Efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabis-based medicines for chronic pain management – An overview of systematic reviews.

European Journal of Pain

“Medicinal cannabis has already entered mainstream medicine in some countries.

Cannabis-based medicines undoubtedly enrich the possibilities of drug treatment of chronic pain conditions.

It remains the responsibility of the health care community to continue to pursue rigorous study of cannabis-based medicines to provide evidence that meets the standard of 21st century clinical care.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29034533

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1118/abstract

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Cannabis for the Treatment of Chronic Pain in the Era of an Opioid Epidemic: A Symposium-Based Review of Sociomedical Science.

Pain Medicine

“This manuscript reviews medical literature published pertaining to the management of chronic pain with medical marijuana therapy (MMJ), with an emphasis on the social, medical, and legal aspects of therapy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Increasing interest in MMJ for chronic pain underscores a need for primary care and pain physicians to better understand the indications and evidence for its use free from cultural bias. Given a lack of full conclusive clinical utility, continued research is needed to better understand how to best utilize MMJ therapy for the treatment of chronic pain.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29016917

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/pm/pnx143/3964518/Cannabis-for-the-Treatment-of-Chronic-Pain-in-the?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Cannabis and Cannabinoids for Chronic Pain.

Current Rheumatology Reports

“The purpose of this study was to provide the most up-to-date scientific evidence of the potential analgesic effects, or lack thereof, of the marijuana plant (cannabis) or cannabinoids, and of safety or tolerability of their long-term use.

RECENT FINDINGS:

We found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) cannabis is consistently effective in reducing chronic non-cancer pain.

Oral cannabinoids seem to improve some aspects of chronic pain (sleep and general quality of life), or cancer chronic pain, but they do not seem effective in acute postoperative pain, abdominal chronic pain, or rheumatoid pain.

The available literature shows that inhaled cannabis seems to be more tolerable and predictable than oral cannabinoids. Cannabis or cannabinoids are not universally effective for pain. Continued research on cannabis constituents and improving bioavailability for oral cannabinoids is needed. Other aspects of pain management in patients using cannabis require further open discussion: concomitant opioid use, medical vs. recreational cannabis, abuse potential, etc.”

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

Image result for jcc journal of crohn's and colitis

“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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Photobiomodulation Therapy Improves Acute Inflammatory Response in Mice: the Role of Cannabinoid Receptors/ATP-Sensitive K+ Channel/p38-MAPK Signalling Pathway.

Molecular Neurobiology

“Although photobiomodulation therapy (PBM) has been applied clinically for the treatment of pain and inflammation, wound healing, sports and soft tissue injuries, as well as to repair injured spinal cords and peripheral nerves, it remains unclear which molecular substrates (receptor) are implicated in the cellular mechanisms of PBM.

Here, we reported that PBM (660 nm, 30 mW, 0.06 cm2, 50 J/cm2, plantar irradiation) significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced paw oedema, but not noxious thermal response, through positive modulation to both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The use of CB1 antagonist AM281 or CB2 antagonist AM630 significantly reversed the anti-inflammatory effect of PBM. Analysis of signalling pathway downstream of cannabinoid receptors activation reveals that anti-inflammatory effects of PBM depend, in great extent, on its ability to activate ATP-dependent K+ channels and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Moreover, PBM therapy significantly reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 in both paw and spinal cord, and restored the reduction of the level of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in spinal cord after carrageenan injection. Unlike the potent cannabinoid receptor agonist (WIN 55212-2), PBM did not exert any CNS-mediated effects in the tetrad assay. Finally, PBM does not reduce inflammation and noxious thermal response induced by LPS and zymosan, a TLR4 and TLR2/dectin-1 ligand, respectively.

Thus, cannabinoid receptors and, possibly, the endocannabinoid system, represent an important site of action of PBM that opens the possibility of complementary and nonpsychotropic therapeutic interventions in clinical practice.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28980210

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12035-017-0792-z

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Is cannabis an effective treatment for joint pain?

Image result for Clin Exp Rheumatol.

“Cannabis has been used to treat pain for thousands of years.

However, since the early part of the 20th century, laws restricting cannabis use have limited its evaluation using modern scientific criteria. Over the last decade, the situation has started to change because of the increased availability of cannabis in the United States for either medical or recreational purposes, making it important to provide the public with accurate information as to the effectiveness of the drug for joint pain among other indications.

The major psychotropic component of cannabis is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of some 120 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another molecule found in herbal cannabis in large amounts. Although CBD does not produce psychotropic effects, it has been shown to produce a variety of pharmacological effects. Hence, the overall effects of herbal cannabis represent the collective activity of THC, CBD and a number of minor components.

The action of THC is mediated by two major G-protein coupled receptors, cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and CB2, and recent work has suggested that other targets may also exist. Arachidonic acid derived endocannabinoids are the normal physiological activators of the two cannabinoid receptors.

Natural phytocannabinoids and synthetic derivatives have produced clear activity in a variety of models of joint pain in animals. These effects are the result of both inhibition of pain pathway signalling (mostly CB1) and anti-inflammatory effects (mostly CB2). There are also numerous anecdotal reports of the effectiveness of smoking cannabis for joint pain.

