Together with morphine, cannabinoid receptor agonists have actually probably been one of the most common medical remedies given that time immemorial. Recently, specifically because the decade of the 1990s when the endogenous cannabinoid system was discovered, fundamental understanding of this system has actually advanced spectacularly. Now that there is no doubt that they are involved in the policy of nociception, interest in utilizing cannabinoid receptor agonists to manage pain has renewed. Restorative management using an antinociceptive system various from the usual mechanisms opens a brand-new line of treatment for cases in which no other pharmacologic treatments are readily available. As mentioned formerly, mixes of cannabinoid receptor agonists with other analgesic substances to accomplish a synergistic result and improve the effectiveness and safety of treatment are likewise fascinating.

Research studies in experimental designs of acute and persistent pain have actually demonstrated the effectiveness of cannabinoid receptor agonists, even in neuropathic or inflammatory discomfort. Preclinical information obtained with cannabinoid receptor agonists in discomfort models have actually made it possible to assess their effectiveness in people. The lead to date recommend that cannabinoid receptor agonists are analgesic compounds per se whose strength is similar to that of opioids like codeine and their dosedependent result is restricted by the appearance of adverse results. Regrettably, couple of clinical trials have actually been made and they have been performed with significant methodologic constraints. It is noteworthy that whereas cannabinoid receptor agonists have shown to be up to 10 times more potent than morphine in animal designs of severe and neuropathic pain [38], analgesic efficacy has not been as good in some scientific trials. The main factor for this disparity is that dosages are significantly reduced to prevent adverse impacts, in specific psychotropic. In addition, there are other deficiencies in the scant medical trials performed to this day, such as essential variations in doses, schedules, paths of administration, type of cannabinoid receptor agonists substances, methods of testing analgesia, the selection of nonhomogeneous study hall (clients with illness of varied origin), and the projection of arise from designs of speculative discomfort in healthy clients (discomfort circuits activity vary between healthy volunteers and clients). In Tables Tables11 122 233 344- -55 are summed up some data collected from people in circumstances of intense (either in clients suffering discomfort or in healthy volunteers sent to noxious stimuli) and chronic discomfort treated with cannabinoid compounds, as well as from surveys from self-medicated clients.

Data from Clinical Trials of Humans Treated with Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists to Relief Chronic Non-Cancer Pain of Different Types, Especially as a Symptom of Multiple Sclerosis or Other Neuropathic Pain

THC is the substance with the greatest psychedelic effectiveness of the natural cannabinoids, and exhibits the greatest analgesic activity [96] In reality, THC administered epidurally (intrathecal, intraventricular) produces antinociception similar to that acquired with opioid substances [173] In addition, the epidural path of administration allows the usage of much smaller sized dosages to obtain a more enduring effect than with nonepidural paths. THC is lipophilic and reasonably nonselective for CB1 and CB2 receptor subtypes, and has been extensively used in experimental studies. Scientific trials have shown that nonselective cannabinoid receptor agonists are reasonably safe and therapeutically effective, however they also induce psychotropic adverse effects [120] Nevertheless, if the THC is administered in little dosages, it is well endured and effective for neuropathic pain, without causing modified states of awareness. Cardiovascular effects are usually moderate and well tolerated: hypotension can appear in comparison with placebo [158, 165], however no greater than with codeine. However, considering that it might lead to significant boosts in heart rate and a lowering of the blood pressure, clients with cardiovascular disease must most likely not be treated with cannabinoid drugs. On the other hand, desired therapeutic results and unfavorable results both differ with the cannabinoid substance utilized. Thus, varied THC analogues have actually been used for experimental or preclinical studies, a few of which are being marketed in some countries for particular applications. The THC analogues frequently used for preclinical or restorative purposes in human beings are dronabinol, nabilone, levonantradol, CT-3 (or ajulemic acid), and HU211 [15, 117] Another derivative, benzopyranoperidine, produces a degree of sedation just like codeine but is inadequate as an analgesic [73]

