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Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Patient Information [NCI] - Overview

  • Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant grown in many parts of the world (see Question 1).
  • The use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times (see Question 3).
  • By federal law, possessing Cannabis is illegal in the United States (see Question 1).
  • In the United States, Cannabis is a controlled substance that requires special licensing for its use (see Question 1 and Question 3).
  • Cannabinoids are active chemicals in Cannabis that cause drug -like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system (see Question 2).
  • Cannabinoids can be taken by mouth, inhaled, or sprayed under the tongue (see Question 5).
  • Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite (see Question 6 and Question 7).
  • Cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies (see Question 7).
  • Two cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention or treatment of chemotherapy -related nausea and vomiting (see Question 7 and Question 10).
  • Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and to affect the immune system. However, there is no evidence that Cannabis' effects on the immune system help the body fight cancer (see Question 6).
  • At this time, there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest Cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy (see Question 7).
  • Cannabis is not approved by the FDA for use as a cancer treatment (see Question 9).
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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