Is­raeli re­search could see cannabis used to treat obe­sity


CANNABIS COULD have a role in treat­ing obe­sity-re­lated fatty liver dis­ease, ac­cord­ing to a He­brew Univer­sity project that has been awarded fund­ing by a UK-Is­raeli startup.

The re­search fo­cuses on cannabid­iol, also known as CBD, a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring chem­i­cal found in mar­i­juana plants.

It ac­counts for about 40% of the ex­tract of the cannabis plant and is classed as a medicine in the UK and Israel.

“We know CBD is po­ten­tially able to elicit pos­i­tive meta­bolic ef­fects un­der fatty con­di­tions such as an un­bal­anced diet,” said Dr Joseph Tam, from the univer­sity’s Obe­sity & Metabolism Lab­o­ra­tory unit.

He stressed that the CBD ex­tract does not have the psy­choac­tive ef­fects of the full cannabis plant.

“What we’re ex­plor­ing in this study is whether CBD and other non-psy­choac­tive cannabis com­pounds can di­min­ish, in­hibit or re­verse the growth of fatty liver cells and even pre­vent their de­vel­op­ment.

“Our lab­o­ra­tory ex­per­i­ments are very promis­ing.”

Cannabis has two key in­gre­di­ents — THC and CBD — and it is THC that can make peo­ple in­tox­i­cated, anx­ious and psy­chotic.

But when iso­lated, CBD has the op­po­site ef­fect and calms peo­ple down, lead­ing some to use it in small doses as a medicine.

It has also been shown to mod­u­late fatty acid ac­cu­mu­la­tion in the liver and in­hibit weight gain in rats on high-fat di­ets.

CBD could have a po­ten­tially huge mar­ket, with more than one in two adults in Western coun­tries de­fined as over­weight or obese and af­flicted by non­al­co­holic fatty liver dis­ease.

“With CBD al­ready le­gal in the UK, it may not be very long be­fore we can prove that the plant is an ef­fec­tive rem­edy,” Dr. Tam said. “At the He­brew Univer­sity, we have been re­search­ing the medic­i­nal qual­i­ties of cannabis for 55 years.

“It is a tragedy that a plant that is so rich in medic­i­nal qual­i­ties was kept il­le­gal in the west and has been tagged with the stigma of sub­stance abuse for so long.”

The fund­ing is pro­vided by Ci­itech, a cannabis biotech firm that is based in the UK.

“CBD pos­sesses many health ben­e­fits and with this study, we be­lieve cannabis could usher in a new era of nat­u­ral weight loss ther­apy,” said Clifton Flack, one of the founders of the com­pany.

“There are too many peo­ple in the UK miss­ing out be­cause they think med­i­cal cannabis isn’t avail­able for them.

“Non-psy­choac­tive cannabis sup­ple­ments pro­vide con­sumers with a real al­ter­na­tive op­tion for health and well­be­ing and demon­strate why coun­tries such as the UK don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to le­galise med­i­cal cannabis to reap the ben­e­fits.”

Med­i­cal cannabis is be­com­ing a ma­jor in­dus­try in Israel with dozens of com­pa­nies in­volved in re­search, grow­ing and mar­ket­ing of cannabis for the treat­ment of a broad range of con­di­tions.

Israel’s Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture be­lieves Israel could be ex­port­ing $1 bil­lion [£740 mil­lion] of med­i­cal cannabis an­nu­ally within a decade.


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