Cannabis and anti-emetic (nausea) efficacy
Review article
Therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis

1 Department of Psychiatry, Paulista School of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, & 2 Paulista School of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo
Correspondence to Francisco Carlos Machado Rocha, Rua Joaquim de Almeida, número 81, Bairro: Mirandópolis, São Paulo, SP, CEP 04050-010, Brazil (e-mail:
Copyright © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
cancer • cannabis • chemotherapy • meta-analysis • randomized clinical trial • systematic review


This paper aims to evaluate the anti-emetic efficacy of cannabinoids in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy using a systematic review of literature searched within electronic databases such as PUBMED, EMBASE, PSYCINFO, LILACS, and ‘The Cochrane Collaboration Controlled Trials Register’. Studies chosen were randomized clinical trials comprising all publications of each database until December 2006. From 12 749 initially identified papers, 30 fulfilled the inclusion criteria for this review, with demonstration of superiority of the anti-emetic efficacy of cannabinoids compared with conventional drugs and placebo. The adverse effects were more intense and occurred more often among patients who used cannabinoids. Five meta-analyses were carried out: (1) dronabinol versus placebo [n = 185; relative risk (RR) = 0.47; confidence interval (CI) = 0.19–1.16]; (2) Dronabinol versus neuroleptics [n = 325; RR = 0.67; CI = 0.47–0.96; number needed to treat (NNT) = 3.4]; (3) nabilone versus neuroleptics (n = 277; RR = 0.88; CI = 0.72–1.08); (4) levonantradol versus neuroleptics (n = 194; RR = 0.94; CI = 0.75–1.18); and (5) patients’ preference for cannabis or other drugs (n = 1138; RR = 0.33; CI = 0.24–0.44; NNT = 1.8). The superiority of the anti-emetic efficacy of cannabinoids was demonstrated through meta-analysis.

So what this is saying is that this study found that cannabinoids administered via the marijuana-based drug, Dronabinol ( ), is an effective control for nausea. (See wiki’s entry for anti-emetic,

The study results are in the chart below for easier reading.
N Relative Risk Confidence Interval
Dronabinol v placebo 185 0.47 0.19 – 1.16
Dronabinol v neuroleptics 325 0.67 0.47- 0.96
Nabilone v neuroleptics 277 0.88 0.72 – 1.18
Levonantradol v neuroleptics 194 0.94 0.75 – 1.18
Cannabis v other drugs (patient preference) 1138 0.33 0.24 – .44


One thought on “Cannabis and anti-emetic (nausea) efficacy

  1. Day to day i always feel nausea and it is mostly caused by my astigmatism (eye problems). There are other causes of nausea and mostly they are benign.;

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    Posted by Martin Naef | November 13, 2012, 6:14 am

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