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Systemic mastocytosis and medical marijuana

Medical ConditionSkin disorders


A 21-year-old college student with systemic mastocytosis uses inhaled medical marijuana to relieve symptoms and gain homeostasis.


Pruritus, flushing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vascular instability

Skin Disorders






Brief history and target symptomatology

Beginning in his teen years, this young man has had urticaria pigmentosa, allergy to multiple foods and food preservatives resulting in frequent flareups of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Sunny, cold or hot weather could cause generalized arthralgia.

Previous and current conventional therapies

The patient still takes Gastrocrom (Cromolyn, a mast cell stabilizer) but believes that medical marijuana is the most important factor in his well-being. He carries with him at all times injectable epinephrine in case of anaphylactic reaction.

Clinical response to Cannabis

The patient's most frequent symptom is sudden bouts of gastrointestinal distress (pain, nausea, diarrhea). For the past 2 1/2 years, since he started using medical marijuana, he has had few flareups, when carefully avoiding known food allergens and other precipitants.

Additional Comments

This patient most likely suffers from the indolent subtype of systemic mastocytosis. The pathologic manifestations of this disease are the abnormal accumulation of mast cells in the skin, G.I. tract, bone marrow, and lymph nodes and the frequent association with hematologic disorders. A genetic (proto-oncogene c-KIT) mutation is usually detectable in the mast cells and their precursors. Symptoms are due to the release from mast cells of leukotrienes which are responsible for contraction of smooth muscles, stimulation of vascular permeability, and attraction and activation of leukocytes; these are three to four orders of magnitude more potent than histamine. Counseling, prevention of exposure to mast cell secretory stimuli and symptomatic treatment are the mainstays of current patient management.
Reference: Hartmann. K, Bruns,S and Henz,B: Mastocytosis: Review of Clinical and Experimental Aspects. Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (2001) 6, 143–147

Usual method of Cannabis administration


Frequency of Usage: Time Per Day


Frequency of Usage: Days per Week


Contributing Physician

Stefan Arnon M.D.