Sara Jane Ward and colleagues of Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia said cannabidiol has pain- and inflammation-reducing effects, while avoiding the psychoactive side effects of marijuana and other "cannabinoid" compounds.
In female mice, cannabidiol reduces paclitaxel-induced neuropathy -- neuropathy is a potentially serious complication that can prevent patients from receiving their full recommended course of chemotherapy.
Paclitaxel, commonly used in the treatment of advanced breast or ovarian cancer, can cause neuropathy, or nerve damage, leading to symptoms like pain, numbness, or tingling.
In the study, male and female mice were treated with paclitaxel and monitored for evidence of neuropathy. The results showed that paclitaxel induced abnormal pain responses mainly in female mice -- less so in males.
When female mice were treated with cannabidiol before paclitaxel, it effectively prevented the development of abnormal pain. The preventive effect was permanent, with no evidence that nerve damage developed after cannabidiol treatment was stopped, Ward said.
However, further study needed to evaluate cannabidiol's effects in humans, Ward added.
The findings were published in Anesthesia & Analgesia.