Cannabinoid-based medicines for neurological disorders–clinical evidence.

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“Whereas the cannabis plant has a long history of medicinal use, it is only in recent years that a sufficient understanding of the pharmacology of the main plant constituents has allowed for a better understanding of the most rational therapeutic targets.

The distribution of cannabinoid receptors, both within the nervous system and without, and the development of pharmacological tools to investigate their function has lead to a substantial increase in efforts to develop cannabinoids as therapeutic agents.

Concomitant with these efforts, the understanding of the pharmacology of plant cannabinoids at receptor and other systems distinct from the cannabinoid receptors suggests that the therapeutic applications of plant-derived cannabinoids (and presumably their synthetic derivatives also) may be diverse.

This review aims to discuss the clinical evidence investigating the use of medicines derived, directly or indirectly, from plant cannabinoids with special reference to neurological disorders.

Published studies suggest that the oral administration of cannabinoids may not be the preferred route of administration and that plant extracts show greater evidence of efficacy than synthetic compounds. One of these, Sativex (GW Pharmaceuticals), was approved as a prescription medicine in Canada in 2005 and is currently under regulatory review in the EU.”

“Endocannabinoid System in Neurological Disorders.”
“Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Neurological Disorders”

“Cannabinoids: new promising agents in the treatment of neurological diseases.”

Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System.

“Plants have been the predominant source of medicines throughout the vast majority of human history, and remain so today outside of industrialized societies.

One of the most versatile in terms of its phytochemistry is cannabis, whose investigation has led directly to the discovery of a unique and widespread homeostatic physiological regulator, the endocannabinoid system.

While it had been the conventional wisdom until recently that only cannabis harbored active agents affecting the endocannabinoid system, in recent decades the search has widened and identified numerous additional plants whose components stimulate, antagonize, or modulate different aspects of this system.

These include common foodstuffs, herbs, spices, and more exotic ingredients: kava, chocolate, black pepper, and many others that are examined in this review.”

Harvesting the biosynthetic machineries that cultivate a variety of indispensable plant natural products.

“Plants are a sustainable resource for valuable natural chemicals best illustrated by large-scale farming centered on specific products. Here, we review recent discoveries of plant metabolic pathways producing natural products with unconventional biomolecular structures.

Prenylation of polyketides by aromatic prenyltransferases (aPTases) ties together two of the major groups of plant specialized chemicals, terpenoids and polyketides, providing a core modification leading to new bioactivities and downstream metabolic processing. Moreover, PTases that biosynthesize Z-terpenoid precursors for small molecules such as lycosantalene have recently been found in the tomato family.

Gaps in our understanding of how economically important compounds such as cannabinoids are produced are being identified using next-generation ‘omics’ to rapidly advance biochemical breakthroughs at an unprecedented rate. For instance, olivetolic acid cyclase, a polyketide synthase (PKS) co-factor from Cannabis sativa, directs the proper cyclization of a polyketide intermediate.

Elucidations of spatial and temporal arrangements of biosynthetic enzymes into metabolons, such as those used to control the efficient production of natural polymers such as rubber and defensive small molecules such as linamarin and lotaustralin, provide blueprints for engineering streamlined production of plant products.”

A systematic review of plant-derived natural compounds for anxiety disorders.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses affecting human beings. They range from panic to generalized anxiety disorders upsetting the well-being and psychosocial performance of patients. Several conventional anxiolytic drugs are being used which in turn result in several adverse effects. Therefore, studies to find suitable safe medicines from natural sources are being conducted by researchers.

The aim of the present study is to comprehensively review phytochemical compounds with well-established anxiolytic activities and their structure-activity relationships as well as neuropsychopharmacological aspects. Results showed that phytochemicals like; alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, cinnamates, terpenes and saponins possess anxiolytic effects in a wide range of animal models of anxiety.

The involved mechanisms include interaction with γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptors at benzodiazepine (BZD) and non-BZD sites with various affinity to different subunits, serotonergic 5-hydrodytryptamine (5-HT)1A and 5-HT2A/C receptors, noradrenergic and dopaminergic systems, glycine and glutamate receptors, and κ-opioid receptor as well as cannabinoid (CB)1 and CB2 receptors.

Phytochemicals also modulate the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and improve brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V (TRPV)3, nitric oxide cyclic guanosine monophosphate (NO-cGMP) pathway and monoamine oxidase enzymes are other targets of phytochemicals with anxiolytic activity.

Taking together, these phytochemicals may be considered as supplements to conventional anxiolytic therapies in order to improve efficacy and reduce adverse effects.

Further preclinical and clinical studies are still needed in order to recognize the structure-activity relationships, metabolism, absorption, and neuropsychopharmacological mechanisms of plant-derived natural agents.”

A pharmacological basis of herbal medicines for epilepsy.

“Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease, affecting about 1% of the world’s population during their lifetime. Most people with epilepsy can attain a seizure-free life upon treatment with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

Unfortunately, seizures in up to 30% do not respond to treatment. It is estimated that 90% of people with epilepsy live in developing countries, and most of them receive no drug treatment for the disease. This treatment gap has motivated investigations into the effects of plants that have been used by traditional healers all over the world to treat seizures.

Extracts of hundreds of plants have been shown to exhibit anticonvulsant activity in phenotypic screens performed in experimental animals.

Some of those extracts appear to exhibit anticonvulsant efficacy similar to that of synthetic AEDs.