Levonantradol is a synthetic analogue of THC that is administered intramuscularly. It has actually been utilized in medical trials to diminish postoperative pain or discomfort due to injury and has shown more analgesic efficacy than placebo [70] Levonantradol triggers adverse results regularly than THC in many clients, but none of them is considered severe.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant, having the same healing impacts than THC (analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and others), however with a various pharmacologic profile. Studies have been made with cannabidiol derivatives developed to hinder peripheral discomfort actions and inflammation after binding to cannabinoid receptors. Interestingly, some of these cannabidiol derivatives did not have main nervous system results, however maintained their antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties. This implies that centrally non-active synthetic cannabidiol analogues may ready candidates for the development of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs for peripheral conditions [40]

Medications have actually also been developed from extracts of the Cannabis sativa plant containing known quantities of THC and CBD [6, 111, 163, 164] These medications are being used in scientific trials, and a type gave as sublingual spray has simply been approved to be marketed in Canada.

Other possible restorative targets are CB2 receptors by methods of particular agonists. As there are no CB2 receptors in nerve cells, the actions evoked by cannabinoid receptor agonists on the central nerve system appear to depend generally on the activation of CB1 receptors. Thus CB2 receptor agonists merit special factor to consider for use as agents with absence of cognitive and psychotropic residential or commercial properties. For that reason one of them, HU-308 [102], does not produce hypothermia, catalepsy, or behavioural modifications, while the function of CB2 receptors is fundamental in other cannabimimetic actions, such as immunomodulatory and antiproliferative results. On the other hand, as discussed previously, brand-new CB2 receptor properties are being discovered, as it has actually been validated that they indirectly promote opioid receptors located in main afferent pathways [67]

Some interesting items are the anandamide reuptake inhibitors which prevent its transportation and potentiate its analgesic impacts; as N-( 4-hydroxyphenyl)- arachidonamide (AM 404), an anandamide analogue [119], and N-( 3-furylmethyl) eicosa-5,8,11,14- tetraenamide (UCM707) (Fig.( Fig. 2) 2) [91] Another promising target for therapeutic intervention is the fat amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme, which is accountable for intracellular anandamide destruction [43] AM374 (palmitylsulfonyl fluoride) is a potent FAAH inhibitor [28], preventing the hydrolysis of endocannabinoids and, therefore, increasing their synaptic levels and raising cannabinoid receptors activity (Fig.( Fig. 2).2). Certainly, reversible FAAH inhibitors produce analgesia in animal models [7] In addition, other compounds like the N-acylethanolamines block anandamide deterioration [118] Knockout mice doing not have FAAH screen elevated concentrations of anandamide in brain and are more conscious the biological actions of anandamide [27]

An essential information to think about in cannabinoid treatment is the path of administration. Although oral dispensation is the route of option for the clinical management of persistent pain, due to its extended action and ease of use, many patients choose inhalation (smoking cannabis) and sublingual sprays have likewise been prepared for commercial preparations. However, there are other possibilities, especially when analgesia wants, oral intolerance exists, and/or the state of consciousness is modified, such as the epidural or intravenous routes. Other options are delayed-release skin spots and, to a lower extent, rectal suppositories [9]

Smoking cigarettes cannabis stays the most efficient methods of drug delivery since absorption is much more quick and skilled users dosage themselves by changing the frequency and depth of inhalation [68] Nevertheless, this route has the drawback of breathing and other complications related to the tobacco combined with the product for smoking. On the other hand, the impacts of natural cannabinoids (plant extracts) seems to be much better than those of artificial cannabinoids. The effects of cannabis, whether smoked or administered intravenously, appear 30 minutes to one hour after administration and last for 2 or 3 hours. For that reason, one disadvantage is a quick analgesic result.

