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Researchers say despite the lack of symptom relief, more trials are needed to focus on the targeted use of medicinal cannabis
Melissa Davey 29/11 2022

The first high quality study looking at the impact of cannabidiol oil on palliative care patients with advanced cancer found it did not improve their pain, depression, anxiety, or quality of life.

Palliative care is one of the conditions for which medicinal cannabis has been approved in Australia.

The trial, led by the Mater hospital and the University of Queensland, studied the effects of cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD, on the relief of pain, depression, anxiety and quality of life on 144 patients receiving palliative care for cancer. The trial was double-blinded, which meant neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether they were getting medicinal cannabis or a placebo.

All patients also received standard palliative care throughout the trial period.

“The trial found there was no detectable effect of CBD on change in physical or emotional functioning, overall quality of life, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, dyspnoea or appetite loss,” lead author of the study and the director of palliative and supportive care at Mater, Prof Janet Hardy, said.

Hardy said the study aimed to fill the gap in scientific evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis for pain relief and symptom distress due to cancer.
“The best way to describe the uptake of medicinal cannabis following its legalisation was as a social phenomenon,” she said.

“Everyone wanted it, but there was little evidence to guide its usage. Usually, new products entering the market have gone through extensive pre-clinical studies regarding best dosage and usage, however medicinal cannabis entered the market with very little guidance.”

The findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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