BY MARTIN LEE
New findings highlight CBD’s therapeutic potential for cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and other disorders.
- The annual International Cannabinoid Research Society conference convened with over 400 scientists presenting new research findings on a wide range of topics, including CBD and the endocannabinoid system.
- Cannabidiol was found to decrease the resting blood pressure and the blood pressure response to stress.
- A whole plant CBD-rich oil extract was determined to be a superior option when compared to a purified CBD isolate in treatment-resistant epilepsy.
- The medical use of cannabis for cardiovascular disorders, addiction, pain relief, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s anxiety, nicotine cessation and many other conditions continue to be vital areas of study.
During the last week of June, more than 400 scientists from 25 countries met in Montreal for the 27th annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Several presentations and posters showcased new findings about cannabidiol (CBD), the non-euphoric component of the cannabis plant that is transforming the medical marijuana landscape.
At the 2017 ICRS conference, numerous presentations focused on other areas of cannabinoid science that do not involve CBD but are nonetheless relevant for cannabis clinicians and patients. Some highlights:
- Chronic cannabis use: Carrie Cutler, assistant professor at Washington State University, provided a much-needed rejoinder to scientifically dubious assertions that chronic cannabis use during adolescence causes brain damage and significant detrimental effects on cognition and IQ. Her study found that after controlling for confounding variables no “significant effects of cannabis use were detected on … measures of memory or executive functioning” other than “modest problems with verbal free recall (i.e., remembering lists of items) and prospective memory (i.e, remembering to do things in the future).” A second study presented by Cutler drew attention to marijuana’s stress-reducing effects: “[C]hronic cannabis use is associated with a blunted stress response and a reduced reliance on top-down attentional control that does not cause overall cognitive performance to suffer.”
- Addiction: Vincenzo Di Marzo, a leading cannabinoid scientist at the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry in Naples, Italy, gave a fascinating presentation on the cessation of nicotine addiction among cigarette smokers who suffer a traumatic brain injury. Di Marzo identified an endogenous lipid molecule, N-oleoyol-glycine (OlGly), which activates a receptor on the membrane of the cell’s nucleus, thereby reducing the rewarding effects of nicotine and nicotine-dependence in mice. In a separate study of morphine withdrawal, Di Marzo and a team of international researchers concluded: “Oleoyl Glycine is a newly discovered endogenous cannabinoid-like compound that may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of addiction.”
- Pain relief: Temple University scientists found that “cannabinoids used in combination with opioids have the potential to reduce the dose of opioids needed for analgesia.” Jenny L. Wiley, a scientist with RTI International in North Carolina, and her colleagues at Washington State University reported encouraging results regarding the use of THC as a prophylactic treatment for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. “Preliminary data suggest that THC administered chronically during the course of paclitaxel treatment decreases the development of mechanical allodynia [heightened sensitivity to pain] in both male and female rats.”
- Sleep: Gwen Wurm at the University of Miami reported that medical cannabis use is associated with a decrease in the use of prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications. Moreover, according Wurm’s poster, “There is a strong relationship between use of medical cannabis for sleep and for pain.”
- The CB2 receptor: Tel Aviv University scientist Bitya Raphael identified an endogenous hormone H4(99-103) that activates the cannabinoid CB2 receptor, which regulates immune function, metabolic processes and the peripheral nervous system. This is the first study showing that an endogenous circulating peptide signals via the CB2 receptor. A poster presented by Makenzie Fulmer at East Tennessee State University described how CB2 receptor dysfunction increases plaque calcification in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.