Cancer is one of the most commonly known diseases that affects millions of people worldwide. For decades marijuana has been used to treat symptoms associated with both cancer and conventional therapies. With that in mind, cancer and cancer treatment are both incredibly complex and can vary in progression of the illness. There are a lot of possibilities and potential for medical marijuana & cancer treatment.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells disrupt or impair normal bodily functioning, often forming a mass of tissue known as a tumor. Though many cancers form tumors, not all do (i.e. leukemia), and similarly, not all tumors are cancerous. Malignant, cancerous tumors will crowd out healthy cells as cancer progresses and take nutrients from body tissues. It can metastasize (spread) throughout the body, forming more new tumors and infecting other parts of the body.
Cancer can form in any part of the body, with some of the most common being in the lung, breast, colon, prostate, skin, ovaries, and pancreas (just to name a few), as well as in blood, bone marrow, the immune system, and the central nervous system. There are also many different treatment options for cancer, the most common being surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Treatments vary from patient to patient, as the right form of treatment depends on the type of cancer and its general progression. However, the side effects of these treatments, most notably chemotherapy, can be extremely unpleasant, including fatigue, appetite loss, swelling, nausea and vomiting, pain, sleep issues, gastrointestinal issues, flu-like symptoms, and inflammation. This is not to say these treatments aren’t valid and helpful, (they are), but medical marijuana has a great deal of potential in easing the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment that can help make the process easier on patients.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help?
One of the most notable ways that people have found help with medical marijuana and their cancer treatment is in symptom management. Many patients going through cancer treatment have trouble with nausea and vomiting, as well as a complete loss of appetite. THC has demonstrated a great ability in reducing nausea and increasing appetite, which may help patients in treatment keep their strength up and not feel quite so physically ill. It should be noted though, that the terpene humulene and the cannabinoid THC-V both can be appetite suppressants, so patients may want to be mindful of their intake of this cannabinoid.
Similarly, many patients going through cancer treatment experience increased pain as well as neuropathies. THC and CBD, as well as other prominent terpenes like myrcene and caryophyllene, can be excellent pain relievers and have anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can be helpful for patients with cancer experiencing those symptoms.
Patients undergoing cancer treatment often experience fatigue or alternatively, sleep loss. Depending on the strain and the terpene profile, medical marijuana has the potential to help with both. Patients experiencing fatigue may find help from strains that are high in pinene, which helps with energy and focus. Patients suffering from sleep loss may find relief in a sedating strain, especially ones that are high in myrcene and linalool, which both have relaxing and sedating effects.
In short, Rick Simpson was a man who created a concentrated cannabis oil to treat his skin cancer. This oil is now referred to as RSO (Rick Simpson Oil). It would be incorrect to claim that an RSO can cure cancer; there simply isn’t enough evidence. However, many patients, both with and without cancer, have come to love RSOs as their preferred cannabis medicine. RSOs are ingested, and though it may take up to several hours to feel the effects, it is incredibly potent, even for experienced cannabis users.
There’s been some research done on the effectiveness of RSO and cannabis’s generall effect on cancer. A study in 2014 showed the cannabis extract increased the effectiveness of radiation therapy in mice. Another found that THC and CBN also slowed the growth of lung cancer in mice. That being said these are small studies, they’re not human trials, and there still is not enough evidence to claim something conclusive. Many patients with cancer use RSO along with their cancer treatment; it can be a great option for patients and those interested should discuss it with their technician or with one of our medical professionals.
As common and complex as cancer is, those going through treatment don’t have to just sit and suffer the effects. Medical marijuana is a great option to consider for patients going through cancer treatment because, if nothing else, it can help alleviate the suffering from the unpleasant symptoms of cancer treatment and just help patients get through the day comfortably.