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Standardised Medications: Dronabinol

Dronabinol, often marketed as Marinol, is a drug that is usually used to treat nausea and vomiting experienced by people going through chemotherapy. As is usually the case with cannabis-based medicines, dronabinol is typically given after conventional medicines have been used with little success.

Dronabinol can also be used to treat the loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss experienced by those who have developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

How do you use Dronabinol?

Dronabinol tends to betaken orally in a capsule form.

For nausea and vomiting

  • It is recommended that a dose of dronabinol should be administered 1-3 hours prior to chemotherapy, with subsequent doses being taken every 2 to 4 hours after treatment. It is recommended to take up to 4-6 doses per day.

To combat weight loss and aid appetite stimulation in AIDS patients:

  • A starting dose should be taken twice daily before lunch and dinner, although patients who struggle to take such a dose are encouraged to take one dose a day in the evening or prior to sleeping.
  • Those who respond well to dronabinol may have their dosage increased up to 20 mg per day.

As always, cannabis-based drugs should only be taken after close consultation with a doctor, who will determine if the medication is suitable for you and what dose would best suit your symptoms.

People taking dronabinol are generally encouraged to refrain from smoking cannabis,drinking alcohol or taking other drugs that affect the body’s central nervous system. Avoiding such medicines and drugs makes detrimental mental health related side effects less likely to occur.

How does it work?

Dronabinol, or rather its constituent THC, works through weak partial agonist activity at Cannabinoid-1 (CB1R) and Cannabinoid-2 (CB2R) receptors which results in a reduction in pain, increased appetite and changes in cognitive and emotional processes.

Capsules of dronabinol are almost entirely absorbed (90-95%) following single oral doses. Due to high lipid solubility and first pass hepatic metabolism, only about 10-20% of the dose actually reaches the systemic circulation.

After the drug is taken, it usually takes around 0.5 to 1 hour for effects to be felt,with a peak effect being observed around 2 to 4 hours after administration.

Side effects

Possible side effects of dronabinol include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling ‘high’/ Euphoria
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

Some side effects are much more serious and if experienced, individuals should immediately arrange to see their doctors. These side effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • An increased or rapid heartbeat

Can Dronabinol be prescribed?

Currently, dronabinol is not available as a licensed medicine on the NHS, although it is available for private prescription on a named patient basis to treat anorexia in AIDS patients or as an anti-emetic in cancer chemotherapy.

As is the case with practically all cannabis-based medicinal products, careful consultation with specialist doctors would have to take place in any case before a prescription could be placed.

In the United States however, dronabinol, marketed as Marinol, was approved by the FDA(the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) in 1985 to treat those with nausea and vomiting who were going through chemotherapy. This approval was later extended for use in treating AIDS patients with extreme weight loss.

Further investigation and research into medicinal cannabis and alternative medical options is thoroughly encouraged by The Academy, particularly through the use of our own online coursesevidence base and whitepapers.

The rest of our resources are available on our website. We urge anyone considering use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.

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