Treatment with marijuana significantly reduces symptoms in patients with refractory gastroparesis, according to clinical data published in the journal Cureus, and first reported on by NORML. “Gastroparesis is a stomach condition associated with abdominal pain, heartburn, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.”
For the study a team of gastroenterologists evaluated the effects of cannabinoids on disease symptoms in 24 patients with treatment-resistant gastroparesis. “Patients in the study utilized either herbal cannabis or oral THC (dronabinol) for at least 60 days.”
Researchers reported, “Cannabinoids dramatically, and significantly, improve[d]all symptoms of gastroparesis. … When compared directly, marijuana was superior [to dronabinol]in improving overall symptoms.”
They concluded: “Cannabinoids dramatically improve refractory gastroparesis symptoms, including abdominal pain. Marijuana may be superior to dronabinol in improving these symptoms, though both cannabinoids seem to be promising as novel therapeutic options in gastroparesis. … This role in pain management represents a breakthrough for gastroparesis-associated abdominal pain treatment, for which there are currently no validated therapies.”
The full text of the study, “Impact of cannabinoids on symptoms of refractory gastroparesis: A single-center experience,” appears in Cureus.
Background and aims
Cannabinoids are increasingly used for medicinal purposes, including neuropathy. Gastroparesis is a neuromuscular disorder and neuropathy plays a large role in its pathogenesis. It is thus reasonable that cannabinoids can serve a beneficial role in the management of gastroparesis. Our study evaluates the effect of cannabinoids on gastroparesis symptoms.
Twenty-four (n=24) patients with gastroparesis and refractory symptoms were selected from a single gastroenterology practice associated with a tertiary care medical center. The ‘Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index’ (GCSI) and an analog scale rating abdominal pain were applied to prospectively assess the effect of cannabinoids, in the form of dronabinol and medical cannabis, on refractory gastroparesis symptoms. Patients completed a GCSI form and rated their abdominal pain, before and after treatment. There was a minimum of 60 days of cannabinoid use between reporting intervals. Total composite GCSI symptom scores, GCSI symptom subset scores, and abdominal pain scores were calculated before and after treatment.
A significant improvement in the GCSI total symptom composite score was seen with either cannabinoid treatment (mean score difference of 12.8, 95% confidence interval 10.4-15.2; p-value < 0. 001). Patients prescribed marijuana experienced a statistically significant improvement in every GCSI symptom subgroup. Significant improvement in abdominal pain score was also seen with either cannabinoid treatment (mean score difference of 1.6; p-value <0.001).
Cannabinoids dramatically improve the symptoms of gastroparesis. Furthermore, an improvement in abdominal pain with cannabinoids represents a breakthrough for gastroparesis-associated abdominal pain treatment, for which there are currently no validated therapies.
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