Beyond CBD: Here come the other cannabinoids, but where’s the evidence?

In the space of a few years, the component of cannabis called CBD (cannabidiol) has gone from a relatively obscure molecule to a health fad that has swept the world, spawning billions in sales, millions of users, clothing. CBD workout, pillow cases, burgers, ice cream – you name it. Concerns with such rapid adoption are that enthusiasm could soar above real science, and that there are safety concerns, such as drug interactions, that are overlooked in enthusiasm for treat chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, etc. other conditions that CBD is believed to help relieve.

Cannabis, however, is made up of around 600 different molecules, of which around 140 are called cannabinoids because they act on our body’s endocannabinoid system – a large system of chemical messengers and receptors that help control many of our bodies. most critical bodily systems such as appetite and inflammation. , temperature, emotional processing, memory and learning. It was only a matter of time until new cannabinoids were discovered and marketed.

What are some of these newer cannabinoids and what is the evidence that they can help us?

Unfortunately, much of the data on these newly discovered compounds comes from animal studies, so it will take time – and high-quality research – to determine whether the benefits that have been found in animals will apply to humans.

CBG

CBG, or cannabigerol, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is marketed for the relief of anxiety, pain, infection, inflammation, nausea, and even cancer treatment. It has a wide variety of potential medical uses, but virtually all of the studies that have been done on it have been done on animals, so it’s difficult to extrapolate completely to humans. Experiments in mice have shown that it can reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease and may slow the growth of colorectal cancer. In cells, it inhibits glioblastoma multiforme cells (the type of brain cancer that Senator John McCain suffered from).

CBG has also been shown to act as an antimicrobial against many different agents, including the difficult-to-treat bug MRSA that causes so many hospital-acquired infections. Additionally, CBG is an appetite stimulant and may help treat bladder contractions. Currently, one of the main dangers of its use is the lack of regulation and standardization that accompanies the entire supplement industry in this country, so it is not always guaranteed that you get what you think you want. get – and this is true for all. of the substances discussed in this article.

THCV

THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin, is potentially exciting because it can support efforts to treat our epidemics of obesity and diabetes. There is strong animal data that it lowers fasting insulin levels, aids weight loss, and improves blood sugar control. In a 2016 study published in Diabetic treatmentsTHCV has been shown to dramatically improve fasting blood sugar levels, the function of pancreatic beta cells (the cells that make insulin and ultimately fail in diabetes), as well as several other hormones associated with diabetes. In animals and humans, it has been well tolerated without significant side effects. In places like Israel, where the study of cannabinoids is much more advanced than in the United States, strains with high levels of cannabinoids such as THCV (and low levels of THC) are cultivated so that they can be studied.

CBN

The cannabinoid CBN, or cannabinol, is present in trace amounts in the cannabis plant, but is primarily a by-product of the breakdown of THC. Marijuana that has been hanging around for too long has a reputation for becoming “sleepy old marijuana” – allegedly due to its higher concentrations of CBN, although there are other plausible explanations for this phenomenon. CBN is widely marketed for its sedative and soporific qualities, but if you review the literature it is worth noting that there is hardly any scientific proof that CBN makes you drowsy, with the exception of one study in rats that were already on barbiturates and slept longer when CBN was added. That’s not to say that CBN doesn’t make people sleepy – as many people claim – just that it hasn’t been scientifically established yet.

Usually, with cannabinoid claims, there are a few evidence, at least in animal studies, to back it up. CBN, however, has the potential (although only in animal studies so far) to act as an appetite stimulant and an anti-inflammatory agent – two extremely important medical uses, if they occur in humans. . A recent study conducted in Israel in humans showed that strains of cannabis richer in CBN were associated with better control of ADHD symptoms. We need more human studies before marketing claims about the benefits of CBN are substantiated by science.

Delta-8-THC

Delta-8-THC is found in traces in cannabis, but can be distilled and synthesized from hemp. It is increasingly marketed as medical marijuana with less anxiety and less high. Unlike the other compounds discussed here, Delta-8-THC is an intoxicating cannabinoid, but it only contains a fraction of the high THC induces – and far less of the anxiety and paranoia that accompany it. It can alleviate many of the same symptoms as cannabis, making it a potentially attractive drug for people who don’t want much to do with the high from cannabis. It is believed to be particularly useful for nausea and appetite stimulation. There is some evidence (although from a very small study of 10 children) that suggests delta-8-THC may be an effective option for preventing vomiting during chemotherapy treatments for cancer. While the claims for delta-8 are intriguing, there is a lack of good human studies to support its effectiveness or safety, so we have to take the marketing claims with a grain of salt.

There is renewed interest in cannabis research

As acceptance of medical cannabis grows – currently 94% of Americans support legal access to medical cannabis – the one thing virtually everyone agrees on is the need for more research on cannabis and cannabinoids. : their benefits, their harms and how we can safely develop and use them to improve human health. We are in the midst of an incredibly exciting time, with new discoveries in cannabinoid science daily, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. However, just as we have learned from our experiences with CBD, we need to be patient and filter our enthusiasm through the calm lens of science. Above all, we need to be smart consumers able to find the real benefits amid the complex political agendas and marketing demands that seem to accompany everything cannabis-related.

The post Beyond CBD: Here are the other cannabinoids, but where is the evidence? first appeared on Harvard Health Blog.

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Jothi Venkat

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