Care After Chemotherapy: Peripheral Neuropathy, Cannabis for Symptom Control, and Mindfulness.

ASCO Educational Book

“As cancer therapies improve, patients are living longer. With these improvements in therapy comes a responsibility to optimize patients’ quality of life during cancer therapy and beyond. This report reviews three timely and important topics.

The first section reviews the mechanism underlying chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and evaluates the evidence for interventions to prevent and treat peripheral neuropathy. It also provides a framework for approaching the diagnosis and management of this common and bothersome side effect.

The second section addresses the controversial but effective use of cannabinoids for cancer and chemotherapy symptoms. Although clinical trials are difficult to conduct because of the political and social stigma of this class of drugs, this review provides evidence of the efficacy of cannabinoids for treatment of pain and nausea.

The last section addresses the mind-body connection, with a focus on the negative emotions patients with cancer often experience. This section assesses the literature regarding mindfulness-based programs to improve cancer-related stress. These three topics may appear unrelated, but all address one common goal: treating the body and the mind to optimize quality of life during and after cancer therapy.”

“Although commercially available dronabinol is not superior to other antiemetics and oromucosal nabiximols is not very effective for treating cancer pain, cannabis has been shown to be effective for treating pain and may help patients reduce opioid intake.”
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Cannabidiol prevents haloperidol-induced vacuos chewing movements and inflammatory changes in mice via PPARγ receptors.

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

“The chronic use of drugs that reduce the dopaminergic neurotransmission can cause a hyperkinetic movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia (TD). The pathophysiology of this disorder is not entirely understood but could involve oxidative and neuroinflammatory mechanisms.

Cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychotomimetic compound present in Cannabis sativa plant, could be a possible therapeutic alternative for TD. This phytocannabinoid shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic properties and decreases the acute motor effects of classical antipsychotics.

The present study investigated if CBD would attenuate orofacial dyskinesia, oxidative stress and inflammatory changes induced by chronic administration of haloperidol in mice. Furthermore, we verified in vivo and in vitro (in primary microglial culture) whether these effects would be mediated by PPARγ receptors.

The results showed that the male Swiss mice treated daily for 21 days with haloperidol develop orofacial dyskinesia. Daily CBD administration before each haloperidol injection prevented this effect.

Mice treated with haloperidol showed an increase in microglial activation and inflammatory mediators in the striatum. These changes were also reduced by CBD. On the other hand, the levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased in the striatum of animals that received CBD and haloperidol.

Regarding oxidative stress, haloperidol induced lipid peroxidation and reduced catalase activity. This latter effect was attenuated by CBD. The combination of CBD and haloperidol also increased PGC-1α mRNA expression, a co-activator of PPARγ receptors. Pretreatment with the PPARγ antagonist, GW9662, blocked the behavioural effect of CBD in our TD model. CBD also prevented LPS-stimulated microglial activation, an effect that was also antagonized by GW9662.

In conclusion, our results suggest that CBD could prevent haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia by activating PPARγ receptors and attenuating neuroinflammatory changes in the striatum.”

“Haloperidol, marketed under the trade name Haldol among others, is a typical antipsychotic medication. Haloperidol is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, tics in Tourette syndromemania in bipolar disorder, nausea and vomiting, delirium, agitation, acute psychosis, and hallucinations in alcohol withdrawal”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haloperidol
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Oral cannabinoid-rich THC/CBD cannabis extract for secondary prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a study protocol for a pilot and definitive randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial (CannabisCINV).

BMJ Journals

“Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) remains an important issue for patients receiving chemotherapy despite guideline-consistent antiemetic therapy. Trials using delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-rich (THC) products demonstrate limited antiemetic effect, significant adverse events and flawed study design. Trials using cannabidiol-rich (CBD) products demonstrate improved efficacy and psychological adverse event profile. No definitive trials have been conducted to support the use of cannabinoids for this indication, nor has the potential economic impact of incorporating such regimens into the Australian healthcare system been established. CannabisCINV aims to assess the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of adding TN-TC11M, an oral THC/CBD extract to guideline-consistent antiemetics in the secondary prevention of CINV.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS:

The current multicentre, 1:1 randomised cross-over, placebo-controlled pilot study will recruit 80 adult patients with any malignancy, experiencing CINV during moderate to highly emetogenic chemotherapy despite guideline-consistent antiemetics. Patients receive oral TN-TC11M (THC 2.5mg/CBD 2.5 mg) capsules or placebo capsules three times a day on day -1 to day 5 of cycle A of chemotherapy, followed by the alternative drug regimen during cycle B of chemotherapy and the preferred drug regimen during cycle C. The primary endpoint is the proportion of subjects attaining a complete response to CINV. Secondary and tertiary endpoints include regimen tolerability, impact on quality of life and health system resource use. The primary assessment tool is patient diaries, which are filled from day -1 to day 5. A subsequent randomised placebo-controlled parallel phase III trial will recruit a further 250 patients.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:

The protocol was approved by ethics review committees for all participating sites. Results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific conferences.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30209152

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/9/e020745

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A Brief Background on Cannabis: From Plant to Medical Indications.

