Cannabis as medicine

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“Evidence supports reform to allow the legitimate study, regulation, and prescription of therapeutic cannabinoids.hemp

From its first recorded uses in China through to the early 20th century, cannabis has had a place in the pharmacopoeia. Queen Victoria’s personal physician, Russel Reynolds, opined in the Lancet in 1890, “Indian hemp, when pure and administered carefully, is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” This opinion was based on current best evidence: the careful and documented observation of its effects in medical conditions.

In a similar vein, calls have been made to reconsider the role of cannabis in today’s society. Two well informed British politicians recently told The BMJ, “We have heard striking testimonies from patients… that cannabis has ‘given them their life back.’” Added to this, the international position on cannabis as a potential medication has changed, with international agencies and many governments relaxing a prohibitionist stance.”

http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2130

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Combined cannabinoid therapy via an oromucosal spray.

“Extensive basic science research has identified the potential therapeutic benefits of active compounds extracted from the Cannabis sativa L. plant (the cannabinoids). It is recognized that a significant proportion of patients suffering with the debilitating symptoms of pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis or other conditions smoke cannabis despite the legal implications and stigma associated with this controlled substance. GW Pharmaceuticals have developed Sativex (GW- 1000-02), a combined cannabinoid medicine that delivers and maintains therapeutic levels of two principal cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), via an oromucosal pump spray, that aims to minimize psychotropic side effects.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16969427

“Sativex has proved to be well tolerated and successfully self-administered and self-titrated in both healthy volunteers and patient cohorts. Clinical assessment of this combined cannabinoid medicine has demonstrated efficacy in patients with intractable pain (chronic neuropathic pain, pain due to brachial plexus nerve injury, allodynic peripheral neuropathic pain and advanced cancer pain), rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (bladder problems, spasticity and central pain), with no significant intoxication-like symptoms, tolerance or withdrawal syndrome.”  https://journals.prous.com/journals/servlet/xmlxsl/pk_journals.xml_summaryn_pr?p_JournalId=4&p_RefId=1021517

“Sativex(®) (nabiximols, USAN name) oromucosal spray contains the two main active constituents of Cannabis sativa, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in a 1:1 molecular ratio, and acts as an endocannabinoid system modulator.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21449855

“Abuse potential and psychoactive effects of δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol oromucosal spray (Sativex), a new cannabinoid medicine. Evidence to date suggests that abuse or dependence on Sativex is likely to occur in only a very small proportion of recipients.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21542664

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The Role of Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Cancer in Pediatric Patients.

“Cannabis has been used in folk medicine to alleviate pain, depression, amenorrhea, inflammation and numerous other medical conditions. In cancer patients specifically, cannabinoids are well known to exert palliative effects; their best-established use is the inhibition of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, but they are applied also to alleviate pain, stimulate appetite, and attenuate wasting. More recently, cannabinoids have gained special attention for their role in cancer cell proliferation and death.

Anti-cancer efficacy of cannabinoids:

The ability of cannabinoids to reduce tumor growth was reported for the first time by Munson et al. in 1975. They showed by in vitro and in vivo experiments that several phytocannabinoids, including THC, decreased Lewis lung adenocarcinoma proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Nevertheless, it was not until the 2000s that the interest in these compounds as anti-cancer agents was renewed, predominantly due to the work of Guzman in gliomas, and the demonstration of cannabinoids’ anti-cancer effects on various types of tumors. The anti-tumorigenic effect of the endo- and phytocannabinoids was demonstrated in several in vitro and in vivo models of a wide variety of adult tumors including glioma, prostate, breast, leukemia, lymphoma, pancreas, melanoma, thyroid, colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma tumors.

Given our positive results, we suggest that non-THC cannabinoids such as CBD might provide a basis for the development of novel therapeutic strategies without the typical psychotropic effects of THC that limit its use in pediatric patients.

Overall, the cannabinoids, and specifically the non-psychoactive CBD, may show future promise in the treatment of cancer”

https://www.ima.org.il/FilesUpload/IMAJ/0/228/114216.pdf

https://www.ima.org.il/imaj/ViewArticle.aspx?aId=4044

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28457057

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Cannabis Use in Palliative Oncology: A Review of the Evidence for Popular Indications.

