Cannabinoids for Treatment of MS Symptoms: State of the Evidence.

Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports

“Cannabis and cannabinoids have been used medically and recreationally for thousands of years and recently there has been a growing body of research in this area. With increased access now that medical marijuana is available in many jurisdictions, patients and providers want to know more about the evidence for benefits and risks of cannabinoid use.

This paper provides an overview of the available cannabinoid-based formulations, a summary of the highest quality evidence for the use of cannabinoids for treating spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), and a discussion of possible dosing regimens based on information from these studies.

Two recent high-quality systematic reviews concluded that the only strong evidence for medical marijuana in neurological disorders was for reducing the symptoms of patient-reported spasticity and central pain in MS and that the only complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) intervention in MS with strong supportive evidence was cannabinoids.

Based on this review, they concluded that nabiximols (Sativex oral spray), oral cannabis extract (OCE), and synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are probably effective at reducing patient-reported symptoms of spasticity in people with MS, but OCE and synthetic THC were not found to be effective for reducing physician-administered measures of spasticity.

In addition, nabiximols, OCE, and synthetic THC are probably effective at reducing MS-related pain. Cannabinoids were generally well-tolerated.

While cannabinoids have been studied for a variety of neurologic disorders, there is strongest evidence to indicate benefits in treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis. Although the best dose for an individual remains uncertain, most participants in the studies discussed in this paper used between 20 and 40 mg of THC a day in divided doses.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29923025

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11910-018-0859-x

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Medicinal cannabis: presenting possible treatment modalities for the future

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“Cannabis is the most popular recreational drug used in the world. It is estimated that 178 million people aged 15–64 years used cannabis at least once in 2012.

Cannabis or cannabinoids used to manage medical conditions is referred to as medicinal cannabis. There are various formulations of cannabis available on the market.

Cannabis can be administered orally, sublingually, or topically; it can be smoked, inhaled, mixed with food, or made into tea. It can be taken in herbal form, extracted naturally from the plant, gained by isomerization of cannabidiol (CBD), or manufactured synthetically.

The commercially available prescribed cannabinoids include dronabinol capsules, nabilone capsules, and the oromucosal spray nabiximols.

Canada and the Netherlands have government-run programs in which dedicated companies supply quality-controlled herbal cannabis. In the United States, 23 states and Washington, DC (May 2015) have introduced laws permitting the medical use of cannabis; other countries have similar laws.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29870436

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=01787381-201806000-00001

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Medical Oncologists’ Beliefs, Practices, and Knowledge Regarding Marijuana Used Therapeutically: A Nationally Representative Survey Study

Journal of Clinical Oncology

“Although almost every state medical marijuana (MM) law identifies cancer as a qualifying condition, little research supports MM’s use in oncology. We hypothesized that the discrepancy between these laws and the scientific evidence base poses clinical challenges for oncologists. Oncologists’ beliefs, knowledge, and practices regarding MM were examined in this study.

In November 2016, we mailed a survey on MM to a nationally-representative, random sample of 400 medical oncologists. Main outcome measures included whether oncologists reported discussing MM with patients, recommended MM clinically in the past year, or felt sufficiently informed to make such recommendations. The survey also queried oncologists’ views on MM’s comparative effectiveness for several conditions (including its use as an adjunct to standard pain management strategies) and its risks compared with prescription opioids. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed using standard statistical techniques.

The overall response rate was 63%. Whereas only 30% of oncologists felt sufficiently informed to make recommendations regarding MM, 80% conducted discussions about MM with patients, and 46% recommended MM clinically. Sixty-seven percent viewed it as a helpful adjunct to standard pain management strategies, and 65% thought MM is equally or more effective than standard treatments for anorexia and cachexia.

Our findings identify a concerning discrepancy between oncologists’ self-reported knowledge base and their beliefs and practices regarding MM. Although 70% of oncologists do not feel equipped to make clinical recommendations regarding MM, the vast majority conduct discussions with patients about MM and nearly one-half do, in fact, recommend it clinically. A majority believes MM is useful for certain indications. These findings are clinically important and suggest critical gaps in research, medical education, and policy regarding MM.”

http://ascopubs.org/doi/10.1200/JCO.2017.76.1221

“Survey: Oncologists Believe Medical Marijuana to be Equally or More Effective Than Conventional Cancer Treatments”  http://www.thedailychronic.net/2018/90645/survey-oncologists-believe-medical-cannabis-equally-effective-conventional-treatments/

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Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids.

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“Numerous physical, psychological, and emotional benefits have been attributed to marijuana since its first reported use in 2,600 BC in a Chinese pharmacopoeia. The phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD), and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are the most studied extracts from cannabis sativa subspecies hemp and marijuana. CBD and Δ9-THC interact uniquely with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Through direct and indirect actions, intrinsic endocannabinoids and plant-based phytocannabinoids modulate and influence a variety of physiological systems influenced by the ECS.

METHODS:

In 1980, Cunha et al. reported anticonvulsant benefits in 7/8 subjects with medically uncontrolled epilepsy using marijuana extracts in a phase I clinical trial. Since then neurological applications have been the major focus of renewed research using medical marijuana and phytocannabinoid extracts.

