Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics

Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 May;5(5):400-11. doi: 10.1038/nri1602.


In the nineteenth century, marijuana was prescribed by physicians for maladies ranging from eating disorders to rabies. However, as newer, more effective drugs were discovered and as the potential for abuse of marijuana was recognized, its use as a therapeutic became restricted, and only recently has its therapeutic potential been re-evaluated. Recent studies in animal models and in humans have produced promising results for the treatment of various disorders - such as obesity, cancer, and spasticity and tremor due to neuropathology - with drugs based on marijuana-derived cannabinoids. Moreover, as I discuss here, a wealth of information also indicates that these drugs have immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties; therefore, on the basis of this mode of action, the therapeutic usefulness of these drugs in chronic inflammatory diseases is now being reassessed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoids / immunology
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid