New Government-Sponsored CBD Research Grants – Quick Look

Last updated on February 1st, 2020

Late last month the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) announced plans to further investigate how well the group of natural chemicals in cannabis (cannabinoids) can treat pain.

NCCIH awarded nearly $3 million in grants to research teams across the United States who are studying the effects of things like terpenes, cannabidiol (CBD), and a wide variety of minor cannabinoids on receptors found in the human body.

There are over 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Each plant’s individual terpene and cannabinoid profile helps develop its characteristics. How does it smell? How does it taste? Does it contain a lot of THC? How high can it get you? Does it contain only CBD? Does it have an earthy flavor?

But not a lot is known about how the minor cannabinoids work together to be effective. Among the nine grants are three specifically focused on CBD for pain management. This is good news for consumers who are looking for alternatives to common pain medications like opioids, which can be habit-forming. CBD has a positive safety profile and is not known to be addictive, but there is still much to be understood about its long-term impacts on the body.

We break out the CBD-focused studies below.

Mechanism and Optimization of CBD-Mediated Analgesic Effects

The Simple: How does CBD cause pain relief? How might we use this information to help CBD relieve pain better?

The Technical: This study will look at how potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2) can modulate CBD’s analgesic effectiveness.

“This proposed study aims to identify neural mechanisms involved in minor cannabinoids signaling in order to optimize their analgesic effects. The insights obtained should be useful in designing novel strategies for treating neuropathic pain.”

Total FundingProject StartProject EndOrganizationProject Leader
$690,116September 2019August 2024Boston Children’s HospitalZhigang He

Identifying the Mechanisms of Action for CBD on Chronic Arthritis Pain

The Simple: How does CBD cause relief specifically for joint pain? How might we use this information to help CBD relieve pain better in this use case, which affects certain populations more than others?

The Technical: The New York University School of Medicine received a grant for an animal study of chronic arthritis pain and the potential effectiveness of CBD in its treatment. 

“Our proposed comprehensive set of neuroimaging and behavioral studies will provide, for the first time, evidence and a critical understanding of mechanisms of action for CBD as a potential therapeutic, alone or in combination with other drugs, for chronic arthritis pain and will guide future research for other pain conditions for which non-opioid analgesics are urgently needed.”

Total FundingProject StartProject EndOrganizationProject Leader
$254,250September 2019August 2021New York University School of MedicineYu-Shin Ding

Exploring the Mechanisms Underlying the Analgesic Effect of Cannabidiol Using Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

The Simple: All this stuff happening in the body is on a tiny scale that we can’t see with our own eyes – even with glasses. What can we learn about CBD if we could understand better what it’s doing to the brain at this level?

The Technical: Researchers at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City will study the short-term (5-day) impacts of using a CBD-enriched cannabis extract on brain chemistry using a process that is similar in concept to how an MRI provides information.

“The proposed study will explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the analgesic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The successful completion of this study will provide a mechanistic insight into CBD’s analgesic effects.”

Total FundingProject StartProject EndOrganizationProject Leader
$152,500September 2019August 2021University of UtahDeborah Yurgelun-Todd

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