Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

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“A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use cannabis and significant reductions in opioid use.

The study titled, “Associations between Medical Cannabis and Prescription Opioid Use in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Cohort Study,” and published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by Drs. Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Sarah See Stith, assistant professor, Department of Economics.

The results from this preliminary study showed a strong correlation between enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) and cessation or reduction of opioid use, and that whole, natural Cannabis sativa and extracts made from the plant may serve as an alternative to opioid-based medications for treating chronic pain.

“If cannabis can serve as an alternative to prescription opioids for at least some patients, legislators and the medical community may want to consider medical cannabis programs as a potential tool for combating the current opioid epidemic,””

http://news.unm.edu/news/study-finds-medical-cannabis-is-effective-at-reducing-opioid-addiction

“Associations between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients: A preliminary cohort study.” http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187795

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Medical cannabis Q&A

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  • “1. What is medical cannabis?

The term “medical cannabis” is used to describe products derived from the whole cannabis plant or its extracts containing a variety of active cannabinoids and terpenes, which patients take for medical reasons, after interacting with and obtaining authorization from their health care practitioner.

  • 2. What are the main active ingredients?

The chemical ingredients of cannabis are called cannabinoids. The 2 main therapeutic ones are:

  •  A Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a partial agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors. It is psychoactive and produces the euphoric effect.
  •  B Cannabidiol (CBD) has a weak affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors and appears to exert its activity by enhancing the positive effects of the body’s endogenous cannabinoids
 3. Why do patients take it?

Medical cannabis may be used to alleviate symptoms for a variety of conditions. It has most commonly been used in neuropathic pain and other chronic pain conditions. There is limited, but developing, clinical evidence surrounding its safety and efficacy, and it does not currently have an approved Health Canada indication.

  • 4. How do patients take it?

Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, taken orally, sublingually, topically or rectally. Different routes of administration will result in different pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the drug.

  • 5. Is it possible to develop dependence on medical cannabis?

Yes, abrupt discontinuation after long-term use may result in withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, chronic use may result in psychological dependence.

  • 6. What is the difference between medical and recreational cannabis?

Patients taking cannabis for medical reasons generally use cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms while minimizing intoxication, whereas recreational users may be taking cannabis for euphoric effects. Medical cannabis is authorized by a prescriber who provides a medical document allowing individuals to obtain cannabis from a licensed producer or apply to Health Canada to grow their own, whereas recreational cannabis is currently obtained through illicit means.

  • 7. How can patients access cannabis for medical purposes?
  • 8. Does medical cannabis have a DIN?

Pharmacological cannabinoids such as Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-cannabidiol) and Cesamet (nabilone) have been approved for specific indications by Health Canada, however, herbal medical cannabis has not gone through Health Canada’s drug review and approval process, nor does it have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN).

  • 9. Is medical cannabis covered through insurance?

Some insurance plans may cover medical cannabis. Check each patient’s individual plan for more details.

  • 10. What role can pharmacists play in medical cannabis?

Even though pharmacists are not dispensing medical cannabis at this time, it is important for them to understand how their patients may use and access medical cannabis in order to provide effective medication management. Pharmacists may provide counselling on areas such as contraindications, drug interactions, management of side effects, alternative therapies, potential addictive behaviour and appropriate use.

  • 11. Where can I find more information about medical cannabis?

You can find more information on Health Canada’s website:” https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-use-marijuana/medical-use-marijuana.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5661684/

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Availability and approval of cannabis-based medicines for chronic pain management and palliative/supportive care in Europe: A survey of the status in the chapters of the European Pain Federation.

European Journal of Pain

“There is considerable public and political interest in the use of cannabis products for medical purposes.

METHODS:

The task force of the European Pain Federation (EFIC) conducted a survey with its national chapters representatives on the status of approval of all types of cannabis-based medicines, the covering of costs and the availability of a position paper of a national medical association on the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain and for symptom control in palliative/supportive care.

RESULTS:

Thirty-one out of 37 contacted councillors responded. Plant-derived tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol (THC/CBD) oromucosal spray is approved for spasticity in multiple sclerosis refractory to conventional treatment in 21 EFIC chapters. Plant-derived THC (dronabinol) is approved for some palliative care conditions in four EFIC chapters. Synthetic THC analogue (nabilone) is approved for chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting refractory to conventional treatment in four EFIC chapters’. Eight EFIC chapters’ countries have an exceptional and six chapters an expanded access programme for medical cannabis. German and Israeli pain societies recommend the use of cannabis-based medicines as third-line drug therapies for chronic pain within a multicomponent approach. Conversely, the German medical association and a team of finish experts and officials do not recommend the prescription of medical cannabis due to the lack of high-quality evidence of efficacy and the potential harms.

