Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Related Analogs in Inflammation


This review covers reports published in the last 5 years on the anti-inflammatory activities of all classes of cannabinoids, including phytocannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, synthetic analogs such as ajulemic acid and nabilone, the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and related compounds, namely, the elmiric acids, and finally, noncannabinoid components of Cannabis that show anti-inflammatory action. It is intended to be an update on the topic of the involvement of cannabinoids in the process of inflammation. A possible mechanism for these actions is suggested involving increased production of eicosanoids that promote the resolution of inflammation. This differentiates these cannabinoids from cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors that suppress the synthesis of eicosanoids that promote the induction of the inflammatory process.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 5



ajulemic acid


arachidonoyl glycerol










elmiric acid


fatty acid amidohydrolase


palmitoyl ethanolamide




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This publication was made possible by grants DA17969, DA13691, and AI 056362 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Burstein, S.H., Zurier, R.B. Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Related Analogs in Inflammation. AAPS J 11, 109 (2009).

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Key words

  • ajulemic acid
  • cannabinoid
  • elmiric acid
  • endocannabinoid
  • inflammation