Similar to any other treatment, adverse effects need to be considered. Some patients will suffer negative effects, although the majority of them will appear only in the very first days of treatment and disappear as the body adjusts to the drug. Short-term effects, such as unsteadiness, dizziness, problem focusing, sleepiness, dryness of the mouth, and/or headache, relate to depression of the central nervous system. Persistent marijuana use does not produce serious cognitive disorders, as accompanies other compounds like alcohol, but it can intensify pre-existing mental illness. For that reason, treatment with cannabinoid receptor agonist with central actions might be contraindicated, or either rigorously managed, in people predisposed to psychiatric conditions. No human deaths associated to cannabis usage have actually been reported, and the deadly dosage of THC in rodents is extremely high compared with other substances.

With respect to possibly addictive impacts, restorative doses are smaller sized than those utilized for leisure functions, and derivatives that have little or no main impacts are the most valuable prospects formedicinal purposes. Controversy exists regarding the look of tolerance and reliance with making use of cannabinoid compounds. It has actually been declared that tolerance establishes after duplicated administration of THC in human beings, that 9-20% of regular cannabis users become reliant, which a considerable withdrawal syndrome happens in human cannabis users [2, 136, 153] Nevertheless, it has actually also been recommended that numerous clinical studies are inadequately managed and the advancement of a cannabinoid withdrawal syndrome is discussed [for evaluations see: 74, 75]

When it comes to scientific applications, among the best recorded therapeutic uses of cannabinoid derivatives, and the one most commonly approved today, is as an antiemetic drug [12, 158, 172] Indeed, cannabinoid-based prescription medicines are now marketed for this use in some countries. They have proven to be extremely reliable for alleviating nausea and emesis due to intestinal distress caused by gotten immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) medications or cancer chemotherapy. These patients either smoke marijuana or take a THC artificial analogue like dronabinol or nabilone, although they are recommended just when other medications for queasiness and throwing up do not work.

Acute Pain

Opioids are powerful analgesics commonly utilised in clinical discomfort management, however they yield a poor analgesic response in conditions of certain pathologic pain, such as neuropathy. THC induces antinociception in rats with pathologic pain after nerve injury. Additionally, THC antinociception is independent of opioid receptors in rats with some pathologic discomfort, as the antinociceptive result after nerve injury is obstructed by the CB1 receptor villain SR141716A, but not by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, and there is no cross-tolerance between the antinociceptive effects of morphine and THC [95] For that reason, THC and other cannabinoids may transcend to opioids in reducing intractable pathologic pain syndromes.

What medical trials are readily available on the effectiveness of cannabinoid receptor agonists in the treatment of acute pain are scant and inconclusive with regard to their analgesic efficacy (Tables( Tables11- -22).

Postoperative Pain

One prospective indicator of cannabinoids would be as analgesic for postoperative discomfort. Morphine has actually been utilized historically to relieve postoperative pain, however it renders undesirable negative effects. Postoperative pain hinder working and recovery, and it can grow to intolerable levels. Nevertheless, there is no drug for this condition which produces adequate analgesia without any side effects. Some medical trials, using cannabinoid derivatives in postoperative discomfort, have been carried out or are in progress (Table( Table22).

Chronic Pain

Several Sclerosis

Numerous sclerosis (MS) is a life-long chronic disease in which afferent neuron are assaulted by the immune system, originating agonizing muscle spasms and lots of other issues, consisting of neuropathic pain. There have to do with 1.1 million around the world sufferers of MS. Clinical trials have actually evaluated the potential medical applications of marijuana for the treatment of MS signs, although a few of them provide a small number of clients; and there are likewise information from reactions to surveys (Tables( Tables33- -4) 4) [68, 117] Cigarette smoking cannabis not just has assisted to stop convulsions, but has actually halted the progression of multiple sclerosis. Although smoking cigarettes cannabis is illegal in some countries, price quotes recommend that 10% to 30% of MS patients in Europe smoke marijuana to ease the unpleasant and disabling symptoms of the illness. Medications prepared from whole plant marijuana extract, containing known quantities of THC and CBD as the primary elements have been prepared to be administered by oral spray to alleviate MS signs, as well as for the treatment of other conditions with serious neuropathic pain. This product has undergone phase III placebo-controlled trials, which reveal that it reduces neuropathic discomfort, spasticity, and sleep disruptions. Its use has been approved only in Canada up until now. Additionally, animal design of multiple sclerosis, have discovered other advantage of cannabinoid receptor agonists, because they appear to apply CB1 receptor-mediated neuroprotective results that would be benefitial for the neurodegeneration occurring in MS [123]

