A THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may provide a novel treatment option for non-cardiac chest pain.

Non-cardiac chest pain is chest pain that doesn’t come from the heart. An estimated 200,000 Americans each year experience this type of pain, which can involve painful swallowing, discomfort and anxiety.

“Non-cardiac chest pain can be frightening for patients and result in visits to the emergency room because the painful symptoms, while often originating in the esophagus, can mimic a heart attack”, according to a Temple University press release about the study. “Current treatment — which includes pain modulators such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) — has a partial 40 to 50 percent response rate in alleviating symptoms.”

For the study, researchers used a substance called dronabinol, a cannabinoid receptor activator that’s meant to mimic the effects of THC.

In the study, which involved 13 patients with non-cardiac chest pain, researchers found that patients who were given 5 mg of dronabinol twice daily for four weeks fared better than patients who took a placebo. Those getting dronabinol experienced improved pain tolerance and decreased frequency and intensity of chest pain. In addition, no significant adverse effects were reported.

“This novel study has promising findings in future treatment for these patients,” said Dr. Ron Schey, a gastroenterologist who serves as the Associate Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, who conducted the research while on staff at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic.

The abstract of this study was presented on October 20th in Philadelphia at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.


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