What if there were no ‘high’ associated with cannabinoid use for relief of fibromyalgia and other painful illnesses? Without the suspicion that pain patients really want cannabis for ‘recreational’ purposes, would pharmacological research, drug development, prescribing practices, and patient relief forge ahead?
Now, at least one strain of marijuana reported to be virtually free of the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) cannabinoid, but also very high in the anti-inflammatory CBD (cannabiodiol) cannabinoid, has been developed. It has taken years of cross-breeding, with no genetic engineering involved, according to its developer, the Tikun Olam company in Israel.
While there are receptors in the pleasure and sensory centers of the brain that are stimulated by THC, these receptors do not recognize or respond to the anti-inflammatory CBD, researchers have found.
Dubbed “Avidekel,” the new strain is cultivated in a large, closely protected facility (location undisclosed). Reportedly it has already been tried with good results by a select group of patients to ease symptoms of chronic illness such as pain and nausea.
These are people who have a physician’s prescription for medicinal cannabinoids and want symptom relief, but also want to stay functional if they can – so consider THC’s effects on the pleasure centers an unwanted side effect.
Prescriptions for medicinal use of cannabis are legal in Israel, where it is used by some 9,000 patients with conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, Crohn’s, or PTSD.
Avidekel has been tested on mice in the lab, and human clinical trials are expected in a few months, according to prof. emeritus Ruth Gallily, PhD, a researcher specializing in study of inflammatory processes and anti-inflammatory cannabinoids at Hebrew University.
Is Avidekel the most promising high-CBD medical marijuana strain in the works today? Experts say it might be, though it’s hard to know given the fragmentation of the industry.
But undoubtedly many people with fibromyalgia pain and others seeking effective, low-risk help for their symptoms will eagerly await news on the findings of upcoming trials – the sooner and higher profile, the better.
Sources: Reuters news service release, “Israelis develop ‘highless’ marijuana,” by Maayan Lubell, Jul 5, 2012; Hebrew University in Jerusalem faculty information; Examiner.com, “Medical Marijuana without the High”; Tikun Olam Facebook page; Jerusalem Post.