The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Intermittent and Chronic Opioid Users with Back Pain: How Cannabis Diminished Prescription Opioid Usage

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“To determine if cannabis may be used as an alternative or adjunct treatment for intermittent and chronic prescription opioid users.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: A single-center cannabis medical practice site in California.

Patients: A total of 180 patients who had a chief complaint of low back pain were identified (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, code M54.5). Sixty-one patients who used prescription opioids were analyzed.

Interventions: Cannabis recommendations were provided to patients as a way to mitigate their low back pain.

Outcome Measures: Number of patients who stopped opioids and change in morphine equivalents.

Results: There were no between-group differences based on demographic, experiential, or attitudinal variables. We found that 50.8% were able to stop all opioid usage, which took a median of 6.4 years (IQR=1.75–11 years) after excluding two patients who transitioned off opioids by utilizing opioid agonists. For those 29 patients (47.5%) who did not stop opioids, 9 (31%) were able to reduce opioid use, 3 (10%) held the same baseline, and 17 (59%) increased their usage. Forty-eight percent of patients subjectively felt like cannabis helped them mitigate their opioid intake but this sentiment did not predict who actually stopped opioid usage. There were no variables that predicted who stopped opioids, except that those who used higher doses of cannabis were more likely to stop, which suggests that some patients might be able to stop opioids by using cannabis, particularly those who are dosed at higher levels.

Conclusions: In this long-term observational study, cannabis use worked as an alternative to prescription opioids in just over half of patients with low back pain and as an adjunct to diminish use in some chronic opioid users.”

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/can.2019.0039

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Can prescribed medical cannabis use reduce the use of other more harmful drugs?

SAGE Journals“There is growing recognition of the potential utility of medical cannabis as a harm reduction intervention.

Although used for this indication in other countries, there is an absence of UK clinical guidelines that supports such an approach. We administered a short survey to gain a better understanding of the potential role of medical cannabis by 39 people who were currently using illicit cannabis and accessing a specialist substance misuse treatment service.

It was identified that 36 (92.3%) respondents found that cannabis positively impacted upon their physical and/or mental wellbeing and 56.4% reported that they used less of other substances which are known to be more harmful as a result.

Therefore, while we acknowledge the small sample size, given the notable potential positive impact that medical cannabis could have as a harm reduction intervention, we propose that the use should be trialled within a specialist drug treatment setting.”

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050324519900067 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Use of cannabinoids in cancer patients: A Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) clinical practice statement.

Gynecologic Oncology“Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) affect the human endocannabinoid system.

Cannabinoids reduce chemotherapy induced nausea or vomiting (CINV) and neuropathic pain.

Each state has its own regulations for medical and recreational cannabis use.

Effects of cannabinoids on chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and tumor growth remain under investigation.

Providers should focus indications, alternatives, risks and benefits of medical cannabis use to make appropriate referrals.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31932107

https://www.gynecologiconcology-online.net/article/S0090-8258(19)31805-0/fulltext

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Disease-modifying effects of natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in endometriosis-associated pain.

eLife logo

“Endometriosis is a chronic painful disease highly prevalent in women that is defined by growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity and lacks adequate treatment.

Medical use of cannabis derivatives is a current hot topic and it is unknown whether phytocannabinoids may modify endometriosis symptoms and development.

Here we evaluate the effects of repeated exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a mouse model of surgically-induced endometriosis.

In this model, female mice develop mechanical hypersensitivity in the caudal abdomen, mild anxiety-like behavior and substantial memory deficits associated with the presence of extrauterine endometrial cysts.

Interestingly, daily treatments with THC (2 mg/kg) alleviate mechanical hypersensitivity and pain unpleasantness, modify uterine innervation and restore cognitive function without altering the anxiogenic phenotype. Strikingly, THC also inhibits the development of endometrial cysts.

These data highlight the interest of scheduled clinical trials designed to investigate possible benefits of THC for women with endometriosis.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31931958

https://elifesciences.org/articles/50356

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Beta‐caryophyllene, a dietary terpenoid, inhibits nicotine‐taking and nicotine‐seeking in rodents

British Journal of Pharmacology banner“Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is a dietary plant-derived terpenoid that has been used as a food additive for many decades.

Recent studies indicate that BCP is a cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CB2R) agonist with medical benefits for a number of human diseases. However, little is known about its therapeutic potential for drug abuse and addiction.

The present findings suggest that BCP has significant anti-nicotine effects via both CB2 and non-CB2 receptor mechanisms, and therefore, deserves further study as a potential new pharmacotherapy for cigarette smoking cessation.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31883107

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bph.14969

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

“Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18574142

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Medical Cannabis Use in Palliative Care: Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines – An Update [Internet].

Cover of Medical Cannabis Use in Palliative Care: Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines – An Update“Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organization as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness…”. The last days and hours of a person’s life can be associated with immense physical as well as emotional suffering Relief of pain and other distressing symptoms, and enhancement of quality of life, are among the essential elements of good palliative care. Palliative care could benefit an estimated 69% to 82% of dying individuals in Canada. As Canada’s population ages, with increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and treatments resulting in prolonged life, it is expected that there will be an increased need for palliative care services.

Approximately 9% of Canadians (or 2.7 million) reported using cannabis for medical purposes in the first half of 2019. Herbal cannabis (cannabis sativa) contains hundreds of pharmacological components, many of which are not well-characterized. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most prevalent pharmacologically active compound and is primarily responsible for the psychoactive and physical effects of cannabis. Cannabidiol (also commonly referred to as CBD) is the second most prevalent. It has very little if any psychotropic effects. Quantity and ratio of these and other components can vary considerably between plants and even within the same plant.

