inflammation: The scientific research

Below are a list of scientific research studies which have looked at the efficacy of CBD for treatment of inflammation. Click on the title to be redirected to the full research article.


1. Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer

In the last decades, a lot of attention has been paid to the compounds present in medicinal Cannabis sativa L., such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and their effects on inflammation and cancer-related pain. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) currently recognizes medicinal C. sativa as an effective treatment for providing relief in a number of symptoms associated with cancer, including pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and anxiety. Several studies have described CBD as a multitarget molecule, acting as an adaptogen, and as a modulator, in different ways, depending on the type and location of disequilibrium both in the brain and in the body, mainly interacting with specific receptor proteins CB1 and CB2. CBD is present in both medicinal and fibre-type C. sativa plants, but, unlike Δ9-THC, it is completely nonpsychoactive. Fibre-type C. sativa (hemp) differs from medicinal C. sativa, since it contains only few levels of Δ9-THC and high levels of CBD and related nonpsychoactive compounds. In recent years, a number of preclinical researches have been focused on the role of CBD as an anticancer molecule, suggesting CBD (and CBD-like molecules present in the hemp extract) as a possible candidate for future clinical trials. CBD has been found to possess antioxidant activity in many studies, thus suggesting a possible role in the prevention of both neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. In animal models, CBD has been shown to inhibit the progression of several cancer types. Moreover, it has been found that coadministration of CBD and Δ9-THC, followed by radiation therapy, causes an increase of autophagy and apoptosis in cancer cells. In addition, CBD is able to inhibit cell proliferation and to increase apoptosis in different types of cancer models. These activities seem to involve also alternative pathways, such as the interactions with TRPV and GRP55 receptor complexes. Moreover, the finding that the acidic precursor of CBD (cannabidiolic acid, CBDA) is able to inhibit the migration of breast cancer cells and to downregulate the proto-oncogene c-fos and the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) highlights the possibility that CBDA might act on a common pathway of inflammation and cancer mechanisms, which might be responsible for its anticancer activity. In the light of all these findings, in this review we explore the effects and the molecular mechanisms of CBD on inflammation and cancer processes, highlighting also the role of minor cannabinoids and noncannabinoids constituents of Δ9-THC deprived hemp.

2. Diabetic retinopathy: Role of inflammation and potential therapies for anti-inflammation

Recent evidence suggests that local inflammation plays a major role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. The function of CBD as an antioxidant to block oxidative stress and as an inhibitor of adenosine reuptake to enhance a self-defense mechanism against retinal inflammation represents a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of ophthalmic complications associated with diabetes. This study is important for the development of adenosine reuptake inhibitors as a potentially novel and effective therapy for diabetic retinopathy. However, the therapeutic values of these agents should be confirmed by clinical trials. Furthermore, depending on the difference in the genetic make-ups for the metabolism and pharmacological target of CBD, it may be important to consider CBD as a personalized medicine, i.e. adjusted dosages according to individual’s genetic make-ups, to offer significant advantages over traditional clinical approaches[90].

3. Cannabidiol Reduces Intestinal Inflammation through the Control of Neuroimmune Axis

​Enteric glial cells (EGC) actively mediate acute and chronic inflammation in the gut; EGC proliferate and release neurotrophins, growth factors, and pro-inflammatory cytokines which, in turn, may amplify the immune response, representing a very important link between the nervous and immune systems in the intestine. Cannabidiol (CBD) is an interesting compound because of its ability to control reactive gliosis in the CNS, without any unwanted psychotropic effects. Therefore the rationale of our study was to investigate the effect of CBD on intestinal biopsies from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and from intestinal segments of mice with LPS-induced intestinal inflammation. CBD markedly counteracted reactive enteric gliosis in LPS-mice trough the massive reduction of astroglial signalling neurotrophin S100B. Histological, biochemical and immunohistochemical data demonstrated that S100B decrease was associated with a considerable decrease in mast cell and macrophages in the intestine of LPS-treated mice after CBD treatment. Moreover the treatment of LPS-mice with CBD reduced TNF-α expression and the presence of cleaved caspase-3. Similar results were obtained in ex vivo cultured human derived colonic biopsies. In biopsies of UC patients, both during active inflammation and in remission stimulated with LPS+INF-γ, an increased glial cell activation and intestinal damage were evidenced. CBD reduced the expression of S100B and iNOS proteins in the human biopsies confirming its well documented effect in septic mice. The activity of CBD is, at least partly, mediated via the selective PPAR-gamma receptor pathway. CBD targets enteric reactive gliosis, counteracts the inflammatory environment induced by LPS in mice and in human colonic cultures derived from UC patients. These actions lead to a reduction of intestinal damage mediated by PPARgamma receptor pathway. Our results therefore indicate that CBD indeed unravels a new therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.


