Dr. Quentin Pittman
University of Calgary
About the researcher
Health Physician Student at Carleton University
Endocannabinoids are a group of chemicals in the brain that help regulate a number of processes, including mood, memory, appetite and immune functions. Cannabinoids may also be found outside the human body; for example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of marijuana, is a cannabinoid that exercises its effects on the human body by binding to the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. Anecdotally marijuana has been reported to alleviate Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. This project explored the role of endocannabinoid signalling in MS to evaluate if there is scientific validity to these claims.
In this study the MS mice were treated with enhanced levels of anandamide (an endocannabinoid). This resulted in improved sensorimotor functions (clinical score), as well as reduced cellular markers of inflammation in the nervous system and reduced immune activity, which are the classic hallmarks of MS.
From this it was concluded that endocannabinoid signalling appears to help moderate the immune activity contributing to the symptoms of MS, helping validate anecdotal claims. These findings support the therapeutic use of marijuana for MS patients, achieving these effects might be possible through the brain’s normal endocannabinoid system. Further research is required to explore this possibility.
For their efforts and generous contributions to the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, this research project has been funded by and dedicated to the Mixed Bag for MS. This annual event helped raise more than $6,000 through an outpouring of support from local businesses, musicians, artists and community members.