Cannabis Roots: A Traditional Therapy with Future Potential for Treating Inflammation and Pain

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“The cannabis plant is known for its multiple uses: the leaves, flowers, seeds, stalks, and resin glands have all been exploited for food, fuel, fiber, medicine, and other uses.

The roots of the cannabis plant have a long history of medical use stretching back millennia. However, the therapeutic potential of cannabis roots has been largely ignored in modern times.

In the first century, Pliny the Elder described in Natural Histories that a decoction of the root in water could be used to relieve stiffness in the joints, gout, and related conditions. By the 17th century, various herbalists were recommending cannabis root to treat inflammation, joint pain, gout, and other conditions.

Active compounds identified and measured in cannabis roots include triterpenoids, friedelin (12.8 mg/kg) and epifriedelanol (21.3 mg/kg); alkaloids, cannabisativine (2.5 mg/kg) and anhydrocannabisativine (0.3 mg/kg); carvone and dihydrocarvone; N-( p-hydroxy-b-phenylethyl)-p-hydroxy-trans-cinnamamide (1.6 mg/kg); various sterols such as sitosterol (1.5%), campesterol (0.78%), and stigmasterol (0.56%); and other minor compounds, including choline. Of note, cannabis roots are not a significant source of D9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol, or other known phytocannabinoids.

Conclusion: The current available data on the pharmacology of cannabis root components provide significant support to the historical and ethnobotanical claims of clinical efficacy. Certainly, this suggests the need for reexamination of whole root preparations on inflammatory and malignant conditions employing modern scientific techniques.”

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2017.0028

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Cannabis phenolics and their bioactivities.

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“Although Cannabis sativa L. is one of the most versatile plant species with multipurpose use both as medical, alimentary source and as psychoactive abuse, its biomedical relevance focused the attention on major cannabinoids. Phytochemical characterization of cannabis highlights the presence of various non-cannabinoids constituents including flavonoids, spiroindans, dihyrostilbenes, dihydrophenanthrenes, lignanamides, steroids and alkaloids. Cannabis is a plant with high pharmacological and nutrition values, its potentialities and applications are not only circumscribed to cannabinoids biological activities, but also defined by non-cannabinoid compounds. This review deals with polyphenols present in this plant, their biosynthesis, their bioactivities and their synthesis, when this occurred.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28799497

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The effect of Pro NanoLipospheres (PNL) formulation containing natural absorption enhancers on the oral bioavailability of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in a rat model.

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“The lipophilic phytocannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) show therapeutic efficacy in various medical conditions. Both molecules are poorly water soluble and subjected to extensive first pass metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to a limited oral bioavailability of approximately 9%. We have developed an advanced lipid based Self-Emulsifying Drug Delivery System termed Advanced Pro-NanoLiposphere (PNL) pre-concentrate. The PNL is composed of lipid and emulsifying excipients of GRAS status and are known to increase solubility and reduce Phase I metabolism of lipophilic active compounds. Advanced PNLs are PNLs with an incorporated natural absorption enhancers. These molecules are natural alkaloids and phenolic compounds which were reported to inhibit certain phase I and phase II metabolism processes. Here we use piperine, curcumin and resveratrol to formulate the Advanced-PNL formulations. Consequently, we have explored the utility of these Advanced-PNLs on CBD and THC oral bioavailability. Oral administration of CBD-piperine-PNL resulted in 6-fold in AUC compared to CBD solution, proving to be the most effective of the screened formulations. The same trend was found in pharmacokinetic experiments of THC-piperine-PNL with resulted in a 9.3-fold increase in AUC as compared to THC solution. Our Piperine-PNL can be used as a platform for synchronized delivery of piperine and CBD or THC to the enterocyte site. This co-localization provides an increase in CBD and THC bioavailability by its effect at the pre-enterocyte and the enterocyte levels of the absorption process. The extra augmentation in the absorption of CBD and THC by incorporating piperine into PNL is attributed to the inhibition of Phase I and phase II metabolism by piperine in addition to the Phase I metabolism and P-gp inhibition by PNL. These novel results pave the way to utilize piperine-PNL delivery system for other poorly soluble, highly metabolized compounds that currently cannot be administered orally.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28736128

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0928098717304025

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Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report

“Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Alternatives to opioids for the treatment of pain are necessary to address this issue. Cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain, greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to opioid-based medications. Medical cannabis patients report that cannabis is just as effective, if not more, than opioid-based medications for pain.

The results of this study provide implications from both a micro and macro level. First, from the macro level, there have been three previously published indicators of public health changes in states that permit medical cannabis: decreases in opioid related mortality, decreases in spending on opioids, and a decrease in traffic fatalities. While none of these studies shows a cause and effect relationship, they do suggest public health related population based changes in localities where cannabis can be accessed to treat pain. Given that the participants in this study reported a greater likelihood of using cannabis as a substitute in a less stigmatized and easily accessible environment, it makes sense why we would see these changes in locations where medical cannabis is sanctioned versus places where it is illegal.

At the micro level, there is a great deal of individual risk associated with prolonged use of opioids and perhaps even nonopioid-based pain medications. The prescribing of opioids has not been curbed in the United States, despite the growing number of fatal overdoses and reported dependence. Providing the patient with the option of cannabis as a method of pain treatment alongside the option of opioids might assist with pain relief in a safer environment with less risk. A society with less opioid dependent people will result in fewer public health harms.”

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2017.0012

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Is cannabis treatment for anxiety, mood, and related disorders ready for prime time?

Depression and Anxiety

“Anxiety and related disorders are the most common mental conditions affecting the North American population. Despite their established efficacy, first-line antidepressant treatments are associated with significant side effects, leading many afflicted individuals to seek alternative treatments. Cannabis is commonly viewed as a natural alternative for a variety of medical and mental health conditions. Currently, anxiety ranks among the top five medical symptoms for which North Americans report using medical marijuana. However, upon careful review of the extant treatment literature, the anxiolytic effects of cannabis in clinical populations are surprisingly not well-documented. The effects of cannabis on anxiety and mood symptoms have been examined in healthy populations and in several small studies of synthetic cannabinoid agents but there are currently no studies which have examined the effects of the cannabis plant on anxiety and related disorders. In light of the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, it is important to highlight the significant disconnect between the scientific literature, public opinion, and related policies. The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive review of the current cannabis treatment literature, and to identify the potential for cannabis to be used as a therapeutic intervention for anxiety, mood, and related disorders. Searches of five electronic databases were conducted (PubMed, MEDLINE, Web of Science, PsychINFO, and Google Scholar), with the most recent in February 2017. The effects of cannabis on healthy populations and clinical psychiatric samples will be discussed, focusing primarily on anxiety and mood disorders.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28636769   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/da.22664/abstract

“The endocannabinoid system and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Collectively, both clinical and preclinical data argue that cannabinoid receptor signalling may be a realistic target in the development of a novel class of agent for the pharmacotherapy of mood and anxiety disorders.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839936

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Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Cannabinoids

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“In the past two decades, there has been increasing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and single cannabinoids, mainly cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC and cannabis products rich in THC exert their effects mainly through the activation of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Since 1975, 140 controlled clinical trials using different cannabinoids or whole-plant preparations for the treatment of a large number of disorders and symptoms have been conducted. Results have led to the approval of cannabis-based medicines [dronabinol, nabilone, and the cannabis extract nabiximols (Sativex®, THC:CBD = 1:1)] as well as cannabis flowers in several countries. Controlled clinical studies provide substantial evidence for the use of cannabinoid receptor agonists in cancer chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, appetite loss and cachexia in cancer and HIV patients, neuropathic and chronic pain, and in spasticity in multiple sclerosis. In addition, there is also some evidence suggesting a therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicines in other indications including Tourette syndrome, spinal cord injury, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and glaucoma. In several other indications, small uncontrolled and single-case studies reporting beneficial effects are available, for example in posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and migraine. The most common side effects of THC and cannabis-based medicines rich in THC are sedation and dizziness (in more than 10% of patients), psychological effects, and dry mouth. Tolerance to these side effects nearly always develops within a short time. Withdrawal symptoms are hardly ever a problem in the therapeutic setting. In recent years there is an increasing interest in the medical use of CBD, which exerts no intoxicating side effects and is usually well-tolerated. Preliminary data suggest promising effects in the treatment of anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, dystonia, and some forms of epilepsy. This review gives an overview on clinical studies which have been published over the past 40 years.”

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352689.2016.1265360?needAccess=true&journalCode=bpts20

“Review Identifies 140 Controlled Clinical Trials Related to Cannabis”  http://blog.norml.org/2017/06/04/review-identifies-140-controlled-clinical-trials-related-to-cannabis/

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Cannabis and intractable chronic pain: an explorative retrospective analysis of Italian cohort of 614 patients.

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“Despite growing interest in the therapeutic use of cannabis to manage chronic pain, only limited data that address these issues are available. In recent years, a number of nations have introduced specific laws to allow patients to use cannabis preparations to treat a variety of medical conditions. In 2015, the Italian government authorized the use of cannabis to treat several diseases, including chronic pain generally, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, cachexia and anorexia among AIDS and cancer patients, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome, and certain types of epilepsy. We present the first snapshot of the Italian experience with cannabis use for chronic pain over the initial year of its use.

METHODS:

This is a retrospective case series analysis of all chronic pain patients treated with oral or vaporized cannabis in six hubs during the initial year following the approval of the new Italian law (December 2015 to November 2016). We evaluated routes of administration, types of cannabis products utilized, dosing, and effectiveness and safety of the treatment.