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“A flowering plant of variegated ingredients and psychoactive qualities, cannabis has long been used for medicinal and recreational purposes. Currently, cannabis is approved in several countries for indications of symptomatic alleviation. However, limited knowledge on the benefits and risks precludes inclusion of cannabis in standard treatment guidelines. This review provides a summary of the available literature on the use of cannabis and cannabinoid-based medicines in palliative oncology. Favorable outcomes are demonstrated for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and cancer-related pain, with evidence of advantageous neurological interactions. Benefit in the treatment of anorexia, insomnia and anxiety is also suggested. Short- and long-term side effects appear to be manageable and to subside after discontinuation of the drug. Finally, cannabinoids have shown anti-neoplastic effects in preclinical studies in a wide range of cancer cells and some animal models. Further research is needed before cannabis can become a part of evidence-based oncology practice.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28457056

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Marijuana compounds show promise in treatment of cardiac disease

Marijuana compounds show promise in treatment of cardiac disease

“A Nevada company is hoping to develop new medicines for heart failure using compounds in marijuana and a novel therapy identified by a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher. Dr. Alexander Stokes, assistant research professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine, obtained a U.S. patent for his novel therapy in 2015. The patent claims the cannabinoid receptor TRPV1 can be regulated therapeutically by plant-based cannabinoids.”  https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-01-marijuana-compounds-treatment-cardiac-disease.html

“Marijuana compounds show promise in treatment of cardiac disease”  http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=8355

“Marijuana compounds show promise in treatment of cardiac disease”  http://www.hawaii.edu/news/2017/01/12/marijuana-compounds-show-promise-in-treatment-of-cardiac-disease/

 

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Significant Tic Reduction in An Otherwise Treatment-Resistant Patient with Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome Following Treatment with Nabiximols.

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“Early anecdotal reports and preliminary studies suggested that cannabinoid-based medicines such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are effective in the treatment of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (TS).

We report a single case study of a patient with otherwise treatment-resistant TS successfully treated with nabiximols.

Our results provide further evidence that treatment with nabiximols may be effective in the treatment of patients with TS.

Given the positive response exhibited by the patient highlighted in this report, further investigation of the effects of nabiximols is proposed on a larger group of patients in a clinical trial setting.”

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Effects of a Sativex-Like Combination of Phytocannabinoids on Disease Progression in R6/2 Mice, an Experimental Model of Huntington’s Disease.

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“Several cannabinoids afforded in experimental models of Huntington’s disease (HD).

We investigated whether a 1:1 combination of botanical extracts enriched in either ∆⁸-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆⁸-THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), which are the main constituents of the cannabis-based medicine Sativex®, is beneficial in R6/2 mice (a transgenic model of HD), as it was previously shown to have positive effects in neurotoxin-based models of HD.

A Sativex-like combination of phytocannabinoids administered to R6/2 mice at the onset of motor symptoms produced certain benefits on the progression of striatal deterioration in these mice, which supports the interest of this cannabinoid-based medicine for the treatment of disease progression in HD patients.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28333097

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Cannabis in Chinese Medicine: Are Some Traditional Indications Referenced in Ancient Literature Related to Cannabinoids?

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Cannabis sativa L. has been cultivated in China for millennia for use as a fiber, food, and medicine. Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae) has a long history of utilization as a fiber and seed crop in China, and its achenes (“seeds”) as well as other plant parts have been recorded in Chinese medical texts for nearly 2000 years.

While the primary applications of cannabis in Chinese medicine center around the use of the achenes, ancient indications for the female inflorescence, and other plant parts include conditions such as pain and mental illness that are the subject of current research into cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

In this article, prominent historical applications of cannabis in Chinese medicine are chronologically reviewed, and indications found in ancient Chinese literature that may relate to cannabinoids such as CBD and Δ9-THC are investigated.

In recent years, cannabinoids such as CBD and Δ9-THC have attracted increased attention in the context of modern pharmacology and popular Western culture, yet little research has been done to explore the historical applications of cannabis in Chinese medicine. Given China’s long history of hemp cultivation and its rich body of un-translated medical literature, it is surprising that little academic attention has focused on exploring the ways in which cannabis was used in Chinese medicine. The importance of cannabis as a fiber and food crop in ancient China, combined with the extensive use of the achenes in medicine, makes the Chinese historical record particularly valuable.

Bencao literature opens a window into the history and culture of ancient Chinese medicine. As all parts of the cannabis plant were recorded in bencao texts, the Chinese medical literature can help to clarify many details about the historical applications of cannabis in Chinese medicine, as well as providing clues into the historical prevalence of different biotypes as ancient Chinese farmers gradually selected superior varieties for fiber and seed crops.

