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cannabidiol

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 12, 2012

    Adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than those with no history of cannabis consumption, according to clinical trial data published in the British Medical Journal.

    Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles assessed the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use among adults aged 20 to 59 in a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults. The study included four groups: non-marijuana users (61.0%), past marijuana users (30.7%), light (one to four times/month) (5.0%) and heavy (more than five times/month) current marijuana users (3.3%). Diabetes was defined based on self-report or abnormal glycaemic parameters.

    Researchers hypothesized that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes would be reduced in marijuana users because of the presence of various cannabinoids that possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Investigators reported that past and present cannabis consumers possessed a lower prevalence of adult onset diabetes, even after authors adjusted for social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.), despite all groups possessing a similar family history of DM. Researchers did not find an association between cannabis use and other chronic diseases, including hypertension, stroke, myocradial infarction, or heart failure compared to nonusers.

    Past and current cannabis users did report engaging in more frequent physical activity than nonusers, but also possessed higher overall levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. By contrast, the highest prevalence of marijuana consumers were found among those with the lowest glucose levels.

    Investigators concluded, “Our analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … Showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.” They caution, however: “Prospective studies in rodents and humans are needed to determine a potential causal relationship between cannabinoid receptor activation and DM. Until those studies are performed, we do not advocate the use of marijuana in patients at risk for DM.”

    Previous studies in animals have indicated that certain cannabinoids possess anti-diabetic properties. In particular, a preclinical trial published in the journal Autoimmunity reported that injections of 5 mg per day of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD significantly reduced the incidence of diabetes in mice compared to placebo. Investigators reported that control mice all developed adult onset diabetes at a median of 17 weeks (range 15-20 weeks), while a majority (60 percent) of CBD-treated mice remained diabetes-free at 26 weeks.

    Full text of the study, “Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 5, 2012

    The oral administration of the non-psychotropic cannabis plant constituent cannabidiol (CBD) is safe and well tolerated in humans, according to clinical trial data published online by the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design.

    Investigators at Kings College in London assessed the physiological and behavioral effects of CBD and THC versus placebo in 16 healthy volunteers in a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial.

    Investigators reported that the oral administration of 10 mg of THC was associated with various physiological and behavioral effects – such as increased heart rate and sedation – whereas the oral administration of 600 mg of CBD was not.

    They concluded, “There were no differences between CBD and placebo on any symptomatic, physiological variable. … In healthy volunteers, THC has marked acute behavioral and physiological effects, whereas CBD has proven to be safe and well tolerated.”

    A previous review of the use of CBD in human subjects, published in the scientific journal Current Drug Safety last year, similarly concluded that the compound was safe, non-toxic, and well tolerated.

    Separate investigations of CBD have documented the cannabinoid to possess a variety of therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-epileptic, anti-cancer, and bone-stimulating properties. In recent years, patients in states that allow for the use of cannabis therapy, particularly California, have expressed an interest in plant strains that contain uniquely high percentages of the compound.

    Cannabidiol, because it is an organic component of cannabis, is presently classified under federal law as a schedule I prohibited substance. Such substances are required by law to possess “a high potential for abuse,” “a lack of accepted safety … under medical supervision,” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

    Full text of the study, “Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers” appears online in Current Pharmaceutical Design.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 24, 2012

    The administration of the non-psychotropic cannabis plant constituent cannabidiol (CBD) is protective in an experimental model of colon cancer, according to preclinical trial data published online in the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

    Investigators at the University of Naples assessed the effect of CBD on colon carcinogenesis in mice. Researchers reported that CBD administration was associated with cancerous tumor reduction and reduced cell proliferation.

    Authors wrote: “Although cannabidiol has been shown to kill glioma cells, to inhibit cancer cell invasion and to reduce the growth of breast carcinoma and lung metastases in rodents, its effect on colon carcinogenesis has not been evaluated to date. This is an important omission, since colon cancer affects millions of individuals in Western countries. In the present study, we have shown that cannabidiol exerts (1) protective effects in an experimental model of colon cancer and (2) antiproliferative actions in colorectal carcinoma cells.”

    Authors also acknowledged that CBD possesses “an extremely safe profile in humans.” They concluded, “[O]ur findings suggest that cannabidiol might be worthy of clinical consideration in colon cancer prevention.”

    Clinical review data published in the scientific journal Current Drug Safety in December concluded that CBD is “non-toxic” to healthy cells and is “well tolerated” in humans. Nevertheless, cannabidiol is presently classified under federal law as a schedule I prohibited substance. Such substances are required by law to possess “a high potential for abuse,” “a lack of accepted safety … under medical supervision,” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

    Separate preclinical trials evaluating the anti-cancer activities of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids show that their administration can inhibit the proliferation of a variety of cancerous cell lines, including breast carcinoma, prostate carcinoma, gastric adenocarcinoma, skin carcinoma, leukemia cells, neuroblastoma, lung carcinoma, uterus carcinoma, thyroid epithelioma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, cervical carcinoma, oral cancer, biliary tract cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), and lymphoma. NORML provides summaries and links to these studies here.

    Full text of this latest study, “Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer,” appears in the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 20, 2011

    The combined administration of the plant cannabinoids THC and CBD (cannabidiol) provide neuroprotection in rat models of Huntington’s Disease (HD), according to experimental data to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

    Huntington’s Disease is an inherited degenerative brain disorder characterized by motor abnormalities and dementia produced by selective lesions in the cerebral cortex and, in particular, the striatum. There are presently no known conventional therapies available to alleviate HD symptoms or delay HD-associated striatal degeneration.

