Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?

“Cannabis is a useful botanical with a wide range of therapeutic potential. Global prohibition over the past century has impeded the ability to study the plant as medicine. However, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been developed as a stand-alone pharmaceutical initially approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in 1986. The indication was expanded in 1992 to include treatment of anorexia in patients with the AIDS wasting syndrome. Hence, if the dominant cannabinoid is available as a schedule III prescription medication, it would seem logical that the parent botanical would likely have similar therapeutic benefits. The system of cannabinoid receptors and endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) has likely developed to help us modulate our response to noxious stimuli. Phytocannabinoids also complex with these receptors, and the analgesic effects of cannabis are perhaps the best supported by clinical evidence. Cannabis and its constituents have also been reported to be useful in assisting with sleep, mood, and anxiety. Despite significant in vitro and animal model evidence supporting the anti-cancer activity of individual cannabinoids-particularly THC and cannabidiol (CBD)-clinical evidence is absent. A single intervention that can assist with nausea, appetite, pain, mood, and sleep is certainly a valuable addition to the palliative care armamentarium. Although many healthcare providers advise against the inhalation of a botanical as a twenty-first century drug-delivery system, evidence for serious harmful effects of cannabis inhalation is scant and a variety of other methods of ingestion are currently available from dispensaries in locales where patients have access to medicinal cannabis. Oncologists and palliative care providers should recommend this botanical remedy to their patients to gain first-hand evidence of its therapeutic potential despite the paucity of results from randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials to appreciate that it is both safe and effective and really does not require a package insert.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31161270

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11864-019-0659-9

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Comparison of outcome expectancies for synthetic cannabinoids and botanical marijuana.

“Although initially developed for medical purposes, synthetic cannabinoids have also been consumed for recreational purposes.

To evaluate whether agreement with positive and negative outcome expectancies differed for synthetic cannabinoids versus botanical marijuana, and assess reported reasons for using synthetic cannabinoids.

A significant interaction revealed that participants who had used both synthetic cannabinoids and botanical marijuana indicated lower agreement with positive expectancies for synthetic cannabinoids, and higher agreement with positive expectancies for botanical marijuana, than did those participants who used only botanical marijuana.

There was no interaction between type of drug and use history on agreement with negative expectancies, and participants agreed more strongly with negative outcome expectancies for synthetic cannabinoids than for botanical marijuana whether they had used one or both types of these drugs.

The most frequently provided reasons for using synthetic cannabinoids included availability, perceived legality, cost, curiosity, and social interaction.

Given growing public acceptance of recreational and medical marijuana, coupled with negative perceptions and increasing regulation of synthetic cannabinoid compounds, botanical marijuana is likely to remain more available and more popular than synthetic cannabinoids.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26910181

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Self-Medication of Somatic and Psychiatric Conditions Using Botanical Marijuana.

“As a complement to research evaluating botanical marijuana as a medical therapy for various somatic and psychiatric conditions, there is a growing body of research assessing marijuana users’ self-reports of the symptoms and conditions for which they use marijuana without a physician’s recommendation.

As part of two larger web-based surveys and one in-situ survey at an outdoor marijuana festival, we asked regular marijuana users if they consumed the drug without a physician’s recommendation and, if so, to describe (or select from a checklist) the conditions for which they used marijuana as a medication.

Participants reported using marijuana to self-medicate a wide variety of both somatic conditions (such as pain, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome) and psychiatric conditions (such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia).

Because fewer than half of the American states, and only a few countries, allow physicians to recommend medicinal marijuana, these findings may be of interest to clinicians as they treat patients, to lawmakers and policymakers as they consider legislation allowing physicians to recommend botanical marijuana for somatic and psychiatric conditions, and to researchers evaluating conditions that individuals elect to self-medicate using botanical marijuana.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26595140

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Neuroprotective effects of phytocannabinoid-based medicines in experimental models of Huntington’s disease.

Abstract

“We studied whether combinations of botanical extracts enriched in either Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), which are the main constituents of the cannabis-based medicine Sativex, provide neuroprotection in rat models of Huntington’s disease (HD). We used rats intoxicated with 3-nitropropionate (3NP) that were given combinations of Δ(9)-THC- and CBD-enriched botanical extracts. The issue was also studied in malonate-lesioned rats. The administration of Δ(9)-THC- and CBD-enriched botanical extracts combined in a ratio of 1:1 as in Sativex attenuated 3NP-induced GABA deficiency, loss of Nissl-stained neurons, down-regulation of CB(1) receptor and IGF-1 expression, and up-regulation of calpain expression, whereas it completely reversed the reduction in superoxide dismutase-1 expression. Similar responses were generally found with other combinations of Δ(9)-THC- and CBD-enriched botanical extracts, suggesting that these effects are probably related to the antioxidant and CB(1) and CB(2) receptor-independent properties of both phytocannabinoids. In fact, selective antagonists for both receptor types, i.e., SR141716 and AM630, respectively, were unable to prevent the positive effects on calpain expression caused in 3NP-intoxicated rats by the 1:1 combination of Δ(9)-THC and CBD. Finally, this combination also reversed the up-regulation of proinflammatory markers such as inducible nitric oxide synthase observed in malonate-lesioned rats. In conclusion, this study provides preclinical evidence in support of a beneficial effect of the cannabis-based medicine Sativex as a neuroprotective agent capable of delaying disease progression in HD, a disorder that is currently poorly managed in the clinic, prompting an urgent need for clinical trials with agents showing positive results in preclinical studies.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21674569

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