CONCLUSIONS:

There are marked differences between the countries represented in EFIC in the approval and availability of cannabis-based products for medical use. EFIC countries are encouraged to collaborate with the European Medicines Agency to publish a common document on cannabis-based medicines.

SIGNIFICANCE:

There are striking differences between European countries in the availability of plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids and of medical cannabis for pain management and for symptom control in palliative care and in the covering of costs by health insurance companies or state social security systems.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29134767

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1147/abstract

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Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics of Oral Cannabidiol Following Administration of PTL101: A New Formulation Based on Gelatin Matrix Pellets Technology.

Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main nonpsychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It has been associated with antiseizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects.

PTL101 is an oral gelatin matrix pellets technology-based formulation containing highly purified CBD embedded in seamless gelatin matrix beadlets. Study objectives were to evaluate the safety and tolerability of PTL101 containing 10 and 100 mg CBD, following single administrations to healthy volunteers and to compare the pharmacokinetic profiles and relative bioavailability of CBD with Sativex oromucosal spray (the reference product) in a randomized, crossover study design.

Administration of PTL101 containing 10 CBD, led to a 1.7-fold higher Cmax and 1.3-fold higher AUC compared with the oromucosal spray. Tmax following both modes of delivery was 3-3.5 hours postdosing. CBD exhibited about a 1-hour lag in absorption when delivered via PTL101. A 10-fold increase in the dose resulted in an ∼15-fold increase in Cmax and AUC. Bioavailability of CBD in the 10-mg PTL101 dose was 134% relative to the reference spray.

PTL101 is a pharmaceutical-grade, user-friendly oral formulation that demonstrated safe and efficient delivery of CBD and therefore could be an attractive candidate for therapeutic indications.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29125702

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cpdd.408/abstract

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Characterization of endocannabinoids and related acylethanolamides in the synovial fluid of dogs with osteoarthritis: a pilot study.

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“Cannabis-based drugs have been shown to be effective in inflammatory diseases.

A number of endocannabinoids including N- arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) with activity at the cannabinoidreceptors (CBR) CBR1 and CBR2, have been identified. Other structurally related endogenous fatty acid compounds such as oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and palmitoyl ethanolamide (PEA) have been identified in biological tissues.

These compounds do not bind to CBR but might be involved in facilitating the actions of directly acting endocannabinoids and thus are commonly termed “entourage” compounds due to their ability to modulate the endocannabinoid system.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of endocannabinoids and entourage compounds in the synovial fluid of dogs with osteoarthritis subjected to arthrotomy of the knee joint. Cytokines and cytology were studied as well.

AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA were all present in the synovial fluid of arthritic knees and in the contralateral joints; in addition, a significant increase of OEA and 2AG levels were noted in SF from OA knees when compared to the contralateral joints.

The identification and quantification of endocannabinoids and entourage compounds levels in synovial fluids from dogs with OA of the knee is reported for the first time. Our data are instrumental for future studies involving a greater number of dogs. Cannabinoids represent an emerging and innovative pharmacological tool for the treatment of OA and further studies are warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabinoids in veterinary medicine.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29110674

“The ECS can be exploited as a potential therapeutic option for OA. We have demonstrated the presence of AEA, 2-AG, OEA and PEA in the SF of dogs with OA. Our data open the avenue to future studies involving a higher number of dogs and aimed at defining the role played by these compounds in OA of the dogs. Both plant-derived and synthetic agonists of CBRs represent an emerging and innovative pharmacological tool for the treatment of OA. ” https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-1245-7

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A review of methods for the chemical characterization of cannabis natural products.

Journal of Separation Science

“Cannabis has garnered a great deal of new attention in the past couple of years in the United States due to the increasing instances of its legalization for recreational use and indications for medicinal benefit.

Despite a growing number of laboratories focused on cannabis analysis, the separation science literature pertaining to the determination of cannabis natural products is still in its infancy despite the plant having been utilized by humans for nearly 30 000 years and it being now the most widely used drug world-wide. This is largely attributable to the restrictions associated with cannabis as it is characterized as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States.

Presented here are reviewed analytical methods for the determination of cannabinoids (primarily) and terpenes (secondarily), the primary natural products of interest in cannabis plants. Focus is placed foremost on analyses from plant extracts and the various instrumentation and techniques that are used, but some coverage is also given to analysis of cannabinoid metabolites found in biological fluids. The goal of this work is to provide a collection of relevant separation science information, upon which the field of cannabis analysis can continue to grow.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28986974

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jssc.201701003/abstract

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Potential of plant-sourced phenols for inflammatory bowel disease.

“Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an uncontrolled chronic inflammatory intestinal disorder, which requires medications for long-term therapy. Facing the challenges of severe side effects and drug resistance of conventional medications, to develop the strategies meet the stringent safety and effectiveness in the long-term treatment are urgent in the clinics.

In this regard, a growing body of evidence confirms plant-sourced phenols, such as flavonoids, catechins, stilbenes, coumarins, quinones, lignans, phenylethanoids, cannabinoid phenols, tannins, phenolic acids and hydroxyphenols, exert potent protective benefits with fewer undesirable effects in conditions of acute or chronic intestinal inflammation through improvement of colonic oxidative and pro-inflammatory status, preservation of the epithelial barrier function and modulation of gut microbiota.

In this review, the great potential of plant-sourced phenols and their action mechanisms for the treatment or prevention of IBD in recent research are summarized, which may help the further development of new preventive/adjuvant regimens for IBD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28990509

http://www.eurekaselect.com/156267/article

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Cannabis and Cannabinoids for Chronic Pain.

Current Rheumatology Reports

“The purpose of this study was to provide the most up-to-date scientific evidence of the potential analgesic effects, or lack thereof, of the marijuana plant (cannabis) or cannabinoids, and of safety or tolerability of their long-term use.

RECENT FINDINGS:

We found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) cannabis is consistently effective in reducing chronic non-cancer pain.

Oral cannabinoids seem to improve some aspects of chronic pain (sleep and general quality of life), or cancer chronic pain, but they do not seem effective in acute postoperative pain, abdominal chronic pain, or rheumatoid pain.

The available literature shows that inhaled cannabis seems to be more tolerable and predictable than oral cannabinoids. Cannabis or cannabinoids are not universally effective for pain. Continued research on cannabis constituents and improving bioavailability for oral cannabinoids is needed. Other aspects of pain management in patients using cannabis require further open discussion: concomitant opioid use, medical vs. recreational cannabis, abuse potential, etc.”

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Bioactivities of alternative protein sources and their potential health benefits.

“Increasing the utilisation of plant proteins is needed to support the production of protein-rich foods that could replace animal proteins in the human diet so as to reduce the strain that intensive animal husbandry poses to the environment. Lupins, quinoa and hempseed are significant sources of energy, high quality proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals. In addition, they contain compounds such as polyphenols and bioactive peptides that can increase the nutritional value of these plants. From the nutritional standpoint, the right combination of plant proteins can supply sufficient amounts of essential amino acids for human requirements. This review aims at providing an overview of the current knowledge of the nutritional properties, beneficial and non-nutritive compounds, storage proteins, and potential health benefits of lupins, quinoa and hempseed.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28804797

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Efficacy and Tolerability of Phytomedicines in Multiple Sclerosis Patients: A Review.

 CNS Drugs

“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory and demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) that can cause cognition, mobility, and sensory impairments. It is considered one of the most common non-traumatic causes of disability in the world.

The aim of the present article was to review the clinical evidence related to medicinal plants in the management of MS symptoms.

Electronic databases, including the Cochrane Library, Pubmed, and Scopus, were searched for entries from 1966 to February 2017. Only clinical studies were included in this review. Different medicinal plants have positive effects on MS, including Andrographis paniculata, Boswellia papyrifera, Ruta graveolens, Vaccinium spp., Camellia sinensis, Panax ginseng, Aloysia citrodora, Ginkgo biloba, Oenothera biennis, and Cannabis sativa.

C. sativa had the highest level of clinical evidence, supporting its efficacy in MS symptoms.

Proanthocyanidins, ginkgo flavone glycosides, ginsenosides, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, cannabinoids (including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol), boswellic acid, and andrographolide were presented as the main bioactive components of medicinal plants with therapeutic benefits in MS.

The main complications of MS in which natural drugs were effective include spasticity, fatigue, scotoma, incontinence, urinary urgency, nocturia, memory performance, functional performance, and tremor. Herbal medicines were mostly well tolerated, and the adverse effects were limited to mild to moderate. Further well-designed human studies with a large sample size and longer follow-up period are recommended to confirm the role of medicinal plants and their metabolites in the management of MS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28948486

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