Oxidative stress with reactive oxygen species generation is a key weapon in the arsenal of the immune system for fighting invading pathogens and initiating tissue repair. If excessive or unresolved, however, immune-related oxidative stress can initiate further increasing levels of oxidative stress that cause organ damage and dysfunction. Targeting oxidative stress in various diseases therapeutically has proven more problematic than first anticipated given the complexities and perversity of both the underlying disease and the immune response. However, growing evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system, which includes the CB₁ and CB₂ G-protein-coupled receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands, may be an area that is ripe for therapeutic exploitation. In this context, the related nonpsychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol, which may interact with the endocannabinoid system but has actions that are distinct, offers promise as a prototype for anti-inflammatory drug development. This review discusses recent studies suggesting that cannabidiol may have utility in treating a number of human diseases and disorders now known to involve activation of the immune system and associated oxidative stress, as a contributor to their etiology and progression. These include rheumatoid arthritis, types 1 and 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer disease, hypertension, the metabolic syndrome, ischemia-reperfusion injury, depression, and neuropathic pain.
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