RESULTS:

As only one of the six centers has extensively used cannabinoids for intractable chronic pain (614 patients of 659), only the population from Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana (Pisa) was considered. Cannabis tea was the primary mode of delivery, and in almost all cases, it was used in association with all the other pain treatments. Initial and follow-up cannabinoid concentrations were found to vary considerably. At initial follow-up, 76.2% of patients continued the treatment, and <15% stopped the treatment due to side effects (none of which were severe).

CONCLUSION:

We present the first analysis of Italian clinical practice of the use of cannabinoids for a large variety of chronic pain syndromes. From this initial snapshot, we determined that the treatment seems to be effective and safe, although more data and subsequent trials are needed to better investigate its ideal clinical indication.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28579820

https://www.dovepress.com/cannabis-and-intractable-chronic-pain-an-explorative-retrospective-ana-peer-reviewed-article-JPR

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Endocannabinoids modulate apoptosis in endometriosis and adenomyosis.

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“Adenomyosis that is a form of endometriosis is the growth of ectopic endometrial tissue within the muscular wall of the uterus (myometrium), which may cause dysmenorrhea and infertility. Endocannabinoid mediated apoptotic mechanisms of endometriosis and adenomyosis are not known. We hypothesized that the down regulation of endocannabinoid receptors and/or alteration in their regulatory enzymes may have a direct role in the pathogenesis of endometriosis and adenomyosis through apoptosis.

Endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, their synthesizing and catabolizing enzymes (FAAH, NAPE-PLD, DAGL, MAGL) and the apoptotic indexes were immunohistochemically assessed in endometriotic and adenomyotic tissues. Findings were compared to normal endometrium and myometrium. Endometrial adenocarcinoma (Ishikawa) and ovarian endometriosis cyst wall stromal (CRL-7566) cell lines were furthermore cultured with or without cannabinoid receptor agonists. The IC50 value for CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists was quantified. Cannabinoid agonists on cell death were investigated by Annexin-V/Propidium iodide labeling with flow cytometry. CB1 and CB2 receptor levels decreased in endometriotic and adenomyotic tissues compared to the control group (p=0,001 and p=0,001). FAAH, NAPE-PLD, MAGL and DAGL enzyme levels decreased in endometriotic and adenomyotic tissues compared to control (p=0,001, p=0,001, p=0,001 and p=0,002 respectively). Apoptotic cell indexes both in endometriotic and adenomyotic tissues also decreased significantly, compared to the control group (p=0,001 and p=0,001). CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist mediated dose dependent fast anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects were detected in Ishikawa and ovarian endometriosis cyst wall stromal cell lines (CRL-7566).

Endocannabinoids are suggested to increase apoptosis mechanisms in endometriosis and adenomyosis. CB1 and CB2 antagonists can be considered as potential medical therapeutic agents for endometriosis and adenomyosis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28549792

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065128116303154

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In silico gene expression profiling in Cannabis sativa.

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“The cannabis plant and its active ingredients (i.e., cannabinoids and terpenoids) have been socially stigmatized for half a century. Luckily, with more than 430,000 published scientific papers and about 600 ongoing and completed clinical trials, nowadays cannabis is employed for the treatment of many different medical conditions. Nevertheless, even if a large amount of high-throughput functional genomic data exists, most researchers feature a strong background in molecular biology but lack advanced bioinformatics skills. In this work, publicly available gene expression datasets have been analyzed giving rise to a total of 40,224 gene expression profiles taken from cannabis plant tissue at different developmental stages. The resource presented here will provide researchers with a starting point for future investigations with Cannabis sativa.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28529696

“Today, cannabis and its derivatives are successfully employed for treatment of a large number of different pathological conditions. Cannabis sativa is a versatile plant – it is being used for medical as well as for industrial purposes. Like in other plants, the cannabis genome is highly redundant and difficult to resolve. It is very likely that false negatives have caused important transcripts to still be missing. Nevertheless, these 40,224 gene expression profiles will provide researchers with a valuable resource and important genomic insights for future investigations with Cannabis sativa.”  https://f1000research.com/articles/6-69/v1

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Cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs – a cross-sectional study

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“The use of medical cannabis is increasing, most commonly for pain, anxiety and depression. Emerging data suggest that use and abuse of prescription drugs may be decreasing in states where medical cannabis is legal. The aim of this study was to survey cannabis users to determine whether they had intentionally substituted cannabis for prescription drugs.

A total of 1,248 (46%) respondents reported using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. The most common classes of drugs substituted were narcotics/opioids (35.8%), anxiolytics/benzodiazepines (13.6%) and antidepressants (12.7%). A total of 2,473 substitutions were reported or approximately two drug substitutions per affirmative respondent.

These patient-reported outcomes support prior research that individuals are using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly, narcotics/opioids, and independent of whether they identify themselves as medical or non-medical users. This is especially true if they suffer from pain, anxiety and depression. Additionally, this study suggests that state laws allowing access to, and use of, medical cannabis may not be influencing individual decision-making in this area.”

https://www.dovepress.com/cannabis-as-a-substitute-for-prescription-drugs-ndash-a-cross-sectiona-peer-reviewed-article-JPR

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