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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2001 Mar;2(3):399-414.

Cannabinoids and pain.

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Imperial College School of Medicine, Department of Anaesthetics, London, UK.


Recent advances have dramatically increased our understanding of cannabinoid pharmacology: the psychoactive constituents of Cannabis sativa have been isolated, synthetic cannabinoids described and an endocannabinoid system identified, together with its component receptors, ligands and their biochemistry. Strong laboratory evidence now underwrites anecdotal claims of cannabinoid analgesia in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Sites of analgesic action have been identified in brain, spinal cord and the periphery, with the latter two presenting attractive targets for divorcing the analgesic and psychotrophic effects of cannabinoids. Clinical trials are now required, but are hindered by a paucity of cannabinoids of suitable bioavailability and therapeutic ratio.

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