Top Ten Studies for Cannabis Research in 2018 - The Ones That Changed the Game - RxLeaf

Top Ten Studies for Cannabis Research in 2018 – The Ones That Changed the Game


As bureaucratic and administrative barriers fall away for cannabis research, it’s proving what anecdotal wisdom has been preaching for decades: cannabis works.

The latest cannabis research move us further along toward a better understanding of the benefits, risks, and contraindications associated with cannabis medicine. This will, in turn, help develop better therapeutic applications and finally provide appropriate dosing information.

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Here are some of the most significant studies in cannabis research from 2018:

ONE: A Gut Protein Exports Endocannabinoids That Prevent Inflammation 

Published: August 2018, Journal of Clinical Investigation.

For the first time, researchers believe they have uncovered the details of how people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) find relief with medical cannabis. Although this study did not intend to explore cannabis for IBD directly, it did discover a secondary mechanism of action within the gut, which is endocannabinoid based.

One important action of digestion is an immune response that targets unwanted pathogens that make their way into the digestive tract with your meal. The study linked above unveiled a secondary digestive action, involving the endocannabinoid system. The result is a turning off of the inflammatory immune response when it is no longer needed. As phytocannabinoids mimic the action of endocannabinoids, this represents a novel new area of cannabis study to help people who suffer from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

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TWO: CBD For The Prevention of Addiction Relapse: Preclinical Proof of Principle

Publication: September 2018. Neuropsychopharmacology

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an exciting new concept in addiction research. For this most recent study, researchers applied alcohol and cocaine-addicted rats with a transdermal application of CBD. Medicine was received once per day for a week. Following the CBD treatment, the addicted rats had reduced drug-seeking behavior, reduced anxiety. Importantly, CBD did not trigger tolerance development or sedation. What is perhaps most astonishing, is that these benefits lasted for a full five months after the short week-long dose application!

Proof of Principle studies are an important link between Phase 1 and dose-ranging phase II studies. This designation “proof of principle/proof of concept” designation indicates that a compound has shown positive potential in animals and has passed early safety testing.

Lab Rat

Image Credit: Ressormat

THREE: Cannabis Legalization Reduces Opioid Abuse: Evidence on US Medicaid Enrolees 1993–2014

Publication: July 2018, Addiction

This is yet another study demonstrating that access to legal cannabis reduces opioid abuse. This study dug deep into Medicaid statistics, and concluded: “State‐wide medical cannabis legalization appears to have been associated with reductions in both prescriptions and dosages of Schedule III (but not Schedule II) opioids received by Medicaid enrollees in the United States.”

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FOUR: Cannabis Can Reduce Opioid Use By Boosting Its Painkilling Effects

Publication: February 2018, Neuropsychopharmacology

Columbia University has found that cannabis can work synergistically with opioids via the CB1 receptor. Cannabis can boost the painkilling effects of opioids, which means lower doses of this dangerous pharmaceutical and, consequently, reduced risk of addiction.

In early 2018, researchers gave participants different doses of cannabis, oxycodone, or some combination of the two. These subjects were then subjected to the Cold-Pressor Test (holding their hands in a bucket of cold water).  It is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, and first of its kind, study that determined cannabis improved the pain alleviation of oxycodone. Although the optimal dose of oxycodone by itself was 5 mg, this dose could be halved if participants were also given cannabis at the same time.

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Image credit: Srdjan Randjelovic

FIVE: Cannabis is Safe for Seniors

Publication: February 2018, European Journal of Internal Medicine

A survey found that the average senior is taking at least ten different pharmaceuticals every day. And many of these are merely to treat the side effects of the prescription that came before.

An Israeli study of 900 elders tracked cannabis treatment for six months. Of the group, 75% had never tried cannabis medicine, but at the end of the study, 93% reported improved symptom relief. Those who sought relief from chronic pain reported that the level had dropped from eight to four (on a scale of ten).

No wonder those over 65 represent the fastest growing cannabis-consuming demographic.

Senior man at a swimming pool

Image Credit: HalfPoint

SIX: CBD Induces Fast and Long-Lasting Anti-Depressant Effects in Animal Models

Publication: August 2018, Journal of Molecular Neurobiology

A new study out of Brazil has explored the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for depression. Rats were either given an injection of CBD or a saline solution, then subjected to ‘the swimming test’. This test has long been used in the study of depression. When researchers place this particular breed of lab rat into a forced swim test, they tend to ‘give up’ and float instead of actively swimming.

The fascinating thing about this study is that rats injected with CBD before the swim test swam for much longer than the placebo group. Instead of instantly floating, or giving up, they kept swimming, indicating the CBD gave them more drive and more gumption to keep fighting. This antidepressant-like effect lasted for a full seven days after the initial injection.

The researchers of this study concluded, “that CBD induces fast and sustained antidepressant-like effect in distinct animal models relevant for depression.”

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Image Credit: Syda Productions

SEVEN: CBD Helps Patients Get Off Meth

Publication: September 2018, Journal of Psychopharmacology

A study out of the University of Sydney and Macquarie University is the first of its kind, as it looks specifically at the success of CBD in treating methamphetamine addiction (meth). This is a highly addictive street drug that appears as a white powder or crystals. Meth is smoked, injected, swallowed, or snorted. This stimulant makes the user hyper focussed, attentive, and alert while heightening pleasure.

This novel study found that cannabidoil (CBD), delivered at a dosage rate of 80mg per kg of body weight, reduced drug-seeking behavior in rats. It was also able to reduce the likelihood of relapse via mechanisms that are not completely understood at this time.

Hand Holding baggie of crystal meth

Image Credit: Kaesler Media

EIGHT: CBD Stops Prostate Cancer Cells From Ejecting Chemo Chemicals from the Cell

Publication: August 2018, Frontiers in Pharmacology

There are little vesicles that prostate cancer cells make, called exosomes. These are small enclosed spheres that are released from the parent cell and carry various molecules to the recipient cell, regulating both physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms, including cell migration, differentiation and angiogenesis observed in cancer cells.

It’s like the head office cancer cell sending out a little starter kit to the next store in the franchise. And with that kit, it remodels the building and sets up pipelines to go to the next franchise.

In addition, it was shown that EMV shedding from cancer cells is used to shuttle chemotherapeutic drugs out of the cancer cell, thus aiding in resistance to chemotherapy. This in turn results in cancer cell survival, suggesting that inhibition of EMV release could be one therapeutic strategy to make the cells more susceptible to apoptosis.

One study investigated the ability of CBD to do just that.

Male in consultation with male doc

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NINE: Male Cannabis Consumers Are Have A LOT More Sex Than You

Publication: September 2018, Journal of Sexual Medicine

A 2017 CDC survey of 28, 176 women and 22, 943 men, in America, sought to find out if cannabis consumers were having more sex than the rest of the population. This comprehensive survey is often the go-to for researchers looking to justify further analysis into their own (related) topic.

Dr. Michael L. Eisenburg and Dr. Andrew J. Sun, from Stanford University, looked into the cannabis’ effects on male sexual and reproductive function. What they found was, “Marijuana use is independently associated with increased sexual frequency and does not appear to impair sexual function.” To be specific, male cannabis consumers have 20% more sex than their non-consuming counterparts.

Sex heterosexual

Image Credit: Aim Pix

TEN: We Figured Out Where THC Goes In The Brain to Kill Pain

Publication: October 2018, Neurology
Recent neuroimaging determined that THC was able to reduce pain in healthy participants, and this was associated with the brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).

This section of the brain is densely populated with the CB1 receptors, which in turn are activated by THC. The study used a single dose of THC vs placebo for chronic pain as evaluated by a subjective pain rating scale and resting brain state of the ACC. A fMRI (functional MRI) machine was used to measure changes in blood flow throughout the brain.

There were 17 patients participating in the study, with an average age of the 33. The patients had chronic lower limp radicular neuropathic pain that centers around spine and legs. The subjects had to have experienced the condition for at least six months in order to participate in the study.

It was determined that participants receiving the THC experienced less pain (subjectively) 35 out of 100, whereas the group with the placebo treatment rated pain 43 out of a 100. At the base level, without any treatment participants reported pain 53 out of a 100.

Close up of cannabis plant

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Cannabis research is on the rise and 2019 should being even more progress and revelation! We can’t wait!

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