The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases

ijms-logo“The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment (temperature, mood, and immune system) and energy input and output in living, biological systems.

In addition to regulating physiological processes, the ECS directly influences anxiety, feeding behaviour/appetite, emotional behaviour, depression, nervous functions, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, reward, cognition, learning, memory, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, and pre-and post-natal development.

The ECS is also involved in several pathophysiological diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In recent years, genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ECS has gained significant interest in medicine, research, and drug discovery and development.

The distribution of the components of the ECS system throughout the body, and the physiological/pathophysiological role of the ECS-signalling pathways in many diseases, all offer promising opportunities for the development of novel cannabinergic, cannabimimetic, and cannabinoid-based therapeutic drugs that genetically or pharmacologically modulate the ECS via inhibition of metabolic pathways and/or agonism or antagonism of the receptors of the ECS. This modulation results in the differential expression/activity of the components of the ECS that may be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases.

This manuscript in-depth review will investigate the potential of the ECS in the treatment of various diseases, and to put forth the suggestion that many of these secondary metabolites of Cannabis sativa L. (hereafter referred to as “C. sativa L.” or “medical cannabis”), may also have potential as lead compounds in the development of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals for a variety of diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34502379/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/17/9472

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Ingestion of a THC-Rich Cannabis Oil in People with Fibromyalgia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

Issue Cover “Objective: To determine the benefit of a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-rich cannabis oil on symptoms and quality of life of fibromyalgia patients.

Conclusions: Phytocannabinoids can be a low-cost and well-tolerated therapy to reduce symptoms and increase the quality of life of patients with fibromyalgia. Future studies are still needed to assess long-term benefits, and studies with different varieties of cannabinoids associated with a washout period must be done to enhance our knowledge of cannabis action in this health condition.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33118602/

“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial to demonstrate the benefit of cannabis oil—a THC-rich whole plant extract—on symptoms and on quality of life of people with fibromyalgia. We conclude that phytocannabinoids can be a low-cost and well-tolerated therapy for symptom relief and quality of life improvement in these patients, and we suggest that this therapy could be included as an herbal medicine option for the treatment of this condition”

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/21/10/2212/5942556

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Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of fibromyalgia

Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology “Fibromyalgia is a complex disease process that is as prevalent as it is poorly understood. Research into the pathophysiology is ongoing, and findings will likely assist in identifying new therapeutic options to augment those in existence today that are still insufficient for the care of a large population of patients.

Recent evidence describes the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

This study provides a systematic, thorough review of the evidence alongside a review of the seminal data regarding the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and current treatment options.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread chronic pain, fatigue, and depressive episodes without an organic diagnosis, which may be prevalent in up to 10% of the population and carries a significant cost in healthcare utilization, morbidity, a reduced quality of life, and productivity. It is frequently associated with psychiatric comorbidities. The diagnosis is clinical and usually prolonged, and diagnostic criteria continue to evolve. Some therapies have been previously described, including neuropathic medications, milnacipran, and antidepressants. Despite some level of efficacy, only physical exercise has strong evidence to support it.

Cannabis has been used historically to treat different pain conditions since ancient times.

Recent advances allowed for the isolation of the active substances in cannabis and the production of cannabinoid products that are nearly devoid of psychoactive influence and provide pain relief and alleviation of other symptoms. Many of these, as well as cannabis itself, are approved for use in chronic pain conditions.

Evidence supporting cannabis in chronic pain conditions is plentiful; however, in fibromyalgia, they are mostly limited. Only a handful of randomized trials exists, and their objectivity has been questioned. However, many retrospective trials and patient surveys suggest the significant alleviation of pain, improvement in sleep, and abatement of associated symptoms.

Evidence supporting the use of cannabis in chronic pain and specifically in fibromyalgia is being gathered as the use of cannabis increases with current global trends. While the current evidence is still limited, emerging data do suggest a positive effect of cannabis in fibromyalgia.

Cannabis use is not without risks, including psychiatric, cognitive, and developmental as well as the risks of addiction. As such, clinical judgment is warranted to weigh these risks and prescribe to patients who are more likely to benefit from this treatment. Further research is required to define appropriate patient selection and treatment regimens.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33004171/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1521689620300781?via%3Dihub

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[CHARACTERISTICS OF MEDICAL CANNABIS USAGE AMONG PATIENTS WITH FIBROMYALGIA]

Harefuah” - IMA - Israel Medicine Association“Medical cannabis (MC) is becoming more and more popular among patients with chronic pain syndromes.

