Cannabigerol, Making Food Appetizing for Cancer Patients

For all of the states that initially passed medical cannabis legislation, cancer was not only an approved condition but also a major data point supporting such legislation. Specifically, cancer patients, forced to undergo exhausting chemotherapy treatments, lose appetite. This drastic, prolonged loss of appetite, similar to anorexia, decreases body weight and in turn, decreases overall health. Cannabis has long been observed to increase appetite in humans (we’ve written several Cornerstone blog posts on the “munchies”), with the most active ingredient identified as THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Unfortunately, not all patients enjoy or can tolerate this psychoactivity. Originally, this posed a serious downside to treatment with cannabis. However, with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, researchers realized that the effects of THC might be achieved, without psychoactivity, via other cannabinoids. Additionally, research has confirmed that cannabis containing no THC can still restore appetite. In line with this thinking, one paper, published last month in the medical research journal, Psychopharmacology, tested a molecule known as cannabigerol (CBG) on rodents to observe changes in feeding patterns. Readers may be surprised to learn that cannabigerol, unlike many other cannabinoids, found mostly in the resin of medicinal plants, exists in higher concentrations in plain hemp. Most medicinal strains, in fact, have concentrations lower than 1%. CBG also binds to the CB1 receptor at a much lower rate than THC and may even serve to temporarily disable the receptor. However, CBG has also been shown to be a 5-HT1A receptor agonist and an alpha2-adrenergic…

Cannabinoids as Weight Loss Drugs Part II

The association between cannabis and appetite is well known both in the scientific world and pop culture. As many of our longtime blog readers already know, this association ultimately led to the development of one of the most horrific weight loss drugs of the past century, known as Rimonabant. Researchers at the Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceutical company, noticing the role of THC (and more generally, activation of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor) in increasing appetite, guessed correctly that the reverse would also be true – that deactivating the CB1 receptor would decrease appetite and therefore allow weight loss. Of course, that was before scientists understood how essential the endocannabinoid system is to our healthy functioning; as numerous reports came flooding in of increased suicide rates and depression in individuals with no previous history of mental illness, the drug was quickly pulled from the market. Needless to say, plans for all similar CB1 blockers (CB1 antagonists) were nixed at competing pharmaceutical companies, and researchers have since been hesitant to touch cannabinoids as weight loss drugs, for good reason. However, as we’ve expressed in previous articles, the endocannabinoid system is not a simple system compromised of only two light switches (in this case, two receptors that can merely be turned off or on). In fact, the endocannabinoid system can be activated through non-standard receptor binding sites, and endocannabinoids themselves can also activate other chemical pathways throughout the body. Unfortunately, due to a lack of research, many of the specific effects of manipulating the endocannabinoid system…