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Cannabinoids as Therapeutics

Cannabinoids as Therapeutics

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Twenty years ago the endocannabinoid system was unknown. We knew much
about the use over millennia of Cannabis plant preparations both as a medicine and as “a drug that takes away the mind” (as so-well stated in ancient
Assyrian clay tablets). During the early part of the last century considerable
progress was made on the chemistry and pharmacology of Cannabis, but it
was only after the identification in 1964 of ∆9
-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9
as the active constituent of the plant that this field caught the interest of many
research groups and hundreds of papers on the chemistry, biochemistry,
metabolism and clinical effects of this compound were published. However, its
mechanism of action remained unknown for nearly two decades. In the mid1980s the presence of a cannabinoid receptor in the brain was identified and
shortly thereafter it was cloned. This was followed by the isolation of the
major endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol,
and the clarification of their biosyntheses and degradations. These advances
led to an avalanche of publications in a wide variety of fields. We are now in
the midst of major advances in biochemistry/physiology associated with the
actions of the endocannabinoids.
This short volume tries to present an up-to-date picture in some of the major
fields of endocannabinoid research. The first chapter in this book, on the use
of Cannabis in India, can be viewed as an expression of thanks to the herbal
practitioners, who for centuries passed on the medical traditions associated
with the drug. The chemistry chapter is a short summary of active plant, synthetic and endogenous cannabinoids being investigated today, many of which
are mentioned later in the book. Cannabidiol is an unusual cannabinoid – it
does not bind to the known receptors and yet exerts a variety of effects. Hence
a chapter is devoted to it. Most of the remaining chapters deal with the endocannabinoid system and the endocannabinoids in a variety of conditions and
physiological systems. A chapter describes the research done on Sativex®, a
standardized plant extract, shortly to be introduced in Canada as a drug for
multiple sclerosis symptom


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