Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabis is a term that describes products derived from the Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa. It has its origins probably in India but now grows all over the world. The chemical compounds responsible for intoxication and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers of the female plants and surrounding leaves. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of different chemicals including a family of compounds called “cannabinoids”. Of the cannabinoids delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the main compound responsible for the psychotropic activities. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and is mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating back to 2700 BC. There are records of ’its medicinal use in Egyptian papyri of the sixteenth century BC. Much later, the plant is mentioned in Assyrian texts and in Greek and Roman sources as a medicinal agent. Early Experiences in the 19th Century Cannabis Tincture was used in the nineteenth century as an analgesic, as well as numerous other conditions and was considered milder and less dangerous than opium. W.B.O’Shaughnessy was the first of the western physicians to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine on account Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]

Crataegus (Hawthorn)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Crataegus originates from northern temperate regions and comprises about 280 species depending upon botanical sources. It is widespread in western Asia, North America and in Europe, where 21 species have been indexed. Hybridization is frequent in this genus, causing many identification difficulties. Among the best-known species are Crataegus monogyna Jacq. and Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC (= C. oxyacantha auct.= C. oxyacanthoides Thuill.) belonging to the Eurasian subgenus Crataegus which are most common and are of growing pharmaceutical use. They have lobed or divided leaves, while the northern American subgenus americanae is characterized by entire or weakly lobed leaves. These deciduous, ramified, thorny shrubs produce white-pinkish scented flowers in corymbs during midsummer and the resulting red fruits remain on the trees until eaten by birds in winter. They show some differences in habitat: C. monogyna is found mainly in open fields, thickets and used as quickset hedges, while C. laevigata prefers woods or their borders. Ornamental pink- or red-flowered cultivars of C. laevigata such as uCoccinea plena”, “Rosea”, “Rubra” () are planted in avenues, parks Read more […]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Effects on Anxiety and Insomnia

Cannabis smoking produces a relaxant effect which most users value and it has been suggested that the beneficial effects of cannabis and THC observed in neurological disorders such as motor tics, dystonias and Huntingdon’s chorea are due to sedative and anxiolytic actions. In addition, sedation is by far the most common side effect of cannabis, and in particular THC, observed in clinical trials against a range of disorders. This has lead to the suggestion that cannabis and some cannabinoids may be useful in disorders accompanied by anxiety and/or insomnia. Cannabis Sethi et al. () noted a reduction of anxiety in 50 chronic cannabis users compared to controls, in terms of scores on the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale. Oral preparations of cannabis have a sedative or tranquillising effect in man, accompanied by diminished anxiety at doses much lower than those producing psychoactivity. However, anxiety and panic, possibly due to depersonalisation, intoxication and loss of control, can also feature as side effects. These symptoms have been observed after smoking or oral ingestion of cannabis, but particularly after intravenous administration of aqueous extracts. This may be due to the rapid onset of altered mental state Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic

Many agents used in cancer chemotherapy produce severe nausea and vomiting in most patients. Symptoms can last for hours or days and have a major impact on patient nutrition and electrolyte status, body weight and physical and mental resilience to both the disease and its treatment. The current choice of available anti-emetics is limited and most are only partially effective, which may lead patients to refuse therapy all together, or for clinicians to use chemotherapeutic regimens which are less than optimum. For these reasons, the search for more effective antiemetics continues. Cannabis In the late 1960s and early 1970s, patients receiving various cancer chemotherapy regimes (including mustine, vincristine, prednisone and procarbazine) noted that smoking cannabis from illicit sources, before and during chemotherapy, reduced the incidence of nausea and vomiting to a variable degree. Only since the isolation of THC have formal clinical trials on the safety and efficacy of cannabis derivatives been conducted. As far as crude cannabis is concerned, we have only anecdotal evidence that inhaling its smoke is effective in a variable percentage of patients who vomit, despite supposedly adequate doses of standard antiemetics. There Read more […]

Humulus lupulus L. (Hop)

Distribution and Economic Importance Hops (Humulus lupulus L., family: Cannabinaceae) are widely grown throughout the world, being indigenous in the northern hemisphere above 32 ° latitude; they have also been introduced into the southern hemisphere, including S.-America, S.-Africa, New Zealand, and Australia (Connell 1986). The hop is a dioecious plant, normally diploid (2n = 20), with a strong climbing habit, resulting in twining shoots reaching as high as 7-9 m in the growing season, the rootstock perennating from late autumn to the following spring. The stem (bine) and oppositely arranged leaves bear coarse hairs. The crop is cultivated for the resins and essential oils produced by the lupulin glands in the flowers (cones) of female plants). Scattered male plants may be grown amongst the stand of females in order to produce so-called seeded hops as traditionally produced in the UK, but brewers producing lighter, lager-type beers normally require seedless hops. The growing of hops was brought to England from mainland Europe in the 15th century and they were used initially to preserve what had previously been termed ale, and which then became known as beer, characterized by its bitter taste and improved keeping Read more […]

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]