Dronabinol Effective for Non-cardiac Chest Pain

Dronabinol, commonly used as a nausea treatment, could be effective treatment for non-cardiac chest pain patients.

Non-cardiac chest pain may be treated effectively with dronabinol, according to a study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Philadelphia, PA.

Researchers from Temple University observed 13 patients in a pilot study who suffered from non-cardiac chest pain due to esophageal hypersensitivity. Patients were given 5 mg of dronabinol twice daily for 4 weeks or a placebo. The patients who received the dronabinol regimen reported improved pain tolerance and decreased frequency and intensity of chest pain.

Currently, the treatments generally used for non-cardiac chest pain include pain modulators such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Traditionally, dronabinol is a cannabinoid receptor activator that is traditionally used to treat nausea and vomiting in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients and patients undergoing chemotherapy. But gastroenterologist Ron Schey, MD, believed it could help non-cardiac chest pain patients.

“This novel study has promising findings in future treatment for these patients,” Schey, who conducted the research while on staff at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic, said in a press release. Schey and his team attribute dronabinol’s effects to the active cannabinoid receptors in the esophagus that decrease sensitivity.

Schey continued to say the results were encouraging but admitted it was a small study. The study was not originally designed to test the effects of dronabinol on non-cardiac chest pain patients. He also noted therapies against non-cardiac chest pain have between a 40-50 percent response rate in alleviating symptoms.

A larger-scale study — that will actually test the effects of dronabinol on non-cardiac chest pain patients – is planned for the future.