Four new Medical Cannabis Studies to Catch-up On

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New research in the field of medical cannabis is being published all the time, we’ve rounded up four of the latest papers to catch up on from the past two weeks.

The last month has seen the publication of several new medical cannabis studies, exploring conditions including fibromyalgia, Covid-19 and multiple sclerosis.

Here we outline some of the recent studies you should know about, authored by scientists from the likes of McGill University, the University of Milan and Imperial College London.

CBD’s impact on nerve cells in the brain

Several scientists from the University of Milan worked with Mikael Sodergren of Imperial College London and Curaleaf, to evaluate the potential of CBD as a treatment for psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

Specifically, the scientists looked at CBD’s effect on the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, a protein that promotes the growth and maturation of nerve cells.

Low levels of BDNF in the brain have been linked with conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

The authors wrote in the study‘s conclusion: “We showed that CBD can modulate BDNF expression in a manner that depends upon the length of the treatment and following a specific anatomical pattern. Accordingly, our data are likely to reflect the targeting of specific neuroplastic processes in the cortico-striatal pathway rather than an interference with specific neurotrophic responses.

“These data reveal a CBD dose-dependent and anatomically specific modulation of BDNF, which may be functionally relevant and may represent an added value for CBD as a supplement.”

Medical cannabis among fibromyalgia patients

Scientists from McGill University, University of Montreal, Rutgers and Canopy Growth Corporation have examined the potential mechanisms underlying pain reductions among fibromyalgia patients who are using medical cannabis.

Aside from the physiological effects of medical cannabis, the researchers said their analyses indicated that reductions in patients’ pain levels could partly be explained by “concurrent reductions in sleep problems and negative affect”.

“Our findings provide preliminary insights into the potential mechanisms of action underlying pain reductions among [fibromyalgia] patients who are using medical cannabis,” the authors wrote in the paper‘s conclusion.

“Given the high attrition rate (75 per cent) observed in the present study at 12 months, our findings cannot be generalised to all fibromyalgia patients who are using medical cannabis.”

CBD as a potential treatment for Covid-19

According to the WHO, Covid-19 has caused more than 211 million infections and over 6.42 million deaths over the past 24 months globally. An international debate has since emerged about the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for coronavirus.

A recent literature review evaluated numerous studies testing CBD as a possible intervention for inflammation caused by Covid-19, including five in vivo animal studies, three in vitro human tissue studies and one randomised clinical trial.

Pre-clinical medical cannabis studies using CBD showed promise for its impact on inflammatory outcomes of the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract and the cornea. In human model rodents, CBD showed anti-inflammatory effects in the airways and hyper-responsiveness of the respiratory tract.

The authors concluded, however, that “there is not enough evidence to support or refute CBD as a repurpose drug to treat inflammation and other symptoms of COVID-19. Clinical trials are needed to test its efficacy and adverse effects.

Review finds “promising indications” for use of cannabis medicines in MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects over 100,000 individuals in the UK.

Common symptoms include sensory, motor, cognitive and affective disturbances. While most MS patients use disease-modifying agents to manage their symptoms, cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) continue to grow in popularity among patients.

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018 with Nabiximols, an oromucosal spray containing CBD and THC, available to MS patients to control spasticity.

The authors of the medical cannabis study concluded that “there are promising indications for the use of CBMP in the symptomatic treatment of MS.”

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