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Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Apr;82(1):87-96.

The cannabinoid acids: nonpsychoactive derivatives with therapeutic potential.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655-0103, USA.


The discovery of carboxylic acid metabolites of the cannabinoids (CBs) dates back more than three decades. Their lack of psychotropic activity was noted early on, and this resulted in a total absence of further research on their possible role in the actions of the CBs. More recent studies have revealed that the acids possess both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and may contribute to the actions of the parent drug. A synthetic analog showed similar actions at considerably lower doses. In this review, a brief survey of the extensive literature on metabolism of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol to the acids is presented, while more emphasis is given to the recent findings on the biological actions of this class of CBs. A possible mechanism involving effects on eicosanoids for some of these actions is also suggested. Finally, an analogy with a putative metabolite of anandamide, an endogenous CB, is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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