Marijuana Cancer Pain
At Compassionate Telemedicine, we are here to help cancer patients stop suffering. Many kinds of pain that come with cancer and the treatments used to stop it respond well to cannabis. Cannabinoids and opiates can work on different physiological systems in the body to attack the source of the pain from different angles
In Texas, thanks to the Compassionate Use Act, patients with cancer can benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
Cannabis works in several ways to alleviate pain associated with cancer:
- neuropathic pain
- Bone pain
Our two working dispensaries have different strengths and formulas to fit every patients’ needs. They have tinctures for sublingual use in addition to lozenges that melt on the tongue for faster relief.
Marijuana comes from the buds and leaves of the cannabis plant, which has been used for centuries as part of herbal remedies for many illnesses.
Cannabis is illegal in the U.S. under federal law, but the use of marijuana is legal in many states. Some studies have found that it might help ease some of the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment.
What Is Medical Marijuana?
Marijuana has compounds called cannabinoids, which can cause drug-like effects on the body. The two most active and most studied are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC causes marijuana’s “high” feeling. It also may help ease pain, nausea, and inflammation.
CBD may ease pain, inflammation, and anxiety without causing the high.
How It Can Help Cancer
Studies have looked at the possible benefits of medical marijuana can have on cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
Nausea and Vomiting. A few small studies have found that smoking marijuana can ease these side effects of chemotherapy. The FDA has also approve dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and nabilone (Cesamet), man-made cannabinoids, to treat these symptoms when other nausea medications don’t work.
Pain. Some studies have found that smoked marijuana can ease cancer-related pain. It binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body.
Marijuana may also ease inflammation, which can also help with pain.
Nerve Pain. Neuropathy is weakness, numbness, or pain caused by nerve damage. It can happen as a result of chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. A few studies have found that smoking marijuana can help this specific type of nerve pain.
Appetite and weight loss. Dronabinol is FDA-approved for loss of appetite in people with AIDS, but not specifically for cancer. There are some small studies that show marijuana may also help improve appetite for people with cancer.
What to Expect
Medical marijuana comes in several forms, including:
- Dried leaves or buds for smoking
- Edible products, like cookies, brownies, or candies
- Oils for vaporizing or mixing into hot drinks or food
- Creams that can be applied on the skin
- Sprays for your mouth
Some forms of marijuana are shown to work better than others to fight cancer symptoms or treatment side effects.
Side effects are possible from the marijuana itself. You could have:
- Low blood pressure
- Fast heart rate
Marijuana with THC can give you a “high” that can make you feel confused and give you less control over your movement. It may also trigger anxiety, and paranoia
Questions to Ask
If you’re considering medical marijuana, these are your next steps:
Know the law. Although marijuana is illegal in the U.S. on a federal level, each state has different laws about medical marijuana use, and those laws are changing regularly. Find out what the law says where you live.
Talk to your doctor. Your health care team can tell you whether medical marijuana might be a good option for you. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the drugs and supplements you’re taking. That information may be able to help them figure out which form of marijuana could help you.
You’ll need to be certified to get it. Your doctor can help you with that.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed Laura J Martin, MD on November 12, 2018
<link rel=canonical href=https://www.webmd.com/cancer/medical-marijuana-cancer#1”/>
What Is Cancer? And Is Cannabis a Good Treatment for Cancer-Related Therapies?
Scientifically defined, cancer is a category of diseases in which cancerous cells rapidly grow and divide throughout the body. This process can be harmful, because compared with normal, healthy cells, cancer cells do not have a direct function or purpose. Rather they become invasive within the body, rapidly growing into what are known as tumors, which then often have to be removed later on.
Tumors that are cancerous are known as ‘malignant,’ meaning they are capable of invading other nearby tissues and growing rapidly. Of course, this is what makes cancer spread into various parts of a person’s body.
Sometimes, though, tumors can be classified as benign. This is generally a much more positive result, because although this class of tumors can grow extremely large and need to be removed surgically, benign tumors don’t have cells that break off and spread throughout the body.
Also, unlike malignant tumors benign tumors likely do not grow back after removal.
Benign tumors, once removed, generally are not life-threatening. Tumors within the brain, are an exception wherein the mass needs to be urgently removed to prevent any complications from arising.
