Marijuana Easing Pain in New Ways

Cannabidiol prevents nerve pain caused by chemotherapy drug Taxol

(RxWiki News) Unfortunately for breast cancer patients, one common side effect of chemotherapy is joint and nerve pain that can limit daily activity. A new study may help ease that pain with marijuana, and it won't get you in trouble.

Recent reseach has found that the marijuana plant compound cannabidiol prevented nerve pain caused by the chemotherapy drug Taxol (paclitaxel) in female lab mice. Cannabidiol is the second most common chemical found in the marijuana plant.

"Ask your oncologist about chemotherapy side effects."

According to lead author Sara Jane Ward, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Temple’s School of Pharmacy, animal models were developed to test how effective the cannabidiol compound could be in treating nerve pain. Ward states that cannabidiol was able to prevent the onset of nerve pain caused by Taxol.

Taxol is a chemotherapy drug which slows down cell growth and decreases the spread of cancerous cells. It's used primarily to treat breast cancer but can also treat lung and ovarian cancer.

In the animal models, cannabidiol showed some capacity to decrease tumor growth activity. Ward believes cannabidiol may be an effective theraupeutic treatment for breast cancer when combined with a proven cancer chemotherapy drug such as Taxol.

Ward states that marijuana plant chemicals, such as THC and cannabidiol, can bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body. Researchers have long wondered if this could lead to possible therapeutic use. Cannabinoid is particularly interesting because it provides a lot of the therapeutic value of THC without the psycho-active side effects.

According to Ward, the cannabinoid chemical compound is being used in clinical trials for eating disorders, schizophrenia and cannabis dependency. Because of this widespread use, Ward believes it will be easier to get a clinical trial underway to evaluate cannabinoid's therapeutic value in treating nerve pain linked to chemotherapy drugs.

This research was published in the October 2011 edition of Anesthesia and Analgesia

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Review Date: 
October 11, 2011