What makes cannabis effective as a medical treatment?

Cannabinoids can be in the form of phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids or pharmaceutical synthetics. Phytocannabinoids are derived from the cannabis plant and are capable of affecting the endocannabinoid system. There are over 100 different phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are produced by the body and also interact with the endocannabinoid system and we know of only a few at this time.1

 

THC and CBD are key

The two main cannabinoids from the cannabis plant that are of medical interest are THC and CBD.

 

Cannabinoids in Pharmaceuticals

Two FDA-approved drugs, dronabinol and nabilone, contain THC. They treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase appetite in patients with extreme weight loss caused by AIDS.

The United Kingdom, Canada, and several European countries have approved nabiximols (Sativex®), a mouth spray containing THC and CBD. It treats muscle control problems caused by MS. The United States is conducting clinical trials for its safe use in treating cancer pain.

Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceuticals, is undergoing Phase III trials in the United States and will likely be approved soon for epilepsy. This is a phytocannabinoid based medicine with predominant CBD content. NBS looks forward to seeing the final clinical data.

 

Naturally Occurring Cannabinoids

Our bodies are made to accept certain cannabinoids through our endocannabinoid system. Our body also produces its own cannabinoid chemicals. They play a role in regulating pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement, awareness of time, appetite, pain, and the senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight).

 

Sources
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2 Pharmacol Res. 2016 Mar 11;107:85-92. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2016.03.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Cannabidiol and epilepsy: Rationale and therapeutic potential.

Leo A1, Russo E1, Elia M2.

 

Pharmacol Res. 2016 Feb 1. pii: S1043-6618(16)00039-6. doi:

Cannabidiol, neuroprotection and neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2015 Oct;19(10):50. doi: 10.1007/s11916-015-0524-x.

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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 Jun;10(2):255-67. doi: 10.1007/s11481-015-9608-y. Epub 2015 Apr 28.The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids. McAllister SD, Soroceanu L, Desprez PY.

 

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Peripheral, but not central effects of cannabidiol derivatives: mediation by CB(1) and unidentified receptors.Fride E1, Ponde D, Breuer A, Hanus L

 

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J Pain. 2015 Jul;16(7):616-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2015.03.008. Epub 2015 Apr 3.

Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy.

Wallace MS, Marcotte TD, Umlauf A, Gouaux B, Atkinson JH.