The Use of Compounds Derived from Cannabis sativa in the Treatment of Epilepsy, Painful Conditions, and Neuropsychiatric and Neurodegenerative Disorders

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“Neurological disorders present a wide range of symptoms and challenges in diagnosis and treatment. Cannabis sativa, with its diverse chemical composition, offers potential therapeutic benefits due to its anticonvulsive, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.

Beyond cannabinoids, cannabis contains terpenes and polyphenols, which synergistically enhance its pharmacological effects. Various administration routes, including vaporization, oral ingestion, sublingual, and rectal, provide flexibility in treatment delivery.

This review shows the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis in managing neurological disorders such as epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, neurodevelopmental disorders, psychiatric disorders, and painful pathologies.

Drawing from surveys, patient studies, and clinical trials, it highlights the potential of cannabis in alleviating symptoms, slowing disease progression, and improving overall quality of life for patients. Understanding the diverse therapeutic mechanisms of cannabis can open up possibilities for using this plant for individual patient needs.”

Cannabidiol ameliorates PTSD-like symptoms by inhibiting neuroinflammation through its action on CB2 receptors in the brain of male mice

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“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health disease related to traumatic experience, and its treatment outcomes are unsatisfactory.

Accumulating research has indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) exhibits anti-PTSD effects, however, the underlying mechanism of CBD remains inadequately investigated. Although many studies pertaining to PTSD have primarily focused on aberrations in neuronal functioning, the present study aimed to elucidate the involvement and functionality of microglia/macrophages in PTSD while also investigated the modulatory effects of CBD on neuroinflammation associated with this condition.

We constructed a modified single-prolonged stress (SPS) mice PTSD model and verified the PTSD-related behaviors by various behavioral tests (contextual freezing test, elevated plus maze test, tail suspension test and novel object recognition test). We observed a significant upregulation of Iba-1 and alteration of microglial/macrophage morphology within the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, but not the amygdala, two weeks after the PTSD-related stress, suggesting a persistent neuroinflammatory phenotype in the PTSD-modeled group.

CBD (10 mg/kg, i.p.) inhibited all PTSD-related behaviors and reversed the alterations in both microglial/macrophage quantity and morphology when administered prior to behavioral assessments. We further found increased pro-inflammatory factors, decreased PSD95 expression, and impaired synaptic density in the hippocampus of the modeled group, all of which were also restored by CBD treatment. CBD dramatically increased the level of anandamide, one of the endocannabinoids, and cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2Rs) transcripts in the hippocampus compared with PTSD-modeled group.

Importantly, we discovered the expression of CB2Rs mRNA in Arg-1-positive cells in vivo and found that the behavioral effects of CBD were diminished by CB2Rs antagonist AM630 (1 mg/kg, i.p.) and both the behavioral and molecular effects of CBD were abolished in CB2Rs knockout mice. These findings suggest that CBD would alleviate PTSD-like behaviors in mice by suppressing PTSD-related neuroinflammation and upregulation and activation of CB2Rs may serve as one of the underlying mechanisms for this therapeutic effect.

The present study offers innovative experimental evidence supporting the utilization of CBD in PTSD treatment from the perspective of its regulation of neuroinflammation, and paves the way for leveraging the endocannabinoid system to regulate neuroinflammation as a potential therapeutic approach for psychiatric disorders.”

“Cannabidiol alleviated all PTSD-like behaviors in mice by suppressing PTSD-related neuroinflammation.”

Medicinal Cannabis oil improves anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors in CCS mice via the BDNF/TRPC6 signaling pathway

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“Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a chronic impairing psychiatric disorder occurring after exposure to the severe traumatic event. Studies have demonstrated that medicinal cannabis oil plays an important role in neuroprotection, but the mechanism by which it exerts anti-PTSD effects remains unclear.

Methods: The chronic complex stress (CCS) simulating the conditions of long voyage stress for 4 weeks was used to establish the PTSD mice model. After that, behavioral tests were used to evaluate PTSD-like behaviors in mice. Mouse brain tissue index was detected and hematoxylin-eosin staining was used to assess pathological changes in the hippocampus. The indicators of cell apoptosis and the BDNF/TRPC6 signaling activation in the mice hippocampus were detected by western blotting or real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR experiments.

Results: We established the PTSD mice model induced by CCS, which exhibited significant PTSD-like phenotypes, including increased anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors. Medicinal cannabis oil treatment significantly ameliorated PTSD-like behaviors and improved brain histomorphological abnormalities in CCS mice. Mechanistically, medicinal cannabis oil reduced CCS-induced cell apoptosis and enhanced the activation of BDNF/TRPC6 signaling pathway.

Conclusions: We constructed a PTSD model with CCS and medicinal cannabis oil that significantly improved anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors in CCS mice, which may play an anti-PTSD role by stimulating the BDNF/TRPC6 signaling pathway.”

Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Selected Mental Illnesses: Practical Approach and Overview of the Literature

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“Although an increasing number of patients suffering from mental illnesses self-medicate with cannabis, current knowledge about the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based medicine in psychiatry is still extremely limited. So far, no cannabis-based finished product has been approved for the treatment of a mental illness.

