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Marijuana is the name given to the dried leaves and buds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Many cultures have used it as a herbal remedy for centuries due to the myriad of benefits it provides.
In October 2018, cannabis became legal in Canada. This spells great news for individuals undergoing cancer treatment.
The two main biologically active ingredients in marijuana that are responsible for its medicinal properties are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids have revolutionized the use of marijuana for cancer.
In this article, we explore 7 incredible marijuana benefits for cancer patients. Read on.
1. Marijuana for Cancer Pain Relief
It’s no secret that people living with cancer experience a lot of pain. The pain arises from the sheer amount of inflammation and pressure that the cancer tumors exert on the internal organs.
The pain can be so severe that in some cases it becomes resistant to opioids. Opioids happen to be the most powerful pain relievers in existence.
When this happens, cannabinoids like CBD can help in pain management. They directly act on the CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation. This decreases pain in the process.
2. Management of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is the medical term for nerve damage. It is a common complication brought on by the rigorous treatment regimens cancer patients are put on.
The nerve damage these treatments cause is a contributory factor to the pain that these individuals have to deal with on an on-going basis. Chemotherapy treatment, for instance, is designed to kill cancerous cells.
But, since the drug cannot act on isolated tissues in the body, healthy cells also get damaged in the process. Some of the side effects of chemotherapy drugs include:
- Aching in the muscles and joints
- Throbbing headaches
- Shooting pains in the hands and feet due to peripheral nerve damage
THC acts on the body’s CB1 receptors. This makes it effective in reducing neuropathic pain. Take the time to learn more about marijuana’s pain relieving properties for patients undergoing chemo.
3. Stimulates Appetite
One of the most common complaints from patients undergoing cancer treatment is the resulting loss of appetite (anorexia). This is brought on by both the chemotherapy as well as the disease itself, especially in the advanced stages.
Cancer and its treatments affect the way food tastes in your mouth. This is the reason why most patients don’t generally feel like eating.
As a result, they experience weight loss. This weakens the immune system.
It affects the body’s ability to heal from the cellular and nerve damage brought on by both cancer and its treatment. Ingesting low doses of THC delivers cannabinoids to the bloodstream. This is effective in stimulating the patient’s appetite by acting on the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus.
4. Reduces Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are two of the most reported side effects of patients undergoing cancer treatment. Great strides in medicine have seen the development of drugs that control the onset of these symptoms.
However, cannabis and cannabinoids like CBD and THC provide a more natural and effective remedy to reduce these side effects. Nausea and vomiting are controlled by the vomiting center of the brain.
Cancer treatment irritates nerves in certain parts of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This stimulates the nerves in these parts to send signals to the vomiting center. Low doses of THC act on these nerves to reduce both vomiting and nausea.
5. Anti-Neoplastic Properties
Pre-clinical studies investigating the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of cancer show promise in the fight against this deadly disease. From the research conducted so far, it appears that cannabinoids inhibit the growth of different types of cancerous tumors.
Here’s what they’ve uncovered so far:
- Cannabinoids prevent cancer cells from dividing and invading healthy tissue
- Researchers have observed that they block the blood supply to the existing tumors
- They enhance the body’s immune response against the growth and spread of the cancer cells
Up until recently, marijuana was classified as an illegal drug. This stifled the amount of research that could be conducted on it to uncover all its potential medical applications that have remained largely untapped. Nevertheless, that’s about to change.
6. Improves Sleep Quality
The endocannabinoid system or ECS for short is a specialized system in the body responsible for regulating a number of functions. These include appetite, pain, immune system response and sleep.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that bind to the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 which are present in the immune system. The inflammation brought on by cancer as well as the peripheral nerve damage that occurs due to cancer treatments interfere with this system.
This leads to sleep disorders in cancer patients. One of the benefits of CBD oil is that it acts on the cannabinoid receptors to reduce inflammation in the body. It interacts with the endocannabinoid neurotransmitters to improve the quality of sleep and reduce the pain experienced by the patient while they’re at rest.
7. Helps with Emotional Distress
Getting a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, to say the least. It takes a toll on one’s emotional health.
Feelings of depression, fear and anxiety run rampant among cancer patients which is a normal response to this life-altering experience. These feelings are brought on by a myriad of factors.
For one, changes in body image can cause individuals battling the disease to experience low confidence levels and self-esteem. The physical symptoms of the disease itself like pain, nausea, and fatigue are also contributory factors to emotional distress.
CBD oil shows promise in the treatment of both anxiety and depression. It’s a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
Its effectiveness can be linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s serotonin receptors. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of mood. Cancer patients, therefore, find CBD effective in dealing with emotional distress brought on by the disease.
The Bottom Line
While marijuana is a great remedy for cancer patients, all pain and symptom management decisions should be made after consulting with their doctor. Nevertheless, the benefits of marijuana can’t be overstated.
Using marijuana for cancer relief is an excellent natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs in the management of both the symptoms and side-effects of the disease and its treatment respectively. Check out our blog for more health-related posts.