Cancer cells arise due to a malfunctioning within the genes. Genes control the way in which the body’s cells function; how they grow, divide, and then eventually sometimes die off. As cells divide, errors can occur within our genetic makeup (genome), and also the DNA itself can become damaged.
Some individuals inherit faulty genetic programming from family members, making their cells more susceptible to problems later on. Also, the DNA itself can become damaged due to environmental toxins, such as exposure to radiation (including from the sun) and carcinogens – such as the smoke from cigarettes or other tobacco products.
There are plenty of substances within the environment (including everyday pollution) that may have the ability to damage the cells, genes and even DNA. Of course, just because one is exposed to these toxins, does not guarantee that they will acquire cancer in their lifetime; it simply increases their risk.
Common Types of Cancer
Since cancer is essentially a collection of uncontrollably reproducing cells, it can occur just about anywhere in the body and spread far from the point of origin – through organs, blood, bone, muscles, or even the lymph system. Due to this, many of the most common types of cancer in the world are unrelated, existing in isolated parts of the body.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a common form of cancer among females, with an estimated 3 million women living with the condition in the United States alone. Women are not in fact the only individuals at risk however; men can also develop breast cancer, with about 2,500 males diagnosed each year.
Breast cancer occurs when mammary cells become unhealthy and spread rapidly, often forming tumors that can be felt as lumps during important self-checks, and other times can with x-ray pictures.
These rapidly growing cells can be cancer cells, although many times, lumps end up being benign, and don’t pose much threat (once removed).
In other more severe situations, the tumors can be malignant, and can invade other parts of the breast tissue. Or, they can even go so far as invading other parts of the body, which is known as metastasizing. Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer amongst women in the world.
What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a very different kind of cancer compared to some of the other most common forms, as it affects the blood and marrow within the bones. Not much can be done to prevent someone from developing leukemia. And although many cases historically have been seen among children, the fact is that more adults are diagnosed than are kids.
Additionally, men are more likely to develop this disease than are women, and Caucasians are more likely than African-Americans to be diagnosed. Leukemia is the 10th most common form of cancer amongst all genders and races. It is said that more than 350,000 individuals were living with the condition in 2018 alone.
What exactly is going on within the body when one has leukemia? Well, as a basic description, the disease is diagnosed when an individual’s body over-produces white blood cells, which are cells that help fight infections.
Due to this, not enough red blood cells (which carry oxygen) or platelets (which cause the blood to clot when it needs to) are produced.
These blood cells – millions of them to be exact – are produced from within the bone marrow, which means that the marrow is not “manufacturing” a correct cytological output.
The extra white cells being produced are leukemia cells, which cannot properly fight away infections or protect the body from its surroundings. This overproduction of faulty white blood cells can then take over the body and begin to shut down organs. This causes some, if not many, major organ systems to fail.
Sometimes, leukemia patients need to have a blood transfusion in order for their chances of survival to go up. In other instances, patients may end up having a bone marrow transplant. Aside from these more extreme treatments, most leukemia patients end up undergoing some form of chemotherapy or radiation treatment in an effort to kill the cancer cells in the blood and marrow.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop a form of skin cancer at some point in their lifetime? Skin cancer occurs when there is an abnormal, uncontrollable growth of dermal cells. Often times it is spotted because of a wart or mole on the body changing color, shape, texture or size.
Skin cancer is known to be caused (among other reasons) from increased exposure to UV Sunlight radiation from the sun, which damages DNA in the dermal layer. This triggers the onset of cellular mutations or genetic defects, which further can turn into rapidly multiplying skin cells that grow and form tumors – which can be either benign or malignant.
There are three common types of this disease:
- Basal cell carcinomas
- Squamous cell carcinomas
The latter two are the most common types of skin cancer, as they are heavily linked to the amount of UV exposure that one receives from natural sunlight. These types are fortunately less likely to spread throughout other parts of the body, though it is still vital to discover and treat them early, so that no further cancer cells can grow.
Melanomas are rarer than basal and squamous cell skin cancers and have a tendency to grow and spread at a much quicker rate. This makes them far more dangerous. Melanoma can generally be taken care of in early stages. However, if it goes left alone or unchecked, can cause real, life-threatening issues.
With this in mind, wearing sunscreen and sun protection can help to prevent the development of skin cancer. And of course, regularly checking for abnormal mole growths can offer the opportunity for early skin cancer detection, which is vital to decreased mortality rates.
