Nabilone administration in refractory chronic diarrhea: a case series
Daily cannabis assumption is currently associated with several physical and mental health problems, however in the past it was prescribed for a multitude of symptoms, including vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Through the years, the endocannabinoid system has been recognized in the homeostatic mechanisms of the gut, as well as in the physiological control of intestinal motility and secretion. Accordingly, cannabinoids may be a promising therapy against several gastrointestinal conditions, such as abdominal pain and motility-related disorders.
We retrospectively analysed the efficacy and safety of a CB1-receptor agonist administered in six patients with refractory chronic diarrhea, between April 2008 and July 2016. After three months of therapy, oral nabilone improved the health of nearly all patients, with visible improvements in reducing diarrheal symptoms and weight gain. Most of the benefits persisted through the three-month follow-up. Only one patient interrupted the treatment after one month, due to severe fatigue and mental confusion; the symptoms disappeared in the follow-up period.
These findings encourage the study of cannabinoids acting on CB1 receptors in chronic gastrointestinal disorders, especially in refractory chronic diarrhea, offering a chance for a substantial improvement in the quality of life of selected patients, with a reasonable safety profile.