A preliminary study evaluating self-reported effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on neuropathic pain and pain medication use in people with spinal cord injury

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“Approximately 60% of individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) experience neuropathic pain, which often persists despite the use of various pharmacological treatments. Increasingly, the potential analgesic effects of cannabis and cannabinoid products have been studied; however, little research has been conducted among those with SCI-related neuropathic pain. Therefore, the primary objective of the study was to investigate the perceived effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use on neuropathic pain among those who were currently or had previously used these approaches. Additionally, the study aimed to determine if common pain medications are being substituted by cannabis and cannabinoids. Participants (N = 342) were recruited from existing opt-in listserv sources within the United States. Of those, 227 met the inclusion criteria and were enrolled in the study. The participants took part in an anonymous online survey regarding past and current use of cannabis and their perceived effects on neuropathic pain, including the use of pain medication. Those in the sample reported average neuropathic pain intensity scores over the past week of 6.8 ± 2.1 (0 to 10 scale), reflecting a high moderate to severe level of pain. Additionally, 87.9% noted that cannabis reduced their neuropathic pain intensity by more than 30%, and 92.3% reported that cannabis helped them to better deal with their neuropathic pain symptoms. Most participants (83.3%) also reported substituting their pain medications with cannabis, with the most substituted medication categories being opioids (47.0%), gabapentinoids (42.8%) and over-the-counter pain medications (42.2%). These preliminary results suggest that cannabis and cannabinoids may be effective in reducing neuropathic pain among those with SCI and may help to limit the need for certain pain medications.”



Unlocking the Healing Potential: Cannabinoids in Spine Surgery for Pain Relief and Recovery

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“Cannabinoids, such as D9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and immune system, potentially offering pain relief. The entourage effect, resulting from the interaction of multiple cannabis components, may enhance therapeutic impact and efficacy, making them promising candidates for exploring pain relief in spine operations, known to be among the most painful operative procedures.» The use of cannabinoids in pain management requires careful consideration of safety, including their cognitive and psychomotor effects, potential cardiovascular risks, risk of dependence, mental health implications, and drug interactions.» Few studies have analyzed cannabinoid use in relation to spine surgery, with variable results reported, indicating possible effects on reoperation rates, mortality, complications, postoperative opioid use, and length of hospital stay.» Current knowledge gaps exist in the understanding of cannabinoid effects on spine surgery, including the exploration of different administration routes, timing, dosage, and specific outcomes. In addition, mechanistic explanations for the observed results are lacking.» Ethical considerations related to informed consent, medical expertise, societal impact, and legal compliance must also be thoroughly addressed when considering the utilization of cannabinoids in spinal pathologies and back pain treatment.”



Transcriptomic Profiling after In Vitro Δ8-THC Exposure Shows Cytoskeletal Remodeling in Trauma-Injured NSC-34 Cell Line

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“Neuronal cell death is a physiological process that, when uncontrollable, leads to neurodegenerative disorders like spinal cord injury (SCI). SCI represents one of the major causes of trauma and disabilities worldwide for which no effective pharmacological intervention exists. Herein, we observed the beneficial effects of Δ8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) during neuronal cell death recovery. We cultured NSC-34 motoneuron cell line performing three different experiments. A traumatic scratch injury was caused in two experiments. One of the scratched was pretreated with Δ8-THC to observe the role of the cannabinoid following the trauma. An experimental control group was neither scratched nor pretreated. All the experiments underwent RNA-seq analysis. The effects of traumatic injury were observed in scratch against control comparison. Comparison of scratch models with or without pretreatment highlighted how Δ8-THC counteracts the traumatic event. Our results shown that Δ8-THC triggers the cytoskeletal remodeling probably due to the activation of the Janus Kinase Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling pathway and the signaling cascade operated by the Mitogen-Activated Protein (MAP) Kinase signaling pathway. In light of this evidence, Δ8-THC could be a valid pharmacological approach in the treatment of abnormal neuronal cell death occurring in motoneuron cells.”



