Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
Text Size

Health News

Pot Ingredient May Restore Appetite After Chemo

Pot Ingredient May Restore Appetite After Chemo


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The main active ingredient in marijuana seems to allow chemotherapy patients to regain their ability to taste and enjoy food, according to the results of a small new study.

The finding could potentially lead to treatments to help some cancer patients restore their appetite.

Chemotherapy patients often lose the ability to smell and taste food, which can cause them to lose an unhealthy amount of weight. Researchers at several universities in Canada wondered if THC, a component of marijuana, might help. After all, marijuana is known to make users want to munch on food.

In the new study, Wendy Wismer, an associate professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and colleagues randomly assigned 21 patients to take THC in pill form (through an anti-nausea drug called Marinol, known generically as dronabinol) or a placebo twice daily for 18 days. The study results are published in the Feb. 22 online edition of the Annals of Oncology.

The investigators found that those who received the THC were more likely to report that food "tasted better" and ate more protein, although they didn't eat more calories overall than those who took the placebos. The patients who took THC also reported better sleep and relaxation.

"We know from our earlier work that individuals with advanced cancer have diminished appetite and have to make a big conscious effort to eat; they are motivated to eat simply to survive," Wismer stated in a journal news release. "So, although THC did not significantly increase total calorie intake, the fact that it improved appetite and protein intake is important," she explained.

The study authors concluded that "THC may well contribute to the overall enjoyment of food in cancer patients." It could also help patients with a variety of symptoms, they noted, including pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety and poor quality of sleep.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Donald I. Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine who studies marijuana at the University of California, San Francisco, said that the findings aren't "earth-shattering," but they are good news for cancer patients.

However, he added, the drug probably won't get approved for this use. As an alternative, "people might get similar benefits from smoking cannabis," Abrams said.

More information

For more on chemotherapy, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Latest News

Crouse Hospital Appoints Chief Information Officer
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >