Medical Cannabis for Intractable Epilepsy in Childhood: A Review.

 Logo of rmmj“In recent years, cannabis has been gaining increasing interest in both the medical research and clinical fields, with regard to its therapeutic effects in various disorders. One of the major fields of interest is its role as an anticonvulsant for refractory epilepsy, especially in the pediatric population. This paper presents and discusses the current accumulated knowledge regarding artisanal cannabis and Epidiolex®, a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pure cannabidiol (CBD), in epilepsy management in pediatrics, by reviewing the literature and raising debate regarding further research directions.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32017679

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Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Chronic Pruritus: A Review.

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Home“Medical marijuana is becoming widely available to patients in the U.S. and with recreational marijuana now legalized in many states, patient interest is on the rise.

The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in skin homeostasis in addition to broader effects on neurogenic responses such as pruritus and nociception, inflammation, and immune reactions. There are numerous studies of in vitro and animal models that provide insight into the possible mechanisms of cannabinoid modulation on pruritus, with the most evidence behind neuronal modulation of both peripheral itch fibers and centrally-acting cannabinoid receptors.

In addition, human studies, while limited due to differences in cannabinoids used, disease models, and delivery method, have consistently shown significant reductions in both scratching and symptomatology in chronic pruritus. Clinical studies that have shown reduction in pruritus in several dermatologic (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, asteatotic eczema, prurigo nodularis, allergic contact dermatitis) and systemic (uremic pruritus, cholestatic pruritus) diseases.

These preliminary human studies warrant controlled trials to confirm the benefit of cannabinoids for treatment of pruritus and to standardize treatment regimens and indications. In patients who have refractory chronic pruritus after standard therapies, cannabinoid formulations may be considered as an adjuvant therapy where it is legal.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31987788

https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(20)30120-1/pdf

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The effect of orally administered dronabinol on optic nerve head blood flow in healthy subjects- a randomized clinical trial.

Publication cover image“It has been hypothesized that besides its intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering potential, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may also improve ocular hemodynamics.

The aim of the present study was to investigate whether single oral administration of dronabinol, a synthetic THC, alters optic nerve head blood flow (ONHBF) and its regulation in healthy subjects.

The study was carried out in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-masked, two-way crossover design in twenty-four healthy subjects. For each study participant, two study days were scheduled, on which they either received capsules containing 5mg dronabinol or placebo. ONHBF was measured with laser Doppler flowmetry at rest and while the study participants performed isometric exercise for six minutes to increase mean arterial blood pressure (MAP). This was repeated one hour after drug intake. Ocular perfusion pressure (OPP) was calculated as 2/3MAP-IOP.

Dronabinol was well tolerated and no cannabinoid-related psychoactive effects were reported.

Neither administration of dronabinol nor placebo had an effect on IOP, MAP or OPP. In contrast, dronabinol significantly increased ONHBF at rest by 9.5±8.1% whereas placebo did not show a change in ONHBF (0.3±7.4% vs. baseline, p<0.001 between study days). Dronabinol did not alter the autoregulatory response of ONHBF to isometric exercise.

In conclusion, the present data indicate that low dose dronabinol increases ONHBF in healthy subjects without affecting IOP, OPP or inducing psychoactive side effects. In addition, dronabinol does not alter the autoregulatory response of ONHBF to an experimental increase in OPP. Further studies are needed to investigate whether this effect can also be observed in glaucoma patients.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31977076

https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpt.1797

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Medicinal cannabis for psychiatric disorders: a clinically-focused systematic review.

 Image result for bmc psychiatry“Medicinal cannabis has received increased research attention over recent years due to loosening global regulatory changes.

Medicinal cannabis has been reported to have potential efficacy in reducing pain, muscle spasticity, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and intractable childhood epilepsy. Yet its potential application in the field of psychiatry is lesser known.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is currently encouraging, albeit embryonic, evidence for medicinal cannabis in the treatment of a range of psychiatric disorders. Supportive findings are emerging for some key isolates, however, clinicians need to be mindful of a range of prescriptive and occupational safety considerations, especially if initiating higher dose THC formulas.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31948424

https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-019-2409-8

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Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis on Sleep Disorders and Related Conditions.

