Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 14;22(2):778. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020778.


Cannabis sativa L. turned out to be a valuable source of chemical compounds of various structures, showing pharmacological activity. The most important groups of compounds include phytocannabinoids and terpenes. The pharmacological activity of Cannabis (in epilepsy, sclerosis multiplex (SM), vomiting and nausea, pain, appetite loss, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), Parkinson's disease, Tourette's syndrome, schizophrenia, glaucoma, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)), which has been proven so far, results from the affinity of these compounds predominantly for the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), type two (CB2), and the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55)) but, also, for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), glycine receptors, serotonin receptors (5-HT), transient receptor potential channels (TRP), and GPR, opioid receptors. The synergism of action of phytochemicals present in Cannabis sp. raw material is also expressed in their increased bioavailability and penetration through the blood-brain barrier. This review provides an overview of phytochemistry and pharmacology of compounds present in Cannabis extracts in the context of the current knowledge about their synergistic actions and the implications of clinical use in the treatment of selected diseases.

Keywords: Cannabis; multitarget; phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD); receptors; terpenes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Cannabinoids / chemistry
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use
  • Tourette Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Tourette Syndrome / metabolism


  • Cannabinoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Phytochemicals
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Terpenes