Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: New Therapeutic Opportunities from, Medical Marijuana / Cannabis, an Ancient Herb

Trends in Pharmacological Sciences
Volume 30, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 515-527

doi:10.1016/j.tips.2009.07.006How to Cite or Link Using DOI
Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved

Angelo A. Izzo1, 4, , Francesca Borrelli1, 4, Raffaele Capasso1, 4, Vincenzo Di Marzo2, 4 and Raphael Mechoulam3

1Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

2Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, National Research Council, Pozzuoli (NA), Italy

3Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products, Hebrew University Medical Faculty, Jerusalem, Israel

4Endocannabinoid Research Group, Italy

Available online 2 September 2009. PDF (148 K)

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol binds cannabinoid (CB1 and CB2) receptors, which are activated by endogenous compounds (endocannabinoids) and are involved in a wide range of physiopathological processes (e.g. modulation of neurotransmitter release, regulation of pain perception, and of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and liver functions). The well-known psychotropic effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which are mediated by activation of brain CB1 receptors, have greatly limited its clinical use. However, the plant Cannabis contains many cannabinoids with weak or no psychoactivity that, therapeutically, might be more promising than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Here, we provide an overview of the recent pharmacological advances, novel mechanisms of action, and potential therapeutic applications of such non-psychotropic plant-derived cannabinoids. Special emphasis is given to cannabidiol, the possible applications of which have recently emerged in inflammation, diabetes, cancer, affective and neurodegenerative diseases, and to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin, a novel CB1 antagonist which exerts potentially useful actions in the treatment of epilepsy and obesity.

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