Marijuana has been reported to interfere with nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. The principal cannabinoids found in marijuana include the psychoactive compound Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD). The experiments reported here evaluated the potential of THC and CBD to interfere with vomiting in the Suncus murinus (house musk shrew) produced by lithium chloride (LiCl), which is the most commonly employed unconditioned stimulus for taste avoidance.
To evaluate the potential of the principal components of marijuana, THC and CBD, to suppress Li-induced vomiting in the house musk shrew.
Shrews were injected with vehicle or one of two cannabinoids [Delta-9-THC (1-20 mg/kg), or CBD (2.5-40 mg/kg)] 10 min prior to an injection of LiCl (390 mg/kg of 0.15 M) and were then observed for 45 min. The frequency of vomiting episodes and the latency to the first episode were measured. The role of the CB1 receptor in these effects was also evaluated by pretreatment with SR-141716.
Delta-9-THC produced a dose-dependent suppression of Li-induced vomiting, with higher doses producing greater suppression than lower doses. CBD produced a biphasic effect with lower doses producing suppression and higher doses producing enhancement of Li-induced vomiting. The suppression of Li-induced vomiting by THC, but not by CBD, was reversed by SR-141716.
These results indicate that two major cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana, THC and CBD, are effective treatments for Li-induced vomiting; however, only THC acts by the CB1 receptor. The effects of THC and CBD on vomiting were dose dependent; with THC the effect was linear, but with CBD the effect was biphasic.