Researchers exploring how low-dose CBD products can be used to treat anxiety and seizures have found evidence of a “pharmacokinetic entourage effect”.
Pharmacologists at the University of Sydney have found clues as to why low-dose CBD products, containing a full-spectrum of cannabinoids, seem to have therapeutic impacts at relatively low doses.
Researchers say their study shows that cannabinoids in a cannabis extract interact to produce much higher concentrations of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) in the bloodstream, than when CBDA is administered alone as a single molecule.
The cannabis extract delivered 14-times higher CBDA concentrations in the bloodstream when administered orally to mice.
Associate Professor Jonathon Arnold from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, said: “Our study has shown how this operates pharmacologically for the first time.
“Hemp extracts provide a natural vehicle to increase the absorption of CBDA into the bloodstream via the interaction of cannabinoids at specific transport proteins in the gut.
“The entourage hypothesis holds that cannabis constituents interact to engender greater effects but there is little scientific evidence to support such an assertion.
“Our study shows that different cannabinoids interact to alter plasma levels of cannabinoids themselves due to what we call a ‘pharmacokinetic entourage’ effect”.
Low-dose CBD products appear to reduce anxiety and are anticonvulsant agents against seizures.
But it remains unclear how these products produce these results.
Lead author of the study, Dr Lyndsey Anderson, said: “Our results suggest CBDA might play a greater role in the effects of these low-dose CBD products than previously thought.
“Our own preclinical studies show CBDA reduces anxiety and seizures. This result provides us with a pathway to explore why some cannabis extracts yield pharmacological effects in humans at lower doses.”
The team is continuing to work on how this “pharmacokinetic entourage effect” might lead to observed therapeutic outcomes for cannabinoids in people.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.
Full reference: Lyndsey L. Anderson et al, Cannabis constituents interact at the drug efflux pump BCRP to markedly increase plasma cannabidiolic acid concentrations, Scientific Reports(2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-94212-6
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Could the endocannabinoid system and CBD help with treating SAD?
A new study examines the role that the endocannabinoid system may play in regulating our moods such as stress, happiness and anxiety
A paper in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry has examined the potential of the endocannabinoid system to play a part in treating SADs.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common psychiatric disorder. People with SAD have an excessive fear or anxiety of social situations where they worry their behaviour may cause embarrassment, humiliation or rejection by others. This could be related to performance situations such as public speaking but may also be starting a conversation or socialising at an event. This may cause people to avoid attending events, work or relationships.
The NHS currently lists cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or anti-depressant medication as options for treatment with SAD.
The researchers reviewed existing scans of the brain to see if hormone imbalances could be the reason for the development of SAD. They examined dopamine which is responsible for how we feel pleasure, serotonin which stabilises our moods and the stress hormone cortisol.
They wrote: “The monoamine hypothesis and pharmacological approaches suggest that the neurobiologies of depression and anxiety share imbalances in the monoaminergic neurotransmission system.41 In this regard, neuro-molecular positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) studies in SAD have largely focused on imaging serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission, based on the reported efficacy of antidepressants.”
The authors wrote: “Emerging evidence suggests that the endogenous cannabinoid system, also referred to as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), could play a potential role in the pathophysiology of SAD. This review discusses the known pathophysiological mechanisms of SAD, the potential role of the ECS in this disorder, current drugs targeting the ECS, and the potential of these novel compounds to enhance the therapeutic armamentarium for SAD.”
The researchers concluded that the ECS could be a potential biological pathway in the treatment of SAD and is a promising avenue for developing more therapeutic approaches. They highlighted that there is a lack of human ECS studies or clinical trials which allow for ‘significant gaps in our knowledge.’
Could CBD help?
The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes. These receptors can be found throughout the body. Endocannabinoids bind to them to send a signal that the ECS needs to do something.
The main receptors are CB1 found in the central nervous system and CB2 in the peripheral nervous system. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor and produce effects depending on where the receptor is located and which one it binds to.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to CB1 or CB2 receptors while it is thought that potentially CBD can influence the receptors. Researchers aren’t sure how it interacts exactly.
A study explored the potential effects of CBD on people with SAD. Participants were given 400 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those given the CBD reported less anxiety than those given the placebo.
Another study on anxiety and sleep also revealed the potential of CBD to help stabilise our moods. The study involved 72 patients with 47 primarily experiencing anxiety and 25 suffering from poor quality sleep. Each person was given 25 milligrams of CBD each day and the majority of participants at 79.2 percent recorded they had lower anxiety while 66.7 percent reported better sleep after just the first month.
However, there is more research needed on both the endocannabinoid system and how CBD interacts with it to help treat SAD.
One in five autism caregivers give their child CBD products
A new report by reveals that the majority of parents started using oils during the pandemic for older children.
A study by Autism Parenting Magazine revealed that almost 20 percent of people caring for an autistic child give them CBD products.
The autism parenting survey was sent to 160,000 subscribers around the world revealing the extent of CBD use by parents caring for an autistic child. 18.6 percent of respondents confirmed they use CBD for a child on the spectrum to relieve a variety of their symptoms. This was further broken down to 22.16 percent of US parents compared to 14.29 percent of UK families.
It is estimated that there are 700,000 people in the UK with a diagnosis of autism. This is equal to one in 100 children in the UK.
The new survey also revealed that 31.3 percent of those using CBD products started during the Covid-19 pandemic. A further 16.6 percent revealed they have increased the amount since the pandemic began. The reason for this was thought to be down to increased anxiety and panic.
The data showed 76.3 percent CBD only use while the remaining 10 percent used other forms such as hemp, CD/THC and Epidiolex or CBD with terpenes.
The majority of those who responded were parents at 72.4 percent but there were also grandparents, careers, teachers, therapists, doctors or individuals on the spectrum.
Autism symptom relief
The survey revealed that the primary use for CBD was anxiety relief at 42.9 percent or challenging behaviour at 36.9 percent. The rest stated pain relief, inflammation, sleep or relaxation. A small number of parents, 4.3 percent, said seizures. Other reasons were given as speech or supporting potty training.
The survey also asked how much support the parents felt their child needed with 42.9 percent stating ‘requires substantial support.’ A small number at 17.9 percent said very substantial support. CBD use tended to be daily in the form of oils.
Oils were a favourite amongst parents with 60.8 percent opting to use this method. Other popular methods included 21.5 percent using gummies, 7.5 percent consuming capsules or tablets. A few used lotions or balms while 1.9 percent used vapes.
A large number of participants used CBD for their teenagers with 21.39 percent confirming their child was aged 13 to 18.
Only a small number of parents were combining the CBD with therapies at 7.4 percent. The therapy was listed as Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy (ABA Therapy). ABA therapy considers a person’s understanding of how behaviour works in real situations. The aim of therapy is to increase helpful and decrease unhelpful behaviours that could be harmful or affect learning. ABA is being used increasingly in the UK.
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