RESULTS:

Recent neurological uses include adjunctive treatment for malignant brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and the childhood seizure disorders Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. In addition, psychiatric and mood disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, addiction, postconcussion syndrome, and posttraumatic stress disorders are being studied using phytocannabinoids.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this review we will provide animal and human research data on the current clinical neurological uses for CBD individually and in combination with Δ9-THC. We will emphasize the neuroprotective, antiinflammatory, and immunomodulatory benefits of phytocannabinoids and their applications in various clinical syndromes.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29770251

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938896/

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Medical Cannabis for Pediatric Moderate to Severe Complex Motor Disorders.

SAGE Journals

“A complex motor disorder is a combination of various types of abnormal movements that are associated with impaired quality of life (QOL). Current therapeutic options are limited. We studied the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of medical cannabis in children with complex motor disorder. This pilot study was approved by the institutional ethics committee.

Two products of cannabidiol (CBD) enriched 5% oil formulation of cannabis were compared: one with 0.25% δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 20:1 group, the other with 0.83% THC 6:1 group. Patients aged 1 to 17 years (n = 25) with complex motor disorder were enrolled. The assigned medication was administered for 5 months.

Significant improvement in spasticity and dystonia, sleep difficulties, pain severity, and QOL was observed in the total study cohort, regardless of treatment assignment. Adverse effects were rare and included worsening of seizures in 2 patients, behavioral changes in 2 and somnolence in 1.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29766748

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0883073818773028?journalCode=jcna

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Medical Marijuana Use in Older Adults.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society banner“Symptom management in older adults, including pain and distressing non-pain symptoms, can be challenging. Medications can cause side effects that worsen quality of life or create other symptoms, and polypharmacy itself can be detrimental in older adults. 

Cannabinoids may offer a way of managing selected symptoms with fewer side effects.

Medical marijuana is an important area of study for older adults because of the side effects of other medications. It is also important for Baby Boomers, who are likely to have more experience with marijuana than older adults of previous generations. Therefore, geriatricians should understand medical marijuana’s clinical indications, adverse effects, and legal context.

This article reviews the evidence regarding indications for and risks of medical marijuana use in older adults.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29668039

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.15346

“Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29398248

“Medical cannabis significantly safer for elderly with chronic pain than Opioids”  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180213111508.htm

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Marijuana Use Associations with Pulmonary Symptoms and Function in Tobacco Smokers Enrolled in the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS)

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“Marijuana use was found to have little to no association with poor pulmonary health in older current and former tobacco smokers after adjusting for covariates.

Among older adults with a history of tobacco use, marijuana use does not appear to increase risk for adverse lung function. ”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5870739/

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Accuracy of Patient Opioid Use Reporting at the Time of Medical Cannabis License Renewal.

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“The decision to authorize a patient for continued enrollment in a state-sanctioned medical cannabis program is difficult in part due to the uncertainty in the accuracy of patient symptom reporting and health functioning including any possible effects on other medication use.

We conducted a pragmatic convenience study comparing patient reporting of previous and current prescription opioid usage to the opioid prescription records in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) among 131 chronic pain patients (mean age = 54; 54% male) seeking the first annual renewal of their New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (NMMCP) license.

Seventy-six percent of the patients reported using prescription opioids prior to enrollment in the NMMCP, however, the PMP records showed that only 49% of the patients were actually prescribed opioids in the six months prior to enrollment.

Of the 64 patients with verifiable opioid prescriptions prior to NMMCP enrollment, 35 (55%) patients reported having eliminated the use of prescription opioids by the time of license renewal.

PMP records showed that 26 patients (63% of patients claiming to have eliminated the use of opioid prescriptions and 41% of all patients with verifiable preenrollment opioid use) showed no prescription opioid activity at their first annual NMMCP renewal visit.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29623144

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prm/2018/5704128/

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Opioid prescriptions decreased in US states where marijuana was legally accessible

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“American states that permitted legal access to marijuana through medical cannabis laws or legalized its adult recreational use saw falls in opioid prescriptions over a five year period, research has found.

Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted longitudinal analysis of Medicare Part D records from 2010 to 2015. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine,1 showed a significant 14.4% average reduction in opioid prescriptions in states that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries. The effect was particularly pronounced in hydrocodone and morphine use.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29618464

https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1514.full

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Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis

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“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide. The symptoms of MS are highly varied but frequently include pain, muscle spasticity, fatigue, inflammation, and depression. These symptoms often lead to reduced physical activity, negatively impact functional mobility, and have a detrimental impact on patients’ quality of life.

Although recent years have seen significant advances in disease modifying therapy, none of the current treatments halts or cures MS related symptoms. As a consequence, many people with MS (PwMS) look for alternative and complementary therapies such as cannabis.

The cannabis plant contains many biologically active chemicals, including ~60 cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are typically the most concentrated chemical components of cannabis and believed to primarily drive therapeutic benefit.

There is evidence that CBD has a number of beneficial pharmacological effects. It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective. The review of 132 original studies by Bergamaschi et al. describes the safety profile of CBD by highlighting that catalepsy is not induced and physiological parameters (heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature) are not altered. Moreover, psychomotor and psychological functions are not negatively affected. High doses of up to 1,500 mg per day and chronic use have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans.

Additionally, there is also evidence that CBD may reduce the negative psychotropic effects, memory impairment, and appetite stimulation, anxiety and psychotic-like states of THC while enhancing its positive therapeutic actions.

 Anecdotal reports indicate that an increasing number of PwMS use cannabis (medical marijuana) as a supplement to improve their mobility.

Based on the following considerations, it is our opinion that CBD supplementation maybe advisable for PwMS to reduce fatigue, pain, spasticity, and ultimately improve mobility. “

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2018.00183/full

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