[Phytotherapeutic recommendations in medical guidelines for the treatment of gastroenterological diseases – a systematic review]

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“Phytotherapeutics are gaining influence in the treatment of gastroenterological diseases. Their popularity and growing evidence of efficacy contribute to their integration into medical guidelines. A systematic screening identified recommended phytotherapeutic approaches. Based on current scientific data, some recommendations for the use of phytotherapeutic agents are given. For irritable bowel syndrome the use of peppermint oil is “strongly recommended”, especially for pain and flatulence. Other phytotherapeutics such as STW-5, Tibetan Padma Lax or warm caraway oil pads have proven effective in alleviating symptoms. It is “recommended” to integrate them into the treatment concept. For chronic constipation, 30g of fiber per day is recommended. Best data exists for plantago psyllium with moderate evidence and chicory inulin. In case of ulcerative colitis, plantago psyllium as well as the combination of myrrhchamomile flower extract, and coffee charcoal can be used as a complementary treatment in maintaining remission. There is also an “open recommendation” for curcumin for both, remission induction and maintenance. Some phytotherapeutic treatments (e.g., Artemisia absintiumBoswellia serata) show evidence of effectiveness for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, but data are not yet sufficient for recommendations. Cannabis-based medicines can be considered for abdominal pain and clinically relevant appetite loss if standard therapy is ineffective or contraindicated, but they should not be used for acute inflammation in active Crohn’s disease. Further recommendations for other gastroenterological diseases are discussed. The safety and tolerability of the phytotherapeutics were rated as predominantly “very good” to “acceptable”. Some clear recommendations for the use of phytotherapeutics to treat gastroenterological diseases show their great potential. Due to their wide range of effects, phytotherapeutics can be used very well as a complement to conventional medicines in case of complex regulatory disorders. However, further methodologically well-conducted impact studies would be helpful in order to be able to make further recommendations.”



Multi-targeting inulin-based nanoparticles with cannabidiol for effective prevention of ulcerative colitis

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“The pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC) is closely related to severe inflammation, damaged colonic mucosal barrier, increased oxidative stress and intestinal ecological imbalance. However, due to the nonspecific distribution and poor bioavailability of drugs, UC treatment is still a serious challenge. Here, a mitochondria/colon dual targeted nanoparticles based on redox response was developed to effectively alleviate UC.

Cannabidiol nanoparticles (CBD NPs) with a particle size of 143.2 ± 3.11 nm were prepared by self-assembly using polymers (TPP-IN-LA) obtained by modifying inulin with (5-carboxypentyl) triphenyl phosphonium bromide (TPP) and α-lipoic acid (α-LA). Excitingly, the constructed CBD NPs showed excellent mitochondrial targeting, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.76 at 12 h.

The results of animal imaging in vivo showed that CBD NPs could be effectively accumulated in colon tissue. Not only that, CBD showed significant glutathione stimulated release in the presence of 10 mM glutathione at pH 7.4.

The results of in vivo animal experiments showed that CBD NPs significantly ameliorated DSS-induced colonic inflammation by modulating the TLR4-NF-κB signaling pathway. Moreover, CBD NPs significantly improved the histological damage of colon in UC mice, increased the expression level of tight junction protein ZO-1, and effectively restored the intestinal mucosal barrier function and intestinal mucosal permeability.

More importantly, CBD NPs significantly improved the species composition, abundance and amount of short chain fatty acids of intestinal flora in UC mice, thus effectively maintaining the balance of intestinal flora. The dual-targeted and glutathione-responsive nanoparticles prepared in this study provide a promising idea for achieving targeted delivery of CBD for effective treatment of UC.”



Medical Cannabis Increases Appetite but Not Body Weight in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

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“We aimed to elucidate the effect of Medical Cannabis (MC) on appetite and nutritional status among patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A case series of patients with IBD were initiating treatment with MC for disease-related symptoms, at the IBD clinic of a tertiary referral medical center. Patients’ demographics, anthropometrics, medical history and treatment and MC use were systematically recorded. An appetite and food frequency questionnaire (SNAQ and FFQ) were filled before, and at 3 and 6 months of treatment. Patients with IBD initiating MC were enrolled (n = 149, age 39.0 ± 14.1 years, 42.3% female), and 33.6% (n = 50) were treated for improvement of nutritional status. A modest increase in appetite after 3 months was detected among all patients enrolled (Pv = 0.08), but there were no significant differences in energy or macronutrient intake, and in patients’ body mass index (BMI). A significant appetite improvement after 3 months was detected among 34.0% (n = 17) of patients, but this was not associated with increased caloric intake or BMI at 3 or 6 months. Among patients without increased appetite after 3 months of MC therapy, BMI decreased at 6 months (24.1 ± 3.7 vs. 23.4 ± 3.6, Pv = 0.010). MC may be a potential strategy to improve appetite among some patients with IBD, but not caloric intake or BMI.”


