Medical cannabis use in oncology and associated outcomes: A scoping review

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“Background: Natural and synthetic cannabinoids are being used worldwide to treat various symptoms in cancer patients. This study aims to map the therapeutic benefits and adverse effects associated with the use of cannabis-based drugs in these outcomes.

Methods: Following Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines a scoping review was conducted. The study protocol was available in the Open Science Framework public repository. An extensive search strategy involving databases like Cochrane Library, Embase, CINAHL, Medline/PubMed, Lilacs, Google Scholar, and Open Gray for gray literature analysis was executed by a skilled librarian. The inclusion criteria were primary studies (observational and randomized) that evaluated the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids in cancer patients. The review encompassed studies of diverse designs, publication years, and types, as long as they addressed cannabinoids’ impact in oncology.

Results: Twenty-nine (82.86%) out of total of 35 were randomized and 6 (14.14%) were non-randomized. About 57.1% of studies utilized registered products as interventions, with THC being the most natural cannabinoid cited in variable doses and administration routes. Moreover, 62.85% of studies specified the cancer types (breast, lung, sarcomas, hematological and reproductive system), while only one study detailed cancer staging. The evaluated outcomes encompassed nausea and vomiting (77.14%), appetite (11.43%), pain (8.57%), and tumor regression (2.86%) across different proportions of studies.

Conclusion: Cannabinoids show promise in managing pain, emesis, and anorexia/cachexia linked to cancer progression. New randomized clinical trials with a larger number of participants and observational studies on long-term safety are crucial to affirm their medicinal utility for cancer patients unresponsive to conventional drugs.”

Oral Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC):Cannabinoid (CBD) Cannabis Extract Adjuvant for Reducing Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV): A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial

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“Objective: To evaluate the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC):cannabinoid (CBD) (1:1) oil in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in gynecologic cancer patients who received moderate-to-high emetogenic chemotherapy.

Material and method: This was a randomized, double-blinded, crossover and placebo-controlled trial. The study was conducted at the Gynecologic Oncology Units, Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital (BAH), Royal Thai Air Force, Bangkok, Thailand, between August and November 2022. Participants had gynecologic cancer and received moderate-to-high emetogenic chemotherapy. Subjects were randomized and divided into two groups (A and B) based on the block of four randomization method. In the first cycle, groups A and B received THC:CBD extract oil 1:1 (TCEO) and placebo before chemotherapy administration. In the second cycle, groups A and B received placebo and TCEO before chemotherapy administration. Both groups received per protocol antiemetic medication during chemotherapy. Nausea score and side effects were recorded.

Results: A total of 60 cases were recruited. After exclusion, 54 cases were included in the study. The mean age of participants was 54.4 years. The mean body mass index (BMI) was 26.5 kg/m2. Fifty-nine (21/54) percent cases were the advanced stages of cancer. The nausea score of TCEO and placebo groups were 2.11 and 2.99, respectively (P < 0.05). More than half of the participants (36/54) reported dizziness and sedation side effects. Dry mouth, confusion, anxiety, and palpitation of both groups were comparable.

Conclusion: The cannabinoid extract (THC:CBD) was an appropriate adjuvant agent to reduce CINV in patients with gynecologic cancer who received high-emetogenic chemotherapy. Dizziness and sedation were the major side effects.”

Evaluation of Sex Differences in the Potential of Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabidiol, Cannabidiolic Acid, and Oleoyl Alanine to Reduce Nausea-Induced Conditioned Gaping Reactions in Sprague-Dawley Rats

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“Introduction: Cancer patients report nausea as a side effect of their chemotherapy treatment. Using the pre-clinical rodent model of acute nausea-lithium chloride (LiCl)-induced conditioned gaping-our group has demonstrated that exogenous cannabinoids may have antinausea potential. 

Materials and Methods: With the goal of evaluating the role of sex as a factor in pre-clinical research, we first compared the conditioned gaping reactions produced by varying doses of LiCl in male and female rats using the taste reactivity test (Experiment 1). 

Results: LiCl produced dose-dependent conditioned gaping similarly in male and female rats with the highest dose (127.2 mg/kg) producing robust conditioned gaping, with this dose used in subsequent experiments. Next, we examined the antinausea potential of THC (Experiment 2), CBD (Experiment 3), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA; Experiment 4) and oleoyl alanine (OlAla; Experiment 5) in both male and female rats. THC, CBD, CBDA, and OlAla dose dependently reduced conditioned gaping in both male and female rats in a similar manner. 

Conclusions: These results suggest that cannabinoids may be equally effective in treating nausea in both males and females.”

