CannaTrials adheres to evidence-based medicine – making statements based on medical evidence. This page is excerpted and quoted from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.    A Committee of over 40 experts, researchers, and reviewers in The Health and Medicine Division published a 486 page report in 2017 entitled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.If you would like to access the entire report you may do so by clicking this link.

Medical Marijuana and Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of many cytotoxic chemotherapy agents. A number of pharmaceutical interventions in various drug classes have been approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Among the cannabinoid medications, nabilone and dronabinol were initially approved in 1985 for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments (Todaro, 2012, pp. 488, 490).

The oral THC preparations nabilone and dronabinol have been available for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting for more than 30 years (Grotenhermen and Müller-Vahl, 2012). They were both found to be superior to the placebo and equivalent to the available antiemetics at the time that the original trials were conducted. A more recent investigation suggests that dronabinol is equivalent to ondansetron for delayed nausea and vomiting, although no comparison to the currently more widely used neurokinin-1 inhibitors has been conducted. In the earlier trials, patients reported a preference for the cannabinoids over available agents. Despite an abundance of anecdotal reports of the benefits of plant cannabis, either inhaled or ingested orally, as an effective treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, there are no good-quality randomized trials investigating this option. This is, in part, due to the existing obstacles to investigating the potential therapeutic benefit of the cannabis plant. Nor have any of the reviewed trials investigated the effectiveness of cannabidiol or cannabidiol-enriched cannabis in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Such information is frequently requested by patients seeking to control chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting without the psychoactive effects of the THC-based preparations. Resolving this identified research gap may be a future research priority.

CONCLUSION 4-3 There is conclusive evidence that oral cannabinoids are effective antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. [1]

[1] The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research | The National Academies Press. 2017. Pages 91-94. Download the complete 486 page report.

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