Dozens of plant-derived chemical compounds have similarly been shown to act as anticonvulsants in various in vivo and in vitro assays.

To a significant degree, anticonvulsant effects of plant extracts can be attributed to widely distributed flavonoids, (furano)coumarins, phenylpropanoids, and terpenoids.

Flavonoids and coumarins have been shown to interact with the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor and various voltage-gated ion channels, which are targets of synthetic AEDs.

Modulation of the activity of ligand-gated and voltage-gated ion channels provides an explanatory basis of the anticonvulsant effects of plant secondary metabolites.

Many complex extracts and single plant-derived compounds exhibit antiinflammatory, neuroprotective, and cognition-enhancing activities that may be beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy.

Thus, botanicals provide a base for target-oriented antiepileptic drug discovery and development.

In the future, preclinical work should focus on the characterization of the effects of plant extracts and plant-derived compounds on well-defined targets rather than on phenotypic screening using in vivo animal models of acute seizures. At the same time, available data provide ample justification for clinical studies with selected standardized botanical extracts and plant-derived compounds.”

Marijuana Ingredient Kills Herpes Virus, Study Says

“Marijuana’s active ingredient killed herpes viruses in test-tube experiments…

University of South Florida microbiologist Gerald Lancz said his study may help scientists discover new anti-herpes medicines.


Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System

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“The “classic” endocannabinoid (eCB) system… An emerging literature documents the “eCB deficiency syndrome” as an etiology in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, psychological disorders, and other conditions. We performed a systematic review of clinical interventions that enhance the eCB system—ways to upregulate cannabinoid receptors, increase ligand synthesis, or inhibit ligand degradation.

Evidence indicates that several classes of pharmaceuticals upregulate the eCB system, including analgesics (acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, glucocorticoids), antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and anticonvulsants.

Clinical interventions characterized as “complementary and alternative medicine” also upregulate the eCB system: massage and manipulation, acupuncture, dietary supplements, and herbal medicines. Lifestyle modification (diet, weight control, exercise, and the use of psychoactive substances—alcohol, tobacco, coffee, cannabis) also modulate the eCB system.”!po=4.79452


“Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions? Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines.”

Cannabinoid and cannabinoid-like receptors in microglia, astrocytes and astrocytomas

“…compounds targeting cannabinoid-like receptors constitute promising therapeutics to manage neuroinflammation and eradicate malignant astrocytomas.

Importantly, the selective targeting of cannabinoid-like receptors should provide therapeutic relieve without inducing the typical psychotropic effects and possible addictive properties…

 Taken together, the studies outlined in this review suggest that stereotactic injection of high concentrations of CBD could constitute a useful regimen for neurosurgeons to use in the treatment of malignant astrocytomas and of excessive/chronic neuroinflammation.

Such a treatment could provide therapeutic effects both directly, by killing the astrocytoma and limiting its propagation, and indirectly, by reducing the accumulation of activated microglia or invading peripheral immune cells.

The fact that non-psychotropic cannabinoids acting through CB-like receptors affect such fundamental processes involved in microglial cell activation and astrocytoma propagation constitutes, in my opinion, one of the most exciting areas of research in our search for new chemotherapeutic agents to treat malignant brain tumors and new anti-inflammatory agents to temper the damage linked to chronic neuroinflammation.

Furthermore, the curative properties of cannabinoids do not overlap with currently available medicines, and therefore cannabinoid-based treatments constitute a new therapeutic platform.”

Inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol.

“Colon cancer is a major public health problem. Cannabis-based medicines are useful adjunctive treatments in cancer patients. Here, we have investigated the effect of a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol (CBD), here named CBD BDS, i.e. CBD botanical drug substance, on colorectal cancer cell proliferation and in experimental models of colon cancer in vivo.


CBD BDS and CBD reduced cell proliferation in tumoral, but not in healthy, cells… In vivo, CBD BDS reduced AOM-induced preneoplastic lesions and polyps as well as tumour growth in the xenograft model of colon cancer.


CBD BDS attenuates colon carcinogenesis and inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation via CB1 and CB2 receptor activation. The results may have some clinical relevance for the use of Cannabis-based medicines in cancer patients.”

Therapeutic potential of cannabinoid medicines.

Drug Testing and Analysis

“Cannabis was extensively used as a medicine throughout the developed world in the nineteenth century but went into decline early in the twentieth century ahead of its emergence as the most widely used illicit recreational drug later that century. Recent advances in cannabinoid pharmacology alongside the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have re-ignited interest in cannabis-based medicines.

The ECS has emerged as an important physiological system and plausible target for new medicines. Its receptors and endogenous ligands play a vital modulatory role in diverse functions including immune response, food intake, cognition, emotion, perception, behavioural reinforcement, motor co-ordination, body temperature, wake/sleep cycle, bone formation and resorption, and various aspects of hormonal control. In disease it may act as part of the physiological response or as a component of the underlying pathology.

In the forefront of clinical research are the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, and their contrasting pharmacology will be briefly outlined. The therapeutic potential and possible risks of drugs that inhibit the ECS will also be considered. This paper will then go on to review clinical research exploring the potential of cannabinoid medicines in the following indications: symptomatic relief in multiple sclerosis, chronic neuropathic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weight in the context of cancer or AIDS, psychosis, epilepsy, addiction, and metabolic disorders.”