In this study we evaluated the characteristics of MC use among patients with fibromyalgia.

MC is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, with nearly zero % withdrawal from this treatment.

MC treatment enabled nearly half of the patients to discontinue any treatment for fibromyalgia and all participants recommended MC treatment for their loved ones in case they develop severe fibromyalgia.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32431124/

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Adding medical cannabis to standard analgesic treatment for fibromyalgia: a prospective observational study.

Image result for Clin Exp Rheumatol. “To assess any clinical improvement attributable to the addition of medical cannabis treatment (MCT) to the stable (>3 months) standard analgesic treatment of fibromyalgia (FM) patients, the retention rate and any changes in the concomitant analgesic treatment over a period of six months.

METHODS:

The study involved 102 consecutive FM patients with VAS scores ≥4 despite standard analgesic treatment. Patients were prescribed two oil-diluted cannabis extracts: Bedrocan (22% THC, <1% CBD), and Bediol (6.3% THC, 8% CBD). FM severity was periodically assessed using Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), Fibromyalgia Assessment Scale (FAS), FACIT-Fatigue score, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Zung Depression and Anxiety Scales. During the study, patients were allowed to reduce or stop their concomitant analgesic therapy.

RESULTS:

The 6-month retention rate was 64%. A significant improvement in the PSQI and FIQR was observed in respectively 44% and 33% of patients. 50% showed a moderate improvement in the anxiety and depression scales. Multiple regression analysis showed a correlation between the body mass index (BMI) and FIQR improvement (p=0.017). Concomitant analgesic treatment was reduced or suspended in 47% of the patients. One-third experienced mild adverse events, which did not cause any significant treatment modifications.

CONCLUSIONS:

This observational study shows that adjunctive MCT offers a possible clinical advantage in FM patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions. The clinical improvement inversely correlated with BMI. The retention rate and changes in concomitant analgesic therapy reflect MCT efficacy of the improved quality of life of patients. Further studies are needed to confirm these data, identify MCT-responsive sub-groups of FM patients, and establish the most appropriate posology and duration of the therapy.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32116208

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Cannabis and Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases.

 Logo of rmmj“Chronic pain is a common complaint among patients, and rheumatic diseases are a common cause for chronic pain. Current pharmacological interventions for chronic pain are not always useful or safe enough for long-term use.

Cannabis and cannabinoids are currently being studied due to their potential as analgesics. In this review we will discuss current literature regarding cannabinoids and cannabis as treatment for rheumatic diseases.

Fibromyalgia is a prevalent rheumatic disease that causes diffuse pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Treatment of this syndrome is symptomatic, and it has been suggested that cannabis and cannabinoids could potentially alleviate some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. In this review we cite some of the evidence that supports this claim. However, data on long-term efficacy and safety of cannabinoid and cannabis use are still lacking.

Cannabinoids and cannabis are commonly investigated as analgesic agents, but in recent years more evidence has accumulated on their potential immune-modulatory effect, supported by results in animal models of certain rheumatic diseases. While results that demonstrate the same effect in humans are still lacking, cannabinoids and cannabis remain potential drugs to alleviate the pain associated with rheumatic diseases, as they were shown to be safe and to cause limited adverse effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32017684

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Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia

jcm-logo“Chronic pain may be treated by medical cannabis. Yet, there is scarce evidence to support the role of medical cannabis in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The aim of the study was to investigate the characteristics, safety, and effectiveness of medical cannabis therapy for fibromyalgia.

Results: Among the 367 fibromyalgia patients, the mean age was 52.9 ± 15.1, of whom 301 (82.0%) were women. Twenty eight patients (7.6%) stopped the treatment prior to the six months follow-up. The six months response rate was 70.8%. Pain intensity (scale 0–10) reduced from a median of 9.0 at baseline to 5.0 (p < 0.001), and 194 patients (81.1%) achieved treatment response. In a multivariate analysis, age above 60 years (odds ratio [OR] 0.34, 95% C.I 0.16–0.72), concerns about cannabis treatment (OR 0.36, 95% C.I 0.16–0.80), spasticity (OR 2.26, 95% C.I 1.08–4.72), and previous use of cannabis (OR 2.46 95% C.I 1.06–5.74) were associated with treatment outcome. The most common adverse effects were mild and included dizziness (7.9%), dry mouth (6.7%), and gastrointestinal symptoms (5.4%).