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain, which is frequently persistent, arises when neurons in the brain or peripheral anxious system ended up being hypersensitised and produce unusual or prolonged impulses. In Europe, about 4 million clients suffer neuropathic discomfort. There are lots of reasons for neuropathic pain, consisting of diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, brachial plexus lesion, fibromyalgia, numerous sclerosis, and cancer.

Extreme neuropathic pain has actually proved difficult to deal with and evidence recommends that none of the available drugs, generally opioids, works in more than 50% of clients. This is thus an area of significant unmet scientific need. It is very important to emphasise that cannabinoid receptor agonists are more reliable than opioids in the management of neuropathic pain. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain this phenomenon [95] Among them is based upon the existence of cannabinoid receptors in primary afferent myelinated Afibres, because this discomfort is partially due to spontaneous discharge of these fibres [59] The A-fibres contain less μ-opioid receptors than cannabinoid receptors. There is proof confirming this hypothesis. Hence, WIN 55,212-2, a cannabinoid receptor agonist, which is less potent than morphine in the inhibition of the acute pain action performed by C-fibres, is a more reliable inhibitor of the wind-up phenomenon (a phenomenon that adds to the development of hyperalgesia and allodynia) [152] Another hypothesis is based upon that, unlike opioids, cannabinoids do not lose efficiency in the management of neuropathic pain because fewer receptors disappear in this circumstance (the damage of primary afferent fibres by rhizotomy [10] or the administration of neonatal capsaicin [57] minimize CB1-receptor expression less than opioid expression). In contrast, there is less expression of the opioid receptors in the posterior horn [10]

This implies that cannabinoid receptor agonists have more capability for suppressing pathophysiologic mechanisms like the wind-up phenomenon connected to this kind of pain [152]

Behavioural studies have revealed that cannabinoids reduce thermal and mechanical allodynia in rat models of neuropathic discomfort [38, 54, 69] Intrathecal administration of CP55, 940 in designs of neuropathic pain (persistent L5/6 spine nerve ligation) or acute pain (tail flick) attenuated tactile allodynia and caused thermal antinociception. These antinociceptive effects appears to be moderated mainly by the CB1 receptor, but some information also suggest a role for CB2 receptor-mediated antinociception in both severe and neuropathic discomfort [142]

Cancer Pain

Pain is among the most frequent signs in patients with cancer and the World Health Organisation recommends that they receive sufficient discomfort relief. Cannabinoids are among the compounds under advancement for the treatment of these clients, and they appear to have analgesic activity (Table( Table5) 5) [127] Scientific trials are likewise under method to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabis extract preparations (consisting of THC and CBD) for the relief of cancer pain (neuropathicrelated cancer discomfort). Around 40% of cancer patients suffer some degree of neuropathic discomfort.

Table 5.
Table 5.
Information from Clinical Trials of Humans Treated with Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists to Relief Chronic Cancer Pain

This disease is characterised by the existence of generalised discomfort throughout the body, validated by the presence of tender and painful points on digital palpation in a minimum of 11 of the 18 points developed for medical diagnosis. Pharmacologic treatment normally consists of tricyclic antidepressants integrated with NSAIDs. Although there are no specific scientific studies of the use of cannabinoid receptor agonists for symp- tomatic relief of this illness, information that support their therapeutic prospective thanks to their anti-inflammatory and sedative homes [138]


