This review assembles the state of knowledge of cannabis and cannabinoids pharmacology, mechanisms, therapeutic uses, and side effects, as it stood in 2001. A general exploration of cannabis use, effects, and mechanisms is presented.
At this time, the side effects of medicinal cannabis aren’t very clear. However, the medicinal effects of cannabis were clear for appetite stimulation, epilepsy, glaucoma, mood disorders, psychiatric disorders, and antiemetic (effective against vomiting and nausea) uses.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.
The authors highlight the lack of substantial or reliable data for any of these potential fields, and strongly recommend more large scale trials. Likewise, the safety profile of cannabis use was patchy at this time. There were associations with some mental disorders that were discussed, and some small data were examined for effects like:
Once again, the lack of data was of concern to the authors. The basic mechanisms of cannabinoid interactions in the brain and periphery were explored, talking about CB1 and CB2 receptors. Clearly, they were involved in many aspects of health and disease, but how exactly was unclear. The authors suggest that because of the preliminary data that suggest the wide applicability of cannabinoid use in therapy, the endocannabinoid system should be investigated with some haste.
A consistent theme in cannabinoid research until very recently has been the poor quality of data and the ever-expanding complexity of the systems that were being discovered. Here, the picture of the endocannabinoid system is in its infancy. The CB1 and CB2 receptors had been discovered and their mechanisms partly elucidated but it would be some time before they were better understood.
At this time, the authors were able to cover the general effects of cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system but not how they exerted their effects. They knew about anandamide and 2-AG, the main endocannabinoids, but their roles in disease and health were still largely unclear. The paper is an interesting slice in cannabinoid history, on the cusp of discovery.
With the main cannabinoids and endocannabinoids having been discovered, and the effects of cannabis on health and disease becoming clear, it just remained for science to fill the gaps. The effects highlighted here are:
However, even though it was clear that cannabis could be of benefit in many different medical situations, the data were insufficient at that time for proper clinical approval other than in a couple of cases.
The authors conclude that the endocannabinoid system is a unique and promising avenue for treating many different conditions and disorders but that there is not enough good quality data available for clinicians. They discuss the need for the exploration of CB1 and CB2 receptors, the potential for other cannabinoid receptors, how anandamide and 2-AG work, how cannabis can be best used in clinical practice, the best modes of administration, and long-term safety record.
There are tantalizing clues as to the drug’s possible use in conditions like MS, but this needs more exploration. Almost the archetypal cannabinoid review: plenty of promise but not enough data to make any good decisions as to use, safety, or mechanisms of action. Unfortunately, only some of the gaps in knowledge have been filled since.