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Int J Palliat Nurs. 2010 Oct;16(10):481-5.

Using cannabinoids in pain and palliative care.

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King's College Hospital, London, UK.


Interest in the use of cannabinoids in a clinical setting is gradually increasing, particularly in patients where more conventional treatments have failed. They have been reported as offering perceived benefits in a wide range of conditions, but the major interest at present is centred on their place in pain management and in the palliation of symptoms secondary to terminal cancer and neurological disease. The potential benefits include symptomatic relief for patients suffering from intractable neuropathic pain, anorexia, anxiety and muscle spasm. There is clear consensus that cannibinoids should not be used as a first-line monotherapy, but should be considered as valuable adjuvants to more commonly indicated therapeutic options in the management of palliative care patients. Scientific evidence documenting the benefits of the canibinoids nabilone and sativex is accumulating, but needs to be evaluated carefully in the light of the paucity of available data. Both drugs are usually used under the guidance of specialist units. Nabilone and Sativex are now controlled drugs, and are frequently used outside of their licensed indication (control of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting) and hence particular care needs to be taken in evaluating the rational for their use. Sativex has been recently licenced for use in the management of patients with multiple sclerosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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