Migraine is specified as vasomotor headache characterised by its pulsatile nature, the discussion of crises, and its periodic event. It is normally hemicraneal and accompanied by generalised sensorial hyperestesia, level of sensitivity to light and sound, and queasiness and/or vomiting. Ergot alkaloids and 5-HT1D serotonin receptor agonists are utilized for its treatment. NSAIDs, codeine, and caffeine are also normally utilized. Historically, marijuana was prescribed for its management in the early 20th century. At present, the antimigraine homes of marijuana have actually been identified [137] and there are studies that affirm that the pain relief it produces is comparable, or much better than, that accomplished with ergotamine and aspirin [112] The most efficient path of administration is by inhalation since of its quick action. The antiemetic and vasodilator properties of cannabinoid compounds are fringe benefits that support its use as an alternative medication in migraine refractory to traditional treatment.


Spasticity requires increased resistance to passive movement. To name a few downsides, it causes pain per se as well as secondary to joint tightness. Among the healing procedures proposed are the elimination or reduction of nociceptive stimuli, rehab (occupational physical therapy), and using antispasmodic medication. Scientific trials have actually examined the effectiveness of cannabinoids in diverse musculoskeletal entities accompanied by serious spasticity [149, 161, 164]

Phantom Limb Syndrome

Patients who suffer amputation of an extremity can experience a kind of referred neuropathic pain in the amputated zone. Pharmacologic management of this condition is complicated and it is based mainly on anticonvulsants. Making use of cannabinoids is supported by their effectiveness in easing neuropathic discomfort. Promising outcomes have been obtained in clinical practice [47]


Discomfort severely impairs lifestyle. Currently available treatments, usually opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs, are not constantly reliable for certain painful conditions. The discovery of the cannabinoid receptors in the 1990s caused the characterisation of the endogenous cannabinoid system in regards to its components and various basic physiologic functions. CB1 receptors exist in nerve system locations associated with modulating nociception and evidence supports a function of the endocannabinoids in discomfort modulation. Standard research on how cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids intervene in pain systems is advancing quickly. Scientific progress, nevertheless, is advancing gradually. Cannabinoids have antinociceptive mechanisms various from that of other drugs presently in usage, which thus opens a brand-new line of promising treatment to reduce discomfort that fails to react to the pharmacologic treatments available, especially for neuropathic and inflammatory pains. The combination of cannabinoids with synergistic analgesic substances is interesting since it may enhance the efficacy and security of treatment. One of the downsides of examining cannabinoids is their typification as compounds of abuse. However, substances blunting severe pain enable patients to carry out everyday activities more quickly, so the potential benefits should be weighed versus possible negative effects. Our current understanding of the physiology and pharmacology of the endogenous cannabinoid system has actually motivated cannabis-based therapeutic drug style, in which attempts are being made to synthesise compounds with the preferred therapeutic actions however without psychedelic adverse impacts. Medications prepared with cannabinoid receptor agonists or with drugs that enhance endocannabinoid function (by either increasing release or diminishing reuptake of endocannabinoids) might manage the novel healing methods demanded by conditions where pain is a popular sign. Clinical trials seem to show that either extracts of the Cannabis sativa plant including recognized quantities of the active substances (generally THC and CBD) or varied synthetic derivatives of THC are promising treatments for agonizing conditions that do not react to available treatments, such as neuropathic, inflammatory and oncologic discomfort. Specifically, cannabis extracts have shown efficiency to relief some symptoms of the patients with numerous sclerosis, generally for discomfort and spasticity. Pharmacologic manipulation directed to raise endocannabinoids levels like, for example, with anandamide reuptake inhibitors, or by preventing the enzyme fat amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is responsible for intracellular anandamide destruction, might well become a valuable restorative tool. CB2 receptor selective agonists without any main effects are other promising pain treatment under investigation. Adequately sized and created, doubleblind placebo-controlled medical trials are had to examine the possible applications of cannabis-based medications as unique and efficient restorative drugs for managing various types of discomfort.

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