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What Is Nabilone?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nabilone is a type of antiemetic medication called a cannabinoid, which means that it is a chemical compound found in cannabis. A doctor may prescribe this drug to patients who suffer from persistent nausea and vomiting that is a direct result of treatment with anticancer drugs. Patients may only use this medication if they have tried other antiemetic drugs without receiving adequate relief. Persistent nausea and vomiting is a common side effect of many anticancer drugs, and if it is left untreated, it may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and nutritional inadequacies.

Patients should take nabilone according to their dosage schedule, even if they do not yet feel nauseous. It is typically prescribed two to three times daily throughout the patient's chemotherapy cycle, and it may be taken with or without food. The patient will take one capsule of nabilone one to three hours prior to a chemotherapy dose. He will continue to take doses of nabilone up to 48 hours following the last chemotherapy dose, according to his doctor's directions. The patient may begin with a smaller dose of nabilone, which the doctor may later increase, as needed.

This antiemetic drug may cause some side effects, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience dry mouth, changes in appetite, and a headache. Nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness may occur, along with unsteady walking. Problems sleeping, weakness, and anxiety have also been reported, as well as difficulty concentrating, an elevated mood, and confusion.

More serious side effects should be reported to the prescribing physician immediately. Some patients have experienced a rapid heartbeat. Others report feeling a disconnected sensation from reality. Those who experience any other side effects should also call their doctors.

Special precautions should be followed while patients are treating persistent nausea with nabilone. Alcoholic beverages should be avoided, because they may worsen certain side effects. Those who plan to undergo any surgery, including dental surgery, should inform their surgeon that they are using this drug. Patients should stand up from a prone position slowly to avoid fainting or experiencing dizziness or lightheadedness.

Before using nabilone, patients should disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss the potential risks with their doctors. This medicine may be contraindicated for use by those with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or high blood pressure. It may interact with other medications, including sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and sedatives, as well as amphetamines and antihistamines. Nabilone may also interact with muscle relaxants, narcotic pain relievers, and atropine.

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