    An international team of investigators from Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom assessed whether THC and CBD-rich botanical extracts could delay the progress of the disease in laboratory animals. Authors reported, “[O]ur data demonstrate that a [one to one] combination of THC and CBD-enriched botanical extracts protected striatal neurons against … toxicity.” By contrast, the administration of individual, selective synthetic cannabinoid agonists did not produce similarly favorable outcomes.

    Investigators concluded, “In our opinion, these data provide sufficient preclinical evidence to justify a clinical evaluation of [one to one THC to CBD] cannabis-based medicine … as a neuroprotective agent capable of delaying disease progression in patients affected by HD, a disorder that is currently poorly man- aged in the clinic, prompting an urgent need for clinical trials with agents showing positive results in preclinical studies.”

    Additional studies documenting the disease modifying potential of marijuana is available in the NORML handbook, Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: Fourth Edition, available online here.

    Additional information on this study will appear in this week’s NORML news update. To receive these e-mail updates free, please sign up here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director March 14, 2011

    By Fred Gardner

    Project CBD has just sent out its introductory pitch to California dispensaries. ProjectCBD.org is the medical marijuana movement living up to its name,” explains outreach coordinator Sarah Russo, optimistically, as she asks the dispensaries to participate in a “collective research effort.” But what are the chances that the dispensary owners, intent on building their own brands, will support a venture aimed at advancing the movement as a whole?

    CBD, in case you’re just joining us, is Cannabidiol —a component of the Cannabis plant known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and other beneficial medical effects. CBD is not psychoactive and actually counters the psychoactive effects of THC. It is the predominant cannabinoid in hemp —plants grown to produce fiber or growing wild. CBD levels go down and THC levels go up when plants are bred to maximize psychoactive effect, as they have been in the U.S. for many generations of plants and people.

    It was widely assumed for a long time that CBD had been almost entirely bred out of the Cannabis being grown in California for medical/commercial purposes. And because no analytic chemistry labs were testing Cannabis samples before the winter of 2008-09, there was no way to assess cannabinoid content. Overseas things were different. For many years researchers have been exploring the medical potential of CBD, and G.W. Pharmaceuticals conducted successful clinical trials and got U.K. government approval to market Sativex, a whole-plant extract with equal amounts of CBD and THC, for use by MS patients. Canada and Spain have also issued approvals for Sativex.

    The situation in California changed in 2008 when Steve DeAngelo arranged for a lab to test the Cannabis he was providing at Oakland’s Harborside Health Center. DeAngelo had to fund a start-up to accomplish this. When Harborside opened in 2006 he had phoned every analytic lab in the Bay Area and been turned down when he mentioned the C word. In the spring of ’08 he decided to back two entrepreneurs who were launching a lab —the aptly named “Steep Hill”— and to supply them with a large, steady stream of samples to test for mold and cannabinoid content (THC, CBD and CBN, a breakdown product indicative of freshness). At least eight more labs have started testing Cannabis in California since then, and there are labs in Montana and Colorado. ProjectCBD’s Russo says, “We seem to hear from a new lab every week.”

    It turns out that CBD is not all that rare —about one in every 600 samples tested by the labs is found to be high in CBD. Evidently, that’s the rate at which a mutation occurs resulting in an excess of the enzyme that transforms a precursor molecule of CBD and THC into one or the other. More than 25 CBD-rich strains have been identified, and Russo says, “We seem to hear about a new strain every week, too”

    The prospect of CBD-rich cannabis becoming available prompted the Society of Cannabis Clinicians to plan a data collection effort. Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, President of the SCC, had spent years listening to talks about CBD at meetings of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, wishing he could observe its effects on real patients. Hergenrather and co-worker Stacey Kerr, MD have now drafted a survey aimed at documenting patients’ answers to some basic questions about the effects of CBD-rich Cannabis. (For purposes of data collection, “CBD-rich” has been defined as 4% or more CBD, regardless of THC content. The amount of CBD that a given strain contains isn’t the only factor influencing the effects it will exert when ingested. The ratio of CBD to THC may be as or more important. Terpenoid and flavonoid content also appear to be very important.)

    Project CBD was launched to publicize and promote the SCC survey(s). Martin A. Lee, the author of Acid Dreams, had been writing about CBD for O’Shaughnessy’s and convinced your correspondent that its re(introduction) into the grassroots supply was going to be a huge, ongoing story and would warrant its own journal of sorts. Over the past year we put a lot of effort into encouraging production by plant breeders and growers who had strains testing high in CBD. Many dispensary owners have been reluctant to stock CBD-rich strains because their present customers are seeking —or are not adverse to— Cannabis that causes euphoria or sedation. In other words, THC content sells, it’s a sure thing. Why should a dispensary spend money and devote shelf space to a type of Cannabis that most medical users haven’t heard of and whose effects are unproven?

    Growers, in turn, have to anticipate the wants of dispensary buyers, and are reluctant to devote valuable garden space to plants for which there is no established market. ?Demand at the dispensary level might not take off until effectiveness is established. Which might not happen until significant numbers of patients have tried CBD-rich Cannabis and taken the SCC survey to report their results. Or, as Martin says, “there could be a tsunami of interest any day now.”

    ProjectCBD.org provides the whole story to date and a “CBDiary” noting recent developments. The big news as of March 1: for the first time, a California grower has “stabilized” a CBD-rich strain. Lawrence Ringo of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective is now offering seeds of “Sour Tsunami” that have a one-in-four chance of containing 10-11% CBD (and 6-7% THC).

    Read all about it here.

    Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice. His email is fred@plebesite.com.

    NORML’s updated primer on existing and potential cannabinoid and cannabis therapies is found here.

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