Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Human / Clinical Studies
Neuropathic pain is a symptom cancer patients may experience, especially if treated with platinum-based chemotherapy or taxanes. A randomized controlled trial of inhaled Cannabis compared with placebo in 50 patients with HIV-related peripheral neuropathy found that pain was reduced by more than 30% in 52% of patients in the Cannabis group and in 24% of patients in the placebo group. This difference was statistically significant.
In another randomized controlled trial targeting 39 patients with neuropathic pain despite traditional pharmacological management, intervention with low-dose (1.29% THC) and medium-dose (3.53% THC) vaporized Cannabis was observed to produce comparable analgesic effects at both doses compared with placebo. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well tolerated. The patients in this trial suffered from neuropathic syndromes resulting from several causes, although none had a drug-induced neuropathy. To date, no clinical trial has examined the effectiveness of cannabinoid preparations in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.
Anxiety and Sleep
Patients often experience mood elevation after exposure to Cannabis, depending on their prior experience. In a five-patient case series of inhaled marijuana that examined the analgesic effects of THC, it was reported that patients administered THC had improved mood, improved sense of well-being, and less anxiety.
Another common effect of Cannabis is sleepiness. In a trial of a sublingual spray, a Cannabis-based mixture was able to improve sleep quality. A small placebo-controlled study of dronabinol in cancer patients with altered chemosensory perception also noted increased quality of sleep and relaxation in THC-treated patients.
Current Clinical Trials
Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for cancer CAM clinical trials on dronabinol, marijuana, nabiximols and nabilone that are actively enrolling patients.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
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