Protective Effects of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea in a rat: Involvement of CB1 receptors

“Cyclophosphamide is an anticancer and immunosuppressive agent used in the treatment of various malignancies but causing gastrointestinal distress.

Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) and its derivatives have been used for the treatment of human gastrointestinal disorders. A purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of C. sativa on nausea induced by cyclophosphamide in rats.

Results showed that C. sativa ameliorates cyclophosphamide-induced emesis by increasing in body weight and normal diet intake with a decrease in kaolin diet intake after 7 days. Moreover, C. sativa significantly decreases (serotonin) 5HT, dopamine and noradrenaline, as well as, decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. Administration of C. sativa significantly increased the expression of CB1R in intestinal homogenate. Treatment with C. sativa, also, improved the histological feature of an intestinal tissue.

These results suggested that C. sativa possess antiemetic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in chemotherapy-induced nausea in rats by activating CB1R.”

The Effectiveness of Common Cannabis Products for Treatment of Nausea

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“Background: Even though the Cannabis plant has been used to treat nausea for millennia, few studies have measured real-time effects of common and commercially available cannabis-based products.

Study: Using the Releaf App, 886 people completed 2220 cannabis self-administration sessions intended to treat nausea between June 6, 2016 and July 8, 2019. They recorded the characteristics of self-administered cannabis products and baseline symptom intensity levels before tracking real-time changes in the intensity of their nausea.

Results: By 1 hour postconsumption, 96.4% of people had experienced symptom relief with an average symptom intensity reduction of -3.85 points on a 0 to 10 visual analog scale (SD=2.45, d=1.85, P<0.001). Symptom relief was statistically significant at 5 minutes and increased with time. Among product characteristics, flower and concentrates yielded the strongest, yet similar results; products labeled as Cannabis indica underperformed those labeled as Cannabis sativa or hybrid; and joints were associated with greater symptom relief than pipes or vaporizers. In sessions using flower, higher tetrahydrocannbinol and lower cannabidiol were generally associated with greater symptom relief (eg, within 5 min).

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the vast majority of patients self-selecting into cannabis use for treatment of nausea likely experience relief within a relative short duration of time, but the level of antiemetic effect varies with the characteristics of the cannabis products consumed in vivo. Future research should focus on longer term symptom relief, including nausea-free intervals and dosing frequency; the risks of consumption of medical cannabis, especially among high-risk populations, such as pregnant women and children; and potential interactions between cannabis, conventional antiemetics, other medications, food, tobacco, alcohol, and street drugs among specific patient populations.”

Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment

ijms-logo“Cannabis sativa L. turned out to be a valuable source of chemical compounds of various structures, showing pharmacological activity. The most important groups of compounds include phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

The pharmacological activity of Cannabis (in epilepsy, sclerosis multiplex (SM), vomiting and nausea, pain, appetite loss, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, schizophrenia, glaucoma, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)), which has been proven so far, results from the affinity of these compounds predominantly for the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), type two (CB2), and the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55)) but, also, for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), glycine receptors, serotonin receptors (5-HT), transient receptor potential channels (TRP), and GPR, opioid receptors.

The synergism of action of phytochemicals present in Cannabis sp. raw material is also expressed in their increased bioavailability and penetration through the blood-brain barrier. This review provides an overview of phytochemistry and pharmacology of compounds present in Cannabis extracts in the context of the current knowledge about their synergistic actions and the implications of clinical use in the treatment of selected diseases.”

Constituents of Cannabis Sativa

“The Cannabis sativa plant has been used medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years, but recently only relatively some of its constituents have been identified.

There are more than 550 chemical compounds in cannabis, with more than 100 phytocannabinoids being identified, including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

These phytocannabinoids work by binding to the cannabinoid receptors, as well as other receptor systems. Also within cannabis are the aromatic terpenes, more than 100 of which have been identified.

Cannabis and its constituents have been indicated as therapeutic compounds in numerous medical conditions, such as pain, anxiety, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This chapter provides an overview of some of the biological effects of a number of the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as discussing their known mechanisms of action and evidence of potential therapeutic effects.”

Antiemetic Effects of Cannabinoid Agonists in Nonhuman Primates

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics“Attenuating emesis elicited by both disease and medical treatments of disease remains a critical public health challenge.

