The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

Cannabimimetic effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment.

PMID 16118355


Endogenous cannabinoids activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain and elicit mood-altering effects. Parallel effects (eg, anxiolysis, analgesia, sedation) may be elicited by osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), and previous research has shown that the endorphin system is not responsible for OMT's mood-altering effects. The authors investigate whether OMT generated cannabimimetic effects for 31 healthy subjects in a dual-blind, randomized controlled trial that measured changes in subjects' scores on the 67-item Drug Reaction Scale (DRS). Chemical ionization gas chromatography and mass spectrometry were also used to determine changes in serum levels of anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and oleylethanolamide (OEA). In subjects receiving OMT, posttreatment DRS scores increased significantly for the cannabimimetic descriptors good, high, hungry, light-headed, and stoned, with significant score decreases for the descriptors inhibited, sober, and uncomfortable. Mean posttreatment AEA levels (8.01 pmol/mL) increased 168% over pretreatment levels (2.99 pmol/mL), mean OEA levels decreased 27%, and no changes occurred in 2-AG levels in the group receiving OMT. Subjects in the sham manipulative treatment group recorded mixed DRS responses, with both increases and decreases in scores for cannabimimetic and noncannabimimetic descriptors and no changes in sera levels. When changes in serum AEA were correlated with changes in subjects' DRS scores, increased AEA correlated best with an increase for the descriptors cold and rational, and decreased sensations for the descriptors bad, paranoid, and warm. The authors propose that healing modalities popularly associated with changes in the endorphin system, such as OMT, may actually be mediated by the endocannabinoid system.