 Related image“Marijuana generally refers to the dried mixture of leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant, and the term cannabis is a commonly used to refer to products derived from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. There has been an increasing interest in the potential medicinal use of cannabis to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. This review will provide the latest evidence regarding the medical risks and potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis in managing patients with sleep disorders or those with other medical conditions who commonly suffer with sleep disturbance as an associated comorbidity. Published data regarding the effects of cannabis compounds on sleep in the general population, as well as in patients with insomnia, chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other neurological conditions, will be presented. Current trends for marijuana use and its effects on the economy and the implications that those trends and effects have on future research into medical cannabis are also presented.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31895189

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00004691-202001000-00007

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Cannabis-based medicines and the perioperative physician.

Image result for perioperative medicine

“Cannabis use for medicinal purposes was first documented in 2900 BC in China, when Emperor Shen Nong described benefit for rheumatism and malaria and later in Ancient Egyptian texts.

Discussion in medical journals, the mainstream and social media around the use of cannabis for medicinal and non-medicinal purposes has increased recently, especially following the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use in Canada and the UK government’s decision to make cannabis-based medicines (CBMs) available for prescription by doctors on the specialist register.

The actual, social and economic legitimisation of cannabis and its medicinal derivatives makes it likely increasing numbers of patients will present on this class of medicines. Perioperative physicians will require a sound understanding of their pharmacology and evidence base, and may wish to exploit this group of compounds for therapeutic purposes in the perioperative period.

The increasing availability of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes means that anaesthetists will encounter an increasing number of patients taking cannabis-based medications. The existing evidence base is conflicted and incomplete regarding the indications, interactions and long-term effects of these substances.

Globally, most doctors have had little education regarding the pharmacology of cannabis-based medicines, despite the endocannabinoid system being one of the most widespread in the human body.

Much is unknown, and much is to be decided, including clarifying definitions and nomenclature, and therapeutic indications and dosing. Anaesthetists, Intensivists, Pain and Perioperative physicians will want to contribute to this evidence base and attempt to harness such therapeutic benefits in terms of pain relief and opiate-avoidance, anti-emesis and seizure control.

We present a summary of the pharmacology of cannabis-based medicines including anaesthetic interactions and implications, to assist colleagues encountering these medicines in clinical practice.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31827774

“In summary, cannabinoids may improve pain relief as part of multi-modal approach. As the evidence base increases, CBMs could become part of the perioperative teams’ armamentarium to help provide an opiate sparing multimodal analgesia regime as well as having a role in the management of common post-operative complications such as nausea and vomiting.”

 https://perioperativemedicinejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13741-019-0127-x
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The Interplay between the Endocannabinoid System, Epilepsy and Cannabinoids.

ijms-logo“Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects approximately 50 million people worldwide.

There is currently no definitive epilepsy cure. However, in recent years, medicinal cannabis has been successfully trialed as an effective treatment for managing epileptic symptoms, but whose mechanisms of action are largely unknown.

Lately, there has been a focus on neuroinflammation as an important factor in the pathology of many epileptic disorders. In this literature review, we consider the links that have been identified between epilepsy, neuroinflammation, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how cannabinoids may be potent alternatives to more conventional pharmacological therapies.

We review the research that demonstrates how the ECS can contribute to neuroinflammation, and could therefore be modulated by cannabinoids to potentially reduce the incidence and severity of seizures. In particular, the cannabinoid cannabidiol has been reported to have anti-convulsant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it shows promise for epilepsy treatment.

There are a multitude of signaling pathways that involve endocannabinoids, eicosanoids, and associated receptors by which cannabinoids could potentially exert their therapeutic effects. Further research is needed to better characterize these pathways, and consequently improve the application and regulation of medicinal cannabis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31810321

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/23/6079

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An Open-Label Pilot Study Testing the Feasibility of Assessing Total Symptom Burden in Trials of Cannabinoid Medications in Palliative Care.

