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IACM-Bulletin of 23 July 2017

Science/Human: The use of cannabis improves performance during simulated night shift work

In a study with 10 experienced cannabis smokers moderate cannabis use reversed some of the negative consequences of night shift work on performance, scientists of Columbia University in New York, USA, found. They participated in a 23-day study. They smoked a single cannabis cigarette (0, 1.9 or 3.56% THC) one hour after waking for three consecutive days under two shift conditions: day shift and night shift. Shifts alternated three times during the study, and shift conditions were separated by an 'off' day.

When participants smoked placebo cigarettes, psychomotor performance and subjective-effect ratings were altered during the night shift. Cannabis attenuated some performance, mood, and sleep disruptions: participants performed better on vigilance tasks, reported being less tired and sleep longer. Authors concluded that “these data demonstrate that abrupt shift changes produce performance, mood, and sleep decrements during night shift work and that smoked marijuana containing low to moderate Δ(9)-THC concentrations can offset some of these effects in frequent marijuana smokers.”

Keith DR, Gunderson EW, Haney M, Foltin RW, Hart CL. Smoked marijuana attenuates performance and mood disruptions during simulated night shift work. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;178:534-543.

Science/Human: Cannabis may be helpful in restless legs syndrome according to case reports

The use of cannabis may be helpful in the treatment of restless legs syndrome according to a report on six patients by scientists of the University of Bordeaux and other French institutions. Usually symptoms respond well to dopamine agonists, opiates, or anticonvulsants, used either alone or in combination. However, a subset of patients remains refractory to medical therapy or experience serious side effects.

Scientists wrote that after inhalation of cannabis all six patients reported "total relief of RLS symptoms as well as complete improvement of sleep quality.”

Megelin T, Ghorayeb I. Cannabis for restless legs syndrome: a report of six patients. Sleep Medicine 2017;36:182-3.

Uruguay: Pharmacies have begun to sell cannabis

Pharmacies in Uruguay began selling cannabis directly to consumers on 19 July. The South American country of 3.4 million people is the first in the world to legalize the entire process of cannabis production for recreational use, including its cultivation and sale.

The law was passed in late 2013 as Uruguay sought to shift the market from criminals to its own government. The product is grown, packaged and distributed by two companies, Symbiosis and Iccorp, taxed by the state. Any citizen over the age of 18 can now register to buy cannabis. They can buy up to 40 grams monthly for their personal use. Registered users - nearly 5,000 so far - can buy 5-gram sealed packets for 187.04 pesos (about 6.50 US dollars or 5.60 EURos)

Reuters of 19 July 2017.

La Nacion of 17 July 2017.

Science/Human: Cannabidiol slowed progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in a case report

Cannabidiol was able to improve symptoms in a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis according to an article by an Austrian scientist. He wrote that “about eighteen months ago, the patient, a general practitioner at the beginning of his sixties, observed a painless weakness and impaired function of his right hand.” Despite of treatment with riluzole, symptoms progressed relatively fast. Therefore, the patient decided to take cannabidiol (CBD, 2 × 200 mg/day) as co-medication and increased to a daily dose of 2 × 300 mg.

The author wrote, “Within 6 weeks, the impaired function of the right hand and foot reversed almost completely and dysphagia [impaired food intake] partially. Improvement was maintained for about 10 weeks, when again a slow progression” of symptoms was observed.

Nahler J. Co-medication with cannabidiol may slow down the progression of motor neuron disease: a case report. Gen Pract (Los Angel) 2017;5:4.

News in brief

Science/Switzerland: Official medical use of cannabinoids has increased substantially in recent years
In recent years, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health granted exceptional licenses for the medical use of cannabinoids. During 2013, 542 patients were treated under the exceptional licencing programme (332 requesting physicians) compared with 825 in 2014 (446 physicians). The mean age was 57 years. Chronic pain (49%) and spasticity (40%) were the most common symptoms.
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland.
Kilcher G, et al. Swiss Med Wkly. 2017;147:w14463.

Science/USA: Cannabis dispensaries in the USA reduce crime
States that allow medical or recreational cannabis use often allow retail sales at dispensaries. Scientists analyzed the short-term mass closing of hundreds of medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles. They found an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open.
Changa TY, Jacobson M. J Urban Econ 2017;100:120-36.

Science/Animal: Omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of endocannabinoids with anti-inflammatory activity
The intake of omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of a previously unknown class of endocannabinoids, so-called omega-3 endocannabinoid epoxides. They are derived from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Authors wrote that “the omega-3 endocannabinoid epoxides are found at concentrations comparable to those of other endocannabinoids and are expected to play critical roles during inflammation.”
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
McDougle DR, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jul 7. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor may reduce cognitive dysfunction after surgery
In a study with mice activation of the CB2 receptor modulated the neuroinflammatory and cognitive impairment after surgery.
Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, China.
Sun L, et al. J Neuroinflammation. 2017;14(1):138.

Science/Animal: The CB2 receptor may play a role in Alzheimer´s disease
Mice without CB2 receptors developed Alzheimer-like changes in the brain. Authors noted that the CB2 receptor may be a promising target for the treatment of Alzheimer´s disease.
Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China.
Wang L, et al. Mol Neurobiol. 2017 Jul 17. [in press]

Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor may improve recovery after spinal cord injury
In a study with mice the synthetic cannabiniod WIN55212-2 improved recovery
after traumatic spinal cord injury. This effect involved the activation of the CB2 receptor.
Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, China.
Su BX, et al. Brain Res. 2017 Jul 14. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor may be helpful in the treatment of stomach ulcer
In two animal models of gastric ulcer activation of the CB2 receptor by a synthetic cannabinoid (A836339) reduced the activity of mediators of inflammation (TNF-alpha and interleukin 1-beta) in gastric tissue and improved recovery from the ulcer.
Faculty of Medicine, Medical University of Lodz, Poland.
Salaga M, et al. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2017 Jul 14. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB1 receptor reduced seizures in new-born rats
In epilepsy models with new-born rats a mixed CB1/2 agonist and a CB1-specific agonist displayed reduction of seizures. Authors wrote that “these data indicate that the anticonvulsant action of the CB system is specific to CB1 receptor activation during early development.”
Pharmacology & Physiology, Georgetown University, Washington, USA.
Huizenga MN, et al. Epilepsia. 2017 Jul 10. [in press]

Science/Animal: Beta-caryophyllene may be useful in neurodegenerative disorders
In a mouse model of Parkinson's disease pre-treatment with beta-caryophyllene, which activates the CB2 receptor, ameliorated motor dysfunction, protected nerve cells and reduced the levels of mediators of inflammation.
Departamento de Farmacobiología CUCEI, Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.
Viveros-Paredes JM, et al.Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2017;10(3).

Science/Animal: CBD did not change THC self-administration in rats
In a study with rats self-administration of THC by injections was low (compared with cocaine) and only observed in a few animals. When CBD was added to THC this had no effect on self-administration.
Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, American University, Washington, USA.
Wakeford AGP, et al. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2017 Jul 6. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD may reduce pain by relation of emotional aspects
In a study with rats CBD (cannabidiol) influenced different dimensions of the response of rats to a surgical incision. Authors concluded that CBD may have the potential for treating the affective-motivational dimension of pain.
Ribeirão Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Genaro K, et al. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:391.

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