Two prescription cannabinoids are currently marketed in Canada: Nabiximols (Sativex) which contains THC and cannabidiol, and Nabilone (Cesamet) which is a synthetic cannabinoid. Dronabinol (Marinol), synthetic THC, was withdrawn from the Canadian market however it is available in other jurisdictions. For the purposes of this report, medical cannabis refers to use of the cannabis plant or its extracts or synthetic cannabinoids for medical purposes.

Medical cannabis may be of value for a number of conditions, including but not limited to pain, nausea and vomiting, depression, anxiety and appetite stimulation. Adverse effects of cannabis are very common, developing in 80% to 90% of patients. These include but are not limited to psychiatric disturbances, sedation, speech disorders, impaired memory, dizziness, ataxia, addiction, irritability, and driving impairment. Risk of adverse effects is likely lower with cannabidiol alone as compared to THC. The potential for drug interactions is also an important concern. These risks must be considered along with the an apparent lack of evidence surrounding effectiveness of medical cannabis in many conditions for which its use is promoted.

This report updates and expands on a previous summary of abstracts report.9 The objective of the report is to review evidence and guidelines for use of medical cannabis in the palliative care setting.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31873991

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551867/

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Cannabis and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: An Updated Review.

 Image result for Acta Neurol Taiwan. journal“Cannabis plant has the scientific name called Cannabis sativa L. Cannabis plant has many species, but there are three main species including Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. Over 70 compounds isolated from cannabis species are called cannabinoids (CBN).

Cannabinoids produce over 100 naturally occurring chemicals. The most abundant chemicals are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychotropic chemical that makes people feel “high” while CBD is nonpsychotropic chemical. However, cannabinoid chemicals are not found only in the cannabis plant, they are also produced by the mammalian body, called endocannabinoids and in the laboratory, called synthesized cannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the mammalian central nervous system including brain and peripheral nervous system. There are at least two types of endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) which are G-protein coupled receptors.

CB1 receptors are particularly abundant in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia, hypothalamus and cerebellum, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. They are present in inhibitory GABA-ergic neurons and excitatory glutamatergic neurons. CB2 receptor is most abundantly found on cells of the immune system, hematopoietic cells and glia cells. CB2 is mainly expressed in the periphery under normal healthy condition, but in conditions of disease or injury, this upregulation occurs within the brain, and CB2 is therefore expressed in the brain in unhealthy states.

Cannabis and cannabinoid are studied in different medical conditions. The therapeutic potentials of both cannabis and cannabinoid are related to the effects of THC, CBD and other cannabinoid compounds. However, the “high” effect of THC in cannabis and cannabinoid may limit the clinical use, particularly, the study on the therapeutic potential of THC alone is more limited.

This review emphasizes the therapeutic potential of CBD and CBD with THC. CBD has shown to have benefit in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, psychosis, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, HIV, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington disease, hypoxic-ischemic injury and epilepsy. CBD is generally well tolerated. Most common adverse events are diarrhea and somnolence. CBD also shows significantly low abuse potential.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31867704

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

The impact of cannabis access laws on opioid prescribing.

Journal of Health Economics“While recent research has shown that cannabis access laws can reduce the use of prescription opioids, the effect of these laws on opioid use is not well understood for all dimensions of use and for the general United States population. Analyzing a dataset of over 1.5 billion individual opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018, which were aggregated to the individual provider-year level, we find that recreational and medical cannabis access laws reduce the number of morphine milligram equivalents prescribed each year by 11.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively. These laws also reduce the total days’ supply of opioids prescribed, the total number of patients receiving opioids, and the probability a provider prescribes any opioids net of any offsetting effects. Additionally, we find consistent evidence that cannabis access laws have different effects across types of providers, physician specialties, and payers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31865260

“The results of this study suggest that passing cannabis access laws reduces the use of prescription opioids across several different measures of opioid prescriptions. Thus, the passage of Recreational cannabis laws (RCLs) or Medical cannabis laws (MCLs) may be a valid policy option for combating the ongoing opioid epidemic, even if these laws were not originally conceived for that purpose.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629618309020?via%3Dihub

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

Cannabinoids and the expanded endocannabinoid system in neurological disorders.

 Related image“Anecdotal evidence that cannabis preparations have medical benefits together with the discovery of the psychotropic plant cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) initiated efforts to develop cannabinoid-based therapeutics.

These efforts have been marked by disappointment, especially in relation to the unwanted central effects that result from activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), which have limited the therapeutic use of drugs that activate or inactivate this receptor.

The discovery of CB2 and of endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligands (endocannabinoids) raised new possibilities for safe targeting of this endocannabinoid system. However, clinical success has been limited, complicated by the discovery of an expanded endocannabinoid system – known as the endocannabinoidome – that includes several mediators that are biochemically related to the endocannabinoids, and their receptors and metabolic enzymes.

The approvals of nabiximols, a mixture of THC and the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol, for the treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and of purified botanical cannabidiol for the treatment of otherwise untreatable forms of paediatric epilepsy, have brought the therapeutic use of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids in neurological diseases into the limelight.

In this Review, we provide an overview of the endocannabinoid system and the endocannabinoidome before discussing their involvement in and clinical relevance to a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, stroke, epilepsy and glioblastoma.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31831863

“The existence of the endocannabinoidome explains in part why some non-euphoric cannabinoids, which affect several endocannabinoidome proteins, are useful for the treatment of neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-019-0284-z

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous

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
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous