A diagnosis of cancer in any form is devastating enough on its own, but coping with the disease and battling it on all fronts can be equally stressful and take its toll mentally and physically. Enduring the prolonged effects of successive radiation treatments and powerful drug therapies not only weakens the body but can set patients up for a number of associated symptoms that can have adverse effects on their quality of life.
While there is no definitive answer on whether medicinal cannabis can treat or cure cancer, there are still many ways that the herb is a powerful source of relief for symptoms that accompany it. It’s one of the main reasons why patients turn to medical cannabis doctors for help and guidance in using cannabis to treat their symptoms.
Here are a number of ways that medicinal cannabis can help patients manage their cancer-related symptoms.
Manage Pain with less Risk of Addiction
Dealing with the chronic pain that accompanies cancer and the treatments for it is a primary reason patients seek relief through the use of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis has held greater promise as an effective and viable option for treating pain symptoms, as cannabis is considered to be less susceptible to addiction compared to prescribed opioid painkillers such as morphine and Vicodin1.
While patients are often directed toward prescription drugs by medical doctors to treat their symptoms, medicinal cannabis offers a less toxic solution.
Gain Relief from Nausea and Vomiting
Two extremely debilitating side effects from harsh radiation and chemo treatments are nausea and vomiting. With medicinal cannabis, multiple compounds in the herb called cannabinoids contain vomit-preventing attributes that can effectively diminish nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy.
The success of the cannabinoids found in medicinal cannabis that help diminish nausea and vomiting has led pharmaceutical companies to market a legal, synthetic drug called Marinol, which is helpful to patients who live in states where medicinal cannabis is not yet approved.
Skin Calming to help reduce Itching & Inflammation
Irritating itching and skin rashes are common ailments that result from regular treatments for cancer. But the cannabinoids found in cannabis have powerful anti-inflammatory qualities that can help calm minor skin inflammation flare ups such as allergic dermatitis.
Some of the research that has been performed on patients being treated for cancer have found medicinal cannabis to have a positive effect on their itchy symptoms2. Oral and inhaled cannabis often provide a bit of a high, but medicinal cannabis can be put in the form of a balm or salve, which doesn’t necessarily produce a high.
Regain your Appetite and Food Enjoyment
Chemotherapy treatments and medicines tend to have a major impact on the appetite causing significant loss of appetite and enjoyment of food. Chemotherapy can take away not only the need to eat but the fun of it as well.
Cannabis can get inside the receptor system of the cells that help stimulate the appetite through ghrelin, the primary hormone that generates hunger, plus it can activate the response to food that makes eating enjoyable.
Uplift your Mood and Spirit
Coping with the stress and uncertainty of an illness like cancer can wreak havoc on your sense of well-being, and sometimes you need some mood stimulation to feel positive again. That’s why cannabis has been a life-saver for so many. The sense of euphoria and lifting of mood medicinal cannabis can provide due to its properties is helpful to patients suffering from cancer and other debilitating illnesses.
The cheerful and euphoric feeling one gets from cannabis comes from psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), making it a very popular choice with medicinal cannabis patients who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health. Non-psychotropic cannabidiol (CBD) has been linked with improving moods and helping patients develop a better sense of well-being.
CBD has been studied to reveal its ability as a stimulus that can increase the amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This molecule is the one that is frequently earmarked by many of the antidepressant drugs on the market today. CBD can also go to work to improve an individual’s mood with just one dose.
THC at low levels can also elevate serotonin, which enables it to have an effect similar to an antidepressant.
Deeper and longer Sleep
One of the most difficult side effects of cancer and cancer treatments to cope with is sleeplessness. But, one of the most well-known attributes of cannabis is its ability to promote drowsiness. One variety of cannabis strains that appears to be effective at promoting sleepiness and a sedate feeling is the indica or Kush variety of cannabis.
The cannabidiol compound THC also acts as an aid to encourage sleep and help patients sleep longer and more deeply. Having the ability to achieve deep sleep is essential to restorative healing.
Restore your Regularity
A detrimental side effect of being treated for cancer can be constipation. Another is diarrhea. These conditions are the result of imbalances that occur in the intestinal tract. Within medicinal cannabis are compounds that reconfigure how bacteria is balanced in the intestines, which helps realign bodily functions.
Because of intestinal inflammation that can be caused by cancer therapies, diarrhea is another related side effect of treatment. But according to published research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences3, active ingredients in cannabis help reduce inflammation and the kind of intestinal agitation that contributes to diarrhea. That’s why so many patients under medicinal cannabis treatment prefer using cannabis over prescription medications—particularly opiate medications for pain and digestive disorders.
Get an Energy Boost
Different cannabis cultivars contain properties that help provide energy and stimulation to your body. If you use the variety of cannabis that’s designated as “sativas”, you can get the kind of stimulation you might receive from a cup of morning coffee. And the added mental energy can help you begin your day on the right foot.
Put a lift in your Love Life
You don’t have to miss out on intimacy when you have cancer and are undergoing treatments. We know that it’s probably not easy to feel any kind of sexual arousal or have any interest in sex because of pain, exhaustion, or a medical side effect.
Medicinal cannabis contains a number of properties that can help enhance sexual desire, and it’s been used as an aphrodisiac over centuries. Research found that people from many walks of life found cannabis to help them get their libidos back on track4. It might be because of the herb’s ability to help them feel relaxed and in the moment, and less anxious.
Killing Cancer in its Tracks
As much as cannabis is able to battle the side effects of cancer along with its treatments, one of the most outstanding things about medicinal cannabis use is its anti-concert qualities. Investigations are underway on cannabis to explore just how successful it can be at killing cancer and tumor cells.
There have been studies involving animals and controlled lab experiments to discover the power and potential of medicinal cannabis. Both THC and CBD have the capability to spur cancer cell death5, stem their growth6 and disbursement, plus prevent the formation of blood vessels inside tumor cells so that the growths can be eliminated7.
A lot of research is in the beginning phases of being studied and evaluated, while at the same time, patients taking medicinal cannabis are preferring to take ample doses of medicinal cannabis oil, which is known to contain some anti-cancer qualities of cannabis.
There’s a growing body of evidence that supports medicinal cannabis’ potential as a cancer-fighting herbal drug, but it has assuredly become important to a number of patients as an ally in the battle against the disease.