The Use Of Cannabinoids And The Treatment Of Chemotherapy Side Effects

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As of now, two cannabinoids (marijuana), dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet), are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).1 According to an article about the use of cannabinoids and the treatment of chemotherapy side effects, cannabinoids are shown to have a significant neuro-modulatory function in decreasing CINV.1 CB1 cannabinoid receptors are present in the central nervous system, while recent evidence proposes that CB2 receptors are present on brainstem neurons. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors may have a role in mediating the cannabinoid effects on vomiting. Whether through a CB1 receptor agonist or with CB2 binding, cannabinoids directly and indirectly affect serotonin, neurokinin, dopamine, and opioid activity, which all play a critical role in mediating the emetogenic response to toxins.1
There are many other drug options to help subside the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Cannabinoids have been studied and used for the treatment of CINV in many patients undergoing chemotherapy, including the case study below. According to a case study on a 68 year-old woman with stage III lung cancer who was undergoing chemotherapy, a cannabinoid was the solution to her problems. The patient had received a pre-chemotherapy antiemetic therapy which worked for only 3 days before nausea and vomiting reoccurred. Then, rescue doses of oral dexamethasone, metoclopramide, and prochlorperazine were…

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