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Benefit of Tetrahydrocannabinol versus Cannabidiol for Common Palliative Care Symptoms.

By September 16th, 2019 Palliative Care


David J. Casarett, Jessica N. Beliveau, and Michelle S. Arbus

Published in Journal of Palliative Medicine

6 August 2019



Objectives: To determine the relative contributions of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) to patients’ self-ratings of efficacy for common palliative care symptoms. Design: This is an electronic record-based retrospective cohort study. Model development used logistic regression with bootstrapped confidence intervals (CIs), with standard errors clustered to account for multiple observations by each patient. Setting: This is a national Canadian patient portal. Participants: A total of 2,431 patients participated. Main Outcome Measures: Self-ratings of efficacy of cannabis, defined as a three-point reduction in neuropathic pain, anorexia, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, insomnia, and post-traumatic flashbacks. Results: We included 26,150 observations between October 1, 2017 and November 28, 2018. Of the six symptoms, response was associated with increased THC:CBD ratio for neuropathic pain (odds ratio [OR]: 3.58; 95% CI: 1.32-9.68; p = 0.012), insomnia (OR: 2.93; 95% CI: 1.75-4.91; p < 0.001), and depressive symptoms (OR: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.07-2.49; p = 0.022). Increased THC:CBD ratio was not associated with a greater response of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related flashbacks (OR: 1.43; 95% CI: 0.60-3.41; p = 0.415) or anorexia (OR: 1.61; 95% CI: 0.70-3.73; p = 0.265). The response for anxiety symptoms was not significant (OR: 1.13; 95% CI: 0.77-1.64; p = 0.53), but showed an inverted U-shaped curve, with maximal benefit at a 1:1 ratio (50% THC). Conclusions: These preliminary results offer a unique view of real-world medical cannabis use and identify several areas for future research.


DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2018.0658



Casarett DJ, Beliveau JN, Arbus MS. Benefit of Tetrahydrocannabinol versus Cannabidiol for Common Palliative Care Symptoms. J Palliat Med. August 2019:jpm.2018.0658. doi:10.1089/jpm.2018.0658