Study: Marijuana component effective in combating chemotherapy-induced nerve pain (MPP Blog)

 by Dr. Joe McSherry on October 24, 2011
Research continues to show cannabinoids are remarkably helpful for symptomatic as well as therapeutic treatment in cancers. Inhaled cannabis has a long history of use by some patients to mitigate pain without the sedating side effects of opiates. THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, has been shown to restrict metastases and growth in a variety of tumor cell lines. THC as Marinol, FDA approved, has been used in humans to mitigate nausea and vomiting side effects of chemotherapeutic agents for 25 years. In recent years, CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive constituent of the resin from some cultivars of cannabis, has also been found to work in concert with THC, through different mechanisms to inhibit or kill tumor cells. Now CBD is shown to prevent the dose limiting side effect of chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer in mice, according to data published in the journalAnesthesia and Analgesia.
Paclitaxel, used in advanced breast and ovarian cancer chemotherapy, causes nerve and muscle disturbances in “up to 93%” of patients. That is, Paclitaxel can cause severe pain to minor stimuli, limiting its usefulness in those patients. If use in humans was possible, CBD, which is non-toxic and non-psychoactive, would be an important contribution both for symptomatic and possible therapeutic benefit to patients afflicted with ovarian or breast cancer. Given the harmless profile of CBD in pre-clinical studies in a wide variety of cancers, it should be available as an alternative for any cancer patient. Being found in marijuana, a Schedule I drug, it is not available for any therapeutic use. In Europe and Canada, the combination of CBD and THC is available by prescription.
Dr. Joseph McSherry, a neurologist from Burlington, VT, was one of two physicians to serve on the Medical Marijuana Study Commission, which was established by the Vermont Legislature in 2002. His support and testimony helped Vermont become the ninth medical marijuana state in 2004. Even after his success in his home state, Dr. McSherry continues advocating for patients’ rights to use medical marijuana, including in New Hampshire, Iowa, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., by testifying at hearings, reaching out to doctors in other states, and meeting with lawmakers.