What Is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is caused by an uncontrollable and abnormal growth of cells within either one lung or both. These cells, known as cancer cells, can group together to form masses, known as tumors. When new cells attempt to develop, they turn into cancer cells and are therefore unable to perform the normal functions associated with respiration. Without respiration, we lose our supply of oxygen, which of course is detrimental to our survival.
Lung cancer primarily affects individuals over the age of 65, with two out of three adults getting diagnosed after 65 years of age. In fact, the average age of diagnosis is 70 years old, so it would be relevant to say that this disease is one that mostly affects seniors.
When not including skin cancer, lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women, where only prostate cancer (in men) and breast cancer (in women) ranks higher in prevalence. More than 220,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in 2018 in the United States alone, showing that this cancer is, indeed, relatively common.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women, with many cases arising due to a history of regular tobacco smoking.
Although lung cancer can arise from reasons other than a history of smoking, consuming cigarettes is known to increase the risk quite greatly. Additionally, breathing asbestos or exposure to radon gas throughout a lifetime has been known to increase the chances of healthy cells developing genetic mutations within the cell’s DNA, leading to cells that cannot perform their functions correctly.
Primary and secondary lung cancer are two classifications of lung disease, with primary cancer beginning within the lungs and sometimes spreading into other parts of the body as it develops further along. Secondary cancer begins in another part of the body and then metastasizes to the lungs. Secondary lung cancer isn’t actually referred to as lung cancer, but rather a metastasized version of whatever type of cancer has spread into the lungs (e.g. metastasized breast cancer, etc.).
Who Does Cancer Affect?
The scary fact regarding cancer is that it can affect absolutely anyone of any age, race, or gender. This is what makes it such a terrifying medical disease for so many, as no one is presumably “safe” from cancer. However, preventative measures can be taken to decrease your chances of getting cancer.
Those who have an ancestral history of cancer in their genetic lineage are more likely to acquire it, as well as those who make poor lifestyle choices: Smoking, drinking heavily, drug use, eating bad food regularly, not exercising, etc.
Those who are overweight, obese, diabetic, or have a heart condition are at a greater risk of developing some form of cancer.
Keeping healthy and living an active lifestyle is the best solution to subsiding any possible fear, and taking care of yourself physically has also been proven to increase the quality of mental health. It leads to not only a happier body but also a happier mind. Cannabis can also offer potential therapy, but you’ll have to continue reading to find out more about cannabis as a cancer symptom treatment.
Stages of Cancer
There are four stages of cancer used to classify how far along one’s condition has progressed, with each stage typically describing the size of the cancerous region, as well as whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body. Stages can also identify whether the cancer is confined to a specific region, or to a completely different area.
By determining a patient’s stage of cancer, the correct action for treatment can be determined. Cancers that are not so far along typically are only located in one smaller portion of the body. Therefore, they may be able to be treated locally with surgery or radiation therapy. More developed cancers require a treatment that can cover a greater region of the body, known as systemic treatments. An explanation of the stages are as follows:
This cancer is the least developed of the four stages, and generally has a high recovery rate. Cancer that is only in stage 1 of development is caught early and can be treated quite simply with today’s advanced medical technology. Stage 1 cancer is also typically relatively small and contained within its single organ of origin. Local removal through surgery or another similar medical procedure generally can take this cancer out of the body, although sometimes it can come back.
Stage 2 cancer is further along than stage 1. However, it likely has not spread into other parts of the body yet. Although, in some types of cancer, stage 2 can mean that the unhealthy cells have begun to travel through the lymph nodes, typically near the tumor. Stage 2 tumors are generally larger than in stage 1, and with this classification of cancer, sometimes local removal is efficient enough at making the body cancer-free, but other times it has to be paired up with systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. It all depends on each individual’s case.
Cancer in stage 3 is significantly larger and further developed than it was in the previous two stages. Often times, it has begun to spread throughout surrounding tissues, and the removal of the point of origin for cancer this far along is a much more challenging and grueling task for medical practitioners. By stage 3, doctors are typically already resorting to the use of chemotherapy, radiation or another systemic treatment. This is because, oftentimes, the simple removal of the point of origin is not effective enough, and the cancer can quickly return.
