Marijuana component could ease pain from chemotherapy drugs

A chemical component of the marijuana plant could prevent the onset of pain associated with drugs used in chemo therapy, particularly in breast cancer patients, according to researchers at Temple University's School of Pharmacy.

The researchers published their findings, "Cannabidiol Prevents the Development of Cold and Mechanical Allodynia in Paclitaxel-Treated Female C57Bl6 Mice," in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.

The researchers developed animal models and tested the ability of the compound cannabidiol, which is the second most abundant chemical found in the marijuana plant, to relieve chemo-induced neuropathic pain, said Sara Jane Ward, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Temple's School of Pharmacy and the study's lead author.

"We found that cannabidiol completely prevented the onset of the neuropathic, or caused by the chemo drug Paclitaxel, which is used to treat ," said Ward, who is also a research associate professor in Temple's Center for Substance Abuse Research.

Ward said that one of cannabidiol's major benefits is that, unlike other chemicals found in marijuana such as THC, it does not produce psycho-active effects such as euphoria, increased appetite or cognitive deficits. "Cannabidiol has the therapeutic qualities of marijuana but not the side effects," she said.

Ward's research has long focused on systems in the brain that are impacted by marijuana and whether those systems could be targeted in the treatment of various disorders. "Marijuana binds to the in the body and researchers have long been interested in whether there is therapeutic potential for targeting this receptor system," she said.

Ward became interested in this current study after attending a conference in which she learned about a pain state that is induced by chemo-therapeutic agents, especially those used to treat breast cancer, which can produce really debilitating neuropathic pain.

Cannabidiol has also demonstrated the ability to decrease tumor activity in animal models, said Ward, which could make it an effective therapeutic for breast cancer, especially if you "combined it with a chemo agent like Paclitaxel, which we already know works well."

According to Ward, there are currently about 10 clinical trials underway in the United States for cannabidiol on a range of different disorders, including cannabis dependence, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Because of this, she believes it will be easier to establish a clinical trial for cannabidiol as a therapeutic against associated with chemo drugs.

Related Stories

Cannabis compound can help cells

Feb 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cannabis has been used recreationally and for medicinal purposes for centuries, yet its 60 plus active components are only partly understood. Now scientists have discovered how a compound ...

Weeding out the highs of medical marijuana

Jul 15, 2008

Research exploring new ways of exploiting the full medicinal uses of cannabis while avoiding unwanted side-effects will be presented to pharmacologists today (Tuesday, 15 July) by leading scientists attending the Federation ...

Study links cannabis strains with memory impairment

Oct 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- People who smoke potent strains of cannabis that are low in cannabidiol (such as skunk) are putting themselves at far greater risk of acute memory loss than people who smoke other types of ...

Recommended for you

FDA proposes accelerated medical device approval plan

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new program that would provide expedited access to high-risk medical devices intended for patients with serious conditions whose medical ...

Targeting drugs to reduce side effects

22 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Consider ice cream – the base of which is frozen cream. Ingredients are then added to make different flavours. All these flavours are distinctly different but are created from the same foundation.

User comments