Inhaled medicinal cannabis and the immunocompromised patient

Abstract

Medicinal cannabis is an invaluable adjunct therapy for pain relief, nausea, anorexia, and mood modification in cancer patients and is available as cookies or cakes, as sublingual drops, as a vaporized mist, or for smoking. However, as with every herb, various microorganisms are carried on its leaves and flowers which when inhaled could expose the user, in particular immunocompromised patients, to the risk of opportunistic lung infections, primarily from inhaled molds. The objective of this study was to identify the safest way of using medicinal cannabis in immunosuppressed patients by finding the optimal method of sterilization with minimal loss of activity of cannabis. We describe the results of culturing the cannabis herb, three methods of sterilization, and the measured loss of a main cannabinoid compound activity. Systematic sterilization of medicinal cannabis can eliminate the risk of fatal opportunistic infections associated with cannabis among patients at risk.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

M.C.:

Medicinal cannabis

Δ9-THC:

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol

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Acknowledgments

The use of medicinal cannabis was approved by the chief national psychiatrist of the Israeli Health Ministry.

Author contributions

Study design and manuscript writing were under the responsibility of Rosa Ruchlemer, David Raveh, Michal Amit-Kohn, and Lumír Hanuš. David Raveh also cultured the cannabis. Lumir Hanus was also responsible for the sterilization studies.

Conflict of interest

None.

Funding

None.

Data sharing statement

No additional data available.

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Correspondence to Rosa Ruchlemer.

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Ruchlemer, R., Amit-Kohn, M., Raveh, D. et al. Inhaled medicinal cannabis and the immunocompromised patient. Support Care Cancer 23, 819–822 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-014-2429-3

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Keywords

  • Cannabis
  • Immunocompromised host
  • Aspergillosis