Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol delays the gastric emptying of solid food in humans: a double-blind, randomized study

Authors


McCallum The University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 4035-D, Kansas City, KS 66160–7350, USA.

Abstract

Background:

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active constituent of marijuana, is an effective agent in the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Aim:

To determine the effect of THC on gastric emptying of a radiolabelled solid food in humans.

Methods:

Thirteen healthy volunteers underwent gastric emptying studies after receiving THC and placebo in a randomized double-blind fashion on 2 separate days. THC, at a dose of 10 mg/m2 of body surface area, or placebo were administered.

Results:

Gastric emptying after THC was slower than placebo in all subjects. Mean percentage of isotope remaining in the stomach was significantly greater than after placebo from 30 min (85.5 ± 4.3% vs. 94.2 ± 1.4% placebo and THC, respectively, < 0.05) to 120 min (45.6 ± 7.2% vs. 73.9 ± 7.1% placebo and THC, respectively, < 0.001) after the test meal. No correlation was found between plasma THC levels and the delay in gastric emptying.

Conclusions:

THC at a dose used for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting significantly delays gastric emptying of solid food in humans. Therefore, the anti-emetic property of THC may be mediated through the central nervous system.

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