Therapeutic Effects of Medicinal Cannabinoids on the Gastrointestinal System in Pediatric Patients: A Systematic Review
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Changes in cannabis legalization have generated interest in medicinal cannabinoids for therapeutic uses, including those that target the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These effects are mediated through interactions with the endocannabinoid system. Given the increasing societal awareness of the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids, it is important to ensure pediatric representation in clinical studies investigating cannabinoid use. This systematic review aims to assess the efficacy of medicinal cannabinoids in treating GI symptoms in pediatric patients. A literature search of Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library was performed from inception until June 23, 2020. Study design, patient characteristics, type, dose and duration of medicinal cannabinoid therapy, and GI outcomes were extracted. From 7303 records identified, 5 studies met all inclusion criteria. Included studies focused on chemotherapy-induced nausea, inflammatory bowel disease, and GI symptoms associated with severe complex motor disorders. Results varied based on the symptom being treated, the type of cannabinoid, and the patient population. Medicinal cannabinoids may have a potential role in treating specific GI symptoms in specific patient populations. The limited number and heterogenicity of included studies highlight the demand for future research to distinguish effects among different cannabinoid types and patient populations and to examine drug interactions. As interest increases, higher quality studies are needed to understand the efficacy of cannabinoids as a pediatric GI treatment and whether these benefits outweigh the associated risks (Registration Number: PROSPERO CRD42020202486).
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