If you didn’t already know, Israel is at the forefront of medical cannabis research. If North America is at the center of CBD culture, Israel is very often seen as the world leader in research and development into this incredible molecule. From its very first isolation to the more modern medical applications, Israel has been the frontrunner of CBD science.
The widespread use of CBD has been gaining slow but steady acceptance over the last few years. While cannabis research in the United States has certainly been hindered by criminalization, countries like Israel are taking up the mantle. Interestingly, this research is partly funded by the United States.
Israel is home to a modest medical marijuana program that works with some 40,000 patients, making it the leading cannabis research country in the world. Cannabis consumption in the country is also rather impressive, with nearly 30% of the population having tried the stuff in the last year.
So what’s the latest out of Israel regarding CBD research? Here’s a roundup of the newest studies.
One of the latest studies to come out of Israel is that CBD oil could be an effective way to treat autism in children. The study was conducted by Adi Aran and his team at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem over the course of seven months. Sixty children (average age of 12) who suffer from autism spectrum disorder were administered daily doses of cannabis oil with a ratio of 20:1 of CBD:THC. Since there was such a small amount of THC, parents didn’t need to worry about their child getting high.
After seven months of receiving daily doses of CBD oil the data was examined, and it was found that 80% of children had experienced improvements in their condition. 62% of these demonstrated significant improvement in their behavioral patterns and communication skills. In addition, most of the children also experienced a reduction in anxiety.
Another study published in Nature, conducted by Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, also found that cannabis oil could be used as an effective treatment for various autism-related symptoms. Some of these symptoms include seizures, depression, restlessness, tics, and rage attacks for patients under the age of 18.
The study found that after regularly consuming cannabis oil for six months, 30% of patients reported a significant improvement in their condition, 53.7% reported moderate improvement, and 15% had slight or no change.
Cannabis and its derivatives have been known to relieve some of the symptoms of cancer, as well as a few side effects associated with cancer treatments. But now, an Israeli scientist is studying the plant’s potential as an actual therapy.
Dan Peer, who is the chair of the Tel Aviv Cancer Biology Research Center, is currently studying the use of cannabinoids in treating certain types of cancer, and thus far he’s had some promising results.
Peer is an expert in using nanotechnology in medicine. More specifically, he works on utilizing nanoparticles to deliver drugs directly into the body’s cells. He believes that through the development of this technique, there is the potential to transform cancer therapy. He explained that when the “nanocarriers” are loaded with cannabinoids which target tumors, animal models have demonstrated a shrinking in cancerous cells.
The most well-understood cannabinoids are THC, CBD, and CBN, and Peer’s lab is busy experimenting with each of these either singularly or in combination, as well as both natural and synthetic varieties. For instance, mice with a deadly and very aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called MCL were found to live almost twice as long (50 days versus 30 days) when they were treated with CBN and CBD nanoparticles, in comparison to traditional chemotherapy.
Typically, both acute and chronic pains are managed with opioid medication. But opioids are associated with a high rate of addiction and significant side effects. The opioid crisis is one of the driving forces behind one of Israel’s most comprehensive studies into using cannabis as an alternative treatment for pain.
In a study published in the March 2018 issue of the European Journal of Medicine, the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain was shown over a 6-month period. Used in over 2,700 patients aged 65 or older, 93.7% of participants reported an overall improvement in pain.
One of the most commonly experienced types of chronic pain is back pain. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently awarded Therapix Biosciences of Tel Aviv with approval for investigating the use of a synthetic cannabinoid for treating back pain. This drug, known as THX-100, will be used as part of advanced clinical trials.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
For research on conditions which feature IBD as a symptom, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, Koltai’s lab partnered with Israeli-Canadian PlantEXT, a subsidiary of Israel Plant Sciences. Together, they are busy examining the effects that cannabis compounds and extracts have on tissue from colon biopsies given by Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba. Clinical trials will start soon, and next they’ll turn their attention to colon cancer.
Parkinson’s Disease and Insomnia
According to a 2018 report from Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center, there are nearly 70 Israeli companies that are actively focusing on medical cannabis in sectors such as life sciences, medical devices, and agriculture
Some of these life-sciences companies that are developing treatments or medicines are ICD Pharma, Talent Biotechs, Intec Pharma, Bazelet, and Izun Pharma subsidiary CannRx. The medical indications in the pipeline for CannRx are neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, and pain – with a delivery system that is suitable for the elderly and other populations who have difficulty with administration.
A representative from the company, Shimon Lecht, has stated that the most advanced formulas are for pain and insomnia and that they expect to have some clinical trial results to announce during this year.
Final Thoughts on the Latest Israeli Cannabis Research
Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, acute and chronic pain, autism, and insomnia – the list of conditions that could be improved by CBD keeps growing, and Israel is at the forefront of this research.
The most prominent recent study out of Israel as of 2019 is that CBD oil could be used as an effective treatment option for autism in children. We await further medical findings regarding CBD and autism, but thus far results are very promising.