Medical Cannabis Treatment for Chronic Pain: Outcomes and Prediction of Response

Although studied in a few randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the efficacy of medical cannabis (MC) for chronic pain remains controversial. Using an alternative approach, this multicenter, questionnaire-based prospective cohort was aimed to assess the long-term effects of MC on chronic pain of various etiologies and to identify predictors for MC treatment success.

Results: 1045 patients completed the baseline questionnaires and initiated MC treatment, and 551 completed the 12 month follow-up. At one year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20% [-1.97 points (95%CI= -2.13 to -1.81; p<0.001)]. All other parameters improved by 10-30% (p<0.001). A significant decrease of 42% [reduction of 27mg; (95%CI= -34.89 to -18.56, p<0.001)] from baseline in morphine equivalent daily dosage of opioids was also observed. Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious. Presence of normal to long sleep duration, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower depression score predicted relatively higher treatment success, whereas presence of neuropathic pain predicted the opposite.

Conclusions: This prospective study provides further evidence for the effects of MC on chronic pain and related symptoms, demonstrating an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of the tested measures and identifying possible predictors for treatment success.

Significance: This “real world” paper shows that MC mildly to modestly attenuates chronic pain and related symptoms. MC treatment can also cause frequent, but mostly non-serious adverse effects, although central nervous system (CNS)-related AEs that can impair the ability to drive vehicles are not uncommon. This study is novel in identifying possible predictors for treatment success, including normal to long sleep duration, lower BMI and lower depression scores. In contrast to current beliefs the diagnosis of neuropathic pain predicts a less favorable outcome. These findings provide physicians with new data to support decision making on recommendations for MC treatment.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33065768/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1675

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Chronic treatment with cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) reduces thermal pain sensitivity in male mice and rescues the hyperalgesia in a mouse model of Rett syndrome

Neuroscience “Rett syndrome (RTT) is a rare neurologic disorder, characterized by severe behavioural and physiological symptoms. RTT is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene in about 95% of cases and to date no cure is available.

Recent evidence suggests that non-euphoric phytocannabinoids (pCBs) extracted from Cannabis sativa may represent innovative therapeutic molecules for RTT, with the cannabinoid cannabidivarin having beneficial effects on behavioural and brain molecular alterations in RTT mouse models.

The present study evaluated the potential therapeutic efficacy for RTT of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA; 0.2, 2, 20 mg/kg through intraperitoneal injections for 14 days), a pCB that has proved to be effective for the treatment of nausea and anxiety in rodents.

This study demonstrates that systemic treatment with the low dose of CBDA has anti-nociceptive effects and reduces the thermal hyperalgesia in 8-month old MeCP2-308 male mice, a validated RTT mouse model. CBDA did not affect other behavioural or molecular parameters.

These results provide support to the antinociceptive effects of CBDA and stress the need for further studies aimed at clarifying the mechanisms underlying the abnormal pain perception in RTT.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33010341/

“Chronic treatment with CBDA reduces pain sensitivity in wild type mice.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306452220306254?via%3Dihub

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Non-opioid Analgesics and the Endocannabinoid System

 Balkan Medical Journal“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to produce antinociceptive effects mainly through peripheral COX-inhibition. Paracetamol and dipyrone are different from classical NSAIDs, because they exert weak anti-inflammatory activity; mechanisms other than peripheral COX inhibition appear to play role in their antinociceptive actions. In this review, we specified classical NSAIDs, paracetamol and dipyrone as “non-opioid analgesics” and discussed the mechanisms mediating participation of the endocannabinoid system in the antinociceptive effects of these analgesics. Non-opioid analgesics and their metabolites may activate cannabinoid receptors. In addition, several mechanisms are implicated in the elevation of endocannabinoid levels following administration of non-opioid analgesics. Of these, reduction of endocannabinoid degradation via FAAH and/or COX-2 inhibition, accumulation of arachidonic acid to endocannabinoid biosynthesis following COX inhibition, inhibition of cellular uptake of endocannabinoids directly or following inhibition of nitric oxide synthase production, and induction of endocannabinoid release are among the proposed mechanisms.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32551466/

http://balkanmedicaljournal.org/uploads/pdf/pdf_BMJ_2226.pdf

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Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment of acute and chronic back pain: A case series and literature review.

 Journal of opioid management (in SafetyLit)“Two patient case reports are presented describing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for the symptomatic relief of a lumbar compression fracture and in the mitigation of thoracic discomfort and dysesthesia secondary to a surgically resected meningioma.

DISCUSSION:

CBD appears to have antisnociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects on opioid-naive patients with neuro-pathic and radicular pain. Of note, the patients in this case series used the same CBD cream: Baskin Essentials Body Wellness Cream (400 mg CBD per two oz.) Conclusion: Hemp-derived CBD in a transdermal cream provided significant symptom and pain relief for the patients described in this case series. Based on these results, we believe further investigation is warranted to see if CBD-containing products should have a more prominent role in the treatment of acute and chronic pain.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32421842

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Cannabis and the Cornea.

Publication Cover

“While cannabis has the potential to reduce corneal pain, cannabinoids might induce side effects. This review article examines the effects of cannabinoids on the cornea. As more states and countries consider the legalization of adult cannabis use, health-care providers will need to identify ocular effects of cannabis consumption.

Methods: Studies included in this review examined the connection between cannabis and the cornea, more specifically anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory actions of cannabinoids. NCBI Databases from 1781 up to December 2019 were consulted.

Conclusion: More than half of the studies examined the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids on the cornea. As the field is still young, more studies should be conducted to develop safe cannabinoid treatments for corneal diseases.

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Antinociceptive and Immune Effects of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Cannabidiol in Male Versus Female Rats with Persistent Inflammatory Pain.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics: 373 (1)

“Chronic pain is the most common reason reported for using medical cannabis.

The goal of this research was to determine if the two primary phytocannabinoids, THC and CBD, are effective treatments for persistent inflammatory pain.

These results suggest that THC may be more beneficial than CBD for reducing inflammatory pain, in that THC maintains its efficacy with short-term treatment in both sexes, and does not induce immune activation.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: CBDs and THCs pain-relieving effects are examined in male and female rats with persistent inflammatory pain to determine if individual phytocannabinoids could be a viable treatment for men and women with chronic inflammatory pain. Additionally, sex differences in the immune response to an adjuvant and to THC and CBD are characterized to provided preliminary insight into immune-related effects of cannabinoid-based therapy for pain.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32179573

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2020/03/16/jpet.119.263319

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Cannabinoids CB2 Receptors, One New Promising Drug Target for Chronic and Degenerative Pain Conditions in Equine Veterinary Patients.

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science“Osteoarticular equine disease is a common cause of malady; in general, its therapy is supported on steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. Nevertheless, many side effects may develop when these drugs are administered. Nowadays, the use of new alternatives for this pathology attention is demanded; in that sense, cannabinoid CB2 agonists may represent a novel alternative.

Cannabinoid belongs to a group of molecules known by their psychoactive properties; they are synthetized by the Cannabis sativa plant, better known as marijuana.

The aim of this study was to contribute to understand the pharmacology of cannabinoid CB2 receptors and its potential utilization on equine veterinary patients with a chronic degenerative painful condition. In animals, two main receptors for cannabinoids are recognized, the cannabinoid receptor type 1 and the cannabinoid receptor type 2. Once they are activated, both receptors exert a wide range of physiological responses, as nociception modulation.

