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Weekly Medicinal Cannabis Research Wrap - 1/7/20

Cannabidiol-based mouthwashes as an alternative to Chlorohexidine

A study(1) recently completed in Belgium has demonstrated the potential for cannabinoid-based mouth washes to be used as an alternative to chlorhexidine-based mouth washes for removal of oral bacteria. Chlorohexidine is currently considered the gold standard for controlling dental plaque and gingivitis, however, also produces the unwanted side effects of tooth discolouration and calcium build up.

This study compared the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD) based mouth wash (containing <1% by cannabidiol by weight) to a current, over the counter alternative with a chlorohexidine base. A total of 72 adults (38 women and 34 men) participated in the study with the cannabidiol based mouth wash products performing equal, or better than that of the chlorohexidine-based alternatives.

While the long-term effects of a cannabidiol based mouthwash have not been investigated in this preliminary study, it is not thought that cannabidiol would have any long-term effects on the decolourisation of teeth. Based on this in-vitro study, cannabinoid-based mouth wash products can offer a much safer, efficient alternative to alcohol or fluoride-based mouth washes, while providing equal if not better results to chlorohexidine-based products.

1Vasudevan, K., Stahl, V. Cannabinoids infused mouthwash products are as effective as chlorhexidine on inhibition of total-culturable bacterial content in dental plaque samples. J Cannabis Res 2, 20 (2020).

CBD as a treatment for behavioural issues in children with intellectual disabilities

A pilot study(2) carried out by the Murdoch Children’s research institute in Australia suggests that CBD may reduce severe behavioural problems in children with varying intellectual disabilities. Current psychotropic medications that target behavioural control also carry a high risk of side effects and it is reported that these medications are prescribed by Australian paediatricians as the treatment option for almost 50% of youth with intellectual disabilities.

This randomised controlled study involved 10 participants between the ages of 8 and 16, comparing a 98% CBD oil with a placebo over an 8-week period. The study found a significant positive change in the participants that were given the active trial medication with no negative side effects reported. All parents involved in the study reported that they would recommend the study to other parents with intellectually disabled children.

A pilot study is not enough to drive changes in prescription practices, but it provides a very promising insight into the potential use of CBD to treat children with intellectual disabilities. It also provides supporting evidence to fund larger trials in the future that can provide much more definitive results.

(2) Efron D, Taylor K, Payne JM, et al

Does cannabidiol reduce severe behavioural problems in children with intellectual disability? Study protocol for a pilot single-site phase I/II randomised placebo controlled trial

BMJ Open 2020

The impact of medical cannabis on self-reported health

With the recent global uptake in use of medical cannabis to treat a variety of conditions there is still a lot of conjecture on whether the benefits are a result of a placebo effect or whether these patients are benefiting from the actual proven medical properties of the plant. A recent study3 performed by John Hopkins Medical School in the USA investigated just this. The studied surveyed a number of medical cannabis users that were using the plant in a number of different forms to treat a variety of medical conditions.

The patients were surveyed prior to treatment with medical cannabis and again, after a course of treatment. The study reported that patients experienced on average an 8% increase in quality of life, 9% reduction in pain scores and a 12% reduction in anxiety. What is even more interesting is that patients participating in this survey reported using 14% less prescription medications and were 46% less likely to have been admitted to hospital in the month prior to being surveyed.

While this study was a very broad look at the reported benefits of cannabis it provides an extremely positive starting point for future studies that can look at the benefits and interactions for specific medical conditions. With New Zealand’s publicly funded healthcare system, a 46% reduction in hospital admissions for patients that use medical cannabis could free up both time and money which can only be taken as a positive.

Schlienz NJ, Scalsky R, Martin EL, Jackson H, Munson J, Strickland JC, Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin M, Vandrey R (2020) A cross-sectional and prospective comparison of medicinal cannabis users and controls on self-reported health, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

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