4. An Orally Active Cannabis Extract with High Content in Cannabidiol attenuates Chemically-induced Intestinal Inflammation and Hypermotility in the Mouse


Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that Cannabis use may be beneficial in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Here, we have investigated the effect of a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol (CBD), here named CBD BDS for “CBD botanical drug substance,” on mucosal inflammation and hypermotility in mouse models of intestinal inflammation. Colitis was induced in mice by intracolonic administration of dinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (DNBS). Motility was evaluated in the experimental model of intestinal hypermotility induced by irritant croton oil. CBD BDS or pure CBD were given - either intraperitoneally or by oral gavage – after the inflammatory insult (curative protocol). The amounts of CBD in the colon, brain, and liver after the oral treatments were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to ion trap-time of flight mass spectrometry. CBD BDS, both when given intraperitoneally and by oral gavage, decreased the extent of the damage (as revealed by the decrease in the colon weight/length ratio and myeloperoxidase activity) in the DNBS model of colitis. It also reduced intestinal hypermotility (at doses lower than those required to affect transit in healthy mice) in the croton oil model of intestinal hypermotility. Under the same experimental conditions, pure CBD did not ameliorate colitis while it normalized croton oil-induced hypermotility when given intraperitoneally (in a dose-related fashion) or orally (only at one dose). In conclusion, CBD BDS, given after the inflammatory insult, attenuates injury and motility in intestinal models of inflammation. These findings sustain the rationale of combining CBD with other minor Cannabis constituents and support the clinical development of CBD BDS for IBD treatment.


​5. Cannabidiol attenuates alcohol-induced liver steatosis, metabolic dysregulation, inflammation and neutrophil-mediated injury

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, which has anti-inflammatory effects. It has also been approved by FDA for various orphan diseases for exploratory trials. Herein, we investigated the effects of CBD on liver injury induced by chronic plus binge alcohol feeding in mice. CBD or vehicle was administered daily throughout the alcohol feeding study. At the conclusion of the feeding protocol, serums samples, livers or isolated neutrophils were utilized for molecular biology, biochemistry and pathology analysis. CBD significantly attenuated the alcohol feeding-induced serum transaminase elevations, hepatic inflammation (mRNA expressions of TNFα, MCP1, IL1β, MIP2 and E-Selectin, and neutrophil accumulation), oxidative/nitrative stress (lipid peroxidation, 3-nitrotyrosine formation, and expression of reactive oxygen species generating enzyme NOX2). CBD treatment also attenuated the respiratory burst of neutrophils isolated from chronic plus binge alcohol fed mice or from human blood, and decreased the alcohol-induced increased liver triglyceride and fat droplet accumulation. Furthermore, CBD improved alcohol-induced hepatic metabolic dysregulation and steatosis by restoring changes in hepatic mRNA or protein expression of ACC-1, FASN, PPARα, MCAD, ADIPOR-1, and mCPT-1. Thus, CBD may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of alcoholic liver diseases associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and steatosis, which deserves exploration in human trials.


​6. The Atypical Cannabinoid Abn-CBD Reduces Inflammation and Protects Liver, Pancreas, and Adipose Tissue in a Mouse Model of Prediabetes and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Body weight and triglycerides profiles in blood and liver were comparable between vehicle- and Abn-CBD-treated DIO mice. However, treatment with Abn-CBD reduced hyperinsulinemia and markers of systemic low-grade inflammation in plasma and fat, also promoting white adipose tissue browning. Pancreatic islets from Abn-CBD-treated mice showed lower apoptosis, inflammation and oxidative stress than vehicle-treated DIO mice, and beta cell proliferation was induced. Furthermore, Abn-CBD lowered hepatic fibrosis, inflammation and macrophage infiltration in the liver when compared to vehicle-treated DIO mice. Importantly, the balance between hepatocyte proliferation and apoptosis was improved in Abn-CBD-treated compared to vehicle-treated DIO mice.

Conclusions: These results suggest that Abn-CBD exerts beneficial immunomodulatory actions in the liver, pancreas and adipose tissue of DIO prediabetic mice with NAFLD, thus protecting tissues. Therefore, Abn-CBD and related compounds could represent novel pharmacological strategies for managing obesity-related metabolic disorders.