There is increasing evidence that cannabinoids may improve symptoms in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Tourette syndrome (TS), anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to surveys, patients often use cannabinoids to improve mood, sleep, and symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

There is evidence suggesting that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC-containing cannabis extracts, such as nabiximols, can be used as substitutes in patients with cannabis use disorder.

Preliminary evidence also suggests an involvement of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the pathophysiology of TS, ADHD, and PTSD. Since the ECS is the most important neuromodulatory system in the brain, it possibly induces beneficial effects of cannabinoids by alterations in other neurotransmitter systems.

Finally, the ECS is an important stress management system. Thus, cannabinoids may improve symptoms in patients with mental illnesses by reducing stress. Practically, cannabis-based treatment in patients with psychiatric disorders does not differ from other indications. The starting dose of THC-containing products should be low (1-2.5 mg THC/day), and the dose should be up-titrated slowly (by 1-2.5 mg every 3-5 days). The average daily dose is 10-20 mg THC. In contrast, cannabidiol (CBD) is mainly used in high doses>400 mg/day.”

Cannabidiol and its Potential Evidence-Based Psychiatric Benefits – A Critical Review

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“The endocannabinoid system shows promise as a novel target for treating psychiatric conditions.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally occurring cannabinoid, has been investigated in several psychiatric conditions, with diverse effects and an excellent safety profile compared to standard treatments. Even though the body of evidence from randomised clinical trials is growing, it remains relatively limited in most indications.

This review comprises a comprehensive literature search to identify clinical studies on the effects of CBD in psychiatric conditions. The literature search included case studies, case reports, observational studies, and RCTs published in English before July 27, 2023, excluding studies involving nabiximols or cannabis extracts containing CBD and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Completed studies were considered, and all authors independently assessed relevant publications.Of the 150 articles identified, 54 publications were included, covering the effects of CBD on healthy subjects and various psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, substance use disorders (SUDs), anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and autism spectrum disorders. No clinical studies have been published for other potential indications, such as alcohol use disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, dementia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

This critical review highlights that CBD can potentially ameliorate certain psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia, SUDs, and PTSD. However, more controlled studies and clinical trials, particularly investigating the mid- to long-term use of CBD, are required to conclusively establish its efficacy and safety in treating these conditions. The complex effects of CBD on neural activity patterns, likely by impacting the endocannabinoid system, warrant further research to reveal its therapeutic potential in psychiatry.”

The impact of cannabidiol placebo on responses to an acute stressor: A replication and proof of concept study

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“Background: Our group has previously reported that cannabidiol (CBD) expectancy alone blunts markers of stress, particularly during anticipation, but it is not clear the extent to which such findings were specific to the methods utilized.

Aims: To examine CBD-related placebo effects on stress reactivity and anticipation and to validate a protocol to be used in a neuroimaging study.

Methods: Forty-eight healthy adults (24 female) were randomly assigned to be informed that they ingested a CBD-containing oil or a CBD-free oil despite receiving the same oil (CBD-free). Following oil administration, participants engaged in a laboratory stressor and were then incorrectly informed that they would engage in a second more difficult task following a waiting period. Subjective state (sedation, energy, stress, anxiety) and heart rate were assessed at baseline, post-oil administration, immediately following the first stressor, and while anticipating the second stressor.

Results: Subjective stress and anxiety were significantly elevated immediately following the stressor (p-values < 0.001). CBD expectancy was associated with increased subjective sedation (p < 0.01) and tended to be associated with blunted subjective stress (p = 0.053). Post hoc within-condition pairwise compassions suggested a return to pre-stressor levels during the anticipation period in the CBD condition for subjective stress and anxiety (p = 0.784, 0.845), but not the CBD-free condition (p = 0.025, 0.045).

Conclusion: Results replicate and extend previous findings that CBD expectancy alone can impact stress- and anxiety-relevant responses in the laboratory context.”

Improved Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Related Sleep Disturbances after Initiation of Medical Marijuana Use: Evidence from a Prospective Single Arm Pilot Study

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“Introduction: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disorder experienced by a subgroup of individuals following a life-threatening trauma. Several US states have passed laws permitting the medical use of marijuana (MMJ) by individuals with PTSD, despite very little scientific indication on the appropriateness of marijuana as a therapy for PTSD. This prospective pilot study of adults with confirmed PTSD in Florida (FL) investigated whether PTSD symptoms, sleep quality, affect, and general physical and mental health/well-being improved post-initiation of MMJ treatment.

Methods: Participants, N = 15, were recruited from two MMJ clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville, FL. To be eligible, participants had to be 18 years of age or older, not currently on MMJ, and willing to abstain from recreational marijuana, if using any, until the State Medical Cannabis Card was obtained, screen positive for PTSD. Participants were assessed at baseline (pre-MMJ initiation) and 30 and 70 days post-MMJ initiation using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), PROMIS Global Health V1.2, and semi-structured marijuana and other substance use assessment.