Comparative evaluation of ethyl acetate and n-Hexane extracts of Cannabis sativa L. leaves for muscle function restoration after peripheral nerve lesion

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“Peripheral nerve injuries are one of those complex medical conditions for which a highly effective first-line treatment is currently missing. The use of natural compound as medicines to treat various disorders has a long history. Our previous research explored that crude Cannabis sativa L. accelerated the recovery of sensorimotor functions following nerve injury. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of n-Hexane and ethyl acetate extracts of C. sativa L. leaves on the muscle function restoration in a mouse model after sciatic nerve injury. For this purpose, albino mice (n = 18) were equally divided into control and two treatment groups. The control group was fed on a plain diet while treatment groups were given a diet having n-Hexane (treatment 1) and ethyl acetate (treatment 2) extracts of C. sativa L. (10 mg/kg body weight), respectively. The hot plate test (M = 15.61, SD = 2.61, p = .001), grip strength (M = 68.32, SD = 3.22, p < .001), and sciatic functional index (SFI) (M = 11.59, SD = 6.54, p = .012) assessment indicated significant amelioration in treatment 1 as compared to treatment 2 group. Furthermore, muscle fiber cross-sectional area revealed a noticeable improvement (M = 182,319, SD = 35.80, p = .013) in treatment 1 while muscle mass ratio of Gastrocnemius (M = 0.64, SD = 0.08, p = .427) and Tibialis anterior (M = 0.57, SD = 0.04, p = .209) indicated nonsignificant change. A prominent increase in total antioxidant capacity (TAC) (M = 3.76, SD = 0.38, p < .001) and momentous decrease in total oxidant status (TOS) (M = 11.28, SD = 5.71, p < .001) along with blood glucose level indicated significant difference (M = 105.5, SD = 9.12, p < 0.001) in treatment 1 group. These results suggest that treatment 1 has the ability to speed up functional recovery after a peripheral nerve lesion. Further research is necessary, nevertheless, to better understand the extract’s actual curative properties and the mechanisms that improve functional restoration.”


“In a nutshell, the results of this investigation demonstrate that n-Hexane C. sativa L. leaves extract has the ability to hasten the recovery of functions following a compression damage to the sciatic nerve. Even though these results are very encouraging and validating our previously reported data, however, more in-depth research is advised to investigate the key participants in the supported recovery process. Future research on C. sativa L. may reveal it to be a cutting-edge medicinal agent for the regeneration of peripheral nerves in cases of traumatic injury.”


Combined non-psychoactive Cannabis components cannabidiol and β-caryophyllene reduce chronic pain via CB1 interaction in a rat spinal cord injury model

Lopiccolo & Chang in PLoS ONE – BU Linguistics

“The most frequently reported use of medical marijuana is for pain relief. However, its psychoactive component Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) causes significant side effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) and β-caryophyllene (BCP), two other cannabis constituents, possess more benign side effect profiles and are also reported to reduce neuropathic and inflammatory pain. We evaluated the analgesic potential of CBD and BCP individually and in combination in a rat spinal cord injury (SCI) clip compression chronic pain model. Individually, both phytocannabinoids produced dose-dependent reduction in tactile and cold hypersensitivity in male and female rats with SCI. When co-administered at fixed ratios based on individual A50s, CBD and BCP produced enhanced dose-dependent reduction in allodynic responses with synergistic effects observed for cold hypersensitivity in both sexes and additive effects for tactile hypersensitivity in males. Antinociceptive effects of both individual and combined treatment were generally less robust in females than males. CBD:BCP co-administration also partially reduced morphine-seeking behavior in a conditioned place preference (CPP) test. Minimal cannabinoidergic side effects were observed with high doses of the combination. The antinociceptive effects of the CBD:BCP co-administration were not altered by either CB2 or μ-opioid receptor antagonist pretreatment but, were nearly completely blocked by CB1 antagonist AM251. Since neither CBD or BCP are thought to mediate antinociception via CB1 activity, these findings suggest a novel CB1 interactive mechanism between these two phytocannabinoids in the SCI pain state. Together, these findings suggest that CBD:BCP co-administration may provide a safe and effective treatment option for the management of chronic SCI pain.”


