Cannabinoids for gastrointestinal diseases: potential therapeutic applications.Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2003 Jan; 12(1):39-49.EO
Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient of marijuana), as well as endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids, exert many biological functions by activating two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB(1) and CB(2) receptors. CB(1) receptors have been detected on enteric nerves, and pharmacological effects of their activation include gastroprotection, reduction of gastric and intestinal motility and reduction of intestinal secretion. The digestive tract also contains endogenous cannabinoids (i.e., the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-aracidonylglycerol) and mechanisms for endocannabinoid inactivation (i.e., endocannabinoids uptake and enzymatic degradation). Cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids and the proteins involved in endocannabinoids inactivation are collectively referred as the 'endogenous cannabinoid system'. A pharmacological modulation of the endogenous cannabinoid system could provide new therapeutics for the treatment of a number of gastrointestinal diseases, including nausea and vomiting, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, secretory diarrhoea, paralytic ileus and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some cannabinoids are already in use clinically, for example, nabilone and delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol are used as antiemetics.