Although cannabinergic medications have been used in certain treatment-resistant populations, FDA-approved cannabinoid antiemetics are associated with undesirable side effects, including cognitive disruption, that limit their prescription. Previous studies have shown that a metabolically stable analog of the endocannabinoid anandamide, methanandamide (mAEA), may produce lesser cognitive disruption than that associated with the primary psychoactive constituent in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), raising the possibility that endocannabinoids may offer a therapeutic advantage over currently used medications.

The present studies were conducted to evaluate this possibility by comparing the antiemetic effects of Δ9-THC (0.032-0.1 mg/kg) and mAEA (3.2-10.0 mg/kg), against nicotine- and lithium chloride (LiCl)-induced emesis and prodromal hypersalivation in squirrel monkeys.

These studies systematically demonstrate for the first time the antiemetic effects of cannabinoid agonists in nonhuman primates. Importantly, although Δ9-THC produced superior antiemetic effects, the milder cognitive effects of mAEA demonstrated in previous studies suggests that it may provide a favorable treatment option under clinical circumstances in which antiemetic efficacy must be balanced against side-effect liability.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Emesis has significant evolutionary value as a defense mechanism against ingested toxins; however, it is also one of the most common adverse symptoms associated with both disease and medical treatments of disease. The development of improved anti-emetic pharmacotherapies has been impeded by a paucity of animal models.

The present studies systematically demonstrate for the first time the antiemetic effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and endocannabinoid-analog methanandamide in nonhuman primates.”

Evaluation of Repeated or Acute Treatment With Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) or CBDA Methyl Ester (HU-580) on Nausea and/or Vomiting in Rats and Shrews

 SpringerLink“Rationale: When acutely administered intraperitoneally, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), its acidic precursor cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and a stable methyl ester of CBDA (HU-580) reduce lithium chloride (LiCl)-induced conditioned gaping in male rats (a selective preclinical model of acute nausea) via activation of the serotonin 1A (5-HT1A) receptor.

Objectives: To utilise these compounds to manage nausea in the clinic, we must determine if their effectiveness is maintained when injected subcutaneously (s.c) and when repeatedly administered. First, we compared the effectiveness of each of these compounds to reduce conditioned gaping following repeated (7-day) and acute (1-day) pretreatments and whether these anti-nausea effects were mediated by the 5-HT1A receptor. Next, we assessed whether the effectiveness of these compounds can be maintained when administered prior to each of 4 conditioning trials (once per week). We also evaluated the ability of repeated CBD (7 days) to reduce LiCl-induced vomiting in Suncus murinus. Finally, we examined whether acute CBD was equally effective in male and female rats.

Results: Both acute and repeated (7 day) s.c. administrations of CBD (5 mg/kg), CBDA (1 μg/kg) and HU-580 (1 μg/kg) similarly reduced LiCl-induced conditioned gaping, and these effects were blocked by 5HT1A receptor antagonism. When administered over 4 weekly conditioning trials, the anti-nausea effectiveness of each of these compounds was also maintained. Repeated CBD (5 mg/kg, s.c.) maintained its anti-emetic efficacy in S. murinus. Acute CBD (5 and 20 mg/kg, s.c.) administration reduced LiCl-induced conditioned gaping similarly in male and female rats.

Conclusion: When administered repeatedly (7 days), CBD, CBDA and HU-580 did not lose efficacy in reducing nausea and continued to act via agonism of the 5-HT1A receptor. When administered across 4 weekly conditioning trials, they maintained their effectiveness in reducing LiCl-induced nausea. Repeated CBD also reduced vomiting in shrews. Finally, CBD’s anti-nausea effects were similar in male and female rats. This suggests that these cannabinoids may be useful anti-nausea and anti-emetic treatments for chronic conditions, without the development of tolerance.”

A Comprehensive Patient and Public Involvement Program Evaluating Perception of Cannabis-Derived Medicinal Products in the Treatment of Acute Postoperative Pain, Nausea, and Vomiting Using a Qualitative Thematic Framework.

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“Cannabis-derived medicinal products (CDMPs) have antiemetic properties and in combination with opioids have synergistic analgesic effects in part signaling through the delta and kappa opioid receptors.

The objective of this patient and public involvement program was to determine perception of perioperative CDMPs in our local population to inform design of a clinical trial.

Consensus was that potential benefits of CDMPs were attractive compared with the known risk profile of opioid use. Decrease in opioid dependence was agreed to be an appropriate clinical end-point for a randomized controlled clinical trial and there was concurrence of positive opinion of a therapeutic schedule of 5 days.

The perception of postoperative CDMP therapy was overwhelmingly positive in this West London population. The data from this thematic analysis will inform protocol development of clinical trials to determine analgesic and antiemetic efficacy of CDMPs.”