Indeed, it is the largest medical request for the use of the drug. However, these reports generally do not extend to regulated clinical trials for rheumatic diseases. Nevertheless, the preclinical and human data that do exist indicate that the use of cannabis should be taken seriously as a potential treatment of joint pain.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28967368

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Do Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Addictions and Deaths Related to Pain Killers?

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

“Many medical marijuana patients report using marijuana to alleviate chronic pain from musculoskeletal problems and other sources. If marijuana is used as a substitute for powerful and addictive pain relievers in medical marijuana states, a potential overlooked positive impact of medical marijuana laws may be a reduction in harms associated with opioid pain relievers, a far more addictive and potentially deadly substance. To assess this issue, we study the impact of medical marijuana laws on problematic opioid use. We use two measures of problematic use: treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever addiction from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) and state-level opioid overdose deaths in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). Using both standard differences-in-differences models as well as synthetic control models, we find that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not. We find no impact of medical marijuana laws more broadly; the mitigating effect of medical marijuana laws is specific to states that permit dispensaries. We evaluate potential mechanisms. Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers.”

http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345.pdf

“Cannabis use is associated with a substantial reduction in premature deaths in the United States. These data suggest that Cannabis use may decrease premature deaths. Overall, prohibition is estimated to lead to similar numbers of premature deaths as drunk driving, homicide, or fatal opioid overdose. Cannabis use prevents thousands of premature deaths each year, and Cannabis prohibition is revealed as a major cause of premature death in the U.S.” https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/21632

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The Use of Cannabis in Response to the Opioid Crisis: A Review of the Literature

Nursing Outlook

“A staggering number of Americans are dying from overdoses attributed to prescription opioid medications (POMs). In response, states are creating policies related to POM harm reduction strategies, overdose prevention, and alternative therapies for pain management, such as cannabis (medical marijuana).

The purpose of this article is to examine state medical cannabis (MC) use laws and policies and their potential association with POM use and related harms.

Review of the current literature suggests states that implement MC policies could reduce POM associated mortality, improve pain management, and significantly reduce health care costs.

However, MC research is constrained by federal policy restrictions, and more research related to MC as a potential alternative to POM for pain management, MC harms, and its impact on POM related harms and healthcare costs should be a priority of public health, medical, and nursing research.”

http://www.nursingoutlook.org/article/S0029-6554(17)30286-5/fulltext?cc=y%3D

“The use of cannabis in response to the opioid crisis: A review of the literature. Review of the current literature suggests states that implement MC policies could reduce POM-associated mortality, improve pain management, and significantly reduce health care costs.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28993073

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Preferences for Medical Marijuana over Prescription Medications Among Persons Living with Chronic Conditions: Alternative, Complementary, and Tapering Uses.

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers

“Despite expanded legalization and utilization of medical cannabis (MC) internationally, there is a lack of patient-centered data on how MC is used by persons living with chronic conditions in tandem with or instead of prescription medications. This study describes approaches to use of MC vis-à-vis prescription medications in the treatment of selected chronic conditions.

RESULTS:

Participants described a range of approaches to using MC, including (1) as alternatives to using prescription or over-the-counter medications; (2) complementary use with prescription medications; and (3) as a means for tapering off prescription medications. Motives reported for reducing or eliminating prescription medications included concerns regarding toxicity, dependence, and tolerance, and perceptions that MC improves management of certain symptoms and has quicker action and longer lasting effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

MC appears to serve as both a complementary method for symptom management and treatment of medication side-effects associated with certain chronic conditions, and as an alternative method for treatment of pain, seizures, and inflammation in this population. Additional patient-centered research is needed to identify specific dosing patterns of MC products associated with symptom alleviation and produce longitudinal data assessing chronic disease outcomes with MC use.”

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Targeting fatty acid amide hydrolase as a therapeutic strategy for antitussive therapy.

European Respiratory Society

“Cough is the most common reason to visit a primary care physician, yet it remains an unmet medical need. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is an enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids, and inhibition of FAAH produces analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Cannabinoids inhibit vagal sensory nerve activation and the cough reflex, so it was hypothesised that FAAH inhibition would produce antitussive activity via elevation of endocannabinoids.

Primary vagal ganglia neurons, tissue bioassay, in vivoelectrophysiology and a conscious guinea pig cough model were utilised to investigate a role for fatty acid amides in modulating sensory nerve activation in vagal afferents. FAAH inhibition produced antitussive activity in guinea pigs with concomitant plasma elevation of the fatty acid amides N-arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide), palmitoylethanolamide, N-oleoylethanolamide and linoleoylethanolamide. Palmitoylethanolamide inhibited tussive stimulus-induced activation of guinea pig airway innervating vagal ganglia neurons, depolarisation of guinea pig and human vagus, and firing of C-fibre afferents. These effects were mediated via a cannabinoid CB2/Gi/o-coupled pathway and activation of protein phosphatase 2A, resulting in increased calcium sensitivity of calcium-activated potassium channels.

These findings identify FAAH inhibition as a target for the development of novel, antitussive agents without the undesirable side-effects of direct cannabinoid receptor agonists.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931663

http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/50/3/1700782

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