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Role seen for cannabis in helping to alleviate allergic skin disease
Date:8/16/2007

Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the bodys natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by reaction to something that directly contacts the skin. Many different substances (allergens) can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Usually these substances cause no trouble for most people, but if the skin is sensitive or allergic to the substance, any exposure will produce a rash, which may become very severe. Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 5 percent of men and 11percent of women in industrialized countries and is one of the leading causes for occupational diseases.

An article describing the work of the international research group, led by Dr Andreas Zimmer from the University of Bonn, was published recently in the journal Science. The article deals with alleviating allergic skin disease through what is called the endocannabinoid system. Among the members of the group is Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy.

In earlier work, Prof.Mechoulams research group at the Hebrew University isolated two naturally occurring cannabinoid (cannabis-like) components one from the brain, named anandamide (from the word ananda, meaning supreme joy in Sanskrit), and another from the intestines named 2-AG. These two cannabinoids, plus their receptors and various enzymes that are involved in the cannnabinoids syntheses and degradations, comprise the endocannabinoid system. These materials have similar effects to those of the active components in hashish and marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant.

Research by groups throughout the world has since shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological processes, including the protective reaction of the mammalian bo
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert

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