- Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
- By federal law, the possession of Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is illegal in the United States.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Cannabis as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
- Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous systemand the immune system.
- Commercially available cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone, are approved for the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
- Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, originated in Central Asia but is grown worldwide today. In the United States, it is a controlled substance and is classified as a Schedule I agent (a drug with increased potential for abuse and no known medical use). The Cannabis plant produces a resin containing psychoactive compounds called cannabinoids. The highest concentration of cannabinoids is found in the female flowers of the plant. Clinical trials conducted on medicinal Cannabis are limited. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Cannabis as a treatment for any medical condition. To conduct clinical drug research in the United States, researchers must file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA.
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Although few relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients in the United States who recommend medicinal Cannabis predominantly do so for symptom management.
Cannabinoids are a group of terpenophenolic compounds found in Cannabis species (Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis indica Lam.). This summary will review the role of Cannabis and the cannabinoids in the treatment of people with cancer and disease-related or treatment-related side effects.
- Laboratory/Animal/Preclinical Studies
- Human/Clinical Studies
- Adverse Effects
- Overall Level of Evidence for Cannabis and Cannabinoids
- Changes to This Summary (08/24/2011)
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