 Ingenta Connect

“Cannabis has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years.

As a result of centuries of breeding and selection, there are now over 700 varieties of cannabis that contain hundreds of compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids are fatty compounds that are the main biological active constituents of cannabis. Terpenes are volatile compounds that occur in many plants and have distinct odors.

Cannabinoids exert their effect on the body by binding to receptors, specifically cannabinoid receptors types 1 and 2. These receptors, together with endogenous cannabinoids and the systems for synthesis, transport, and degradation, are called the Endocannabinoid System.

The two most prevalent and commonly known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol.

The speed, strength, and type of effects of cannabis vary based on the route of administration. THC is rapidly distributed through the body to fatty tissues like the brain and is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is also psychoactive.

Cannabis and cannabinoids have been indicated for several medical conditions.

There is evidence of efficacy in the symptomatic treatment of nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, loss of appetite, Tourette’s syndrome, and epilepsy. Cannabis has also been associated with treatment for glaucoma, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and dystonia, but there is not good evidence to support its efficacy. Side effects of cannabis include psychosis and anxiety, which can be severe.

Here, we provided a summary of the history of cannabis, its pharmacology, and its medical uses.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30139415

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Cannabinoid pharmacology and therapy in gut disorders.

Biochemical Pharmacology

“Cannabis sp and their products (marijuana, hashish…), in addition to their recreational, industrial and other uses, have a long history for their use as a remedy for symptoms related with gastrointestinal diseases.

After many reports suggesting these beneficial effects, it was not surprising to discover that the gastrointestinal tract expresses endogenous cannabinoids, their receptors, and enzymes for their synthesis and degradation, comprising the so-called endocannabinoid system.

This system participates in the control of tissue homeostasis and important intestinal functions like motor and sensory activity, nausea, emesis, the maintenance of the epithelial barrier integrity, and the correct cellular microenvironment. Thus, different cannabinoid-related pharmacological agents may be useful to treat the main digestive pathologies.

To name a few examples, in irritable bowel syndrome they may normalize dysmotility and reduce pain, in inflammatory bowel disease they may decrease inflammation, and in colorectal cancer, apart from alleviating some symptoms, they may play a role in the regulation of the cell niche.

This review summarizes the main recent findings on the role of cannabinoid receptors, their synthetic or natural ligands and their metabolizing enzymes in normal gastrointestinal function and in disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and gastrointestinal chemotherapy-induced adverse effects (nausea/vomiting, constipation, diarrhea).”

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Medicinal Cannabinoids in Palliative Care.

 British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology banner

“The treatment of symptoms in people with palliative diagnoses begins with meticulous clinical assessment with treatment choice (s) selected based on an understanding of the symptom aetiology and the evidence which underpins its treatment.

Increasingly the merits of palliative care have been established earlier in the disease trajectory where treatment outcomes may include increased survival and maintenance of function.

There is strong public support for the availability of medicinal cannabis, particularly for people with palliative diagnoses.

There are several areas where there is potential for symptom benefits through modulation of the endocannabinoid system, though clinical data to date has been inconclusive in key symptoms such as pain and nausea, and data from other settings such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting not readily extrapolated.

Ideally exploration of medicinal cannabinoids should occur within a clinical trial to accelerate the evidence base to inform practice. In people with refractory symptoms the consideration of unregistered products or off label prescribing should be guided by the potential influences of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and drug-drug interactions, supported by an informed discussion with the patient, and regular review of net clinical benefit.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29923616

https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bcp.13671

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Cannabis in End-of-Life Care: Examining Attitudes and Practices of Palliative Care Providers.

 Publication Cover

“Medical cannabis research has become quite extensive, with indications ranging from glaucoma to chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Despite increased interest in cannabis‘ potential medical uses, research barriers, cannabis legislation, stigma, and lack of dissemination of data contribute to low adoption for some medical populations.

Of interest, cannabis use appears low in palliative care settings, with few guidelines available to palliative care providers. The present study sought to examine the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of palliative care providers regarding the use of cannabis for terminally ill patients.

Results demonstrated that palliative care providers endorse cannabis for a wide range of palliative care symptoms, end-of-life care generally, and as an adjuvant medication.