“In conclusion, the current findings indicate that the combination of readily accessible non-psychoactive cannabis components CBD oil and BCP may be particularly effective in reducing neuropathic pain resulting from spinal cord injury. In addition, cannabinoid-like side effects were minimal using this combination. Further, the observed decrease in opioid-seeking behavior suggest that this treatment may be useful as a supplemental therapeutic to reduce opioid needed for effective pain management. Together, these findings are supportive of the beneficial effects of combining cannabis components in the armamentarium for chronic pain management.”


The Use of Cannabidiol in Patients With Low Back Pain Caused by Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: An Observational Study

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“Spinal stenosis is a degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal with encroachment on the neural structures by surrounding bone and soft tissue. This chronic low back condition can cause restrictions in mobility, impairment of daily activities, opioid dependence, anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life. Spinal stenosis can be treated through surgical and nonsurgical methods, but neither has proven consistently reliable.

Cannabidiol (CBD) has also been observed to have anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, and antipsychotic behaviors. CBD may provide greater nonsurgical treatment options for the pain associated with spinal stenosis while minimizing the need for opioids.

An observational study was undertaken to assess the effects of CBD on patients suffering from chronic spinal stenosis.

This observational study was investigator-initiated and designed to determine the effect of hemp-derived CBD gel caps for patients with spinal stenosis related to low back pain and leg pain relative to patient outcomes, medication utilization, and quality of life outcome measures. A total of six physician visits would be required where a set of surveys would be filled out each four weeks apart.

Results The study population consisted of 48 patients. The patient population’s age ranged from 63 to 95 years and was normally distributed, with a mean age of 75 ± 7.13 years. The sex distribution was 33% male and 67% female patients. The pain was broken down between the six visits for each of the following four questions: pain right now, usual pain level during the week, best pain level during the week, and worst pain level during the week. Usual pain levels (p < 0.001) and worst pain levels (p < 0.005) demonstrated statistically significant improvement over time, while pain right now (p > 0.05) and best pain level (p > 0.05) stayed consistent throughout without statistical significance.

Conclusions This open-label, prospective, observational study found that treatment with hemp-derived CBD gel caps was associated with significant improvements in pain scores and several quality-of-life measures for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.”


“This open-label, prospective, observational study found that treatment with hemp-derived CBD gel caps was associated with significant improvements in pain scores and several quality-of-life measures for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.”


Cannabinoid receptor-2 attenuates neuroinflammation by promoting autophagy-mediated degradation of the NLRP3 inflammasome post spinal cord injury

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“Background: Neuroinflammation following spinal cord injury (SCI) results in prolonged neurological damage and locomotor dysfunction. Polarization of microglia is vital to regulation of neuroinflammation, although the underlying mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. Endocannabinoid receptor subtype 2 (CB2R) is reported to ameliorate neurodegeneration via immunomodulation activities. However, the underlying machinery in the context of SCI remains unclear.

Methods: A lipopolysaccharide-induced microglia inflammation model and a mouse model of SCI were employed to investigate the regulatory role of CB2R in the polarization of microglia in response to excess neuroinflammation. Markers of inflammation and autophagy were measured by Western blot analysis, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Histological staining with hematoxylin and eosin, Nissl, and Luxol® fast blue was conducted using commercial kits. The locomotor function of the hindlimbs of the experimental mice was evaluated with the Basso Mouse Scale, Louisville Swim Scale, and footprint assay.

Results: The results showed that CB2R promoted M2 differentiation, increased interleukin (IL)-10 expression, and inhibited M1 differentiation with decreased expression of IL-1β and IL-6. CB2R activation also increased ubiquitination of the NLRP3 inflammasome and interacted with the autophagy-related proteins p62 and microtubule-associated proteins 1B light chain 3. Treatment with the CB2R activator JWH-133 reduced loss of myelin, apoptosis of neurons, and glial scarring, leading to improved functional recovery of the hindlimbs, while the CB2R antagonist AM630 produced opposite results.