Conclusion: Medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. Standardization of treatment compounds and regimens are required.”

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/8/6/807

“Medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31195754

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Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain.

Archives of Oral Biology

“This study investigated whether local intramuscular injection of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC) and their combinations can decrease nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced masticatory muscle sensitization in female rats.

RESULTS:

In behavioral experiments, CBD (5 mg/ml) or CBN (1 mg/ml) decreased NGF-induced mechanical sensitization. Combinations of CBD/CBN induced a longer-lasting reduction of mechanical sensitization than either compound alone. No significant change in mechanical withdrawal threshold was observed in the contralateral masseter muscles and no impairment of motor function was found with the inverted screen test after any of the treatments. Consistent with behavioral results, CBD (5 mg/ml), CBN (1 mg/ml) and the combination of CBD/CBN (1:1 mg/ml) increased the mechanical threshold of masseter muscle mechanoreceptors. However, combining CBD/CBN (5:1 mg/ml) at a higher ratio reduced the duration of this effect. This may indicate an inhibitory effect of higher concentrations of CBD on CBN.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that peripheral application of these non-psychoactive cannabinoids may provide analgesic relief for chronic muscle pain disorders such as temporomandibular disorders and fibromyalgia without central side effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31158702

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003996919302249?via%3Dihub

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An experimental randomized study on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia.

 

Image result for ovid journal

“In this experimental randomized placebo-controlled 4-way crossover trial, we explored the analgesic effects of inhaled pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in twenty chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia.

We tested four different cannabis varieties with exact knowledge on their [INCREMENT]-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD) content: Bedrocan® (22.4 mg THC, < 1 mg CBD), Bediol® (13.4 mg THC, 17.8 mg CBD), Bedrolite® (18.4 mg CBD, < 1 mg THC) and a placebo variety without any THC or CBD.

Following a single vapor inhalation, THC and CBD plasma concentrations, pressure and electrical pain thresholds, spontaneous pain scores and drug high were measured for 3 hours. None of the treatments had an effect greater than placebo on spontaneous or electrical pain responses, although more subjects receiving Bediol® displayed a 30% decrease in pain scores compared to placebo (90% vs. 55% of patients, p = 0.01), with spontaneous pain scores correlating with the magnitude of drug high (ρ = -0.5, p < 0.001). Cannabis varieties containing THC caused a significant increase in pressure pain threshold relative to placebo (p < 0.01). CBD inhalation increased THC plasma concentrations but diminished THC-induced analgesic effects, indicative of a synergistic pharmacokinetic but antagonistic pharmacodynamic interactions of THC and CBD.

This experimental trial shows the complex behavior of inhaled cannabinoids in chronic pain patients with just small analgesic responses after a single inhalation. Further studies are needed to determine long-term treatment effects on spontaneous pain scores, THC-CBD interactions and the role of psychotropic symptoms on pain relief.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30585986

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00006396-900000000-98794

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Effect of adding medical cannabis to analgesic treatment in patients with low back pain related to fibromyalgia: an observational cross-over single centre study.

Image result for Clin Exp Rheumatol.

“Low back pain (LBP) occurs in many patients with fibromyalgia (FM). The current study aimed to assess the possible pain and function amelioration associated with medical cannabis therapy (MCT) in this setting.

METHODS:

31 patients were involved in an observational cross-over study. The patients were screened, treated with 3 months of standardised analgesic therapy (SAT): 5 mg of oxycodone hydrochloride equivalent to 4.5 mg oxycodone and 2.5 mg naloxone hydrochloride twice a day and duloxetine 30 mg once a day. Following 3 months of this therapy, the patients could opt for MCT and were treated for a minimum of 6 months. Patient reported outcomes (PRO’s) included: FIQR, VAS, ODI and SF-12 and lumbar range of motion (ROM) was recorded using the modified Schober test.

RESULTS:

While SAT led to minor improvement as compared with baseline status, the addition of MCT allowed a significantly higher improvement in all PRO’s at 3 months after initiation of MCT and the improvement was maintained at 6 months. ROM improved after 3 months of MCT and continued to improve at 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

This observational cross-over study demonstrates an advantage of MCT in FM patients with LBP as compared with SAT. Further randomised clinical trial studies should assess whether these results can be generalised to the FM population at large.”

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