It’s been known for some time a number of cannabinoids found in cannabis have anti-inflammatory properties. What hasn’t been very clear is how this attribute works – until now.
There are more than a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of the potential of a handful of them in terms of human healthcare.
The two most-studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol – which can be extracted from hemp – has been of particular interest given that unlike THC it is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. Among other applications, CBD is being pursued for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, the reason for CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect had been largely unclear.
Researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany in partnership with researchers from Italy, Austria and the USA believe they have identified the mode of action of CBD and other cannabinoids in this regard.
“All the compounds we studied were found to inhibit the formation of pro-inflammatory messenger substances in cells while enhancing the formation of inflammation-resolving substances,” said the study’s first author, doctoral student Lukas Peltner.
In terms of CBD specifically, it was found to induce a lipid mediator class switch, eliciting 15-lipoxygenase product formation. This then triggers production of anti-inflammatory messenger substances.
Study lead Dr Paul Mike Jordan said:
“CBD thus induces a switch in the affected cells, so to speak, which steers the inflammatory process from the promoting to the inhibiting side.”
The researchers state future related studies should focus on cannabidiol, which was found to be the most effective cannabinoid of the eight examined in the University of Jena study; noting that THC can be associated with a variety of side effects.
The team’s work has been published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology and was funded by the German Research Foundation, a self-governing institution promoting science and research in the country. The research was carried out within the University of Jena’s Collaborative Research Centres – ChemBioSys and PolyTarget.
In other recent cannabis news out of Germany, earlier this month the nation’s cabinet voted in favour of legalizing possession of cannabis for non-medicinal use as well as community cultivation clubs. Germany’s Health Minister expects the law to be passed by the Bundestag after summer recess, and could come into force as early as the beginning of next year.