Results: PTSD symptom severity as measured by total PCL-5 score improved significantly at 30- and 70-day follow-ups. Similarly, statistically significant reductions in nightmares were reported at 30- and 70-day follow-ups. Corresponding improvements in sleep were noticed with participants reporting increased duration of sleep hours, sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and total PSQI score. Likewise, negative affect and global mental health improved significantly at follow-up. According to the post hoc analyses, the most statistically significant changes occurred between baseline and 30-day follow-up. The exception to this pattern was nightmares, which did not show significant improvement until day 70.

Conclusion: The findings of this study highlight the potential of MMJ in improving patient outcomes for those with PTSD, particularly concerning sleep disturbances, which often do not respond to currently available treatments.”

The endocannabinoid system as a putative target for the development of novel drugs for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses

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“Cannabis is well established to impact affective states, emotion and perceptual processing, primarily through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system. While cannabis use is quite prevalent in many individuals afflicted with psychiatric illnesses, there is considerable controversy as to whether cannabis may worsen these conditions or provide some form of therapeutic benefit. The development of pharmacological agents which interact with components of the endocannabinoid system in more localized and discrete ways then via phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, has allowed the investigation if direct targeting of the endocannabinoid system itself may represent a novel approach to treat psychiatric illness without the potential untoward side effects associated with cannabis. Herein we review the current body of literature regarding the various pharmacological tools that have been developed to target the endocannabinoid system, their impact in preclinical models of psychiatric illness and the recent data emerging of their utilization in clinical trials for psychiatric illnesses, with a specific focus on substance use disorders, trauma-related disorders, and autism. We highlight several candidate drugs which target endocannabinoid function, particularly inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism or modulators of cannabinoid receptor signaling, which have emerged as potential candidates for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, particularly substance use disorder, anxiety and trauma-related disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Although there needs to be ongoing clinical work to establish the potential utility of endocannabinoid-based drugs for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, the current data available is quite promising and shows indications of several potential candidate diseases which may benefit from this approach.”

The Effectiveness and Adverse Events of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol Used in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in a PTSD Subpopulation: An Interim Analysis of an Observational Study

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“Background: Anxiety is a condition for which current treatments are often limited by adverse events (AEs). Components of medicinal cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have been proposed as potential treatments for anxiety disorders, specifically posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Objective: To evaluate quality-of-life outcomes after treatment with various cannabis formulations to determine the effectiveness and associated AEs. 

Methods: An interim analysis of data collected between September 2018 and June 2021 from the CA Clinics Observational Study. Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System-29 survey scores of 198 participants with an anxiety disorder were compared at baseline and after treatment with medicinal cannabis. The data of 568 anxiety participants were also analyzed to examine the AEs they experienced by the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities organ system class. 

Results: The median doses taken were 50.0 mg/day for CBD and 4.4 mg/day for THC. The total participant sample reported significantly improved anxiety, depression, fatigue, and ability to take part in social roles and activities. Those who were diagnosed with PTSD (n = 57) reported significantly improved anxiety, depression, fatigue, and social abilities. The most common AEs reported across the whole participant cohort were dry mouth (32.6%), somnolence (31.3%), and fatigue (18.5%), but incidence varied with different cannabis formulations. The inclusion of THC in a formulation was significantly associated with experiencing gastrointestinal AEs; specifically dry mouth and nausea. 

Conclusions: Formulations of cannabis significantly improved anxiety, depression, fatigue, and the ability to participate in social activities in participants with anxiety disorders. The AEs experienced by participants are consistent with those in other studies.”

Cannabinoid modulation of corticolimbic activation during extinction learning and fear renewal in adults with posttraumatic stress disorder

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

“Failure to successfully extinguish fear is a hallmark of trauma-related disorders, like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is also characterized by dysfunctional corticolimbic activation and connectivity.

The endocannabinoid system is a putative system to target for rescuing these behavioral and neural deficits. In healthy adults, acute, low-dose delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) facilitates fear extinction and increases cortico-limbic activation and connectivity in response to threat.

The present study determines the effect of acute, low-dose THC on fear-related brain activation and connectivity during fear extinction in trauma-exposed adults with (PTSD = 19) and without PTSD [trauma-exposed controls (TEC) = 26] and non-trauma-exposed [healthy controls (HC) = 26]. We used a Pavlovian fear conditioning and extinction paradigm, where we measured concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral responses (i.e., skin conductance responding and expectancy ratings). Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design, N = 71 subjects were randomized to receive placebo (PBO, n = 37) or THC (n = 34) prior to fear extinction learning.

During early extinction learning, individuals with PTSD given THC had greater vmPFC activation than their TEC counterparts. During a test of the return of fear (i.e., renewal), HC and individuals with PTSD given THC had greater vmPFC activation compared to TEC. Individuals with PTSD given THC also had greater amygdala activation compared to those given PBO. We found no effects of trauma group or THC on behavioral fear indices during extinction learning, recall, and fear renewal.

These data suggest that low dose, oral THC can affect neural indices of fear learning and memory in adults with trauma-exposure; this may be beneficial for future therapeutic interventions seeking to improve fear extinction learning and memory.”