Current evidence points to the endocannabinoid system as a potential therapeutic target for many disorders. Some of these include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Most research on the endocannabinoid system is in early stages. But a few cannabinoid-based treatments have been developed and approved for specific uses. These include medications such as Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex.
As research on the endocannabinoid system continues, more possible applications are being discovered. The broad potential of treatments that can target this system was summarized in 2006 by the National Institutes of Health:
“In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs… modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few…”
Marzo, V. D., Maurizio B., Luciano D. P. (2004). The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic exploitation. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 3: 771-84. doi:10.1038/nrd1495
Pacher P., Batkai S., Kunos G. (2006). The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol. Rev. 58, 389–462. doi: 10.1124/pr.58.3.2.