“Since the discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system, research into the pharmacology and therapeutic potential of cannabinoids has steadily increased. Two subtypes of G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors, CB(1) and CB(1), have been cloned and several putative endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) have been detected during the past 15 years. The main endocannabinoids are arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), derivatives of arachidonic acid, that are produced “on demand” by cleavage of membrane lipid precursors.

 Besides phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant, modulators of the cannabinoid system comprise synthetic agonists and antagonists at the CB receptors and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation. Cannabinoid receptors are distributed in the central nervous system and many peripheral tissues, including immune system, reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts, sympathetic ganglia, endocrine glands, arteries, lung and heart. There is evidence for some non-receptor dependent mechanisms of cannabinoids and for endocannabinoid effects mediated by vanilloid receptors.

Properties of CB receptor agonists that are of therapeutic interest include analgesia, muscle relaxation, immunosuppression, anti-inflammation, antiallergic effects, improvement of mood, stimulation of appetite, antiemesis, lowering of intraocular pressure, bronchodilation, neuroprotection and antineoplastic effects. The current main focus of clinical research is their efficacy in chronic pain and neurological disorders. CB receptor antagonists are under investigation for medical use in obesity and nicotine addiction. Additional potential was proposed for the treatment of alcohol and heroine dependency, schizophrenia, conditions with lowered blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease and memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.”

Cannabis use amongst patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

“Experimental evidence suggests the endogenous cannabinoid system may protect against colonic inflammation, leading to the possibility that activation of this system may have a therapeutic role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Medicinal use of cannabis for chronic pain and other symptoms has been reported in a number of medical conditions.

We aimed to evaluate cannabis use in patients with IBD…


Cannabis use is common amongst patients with IBD for symptom relief, particularly amongst those with a history of abdominal surgery, chronic abdominal pain and/or a low quality of life index.

The therapeutic benefits of cannabinoid derivatives in IBD may warrant further exploration.”

Cannabinoids for gastrointestinal diseases: potential therapeutic applications.

“Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient of marijuana), as well as endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids, exert many biological functions by activating two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB(1) and CB(2) receptors. CB(1) receptors have been detected on enteric nerves, and pharmacological effects of their activation include gastroprotection, reduction of gastric and intestinal motility and reduction of intestinal secretion.

 The digestive tract also contains endogenous cannabinoids (i.e., the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-aracidonylglycerol) and mechanisms for endocannabinoid inactivation (i.e., endocannabinoids uptake and enzymatic degradation). Cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids and the proteins involved in endocannabinoids inactivation are collectively referred as the ‘endogenous cannabinoid system’.

 A pharmacological modulation of the endogenous cannabinoid system could provide new therapeutics for the treatment of a number of gastrointestinal diseases, including nausea and vomiting, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, secretory diarrhoea, paralytic ileus and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some cannabinoids are already in use clinically, for example, nabilone and delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol are used as antiemetics.”

The role of the pancreatic endocannabinoid system in glucose metabolism.

“The endogenous cannabinoid system participates in the regulation of energy homeostasis, and this fact led to the identification of a new group of therapeutic agents for complicated obesity and diabetes. Cannabinoid receptor antagonists are now realities in clinical practice. The use of such antagonists for reducing body weight gain, lowering cholesterol and improving glucose homeostasis is based on the ability of the endocannabinoids to coordinately regulate energy homeostasis by interacting with central and peripheral targets, including adipose tissue, muscle, liver and endocrine pancreas. In this review we will analyse the presence of this system in the main cell types of the islets of Langerhans, as well as the physiological relevance of the endocannabinoids and parent acylethanolamides in hormone secretion and glucose homeostasis. We will also analyse the impact that these findings may have in clinical practice and the potential outcome of new therapeutic strategies for modulating glucose homeostasis and insulin/glucagon secretion.”

Pharmacological Evaluation of Cannabinoid Receptor Ligands in a Mouse Model of Anxiety: Further Evidence for an Anxiolytic Role for Endogenous Cannabinoid Signaling

“Extracts of Cannabis sativa have been used for their calming and sedative effects for centuries. Recent developments in drug discovery have suggested that modulation of neuronal endogenous cannabinoid signaling systems could represent a novel approach to the treatment of anxiety-related disorders while minimizing the adverse effects of direct acting cannabinoid receptor agonists. In this study, we evaluated the effects of direct cannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists and endocannabinoid-modulating drugs on anxiety-like behavior in mice using the elevated-plus maze.

These data indicate that activation of CB1 cannabinoid receptors reduces anxiety-like behaviors in mice and further support an anxiolytic role for endogenous cannabinoid signaling. These results suggest that pharmacological modulation of this system could represent a new approach to the treatment of anxiety-related psychiatric disorders.