Cancer that has grown to stage 4 is at its most serious level, and by this point is oftentimes referred to as metastatic cancer or secondary cancer. Systemic treatments almost always must be used by this point, and even these treatments do not guarantee and individual will stay cancer-free or make a recovery. Once a cancer is classified as stage 4, it has spread to another organ or part of the body, which is why it becomes such a difficulty to treat and eliminate.
Potential Causes of Cancer
There is a massive variety of factors that are said to be causes of cancer, although none of them are truly and completely understood. They are more so considered a risk increase rather than a “guarantee”.
Possibilities can range from genetic predisposition and accidental environmental exposure, to poor lifestyle choices and even prolonged exposure to a foreign chemical substance.
In reality, anything that can produce some form of abnormality in the cells of the body has the potential for becoming a cause of cancer – which is why there are so many conditions in our world that can put us at risk.
Even if proving the direct origin for one’s cancer is almost impossible, we will at least discuss the most common causes here, so that one can better grasp just how cancer is affecting populations globally:
Inherited Cancer/Genetic Predisposition
Although it is extremely unusual to be born with cancer, individuals can more commonly be born with a greater likelihood of developing cancer sometime during their lifetime. This is often why doctors will ask about your family’s medical history during checkups.
Lifestyle choices, of course, do not guarantee a cancer-free life for anyone, but it certainly does lessen the odds.
It is said that someone who has family members affected by cancer is more likely to develop cancer themselves, which is also a reason why these individuals are told to make healthier lifestyle choices. These include not smoking, drinking only recreationally, having a proper diet and partaking in sufficient amounts of exercise.
Toxic Compound Exposure/Environmental Toxins and Pollution
There’s a hefty list of chemicals and toxic compounds that when an individual is exposed to them for a generous period of time, it can lead to cancer cells forming more rapidly in the body. It is common knowledge that these components do encourage cancer growth, and many are advised by professionals to stay away from them as much as possible. Yet still, they can be present in our surrounding environment, sometimes even without our knowledge.
Some of these toxic compounds include: Cigarette smoke, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, nickel, aflatoxin and many more. Primarily, cigarette smoke is the most heavily prevalent, with more than 36 million adults said to be smokers just in the United States alone.
Those exposed to hazardous pollution may be more at risk of developing cancer, as are those who reside in heavily populated cities.
That is why second and third-hand smoke prevention has become a massive matter throughout the states, especially to protect children and babies from potentially experiencing the effects of these toxic components. Everyday exposure to pollution, poor air quality and toxins naturally present in the environment, can also disrupt the natural flow of healthy body cells, causing them to alter into cancer-containing cells.
Poor Lifestyle Choices/Carcinogens
Making poor lifestyle choices is likely one of the more common reasons for the development of cancer, but this category is so wide and all-inclusive, that many activities not listed here could also be viewed as poor lifestyle choices.
Probably the most prevalent is smoking and the use of tobacco. Many cancer cases have been discovered by doctors globally amongst frequent smokers who have used some form of tobacco for many years. Additionally, having a poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive use of tanning beds and drug use, are all activities that can increase the risk.
Some acquired medical conditions can also lead to cancer, including diabetes and obesity, which sometimes present a potential for this disease. Staying away from cigarette use, only consuming alcohol in moderation and leading a healthy and active lifestyle, are all ways of benefiting your health and helping to keep your cells from turning into rapidly spreading cancer cells.
Still, it is vital to remember that nothing can actually completely remove the possibility of acquiring cancer. Even some individuals who have led completely healthy lives have still developed cancer. Additionally, some individuals have had high exposure to a mass variety of toxic compounds, poor lifestyle choices and plenty of carcinogens, but still do not develop cancer during their lifetime.
Radiation can occur casually through everyday wear-and-tear, or it can be due to a more serious cause, such as residing in a vulnerable location during a nuclear bomb, or radioactive meltdown. For example, after Chernobyl happened in Ukraine, some individuals developed a plethora of diseases and conditions after the nuclear power plant melted down.
Unfortunately, these unlucky people were too close in proximity to the disaster, impacting their health in a very direct way, some passing due to acute radiation syndrome, while further health effects long term are still being investigated amongst surviving citizens.
It may turn out in the future, that some of the individuals too close in proximity may have developed cancer due to this radiation literally changing their DNA structure. This is why during a nuclear disaster, the evacuation of nearby civilians and residents is vital to the long-term survival and health of everyone.