Nevertheless, the gap between these beliefs and actual recommendation or prescription appears vast. Many who support the use of cannabis in palliative care do not recommend it as a treatment. These data suggest recommendations for healthcare providers and palliative care organizations.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29714640

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2018.1462543?journalCode=ujpd20

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Dronabinol oral solution in the management of anorexia and weight loss in AIDS and cancer.

“The true incidence of anorexia secondary to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and cancer is not well classified owing to the fact that there is a lack of standardized definitions and recent clinical data in these settings.

Dronabinol, or Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a synthetic molecule that closely mimics the action of Cannabis sativa L., a naturally occurring compound activated in the central nervous system by cannabinoid receptors.

Dronabinol exerts its effects by directly acting on the vomiting and appetite control centers in the brain, which in turn increases appetite and prevents vomiting.

In the USA, dronabinol is currently available in two dosage formulations – oral capsule and oral solution. While the oral capsule was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1985, the recent approval of the oral solution in 2016 presents an “easy-to-swallow” alternative for patients using or intending to use dronabinol.

Dronabinol is indicated in adult patients with HIV/AIDS for the treatment of anorexia and weight loss. However, there is no approved indication in the setting of cancer-related anorexia and weight loss. This review aims at presenting available data on the use of oral dronabinol in the management of anorexia and weight loss in HIV/AIDS and cancer, as well as characterizing and highlighting the pharmacotherapeutic considerations of the newest formulation of dronabinol.”

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The therapeutic effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids: An update from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report

European Journal of Internal Medicine

“The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine conducted a rapid turn-around comprehensive review of recent medical literature on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

In the Therapeutics chapter reviewed here, the report concluded that there was conclusive or substantial evidence that Cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of pain in adults; chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. Moderate evidence was found for secondary sleep disturbances. The evidence supporting improvement in appetite, Tourette syndrome, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy and a variety of neurodegenerative disorders was described as limited, insufficient or absent. A chapter of the NASEM report enumerated multiple barriers to conducting research on Cannabis in the US that may explain the paucity of positive therapeutic benefits in the published literature to date.

The 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, like the 1999 Institute of Medicine publication before it, did conclude that there is evidence to support the therapeutic effect of Cannabis and cannabinoids in a number of conditions. Although it is well appreciated that the plural of anecdote is not evidence, it must also be remembered that in the case of evaluating the therapeutic effects of Cannabis as published in the medical literature, the absence of evidence is not necessarily indicative of evidence of the absence of effectiveness. ”

http://www.ejinme.com/article/S0953-6205(18)30003-7/fulltext

“Researchers claim that medicinal cannabis is safe and effective for pain relief, and are calling for the treatment to be properly established in our modern medical arsenal” https://www.drugtargetreview.com/news/30737/medicinal-cannabis-safe-effective/
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Suppression of Cisplatin-Induced Vomiting by Cannabis sativa in Pigeons: Neurochemical Evidences.

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“Cannabis sativa (CS, family Cannabinaceae) has been reported for its anti-emetic activity against cancer chemotherapy-induced emesis in animal models and in clinics. The current study was designed to investigate CS for potential effectiveness to attenuate cisplatin-induced vomiting in healthy pigeons and to study the impact on neurotransmitters involved centrally and peripherally in the act of vomiting.

High-performance liquid chromatography system coupled with electrochemical detector was used for the quantification of neurotransmitters 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT), dopamine (DA) and their metabolites; Di-hydroxy Phenyl Acetic acid (Dopac), Homovanillic acid (HVA), and 5-hydroxy indole acetic acid (5HIAA) centrally in specific brain areas (area postrema and brain stem) while, peripherally in small intestine. Cisplatin (7 mg/kg i.v.) induce emesis without lethality across the 24 h observation period.

CS hexane fraction (CS-HexFr; 10 mg/kg) attenuated cisplatin-induced emesis ∼ 65.85% (P < 0.05); the reference anti-emetic drug, metoclopramide (MCP; 30 mg/kg), produced ∼43.90% reduction (P < 0.05). At acute time point (3rd h), CS-HexFr decreased (P < 0.001) the concentration of 5HT and 5HIAA in the area postrema, brain stem and intestine, while at 18th h (delayed time point) CS-HexFr attenuated (P < 0.001) the upsurge of 5HT caused by cisplatin in the brain stem and intestine and dopamine in the area postrema. CS-HexFr treatment alone did not alter the basal neurotransmitters and their metabolites in the brain areas and intestine except 5HIAA and HVA, which were decreased significantly.

In conclusion the anti-emetic effect of CS-HexFr is mediated by anti-serotonergic and anti-dopaminergic components in a blended manner at the two different time points, i.e., 3rd and 18th h in pigeons.”

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