Marijuana is widely used throughout the world for recreational and therapeutic purposes. A common reason given for continued marijuana use in certain populations is reduction in anxiety and relaxation; however, adverse reactions, including heightened anxiety and panic, are common and widely cited reasons for discontinuation of marijuana use. The adverse effects of marijuana are more pronounced during novel or stressful environmental conditions, after consumption of large doses of cannabis, and in naive users…”

Modulation of Fear and Anxiety by the Endogenous Cannabinoid System

“The last decade has witnessed remarkable progress in the understanding of the mammalian cannabinoid system, from the cloning of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor to the discovery of new pharmacologic compounds acting on this receptor. Current and planned studies in humans include compounds with effects ranging from direct antagonists to inhibitors of reuptake and breakdown. This progress has been accompanied by a much greater understanding of the role of the cannabinoid system in modulating the neural circuitry that mediates anxiety and fear responses. This review focuses on the neural circuitry and pharmacology of the cannabinoid system as it relates to the acquisition, expression, and extinction of conditioned fear as a model of human anxiety.

 Preclinical studies suggest that these may provide important emerging targets for new treatments of anxiety disorders.


The last decade has witnessed an enormous amount of progress in the understanding of the molecular biology, physiology, pharmacology, and behavioral neuroscience underlying the endogenous cannabinoid system. These receptors and their ligands have ubiquitous roles ranging from appetite and pain response to modulation of fear and anxiety. A burgeoning understanding of their roles in regulating the extinction of fear responses may lead to a particularly important role in translation of the preclinical research to novel treatments of anxiety disorders.”

[Endogenous cannabinoid system and depression].


“Endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) is highly conserved during evolution of the body’s endocrine network. It is a regulator of mood, cognitive, autonomic nervous system and movement control system. ECS dysfunction can promote the progress and maintain of depression, phobia, and extreme anxiety. The antidepressant drugs to enhance the activity of ECS may represent a new direction, but rarely reported research in this regard.”

The cannabis withdrawal syndrome.



The demand for treatment for cannabis dependence has grown dramatically. The majority of the people who enter the treatment have difficulty in achieving and maintaining abstinence from cannabis. Understanding the impact of cannabis withdrawal syndrome on quit attempts is of obvious importance. Cannabis, however, has long been considered a ‘soft’ drug, and many continue to question whether one can truly become dependent on cannabis. Skepticism is typically focused on whether cannabis use can result in ‘physiological’ dependence or withdrawal, and whether withdrawal is of clinical importance.


The neurobiological basis for cannabis withdrawal has been established via discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system, identification of cannabinoid receptors, and demonstrations of precipitated withdrawal with cannabinoid receptor antagonists. Laboratory studies have established the reliability, validity, and time course of a cannabis withdrawal syndrome and have begun to explore the effect of various medications on such withdrawal. Reports from clinical samples indicate that the syndrome is common among treatment seekers.


A clinically important withdrawal syndrome associated with cannabis dependence has been established. Additional research must determine how cannabis withdrawal affects cessation attempts and the best way to treat its symptoms.”

The Endogenous Cannabinoid System Regulates Seizure Frequency and Duration in a Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

“Several lines of evidence suggest that cannabinoid compounds are anticonvulsant. However, the anticonvulsant potential of cannabinoids and, moreover, the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in regulating seizure activity has not been tested in an in vivo model of epilepsy that is characterized by spontaneous, recurrent seizures. Here, using the rat pilocarpine model of epilepsy, we show that the marijuana extract Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (10 mg/kg) as well as the cannabimimetic, 4,5-dihydro-2-methyl-4(4-morpholinylmethyl)-1-(1-naphthalenyl-carbonyl)-6H-pyrrolo[3,2,1-i,j]quinolin-6-one [R(+)WIN55,212 (5 mg/kg)], completely abolished spontaneous epileptic seizures. Conversely, application of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1) antagonist, N-(piperidin-1-yl-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamidehydrochloride (SR141716A), significantly increased both seizure duration and frequency. In some animals, CB1 receptor antagonism resulted in seizure durations that were protracted to a level consistent with the clinical condition status epilepticus… These data indicate not only anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids but also suggest that endogenous cannabinoid tone modulates seizure termination and duration through activation of the CB1 receptor… By demonstrating a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in regulating seizure activity, these studies define a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in modulating neuroexcitation and suggest that plasticity of the CB1 receptor occurs with epilepsy.”

“Characterized by spontaneously recurrent seizures, epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions. Understanding the factors that contribute to seizure initiation and termination has important implications for our ability to treat epilepsy and for the potential development of novel anticonvulsant agents. Previous evidence has suggested that the endogenous cannabinoid system may be a novel locus of anticonvulsant activity in the brain. Using the maximal electroshock model of short-term seizure, our laboratory determined that cannabinoid compounds block seizure spread via a cannabinoid CB1 receptor-dependent mechanism. Further study revealed that application of a CB1 receptor antagonist lowered the electroshock seizure threshold, indicating that elimination of endogenous cannabinoid tone at the CB1 receptor may increase seizure susceptibility.”