“MC may be a potential strategy to increase appetite among some patients with IBD, which may prevent further weight loss, but is not associated with a significant increase in caloric intake or in BMI.”


Phytocannabinoids Reduce Inflammation of Primed Macrophages and Enteric Glial Cells: An In Vitro Study

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“Intestinal inflammation is mediated by a subset of cells populating the intestine, such as enteric glial cells (EGC) and macrophages. Different studies indicate that phytocannabinoids could play a possible role in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by relieving the symptoms involved in the disease.

Phytocannabinoids act through the endocannabinoid system, which is distributed throughout the mammalian body in the cells of the immune system and in the intestinal cells. Our in vitro study analyzed the putative anti-inflammatory effect of nine selected pure cannabinoids in J774A1 macrophage cells and EGCs triggered to undergo inflammation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The anti-inflammatory effect of several phytocannabinoids was measured by their ability to reduce TNFα transcription and translation in J774A1 macrophages and to diminish S100B and GFAP secretion and transcription in EGCs.

Our results demonstrate that THC at the lower concentrations tested exerted the most effective anti-inflammatory effect in both J774A1 macrophages and EGCs compared to the other phytocannabinoids tested herein.

We then performed RNA-seq analysis of EGCs exposed to LPS in the presence or absence of THC or THC-COOH. Transcriptomic analysis of these EGCs revealed 23 differentially expressed genes (DEG) compared to the treatment with only LPS. Pretreatment with THC resulted in 26 DEG, and pretreatment with THC-COOH resulted in 25 DEG. To evaluate which biological pathways were affected by the different phytocannabinoid treatments, we used the Ingenuity platform. We show that THC treatment affects the mTOR and RAR signaling pathway, while THC-COOH mainly affects the IL6 signaling pathway.”



Cannabinoids and the GI Tract

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“The synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids, location of cannabinoid (CB) receptors, and cannabinoid mechanisms of action on immune/inflammatory, neuromuscular, and sensory functions in digestive organs are well documented. CB2 mechanisms are particularly relevant in immune and sensory functions. Increasing use of cannabinoids in the USA is impacted by social determinants of health including racial discrimination which is associated with tobacco and cannabis co-use, and combined use disorders. Several conditions associated with emesis are related to cannabinoid use, including cannabinoid hyperemesis or withdrawal, cyclic vomiting syndrome, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Cannabinoids generally inhibit gastrointestinal motor function; yet they relieve symptoms in patients with gastroparesis and diverse nausea syndromes. Cannabinoid effects on inflammatory mechanisms have shown promise in relatively small placebo-controlled studies in reducing disease activity and abdominal pain in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Cannabinoids have been studied in disorders of motility, pain, and disorders of gut brain interaction. The CB2 receptor agonist, cannabidiol, reduced total Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index and increased ability to tolerate a meal in patients with gastroparesis appraised over 4 weeks of treatment. In contrast, predominant-pain endpoints in functional dyspepsia with normal gastric emptying were not significantly improved with cannabidiol. The CB2 agonist, olorinab, reduced abdominal pain in IBD in an open-label trial and in constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome in a placebo-controlled trial. Cannabinoid mechanisms alter inflammation in pancreatic and liver diseases. In conclusion, cannabinoids, particularly agents affecting CB2 mechanisms, have potential for inflammatory, gastroparesis, and pain disorders; however, the trials require replication and further understanding of risk-benefit to enhance use of cannabinoids in gastrointestinal diseases.”


Role of Gut Microbiota in Cannabinoid-Mediated Suppression of Inflammation

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“Cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system have been well established to play a crucial role in the regulation of the immune response. Also, emerging data from numerous investigations unravel the imperative role of gut microbiota and their metabolites in the maintenance of immune homeostasis and gut barrier integrity. In this review, we concisely report the immunosuppressive mechanisms triggered by cannabinoids, and how they are closely associated with the alterations in the gut microbiome and metabolome following exposure to endogenous or exogenous cannabinoids. We discuss how cannabinoid-mediated induction of microbial secondary bile acids, short chain fatty acids, and indole metabolites, produced in the gut, can suppress inflammation even in distal organs. While clearly, more clinical studies are necessary to establish the cross talk between exo- or endocannabinoid system with the gut microbiome and the immune system, the current evidence opens a new avenue of cannabinoid-gut-microbiota-based therapeutics to regulate immunological disorders.”


