Clinical Trial: Cannabis Extracts Effective for Refractory Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea

Sydney, Australia: The adjunctive use of cannabis extracts significantly reduces symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant chemotherapy-induced nausea, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Australian researchers compared cannabis extracts (oral capsules containing 2.5mg of THC and 2.5mg of CBD) versus placebo in a cohort of 72 patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).

Researchers reported that the adjunctive use of cannabis extracts was associated with reductions in patients’ nausea and vomiting, and also with improvements in subjects’ overall quality of life. Although the majority of patients did report side-effects, these effects were largely limited to non-serious events such as sedation and dizziness.

They concluded: “The oral THC:CBD cannabis extract was active and tolerable in preventing CINV, when combined with guideline-consistent antiemetic prophylaxis for a study population with refractory CINV. … Further research is necessary to determine the significance and durability of improvements observed in specific AQOL-8D [quality of life] dimensions.”

Cannabis extracts containing equal ratios of THC and CBD are already available in many countries by prescription under the brand name Sativex. The substance is not legally available in the United States. By contrast, oral synthetic THC, marketed under the brand name Marinol, is FDA-approved in the US for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

Full text of the study, “Oral THC;CBD cannabis extract for refractory chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A randomized, placebo-controlled, phase II crossover trial,” appears in Annals of Oncology.