CBD.”

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Cannabinoid Receptor-2 Ameliorates Inflammation in Murine Model of Crohn’s Disease.

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“Cannabinoid receptor stimulation may have positive symptomatic effects on inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] patients through analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

The cannabinoid 2 receptor [CB2R] is expressed primarily on immune cells, including CD4+ T cells, and is induced by active inflammation in both humans and mice. We therefore investigated the effect of targeting CB2R in a preclinical IBD model.

 In summary, the endocannabinoid system is induced in murine ileitis but is downregulated in chronic murine and human intestinal inflammation, and CB2R activation attenuates murine ileitis, establishing an anti-inflammatory role of the endocannabinoid system.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28981653

https://academic.oup.com/ecco-jcc/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjx096/3977952/Cannabinoid-Receptor-2-Ameliorates-Inflammation-in?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Cannabinoids

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“In the past two decades, there has been increasing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and single cannabinoids, mainly cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC and cannabis products rich in THC exert their effects mainly through the activation of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Since 1975, 140 controlled clinical trials using different cannabinoids or whole-plant preparations for the treatment of a large number of disorders and symptoms have been conducted. Results have led to the approval of cannabis-based medicines [dronabinol, nabilone, and the cannabis extract nabiximols (Sativex®, THC:CBD = 1:1)] as well as cannabis flowers in several countries. Controlled clinical studies provide substantial evidence for the use of cannabinoid receptor agonists in cancer chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, appetite loss and cachexia in cancer and HIV patients, neuropathic and chronic pain, and in spasticity in multiple sclerosis. In addition, there is also some evidence suggesting a therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicines in other indications including Tourette syndrome, spinal cord injury, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and glaucoma. In several other indications, small uncontrolled and single-case studies reporting beneficial effects are available, for example in posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and migraine. The most common side effects of THC and cannabis-based medicines rich in THC are sedation and dizziness (in more than 10% of patients), psychological effects, and dry mouth. Tolerance to these side effects nearly always develops within a short time. Withdrawal symptoms are hardly ever a problem in the therapeutic setting. In recent years there is an increasing interest in the medical use of CBD, which exerts no intoxicating side effects and is usually well-tolerated. Preliminary data suggest promising effects in the treatment of anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, dystonia, and some forms of epilepsy. This review gives an overview on clinical studies which have been published over the past 40 years.”

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352689.2016.1265360?needAccess=true&journalCode=bpts20

“Review Identifies 140 Controlled Clinical Trials Related to Cannabis”  http://blog.norml.org/2017/06/04/review-identifies-140-controlled-clinical-trials-related-to-cannabis/

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Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: from Anecdotal Use to Medicalization?

“Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are disorders of chronic intestinal inflammation of unknown etiology. The basic pathophysiological process is that of immune mediated inflammation affecting the intestinal tract. This process is dependent on and governed by both genetic and environmental factors. There are two distinct forms of IBD – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

There is no curative medical treatment. Furthermore, over 30% of patients, and over 70% with Crohn’s disease, will need surgical intervention for their disease. Thus, it comes as no surprise that many patients will turn to complementary or alternative medicine at some stage of their disease. Recent information reveals that between 16% and 50% of patients admit to having tried marijuana for their symptoms.

There is a long list of gastrointestinal symptoms that have been reported to be relieved by cannabis. These include anorexia, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastroparesis – all of which can be part of IBD. These effects are related to the fact that the gastrointestinal tract is rich in cannabinoid (CB) receptors and their endogenous ligands, comprising together the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In conclusion, use of cannabis is common in IBD, and it seems to be mostly safe. Accumulating preliminary data from human studies support a beneficial role of cannabinoids in IBD.”

https://www.ima.org.il/FilesUpload/IMAJ/0/228/114217.pdf

https://www.ima.org.il/imaj/ViewArticle.aspx?aId=4045

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28457058

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Low-Dose Cannabidiol Is Safe but Not Effective in the Treatment for Crohn’s Disease, a Randomized Controlled Trial.

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“Cannabidiol (CBD) is an anti-inflammatory cannabinoid shown to be beneficial in a mouse model of IBD. Lacking any central effect, cannabidiol is an attractive option for treating inflammatory diseases. In this study of moderately active Crohn’s disease, CBD was safe but had no beneficial effects. This could be due to lack of effect of CBD on Crohn’s disease, but could also be due to the small dose of CBD, the small number of patients in the study, or the lack of the necessary synergism with other cannabinoids.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349233

“Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. We performed a prospective trial to determine whether cannabis can induce remission in patients with Crohn’s disease. Complete remission was achieved by 5 of 11 subjects in the cannabis group and 1 of 10 in the placebo group. A short course (8 weeks) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 10 of 11 patients with active Crohn’s disease, compared with placebo, without side effects.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23648372

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Cannabinoid Receptor 2 Functional Variant Contributes to the Risk for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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“We conducted a case-control association analysis to establish the role of a common CB2 functional variant, Q63R, in the susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Endocannabinoids may limit intestinal inflammation through cannabinoid receptor 1 and/or 2 (CB1, CB2).

The CB2-Q63R variant contributes to the risk for pediatric IBD, in particular CD. The R63 variant is associated with a more severe phenotype in both UC and CD.

Taken together, our data point toward the involvement of the CB2 receptor in the pathogenesis and clinical features of pediatric IBD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27875353

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Role of cannabis in digestive disorders.

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“Cannabis sativa, a subspecies of the Cannabis plant, contains aromatic hydrocarbon compounds called cannabinoids.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the most abundant cannabinoid and is the main psychotropic constituent.

Cannabinoids activate two types of G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors: cannabinoid type 1 receptor and cannabinoid type 2 receptor.

There has been ongoing interest and development in research to explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol exerts biological functions on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Cannabis has been used for the treatment of GI disorders such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.

The endocannabinoid system (i.e. endogenous circulating cannabinoids) performs protective activities in the GI tract and presents a promising therapeutic target against various GI conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (especially Crohn’s disease), irritable bowel syndrome, and secretion and motility-related disorders.

The present review sheds light on the role of cannabis in the gut, liver, and pancreas and also on other GI symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, anorexia, weight loss, and chronic abdominal pain.

Although the current literature supports the use of marijuana for the treatment of digestive disorders, the clinical efficacy of cannabis and its constituents for various GI disorders remains unclear.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27792038

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Cannabinoids cool the intestine

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“Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease affects over a million people in the United States, with an estimated indirect cost from work loss of $3.6 billion annually. Many of these individuals suffer from pain, diarrhea and poor ability to digest their food, and in up to half of those with IBD, the disease is so severe that it ultimately requires surgery to remove the affected bowel segment.

Historically, marijuana has been used to treat diarrhea and has been advocated for the treatment of a variety of other gastrointestinal problems, including Crohn’s disease.

More recent pharmacological studies have clearly established that cannabinoids inhibit gastrointestinal motility and secretion by acting on CB1 receptors located on the terminals of both intrinsic and extrinsic submucosal neurons.

When administered to mice with chemically induced enteritis, cannabinoids also reduce inflammation and fluid accumulation in the gut.

Cannabinoids inhibit motility and secretion in the intestine.

They are now assigned the additional task of curbing excessive inflammation, suggesting that drugs targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system could be exploited for inflammatory bowel disease.

These findings may offer a new therapeutic approach to IBD.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2516444/

 

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