“The microbiome-eCB signaling modulation exploiting exo- or endogenous cannabinoids opens a new avenue of cannabinoid-gut microbiota-based therapeutics to curb metabolic and immune-oriented conditions.”


Targeting the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of abdominal pain in irritable bowel syndrome

Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology

“The management of visceral pain in patients with disorders of gut-brain interaction, notably irritable bowel syndrome, presents a considerable clinical challenge, with few available treatment options.

Patients are increasingly using cannabis and cannabinoids to control abdominal pain. Cannabis acts on receptors of the endocannabinoid system, an endogenous system of lipid mediators that regulates gastrointestinal function and pain processing pathways in health and disease.

The endocannabinoid system represents a logical molecular therapeutic target for the treatment of pain in irritable bowel syndrome.

Here, we review the physiological and pathophysiological functions of the endocannabinoid system with a focus on the peripheral and central regulation of gastrointestinal function and visceral nociception. We address the use of cannabinoids in pain management, comparing them to other treatment modalities, including opioids and neuromodulators. Finally, we discuss emerging therapeutic candidates targeting the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of pain in irritable bowel syndrome.”



Hemp-Derived Nanovesicles Protect Leaky Gut and Liver Injury in Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Colitis


“Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is used for medicinal purposes owing to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.

We evaluated the protective effect of nanovesicles isolated from hemp plant parts (root, seed, hemp sprout, and leaf) in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice.

The particle sizes of root-derived nanovesicles (RNVs), seed-derived nanovesicles (SNVs), hemp sprout-derived nanovesicles (HSNVs), and leaf-derived nanovesicles (LNVs) were within the range of 100-200 nm as measured by nanoparticle tracking analysis. Acute colitis was induced in C57BL/N mice by 5% DSS in water provided for 7 days.

RNVs were administered orally once a day, leading to the recovery of both the small intestine and colon lengths. RNVs, SNVs, and HSNVs restored the tight (ZO-1, claudin-4, occludin) and adherent junctions (E-cadherin and α-tubulin) in DSS-induced small intestine and colon injury. Additionally, RNVs markedly reduced NF-κB activation and oxidative stress proteins in DSS-induced small intestine and colon injury. Tight junction protein expression and epithelial cell permeability were elevated in RNV-, SNV-, and HSNV-treated T84 colon cells exposed to 2% DSS. Interestedly, RNVs, SNVs, HSNVs, and LNVs reduced ALT activity and liver regeneration marker proteins in DSS-induced liver injury.

These results showed for the first time that hemp-derived nanovesicles (HNVs) exhibited a protective effect on DSS-induced gut leaky and liver injury through the gut-liver axis by inhibiting oxidative stress marker proteins.”


“In summary, we successfully identified and characterized edible-plant nanovesicles from different hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) parts (root; RNVS, seed; SNVS, hemp sprout; HSNVs, leaf; LNVs). RNVs markedly alleviated leaky gut and intestinal barrier proteins such as tight junction and adherent junction proteins and reduced NF-κB activation and oxidative stress markers in DSS-induced colitis. Additionally, NVs, SNVs, HSNVs, and LNVs administration reduced liver damage markers and elevated liver regeneration markers. Therefore, this is the first study using hemp-derived nanovesicles in protection against colitis that can be a novel therapeutic strategy to treat IBD.”


Involvement of the cannabinoid system in chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases: opportunities for new therapies

Intestinal Research

“The components of the endogenous cannabinoid system are widely expressed in the gastrointestinal tract contributing to local homeostasis. In general, cannabinoids exert inhibitory actions in the gastrointestinal tract, inducing anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, antisecretory, and antiproliferative effects. Therefore, cannabinoids are interesting pharmacological compounds for the treatment of several acute intestinal disorders, such as dysmotility, emesis, and abdominal pain. Likewise, the role of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic intestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, is also under investigation. Patients with chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases present impaired quality of life, and mental health issues are commonly associated with long-term chronic diseases. The complex pathophysiology of these diseases contributes to difficulties in diagnosis and, therefore, in the choice of a satisfactory treatment. Thus, this article reviews the involvement of the cannabinoid system in chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and highlights possible therapeutic approaches related to the use of cannabinoids.”



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.”




“Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment”