Mar 16, Whole or crude marijuana (including marijuana oil or hemp oil) is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has labeled marijuana a Schedule I drug, which means it's illegal under federal law. But the use of medical marijuana . Nov 12, Some studies have found medical marijuana can ease some cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. Here's what to know if you're.
Marijuana and Cancer Medical
Medical marijuana comes in a variety of strains and each has different levels of active compounds and potency. This means the effects of medical marijuana will be unique to each person and can be hard to predict. Many oncologists would prefer that their patients not smoke anything. So, oils, sprays, or tinctures may be a better option than edibles or dried leaves or buds. Again, because research on medical marijuana and cancer is limited, information on side effects is also limited.
Reported side effects of medical marijuana include increased heart rate, low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, hallucinations, and paranoia. Was this article helpful? For example, one trial tested THC's effectiveness in patients who received methothrexate—a drug that only occasionally causes vomiting.
With the advent of more effective medications, such as ondansetron Zofran and granisetron Kytril , both serotonin antagonists, these results carry little weight. Even when administered together, THC and prochlorperazine failed to stop vomiting in two-thirds of patients. In one particularly well designed study, researchers compared THC with metoclopramide sold in the United States under various brand names, including Clopra, Maxolon, Octamide PFS, Reclomide, and Reglan , an effective and widely used antiemetic.
None of the patients in this study had previously received chemotherapy, so there was no danger that they would vomit simply because they had become conditioned to do so—a reaction that often occurs in people who have undergone several rounds of chemotherapy.
Every patient in this study received the same dose of cisplatin; participants were also randomly assigned to receive either THC or metoclopramide. Seventy-three percent of the patients who received THC vomited at least twice following chemotherapy, compared with only 27 percent of the patients who received metoclopramide.
Several additional but less rigorous studies reached similar conclusions: Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug, in the form of Marinol, for use when chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting are not relieved by other antiemetic medications.
Participants in clinical trials of THC have reported several unpleasant side effects, including dry mouth, low blood pressure, sedation, and mood changes. Patients who had no prior experience with marijuana or related drugs were more likely to report psychological discomfort after taking it than those who had tried marijuana previously. On the other hand, advocates of marijuana use for medical purposes maintain that, when such patients receive prior guidance on marijuana's effects, they rarely experience adverse psychological reactions upon using the drug for the first time.
Although this claim has not been objectively tested, it may apply equally to the effects of THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana. In some clinical trials of THC for antiemesis, patients who underwent the most dramatic mood changes tended to vomit least; other trials found no correlation between THC's psychoactive and antiemetic effects. If they are linked, however, it may be possible to separate the two effects by creating synthetic analogs of the THC molecule.
Perhaps, then, scientists could make additional chemical alterations to the THC molecule to create a chemical analog that controls vomiting better and is less psychoactive than THC.
In fact, such a compound may already exist naturally. In a study of eight children, ages three to 13, deltaTHC was found to completely block their chemotherapy-induced vomiting.
The only side effect reported was irritability in the two youngest children ages three and one-half and four years. Of the existing chemical analogs of THC, two have been tested in chemotherapy trials. Both were found to be somewhat effective in preventing vomiting following chemotherapy but not as effective as other antiemetics already on the market.
Although many medical marijuana users claim that smoked marijuana controls nausea and vomiting better than oral THC, no rigorous studies that support this contention have yet been published.
In a study that directly compared smoked marijuana with THC, researchers found that both prevented vomiting to a similar degree. Only one in four people in this study of 20 patients achieved complete control of chemotherapy-induced vomiting with either drug. During one session, patients smoked a marijuana cigarette and swallowed a placebo pill; at the other session they smoked a placebo cigarette and took a pill containing THC.
Patients received the experimental treatments in random order, so approximately half tried marijuana before THC, while the others tried the drugs in the opposite sequence. When asked which form of treatment they preferred, 35 percent of the patients said they favored THC pills, 20 percent chose marijuana, and 45 percent had no preference. Another preliminary study tested smoked marijuana in cancer patients who were not helped by conventional antiemetic drugs; however, serotonin antagonists—currently considered the most effective antiemetics—were not yet available in when this study was conducted.
Since this group of patients varied greatly in terms of their chemotheraputic regimen as well as with regard to their prior experience with marijuana, these results must be considered approximate at best. Nevertheless, it does make sense that inhaling THC in the form of smoked marijuana would prevent vomiting better than swallowing a pill.
If vomiting were severe or began immediately after chemotherapy, oral THC could not stay down long enough to take effect.
Smoking also allows patients to take only the drug they want, one puff at a time, thus reducing their risk of unwanted side effects. But the long-term harms of smoking outweigh its benefits for all but the terminally ill, the IOM team concluded. Instead, they recommended the development and testing of a rapidonset method of delivering THC, such as an inhaler.
Similar devices are now used to administer medicine for asthma and other respiratory disorders and are being developed to deliver pain medication. Wasting and appetite loss affect most cancer patients. At best these conditions diminish quality of life; at worst they hasten death. Depending on the type of cancer, 50 to 80 percent of patients will develop cachexia, a disproportionate loss of lean body tissue.
Cachexia occurs most often during the final stages of advanced pancreatic, lung, and prostate cancers. Proteins called cytokines, produced by the immune system in response to the tumor, appear to stimulate this wasting process. Cachexia also occurs as a result of HIV infection see Chapter 5 , and both cancer and AIDS patients currently receive similar treatments for the condition.
Standard therapies for cachexia include intravenous or tube feeding as well as treatment with megestrol acetate Megace , an appetite stimulant. If the latter causes patients to gain weight, however, it is mostly in the form of fat—not the lean tissue they would have lost through cachexia. Both megestrol acetate and dronabinol produce troublesome side effects in some patients.
The former can cause hyperglycemia and hypertension; the latter can cause dizziness and lethargy. Some people have trouble with increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure especially when standing up , dizziness or lightheadedness, and fainting.
They can also worsen depression, mania, or other mental illness. Some patients taking nabilone in studies reported hallucinations. The drugs may increase some effects of sedatives, sleeping pills, or alcohol, such as sleepiness and poor coordination.
Patients have also reported problems with dry mouth and trouble with recent memory. People who have had emotional illnesses, paranoia, or hallucinations may find their symptoms are worse when taking cannabinoid drugs.
Talk to your doctor about what you should expect when taking one of these drugs. The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment.
The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids.
Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy: Anti-emetic efficacy and toxicity of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in lung cancer chemotherapy.
American College of Physicians. Supporting research into the therapeutic role of marijuana. Dronabinol as a treatment for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS.
J Pain Symptom Manage. Long-term efficacy and safety of dronabinol for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-associated anorexia. Comparison of orally administered cannabis extract and deltatetrahydrocannabinol in treating patients with cancer-related anorexia-cachexia syndrome: Smoked medicinal cannabis for neuropathic pain in HIV: A pilot clinical study of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Dronabinol and marijuana in HIV-positive marijuana smokers.
Caloric intake, mood,and sleep. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. Superiority of nabilone over prochlorperazine as an antiemetic in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. N Engl J Med. Dronabinol versus megestrol acetate versus combination therapy for cancer-associated anorexia: Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: Analgesic effect of the synthetic cannabinoid CT-3 on chronic neuropathic pain: Efficacy of dronabinol alone and in combination with ondansetron versus ondansetron alone for delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Curr Med Res Opin. Musty RE, Rossi R.
Cannabis and Cancer: How “Marijuana” Helps the Body Heal
Oct 10, She specializes in treating young women diagnosed with breast cancer. “People have to be as diligent about researching medical marijuana. Jan 17, Cannabis has been used medicinally for millennia, but has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat any medical. Jan 17, Cannabis and cannabinoid use during cancer is often done for symptom management. Learn more about use of cannabis and cannabinoids.