Pain and Inflammation
For as long as humans have walked the Earth, we’ve experienced pain and inflammation. This universal experience most commonly stems from the body’s response to foreign attacks from physical, viral, or bacterial sources. When the body senses a threat it sends white blood cells to address it, which results in inflammation. However, inflammation also occurs frequently as a result of the immune system being triggered in the absence of any apparent danger. In these instances, known as autoimmune responses, the body causes undue damage to its own tissues. Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) are all examples of chronic autoimmune diseases.
Inflammation and pain go hand and hand due to the chemicals released at the site of injury, known as inflammatory mediators. These mediators interact with nociceptors, sensory receptors that transmit pain impulses to the brain. Chronic inflammation causes greater amounts of these inflammatory mediators to be released, increasing pain levels. As such many drugs have been designed to limit inflammation and nociceptive activity, especially for those diagnosed with chronic autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, many of these commercial drugs carry serious side effects, or do not provide adequate relief for patients. As a result scientists are frequently looking for more effective ways to treat pain and inflammation in patients with chronic conditions.
Recently, cannabis has become the subject of much science-based research intent on identifying and defining the benefits of its constituent components known as cannabinoids. These compounds, commonly found in cannabis, produce bodily effects when they bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the brain and immune system respectively. THC and CBD are the most active and well known cannabinoids present in cannabis strains, with THC first being identified and synthesized by Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, mentor to Tikun Olam founder Tzachi Cohen. It’s best known for the psychoactive effect it produces as a result of binding with CB1 receptors. CBD and THC have also both been found to attenuate inflammation, decrease injury, and accelerate regeneration in many disease states when interacting with CB2 receptors. Unlike THC, however, CBD produces little to no psychoactive effect, which has made it the source of great interest and research for its anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive potential.
Over the last 10-15 years, scientists have studied the effects of purified CBD in animal populations with Arthritis, MS, and IBD, finding that it gives a bell-shaped dose-response curve. This means that only a limited dose range was found to be effective at treating inflammation and pain. In 2015, Dr. Ruth Gallily conducted a study intended to overcome the bell-shaped dose-response curve and find a way to administer CBD that would demonstrate increased benefits with increased dosages. Using Tikun Olam’s CBD-rich Avidekel strain, she made a plant-based cannabis extract to compare against purified CBD, as well as commercial anti-inflammatory drugs. She and her team found that plant-based CBD could overcome the bell-shaped dose-response, and was more effective at reducing swelling and inflammation in a test population of mice. This indicates that plant-based cannabis treatments may be more effective as a result of the “Entourage Effect,” a theory proposed by Dr. Mechoulam, that suggests a combination of cannabinoids produce an effect greater than the sum of their part. Click here to learn more about this study, and the potential benefits of Avidekel.