An alternative to medical marijuana...without the negative side effects

More and more people are in support of marijuana for medicinal use, however what some don’t realise is that despite how beneficial it can be, there are still some negative side effects caused by the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the cannabis. It can produce signs of physical dependence, eventually rendering itself useless in some cases. THC’s side effects are produced via its actions at cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the brain.

But now, scientists have developed a synthetic solution that has all the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, without the side effects. So, would you try it for your pain?

Scientists at Indiana University have tested a strategy using an agent (AM1710) that works in the same way as THC but activates CB2 brain receptors.

Dr Andrea Hohmann and her colleagues found that, unlike THC, a repeated dose of the synthetic product suppressed chemotherapy-induced pain in mice without producing tolerance, physical withdrawal, motor dysfunction, or hypothermia. Even more promising, the therapeutic effects of AM1710 were able to be preserved in mice without CB1 receptors, but was absent in mice who didn’t have CB2 receptors.

“Our study is important because it demonstrates beyond doubt that activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors suppresses neuropathic pain without producing signs of physical dependence (i.e., a withdrawal syndrome) or other unwanted side effects associated with activation of CB1 receptors in the brain,” Dr Hohmann said in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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Mice in the studies were treated with a pain-inducing chemotherapeutic agent (paclitaxel) and amazingly, when they were given AM1710, their pain subsided and they were able to have relief even after repeated doses. This was a contrast to when other mice were given THC – they were too tolerant to the pain-suppressing effects and consequent doses had no effect. And when these THC-treated mice took a drug that blocks CB1 receptors, the animals had withdrawals. Interestingly, when AM1710 was given to the mice and then taken away, they had no withdrawal. Dr Hohmann believes this data “suggests that CB2 receptors are an important target for suppressing chronic pain without unwanted side effects (e.g. psychoactivity, addiction)”.

There is more research in the works but for now, this is a very promising avenue for those of us who have chronic pain and want to treat it with marijuana. It could also make a better case for the government who are still not budging in the legalisation of the drug.


Would you use the synthetic version? What type of pain would you treat? Tell us below.