“The CB1 receptor is the most highly expressed G-protein-coupled receptor in brain and has been implicated in regulation of neuronal excitability. The endogenous cannabinoids, arachidonylethanolamine and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), are synthesized “on demand” in response to sustained neuronal depolarization and elevated intracellular calcium levels; both of these events occur with seizure activity. The neuronal hyperexcitability that accompanies seizure discharge may stimulate endogenous cannabinoid synthesis and subsequently result in CB1 receptor activation. In light of cannabinoid effects on neurotransmission, increased CB1 receptor activation could influence seizure activity. However, no studies have evaluated the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in an intact model of epilepsy.”

“This study was initiated to evaluate the role of the CB1 receptor and the endogenous cannabinoid system in regulating seizure activity in a long-term model of epilepsy. We used the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe, partial-complex epilepsy; a rat model of acquired, refractory epilepsy that produces spontaneous recurrent seizures for the lifetime of the animal. The pilocarpine model has been shown to closely resemble human refractory partial-complex epilepsy. In this study, seizure frequency and duration were determined by continuous electrographic and video recording of each epileptic animal. The CB1 receptor agonists R(+)WIN55,212 and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were evaluated for anticonvulsant efficacy. In addition to agonist effects on seizure activity, the effect of CB1 receptor antagonism on seizure frequency and duration was evaluated using the specific antagonist SR141716A. Hippocampal levels of 2-AG during short-term, pilocarpine-induced seizures were measured to determine whether a correlation exists between endogenous cannabinoid synthesis and seizure activity. In addition, Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses were used to evaluate hippocampal CB1 receptor protein expression in the brains of chronically epileptic and sham control rats. The findings presented suggest an anticonvulsant role for the endogenous cannabinoid system and demonstrate that long-term plasticity of the CB1 receptor occurs with epilepsy.”

“Therapeutic Implications for Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy. Seizures in patients with refractory, partial-complex epilepsy can be difficult to control despite the use of currently available anticonvulsant medications and surgical interventions. Therefore, there is a clear need for the development of more effective anticonvulsant agents. Some epilepsy patients, seeking alternative treatments, have perceived improvement with marijuana. This has prompted several countries to consider the legalization of marijuana for epilepsy treatment. The pilocarpine model represents a refractory epileptic condition that is not readily treated by conventional anticonvulsants. Our results demonstrate that activation of the CB1 receptor by cannabinoid drugs and possibly endogenous ligands significantly alters seizure activity and is more effective than conventional anticonvulsants in treating the refractory seizures produced in the pilocarpine model. Although the dose dependence and long-term effects of cannabinoid administration on epilepsy must be further investigated, the results presented here provide evidence that warrants a comprehensive assessment of cannabinoid use in the control of refractory epilepsy via the use of animal models and placebo-controlled clinical trials. Although the psychoactive side effects of cannabinoids make their use in the treatment of epilepsy impractical, understanding the mechanisms of endogenous cannabinoid-mediated anticonvulsant action may lead to the development of novel compounds that do not manifest behavioral toxicity. Further investigation of the cannabinoid anticonvulsant phenomenon may illuminate novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy as well as more clearly define the physiological function of the endogenous cannabinoid system in brain.”

Involvement of the endogenous cannabinoid system in the effects of alcohol in the mesolimbic reward circuit: electrophysiological evidence in vivo.



Several lines of evidence indicate that the endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in the pharmacological and behavioural effects of alcohol. The mesolimbic dopaminergic (DA) system and the nucleus accumbens (NAc) process rewarding properties of drugs of abuse, including alcohol and cannabinoids, whereas endocannabinoids in these regions modulate synaptic function and mediate short- and long-term forms of synaptic plasticity.


The present study was designed to investigate the contribution of the endogenous cannabinoid system in alcohol electrophysiological effects in the mesolimbic reward circuit.


We utilized extracellular single cell recordings from ventral tegmental area (VTA) DA and NAc neurons in anesthetized rats. DA neurons were antidromically identified as projecting to the shell of NAc, whereas NAc putative medium spiny neurons were identified by their evoked responses to basolateral amygdala (BLA) stimulation.


Alcohol stimulated firing rate of VTA DA neurons and inhibited BLA-evoked NAc neuron spiking responses. The cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1) antagonist rimonabant (SR141716A) fully antagonized alcohol effect in both regions. In the NAc, either inhibition of the major catabolic enzyme of the endocannabinoid anandamide, the fatty-acid amyd hydrolase, with URB597 or a pretreatment with the CB1 receptor agonist WIN55212-2 significantly depressed alcohol-induced effects in the NAc.


These results corroborate the notion of the involvement of endocannabinoids and their receptors in the actions of alcohol and highlight the endocannabinoid system as a valuable target in the therapy for alcoholism.”