Pharmacokinetics of Orally Applied Cannabinoids and Medical Marijuana Extracts in Mouse Nervous Tissue and Plasma: Relevance for Pain Treatment
Cannabis sativa plants contain a multitude of bioactive substances, which show broad variability between different plant strains. Of the more than a hundred naturally occurring phytocannabinoids, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been the most extensively studied, but whether and how the lesser investigated compounds in plant extracts affect bioavailability or biological effects of Δ9-THC or CBD is not known. We therefore performed a first pilot study to assess THC concentrations in plasma, spinal cord and brain after oral administration of THC compared to medical marijuana extracts rich in THC or depleted of THC. Δ9-THC levels were higher in mice receiving the THC-rich extract. Surprisingly, only orally applied CBD but not THC alleviated mechanical hypersensitivity in the mouse spared nerve injury model, favoring CBD as an analgesic compound for which fewer unwanted psychoactive effects are to be expected.