Israeli researchers believe that cannabis can alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A team of Israeli doctors believe that cannabis may harbor enough therapeutic power to combat numerous chemotherapy side effects. 

The Tel Aviv-based researchers say that cannabis may not only enhance quality of life for cancer patients but also, encourage the development of more effective treatment options.

Their findings, titled, “Effect of cannabis on oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy among oncology patients: A retrospective analysis,” were published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology.

“Oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity is a profound adverse effect which, according to the results of our investigation, may be mitigated and prevented by cannabis treatment. A randomized placebo-controlled trial of cannabis use in the setting of oxaliplatin chemotherapy is being planned to further investigate its potentially important neuroprotective effect,” wrote the researchers.

In order to come to this conclusion, they  assessed 500 chemotherapy patients and discovered that common side effects like nerve damage tend to arise much less frequently among regular cannabis consumers.

While each consumer began introducing cannabis into their daily routine at different stages, incidents of neurological side effects were significantly lower (25 percent) among those who were using cannabis prior to undergoing chemotherapy.

According to Dr. Ravit Geva of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, the cannabis plant may prove useful in offsetting the side effects of various cancer drugs. In particular, patients who suffer from treatment-resistant problems like nerve damage stand to greatly benefit from cannabis.

“Cannabis administration before the start of oxaliplatin treatment can allow for higher doses of treatment without the development of nerve damage,” Geva concluded.

How does this research into cannabis for chemotherapy hold up against previous research?

A handful of small-scale studies have indicated the benefits of smoking cannabis for relief from cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, such as this one and this one

Moreover, the American Cancer Society suggests that the cannabis plant can ease nerve damage-related pain; mainly by means of smoking or vaporizing the plant’s active cannabinoids.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved man-made cannabinoid solutions such as dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and nabilone (Cesamet) to treat cancer-related nausea symptoms when alternative types of medication fail to work.

Israel is the cannabis research hub of the world 

Over the years, Israel has emerged as a hotspot for cannabis research. Many a scientist flock to the Middle Eastern country to conduct a broad scope of investigations, clinical trials and government-backed experiments throughout the year. 

For the most part, Israel’s cannabis research efforts have been largely stimulated by a well-known biochemist and professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem named Raphael Mechoulam. Better known as “The Godfather of Cannabis Research,” Mechoulam played a significant role in discovering the basic chemical components of the cannabis plant. 

Specifically, Mechoulam catapulted Israel into the global limelight as a cannabis research hub when he, alongside a team of researchers, managed to successfully isolate CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in 1963 and 1964, respectively.

Most recently, in 2017, the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research was established by the School of Pharmacy at Hebrew University.M Mechoulam’searly work is praised by the center’s 27-strong team of researchers, who say that The Godfather of Cannabis Research “heralded in a new age with a promising new vision for humankind.”

Cancer, Pain, Inflammation and stress management, Immunity, Metabolism, Drug delivery and nanotechnology, Pharmaceutical chemistry, Neuroscience, and Plant science and genetics are just a few examples of the research areas focused on by the center.