July 4, 2012
Researchers Develop Marijuana Without The High
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
In films, marijuana has been depicted as having slacker appeal. The characters that use marijuana for medicinal purposes end up having a high from the substance as well. Recent research showed that this association may eventually be eliminated with a new form of cannabis that has been developed. Scientists from Israel recently revealed that they have been able to develop marijuana that can lessen the symptoms of certain illnesses without getting the patients high.
Cannabis has over 60 various components that are known as cannabinoids. THC is possibly the most famous of the cannabinoids, known for its psychoactive affects and “high” feeling rather than medical uses. Cannabis also includes Cannabidioil (CBD), a substance that is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
"CBD plants are available in different forms all over the world,” explained Zack Klein, head of development at cannabis developer Tikun Olam, in a Stuff article.
CBD differs from THC in that it barely binds to the brain´s receptors and can focus on the body´s ailments without giving patients the “high feeling.”
"Sometimes the high is not always what they need. Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect. For some of the people it's not even pleasant," remarked Klein in a Telegraph article.
Cannabis is an illegal drug in Israel but it was first allowed for medicinal use in 1993. According to Reuters Health, cannabis is presently used in Israel to treat 9,000 people who suffer from a variety of diseases like cancer, Crohn´s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson´s, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2009, Tikun Olam began researching CBD enhanced cannabis. Six months ago, the company developed Avidekel, a cannabis strain that has 15.8 percent CBD and slight traces of THC that amounts to less than one percent. Other drug companies have also showed interest in developing cannabis as medicine. Britain´s GW Pharmaceuticals collaborated with Bayer and Almirall in producing an under-the-tongue spray, known as Sativez, which lowered highs by managing the ratio of ingredients that were active.
However, Avidekel is the first drug in Israel that has been designed with a CBD-enriched cannabis plant and does not include THC.
"It is possible that (Avidekel's) CBD to THC ratio is the highest among medical marijuana companies in the world, but the industry is not very organized, so one cannot keep exact track of what each company is doing," noted Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in the Reuters Health article.
Avidekel is also interesting in its anti-inflammatory attributes. The drug has been tested on mice and clinical trials will start in the next few months. Since Avidekel is new strain of a plant that has already been approved for medical use, approximately 10 patients have already used it in the past six months.
"The cannabis plant, enriched with CBD, can be used for treating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease and diabetes," remarked Ruth Gallily, a member of the Hebrew University and Tikun Olam who has studied CBD for over 12 years, in the Reuters Health article.
Despite the many different traits of Avidekel, members of Tikun Olam believe that regular marijuana will still have a role in treatment as THC has particular traits that can relieve symptoms from a number of illnesses.
"Don't worry, I think that cannabis with THC will still be (around)," commented Klein in the Reuters Health article.