Conclusion: Taken together, these results suggested that CB2R activation attenuated neuroinflammation targeting microglial polarization by promoting NLRP3 clearance, thereby facilitating functional recovery post-SCI.”



Cannabidiol-loaded injectable chitosan-based hydrogels promote spinal cord injury repair by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis

International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

“The treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) remains challenging as the neuron regeneration is impaired by irregular cavity and apoptosis. An injectable in situ gelling hydrogel is therefore developed for the local delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) through a novel method based on polyelectrolyte (PEC) interaction of sodium carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) and chitosan (CS). It can be injected into the spinal cord cavity with a 26-gauge syringe before gelation, and gelled after 110 ± 10 s. Of note, the in-situ forming hydrogel has mechanical properties similar to spinal cord. Moreover, the CBD-loaded hydrogels sustain delivery of CBD for up to 72 h, resulting in reducing apoptosis in SCI by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis. Importantly, the CBD-loaded hydrogels raise neurogenesis more than pure hydrogels both in vivo and in vitro, further achieving significant recovery of motor and urinary function in SCI rats. Thus, it suggested that CMC/CS/CBD hydrogels could be used as promising biomaterials for tissue engineering and SCI.”



Cannabidiol attenuates hypersensitivity and oxidative stress after traumatic spinal cord injury in rats

Neuroscience Letters

“Neuropathic pain (NP) arises as a direct consequence of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), which leads to devastating consequences for people suffering from this condition since no specific treatment has been defined. One relevant mechanism in generating painful stimuli involves the direct participation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) at the cellular and subcellular levels.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two most crucial cannabinoid components of the cannabis plant and has been proposed as a potential treatment for NP. Its antioxidant, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties have been documented. However, there is insufficient evidence regarding CBD as treatment of NP induced by SCI or the mechanisms that underlie this effect.

In this study, we evaluated the antinociceptive effect of CBD as an acute treatment after the nociceptive behaviors characteristic of NP were established (hypersensitivity threshold and hypersensitivity response). Furthermore, the participation of oxidative stress was determined by lipid peroxidation (LP) and glutathione concentration (GSH) in female Wistar rats with SCI.

Acute treatment with CBD (2.5-20 mg/kg, i.p.) decreased nociceptive behaviors in a dose-dependent manner, decreased LP, and increased GSH concentration in injured tissue 15 days after injury. The findings of this study suggest that the antinociceptive effect induced by CBD is regulated by reducing oxidative stress by decreasing the LP and increasing the concentration of antioxidant (GSH) defenses.”


“Cannabidiol decreases hyperalgesia in a dose–response manner after spinal cord injury.”


Treatments perceived to be helpful for neuropathic pain after traumatic spinal cord injury: A multicenter cross-sectional survey study

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“Objective: To evaluate the perceived helpfulness of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions and their combinations for neuropathic pain (NeuP) and subcategories of NeuP after spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods: Three hundred ninety one individuals at least one year post traumatic SCI were enrolled. A telephone survey was conducted to determine the pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments used in the last 12 months for each participant’s three worst pains, whether these treatments were “helpful”, and if currently used, each treatments’ effectiveness.

Results: Two hundred twenty participants (56%) reported 354 distinct NeuPs. Pharmacological treatments rated helpful for NeuP were non-tramadol opioids (opioids were helpful for 86% of opioid treated NeuPs), cannabinoids (83%), and anti-epileptics (79%). Non-pharmacological treatments rated helpful for NeuP were massage (76%), body position adjustment (74%), and relaxation therapy (70%). Those who used both opioids and exercise reported greater NeuP treatment helpfulness compared to participants using opioids without exercise (P = 0.03).

Conclusions: Opioids, cannabinoids, and massage were reported more commonly as helpful than treatments recommended as first-line therapies by current clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for NeuP after SCI (antiepileptics and antidepressants). Individuals with SCI likely value the modulating effects of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments on the affective components of pain in addition to the sensory components of pain when appraising treatment helpfulness.”