Cannabis has been widely used as a medicinal agent in Eastern medicine with earliest evidence in ancient Chinese practice dating back to 2700 BC. Over time, the use of medical cannabis has been increasingly adopted by Western medicine and is thus a rapidly emerging field that all pain physicians need to be aware of.
Background: In Italy medical cannabis is a prescription drug since 1998. Even though it could not be considered a therapy as such, it is indicated as a symptomatic treatment also in cancer patients, to cure iatrogenic nausea/vomiting and chronic pain.
Cannabis (marijuana) is undergoing extensive regulatory review in many global jurisdictions for medical and nonmedical access. Cannabis has potential impact on the health of athletes as well as on performance in both training and in competition
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There are conflicting interpretations of the evidence regarding the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of cannabinoids in pain management and palliative medicine.
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Medical cannabis is increasingly used as a treatment or adjunct treatment with different levels of efficacy in several neurological disorders or related symptoms (such as multiple sclerosis, autism, Parkinson and Alzheimer disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, headache), as well as in other medical conditions (e.g. nausea and vomiting, glaucoma, appetite stimulation, cancer, inflammatory conditions, asthma).
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Cannabis sativa has long been used for medicinal purposes. To improve safety and efficacy, compounds from C. sativa were purified or synthesized and named under an umbrella group as cannabinoids. Currently, several cannabinoids may be prescribed in Canada for a variety of indications such as nausea and pain.
This review illustrates some brief considerations of the medical use of cannabis recently issued in Italy. History and uses of cannabis throughout centuries and different countries are illustrated together with a description of botany and active phytocannabinoids.
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The policies and practices related to medical cannabis are currently in flux. These changes have been associated with many controversies, and there is a lack of consensus within the medical community regarding medical cannabis practices.
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As the legalization of medical cannabis continues across the USA, oncology care providers will be increasingly asked to provide recommendations regarding its use in the cancer setting. In this article, we review recent literature that analyzes cannabis use specifically in patients with cancer and provide an accessible guide for clinicians, researchers, and patients.
Cannabis has the potential to modulate some of the most common and debilitating symptoms of cancer and its treatments, including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain. However, the dearth of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis in treating these symptoms in patients with cancer poses a challenge to clinicians in discussing this option with their patients.
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