Medical Cannabis and How it Impacts Cancer Treatment

In some places, medical cannabis is available to more people seeking treatment and relief from their symptoms.

Many people are against cannabis as a medicine because they believe it to be a "gateway drug" that can lead to a severe addiction to dangerous substances. It's a view that is proving difficult to displace. 

This is unfortunate because as more studies are being done, cannabis shows excellent potential to treat patients suffering severe side-effects from their diseases and treatments. 

Researching the medical benefits of cannabis is still a challenging field to get into, but the studies that are making it through suggest that cancer patients could benefit from its use. Here's how. 

How Medical Cannabis Can Impact Cancer Treatment

The cannabis plant contains compounds called cannabinoids responsible for the altered state of mind after ingesting or smoking cannabis 

There are also non-high producing cannabinoids that may impart a range of health benefits without the mind-altering effects. 

THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are the two compounds of most interest to researchers. 

THC is responsible for the high cannabis users experience, but it is also proving useful as a treatment against pain, anxiety, inflammation, and nausea. 

Here are a few ways medical cannabis is impacting cancer treatment. 

Relief From Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side-effects of chemotherapy, and there are already quite a few treatments available. However, some patients are unable to find relief using these medications. [1]

In a few isolated studies, participants found that cannabis use delivered some relief against the chemotherapy side-effects. 

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is a common symptom in cancer patients, leading to unintentional weight loss through fat and lean muscle tissue loss. Appetite loss also leads to fatigue and loss of motor functions. 

The FDA has approved a synthetic cannabinoid to treat appetite loss for AIDS patients, but not specifically for cancer. [1] More study is required, but participants have reported an increase in appetite when using cannabis in some limited studies. .

Pain Management

Cannabis can work similarly to opioids, which are the strongest types of pain killers available. Patients struggling with cancer-related pain can find relief when using medical marijuana as a substitute pain control strategy. 

Neuropathy (Nerve Pain)

Neuropathy refers to nerve damage causing pain, weakness, and numbness. Several studies have shown that medical cannabis can treat this type of nerve-induced pain. [2] 

Research Showing CBD and THC Can Kill Cancer Cells Directly

As the pharmaceutical industry races to produce synthetic cannabidiols that replicate just one cannabinoid, THC, other scientists are pursuing research that has revealed the ability of THC and CBD to kill cancer cells directly. [3]

A disease that is as deadly as cancer deserves to have all avenues of research thrown at it. Fortunately, cancer patients are now in the position where they don't have to wait for synthetic versions of THC that may be decades in coming. They can now try it for themselves and take advantage of the 'entourage effect' of hundreds of different cannabinoids working together.

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