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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 22


Role of Cannabis and Its Derivatives in Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Disease.


Gotfried J, Naftali T, Schey R
Gastroenterology. 2020 Apr 22.
PMID: 32333910.


Medical and recreational cannabis use has increased dramatically over the last decade, resulting from mainstream cultural acceptance and legalization in several countries worldwide. Cannabis and its derivatives affect many gastrointestinal processes, via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS influences gastrointestinal homeostasis through anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive, and anti-secretory effects. Some gastrointestinal disorders might therefore be treated with cannabinoids. Despite numerous studies in cell lines and animals, few human studies have evaluated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. Cannabis' schedule 1 drug status has limited its availability in research; cannabis has been only recently legalized, in some states, for medicinal and/or recreational use. Cannabinoids can alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and emesis and chronic pain. Studies have demonstrated the important roles of the ECS in metabolism, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis have been investigated in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. Despite its potential benefits, undesired or even detrimental effects of cannabis can limit its use. Side effects such as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome affect some users. We review the ECS and the effects of cannabis and its derivatives on gastrointestinal and hepatic function in health and disease.