Recently, it has been proposed the use of synthetic cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonists; those receptors looks to confer antinociceptive properties but without the undesired psychoactive side effects; for that reason, veterinary patients, whit chronical degenerative diseases as osteoarthritis may alleviate one of the most common symptom, the pain, which in some cases for several reasons, as patient individualities, or side effects produced for more conventional treatments cannot be attended in the best way.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31952645

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S073708061930629X?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoids and Opioids in the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

Image result for clinical and translational gastroenterology“In traditional medicine, Cannabis sativa has been prescribed for a variety of diseases. Today, the plant is largely known for its recreational purpose, but it may find a way back to what it was originally known for: a herbal remedy. Most of the plant’s ingredients, such as Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol, and others, have demonstrated beneficial effects in preclinical models of intestinal inflammation. Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) have shown a regulatory role in inflammation and mucosal permeability of the gastrointestinal tract where they likely interact with the gut microbiome. Anecdotal reports suggest that in humans, Cannabis exerts antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, and antidiarrheal properties. Despite these reports, strong evidence on beneficial effects of Cannabis in human gastrointestinal diseases is lacking. Clinical trials with Cannabis in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have shown improvement in quality of life but failed to provide evidence for a reduction of inflammation markers. Within the endogenous opioid system, mu opioid receptors may be involved in anti-inflammation of the gut. Opioids are frequently used to treat abdominal pain in IBD; however, heavy opioid use in IBD is associated with opioid dependency and higher mortality. This review highlights latest advances in the potential treatment of IBD using Cannabis/cannabinoids or opioids.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31899693

https://journals.lww.com/ctg/Abstract/latest/Cannabinoids_and_Opioids_in_the_Treatment_of.99898.aspx

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More evidence of cannabis efficacy in restless legs syndrome.

Image result for Sleep Breath journal “Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is one of the most disabling and sometimes painful sensorimotor ailment of the nervous system that has only in recent years become more widely accepted as a clinical disorder with its own distinct features. Usually, symptoms respond well to dopamine agonists, anticonvulsants, or opiates, but still a subset of patients remains refractory to medical therapy and/or reports serious side effects.

Recently, patients’ statement of a remarkable and total remission of RLS symptoms following cannabis use has been reported. Here, we confirm and extend these findings to more patients with RLS.

The antinociceptive effect of marijuana has been documented in many painful neurological conditions, and the potential benefit of cannabis use in patients with refractory RLS should therefore be questioned by robust clinical trials.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31820197

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11325-019-01978-1

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Cannabidiol increases the nociceptive threshold in a preclinical model of Parkinson’s disease.

Neuropharmacology

“Medications that improve pain threshold can be useful in the pharmacotherapy of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Pain is a prevalent PD’s non-motor symptom with a higher prevalence of analgesic drugs prescription for patients. However, specific therapy for PD-related pain are not available.

Since the endocannabinoid system is expressed extensively in different levels of pain pathway, drugs designed to target this system have promising therapeutic potential in the modulation of pain. Thus, we examined the effects of the 6-hydroxydopamine- induced PD on nociceptive responses of mice and the influence of cannabidiol (CBD) on 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nociception.

Further, we investigated the pathway involved in the analgesic effect of the CBD through the co-administration with a fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor, increasing the endogenous anandamide levels, and possible targets from anandamide, i.e., the cannabinoid receptors subtype 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) and the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1).

We report that 6-hydroxydopamine- induced parkinsonism decreases the thermal and mechanical nociceptive threshold, whereas CBD (acute and chronic treatment) reduces this hyperalgesia and allodynia evoked by 6-hydroxydopamine. Moreover, ineffective doses of either FAAH inhibitor or TRPV1 receptor antagonist potentialized the CBD-evoked antinociception while an inverse agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptor prevented the antinociceptive effect of the CBD.

Altogether, these results indicate that CBD can be a useful drug to prevent the parkinsonism-induced nociceptive threshold reduction. They also suggest that CB1 and TRPV1 receptors are important for CBD-induced analgesia and that CBD could produce these analgesic effects increasing endogenous anandamide levels.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31706993

“The CBD treatment decreases hyperalgesia and allodynia in experimental parkinsonism.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390819303703?via%3Dihub

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