Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in CNS disease
The major psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa, delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta(9)-THC), and endogenous cannabinoid ligands, such as anandamide, signal through G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors localised to regions of the brain associated with important neurological processes. Signalling is mostly inhibitory and suggests a role for cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in CNS disease where inhibition of neurotransmitter release would be beneficial.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that patients with disorders such as multiple sclerosis smoke cannabis to relieve disease-related symptoms. Cannabinoids can alleviate tremor and spasticity in animal models of multiple sclerosis, and clinical trials of the use of these compounds for these symptoms are in progress. The cannabinoid nabilone is currently licensed for use as an antiemetic agent in chemotherapy-induced emesis.
Evidence suggests that cannabinoids may prove useful in Parkinson’s disease by inhibiting the excitotoxic neurotransmitter glutamate and counteracting oxidative damage to dopaminergic neurons.
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