View details for Journal of Palliative Medicine cover image“There is considerable interest in the use of cannabinoids for symptom control in palliative care, but there is little high-quality evidence to guide clinical practice.

Objectives: Assess the feasibility of using global symptom burden measures to assess response to medicinal cannabis, to determine median tolerated doses of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and to document adverse events (AEs).

Design: Prospective two-arm open-label pilot trial of escalating doses of CBD and THC oil.

Setting/Subjects: Participants had advanced cancer and cancer-related symptoms in a palliative and supportive care service in an Australian cancer center.

Measurements: The main outcome measures were the number of participants screened and randomized over the time frame, the number of participants completing days 14 and 28 and providing total symptom distress scores (TSDSs) (measured using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale), and the change from baseline of the TSDS at day 14.

Results: Of the 21 participants enrolled (CBD, n = 16; THC, n = 5), 18 (86%) completed the primary outcome measure at day 14 and 8 completed at day 28. The median maximum tolerated doses were CBD, 300 mg/day (range 100-600 mg); THC, 10 mg/day (range 5-30 mg). Nine of 21 patients (43%) met the definition of response (≥6 point reduction in TSDS). Drowsiness was the most common AE.

Conclusions: Trials of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer patients undergoing palliative care are feasible. The doses of THC and CBD used in this study were generally well tolerated and the outcome measure of total symptom distress is promising as a measure of overall symptom benefit.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31800354

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jpm.2019.0540

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Exploring cancer survivors’ attitudes, perceptions, and concerns about using medical cannabis for symptom and side effect management: A qualitative focus group study.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine“The purpose of this study is to gain a greater understanding of cancer survivors’ attitudes, perspectives, and concerns about medical cannabinoids (MCs) for cancer symptom and side effect management.

Using qualitative methods, we conducted four focus groups (n = 19) with cancer survivors recruited from a community-based cancer wellness center. Groups were audio-recorded and facilitated by experienced co-moderators who directed discussion using a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts were coded using principles from Grounded Theory.

Analyses revealed the following ten themes and percentages of codes applied: 1) Attitudes & Beliefs (25.3%), 2) Access (17.1%), 3) Information (15.5%), 4) Concern (14%), 5) How MCs Helped (12.6%), 6) Comfort (4.3%), 7) Confusion (3.6%), 8) Trust/Distrust (3.1%), 9) Behaviors (2.3%), and 10) Support (2.2%).

Participants reported that MCs offer potential benefits for symptom management and side effect relief, especially in reducing and managing pain. Despite the growing number of states that are legalizing MCs, significant barriers exist that make knowledge and adequate access a challenge for many.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31779995

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229919309252?via%3Dihub

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The Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws and Dispensaries on Self-Reported Health

 “Growing evidence suggests that medical marijuana laws have harm reduction effects across a variety of outcomes related to risky health behaviors. This study investigates the impact of medical marijuana laws on self-reported health using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1993 to 2013. In our analyses we separately identify the effect of a medical marijuana law and the impact of subsequent active and legally protected dispensaries. Our main results show surprisingly limited improvements in self-reported health after the legalization of medical marijuana and legally protected dispensaries. Subsample analyses reveal strong improvements in health among non-white individuals, those reporting chronic pain, and those with a high school degree, driven predominately by whether or not the state had active and legally protected dispensaries. We also complement the analysis by evaluating the impact on risky health behaviors and find that the aforementioned demographic groups experience large reductions in alcohol consumption after the implementation of a medical marijuana law.”

https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/fhep.ahead-of-print/fhep-2019-0002/fhep-2019-0002.xml

“Study Links Medical Marijuana Access To Better Health. Access to medical marijuana appears to improve the health of some patients, even reducing their alcohol intake, according to new research.” https://thefreshtoast.com/cannabis/study-links-legal-marijuana-access-to-better-health/

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