The significant differences in how cannabis has been employed in Chinese vs. Western medicine likely relate to differences between drug and fiber biotypes as well as cultural factors, but thus far minimal research has focused on exploring this issue. Similarly, minimal attention has been given to the topic of CBD in Chinese medical history, as even fiber-rich biotypes of cannabis that were not associated with drug use may have had potential therapeutic applications related to CBD. While this modest review can only scratch the surface of the Chinese medical literature of cannabis and the questions it raises, it is hoped that further research will help to further elucidate these questions using a multidisciplinary approach.”

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fphar.2017.00108/full

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Cannabinoids therapeutic use: what is our current understanding following the introduction of THC, THC:CBD oromucosal spray and others?

 

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“The complexity of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system is becoming better understood and new drivers of eCB signaling are emerging. Modulation of the activities of the eCB system can be therapeutic in a number of diseases.

Research into the eCB system has been paralleled by the development of agents that interact with cannabinoid receptors. In this regard it should be remembered that herbal cannabis contains a myriad of active ingredients, and the individual cannabinoids have quite distinct biological activities requiring independent studies.

This article reviews the most important current data involving the eCB system in relation to human diseases, to reflect the present (based mainly on the most used prescription cannabinoid medicine, THC/CBD oromucosal spray) and potential future uses of cannabinoid-based therapy.

Expert commentary: From the different therapeutic possibilities, THC/CBD oromucosal spray has been in clinical use for approximately five years in numerous countries world-wide for the management of multiple sclerosis (MS)-related moderate to severe resistant spasticity.

Clinical trials have confirmed its efficacy and tolerability.

Other diseases in which different cannabinoids are currently being investigated include various pain states, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and epilepsy. The continued characterization of individual cannabinoids in different diseases remains important.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28276775

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Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes

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“Medicine continues to struggle in its approaches to numerous common subjective pain syndromes that lack objective signs and remain treatment resistant. Foremost among these are migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome, disorders that may overlap in their affected populations and whose sufferers have all endured the stigma of a psychosomatic label, as well as the failure of endless pharmacotherapeutic interventions with substandard benefit. The commonality in symptomatology in these conditions displaying hyperalgesia and central sensitization with possible common underlying pathophysiology suggests that a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency might characterize their origin. Its base hypothesis is that all humans have an underlying endocannabinoid tone that is a reflection of levels of the endocannabinoids, anandamide (arachidonylethanolamide), and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, their production, metabolism, and the relative abundance and state of cannabinoid receptors. Its theory is that in certain conditions, whether congenital or acquired, endocannabinoid tone becomes deficient and productive of pathophysiological syndromes. When first proposed in 2001 and subsequently, this theory was based on genetic overlap and comorbidity, patterns of symptomatology that could be mediated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and the fact that exogenous cannabinoid treatment frequently provided symptomatic benefit. However, objective proof and formal clinical trial data were lacking. Currently, however, statistically significant differences in cerebrospinal fluid anandamide levels have been documented in migraineurs, and advanced imaging studies have demonstrated ECS hypofunction in post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional studies have provided a firmer foundation for the theory, while clinical data have also produced evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits to cannabinoid treatment and adjunctive lifestyle approaches affecting the ECS.

Various strategies to treat CED conditions are possible. A direct approach with CB1 agonists must recognize the fact that the ECS operates as a homeostatic regulator that sometimes requires a gentle pharmacological nudge, rather than a forceful shove, by synthetic full agonists. Thus, small doses of a weak partial agonist (e.g., THC) should be considered, which would not induce tolerance and may jump-start the ECS. Even THC alone is poorly tolerated or appreciated by patients,98 and standardized whole cannabis extracts that contain additional synergistic and buffering components, such as CBD and cannabis terpenoids, are certainly preferable.93 Alternatively, FAAH inhibitors will also raise AEA levels, but only CBD among them has achieved current legal commercial market availability. Pharmaceutical approaches affecting endocannabinoid transport or its genetic regulation would also hold promise. Beyond drug interventions, a growing body of knowledge supports the realistic goal that lifestyle approaches should be integral to the treatment of CED; specifically, low-impact aerobic regimens have demonstrated beneficial effects on endocannabinoid function,99 and as discussed above, dietary manipulations with probiotics and prebiotics may ameliorate not only IBS symptoms but also the entire spectrum of CED conditions. Ultimately, multimodality approaches are most likely to be fruitful in treatment of these common yet difficult clinical challenges.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/can.2016.0009

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