The more common form of radiation that we all experience in various amounts on a day-to-day basis, is from the sun. UV-rays from the sun can cause cells to mutate in extreme amounts, which is why doctors often advise the use of full-spectrum sunscreen when going outside, even if it is simply for a short period of time.
Sunscreen can help to prevent radiation from the sun’s harmful UV rays, keeping your risk of developing skin cancer much lower. Even if these risks are well understood, some people still choose to enter tanning beds, where their skin is impacted with a strong burst of UV rays, to mimic the sun, so a brown glow can be quickly achieved.
Tanning beds can be harmful to the skin, and some have suggested they may present an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Some oncologists have even gone as far as saying that tanning beds are to blame for the increase in lethal melanoma cases (skin cancer), which seems to be one of the most common forms of cancer amongst young adults who are under the age of 30.
Other forms of radiation also exist, aside from these two heavy contenders, including uranium and radon radiation, as well as any radiation that can come of over exposure to beta, alpha, gamma and x-ray emitting sources.
Some viruses and bacteria are linked to cancer risk, although much research is still being conducted on a large assortment of potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and even some parasites. As of now, HPV (human papillomavirus), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Merkel cell polyomavirus and the hepatitis b and c viruses, are all linked to a potential risk increase in developing this disease.
There are more viruses and bacteria, but these are some of the more common examples. For some of the sexually contracted viruses, the best method of avoiding contracting them is by taking the proper precautions and using contraceptives regularly.
Preparation and readiness are the ways to avoid contracting an STD or STI, but additionally, some vaccines have arisen in recent times to generate prevention in contracting these viruses; specifically with the vaccination for HPV. The pattern of who cancer affects is rather an odd one, for just because one is exposed to pollution or carcinogens, does not mean they will necessarily develop cancer.
Additionally, some people can go their entire lives smoking cigarettes on a regular basis and have no complications, even if they might have a genetic predisposition. In reality, anything can happen, and it is not that these factors guarantee that cancer will present itself at some point during life. Rather they are guidelines for keeping yourself healthy, because these factors do have a potential for possibly increasing the risk of cancer.
Symptoms of Cancer
Cancer is such as complex and diverse disease, it would seem likely that its symptoms are just the same. Often times, no two cancer patients’ symptoms are the same, which can sometimes make recognizing the presence of this disease in the body a difficult task. Many people have their faulty cells or tumors go unnoticed for many years before they end up with a proper diagnosis.
For some types of cancer, such as breast cancer, there are some self-checks and hospital checks that exist so that early detection is more likely, but with other types of cancer, often the presence of the disease is discovered when a patient goes into the hospital for a different reason.
Overall, symptoms are tied to three main criteria: What type of cancer is it? Where is the cancer located? And where has the cancer spread? By identifying these three points, the symptoms you may be having can become more clear.
If you do happen to have cancer, but are fortunate enough to develop symptoms that bring your attention to the presence of this difficult disease early on, know that these symptoms have a wide range of possibilities, but here we will discuss the most common.
The acronym “CAUTION” is often used to remember the seven main symptoms of cancer, which should be quickly brought to the attention of a doctor or professional if you are experiencing one of the following:
The “C” in CAUTION stands for a change in bladder or bowel habits. If these basic disposal functions become irregular, there may be something deeper going on with the body.
The “A” represents a non-healing sore throat, (one that persists with no change in pain or discomfort). Constantly feeling a very hoarse or sore throat is not normal and should be checked out.
The “U” stands for unusual discharge or bleeding. This often greatly depends on the type of cancer, because the location of discharge or bleeding can sometimes correlate with the form of cancer. For example, if you are experiencing strange colored discharge or even blood coming from the nipple of the breasts, this could indicate a potential for breast cancer and needs to urgently be examined by a doctor for further inspection. These are known as nipple secretions, and sometimes even a sore that will not heal and continues to discharge can appear, which is just as serious.
The “T” represents thickening or a lump in some region of the body, (usually this is in the breasts or testicles). If you perform a self-exam or happen to notice some strange mass on your body, this could potentially be a tumor and should get examined by a doctor.
The “I” stands for indigestion, most often chronic and recurrent, or experiencing difficulty swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can sometimes be a symptom of throat cancer. Having a one-time difficulty in swallowing isn’t something of grave concern, but if the issue persists, then it may be a more urgent and time-sensitive ordeal.
The “O” means an obvious change in a wart or mole on the skin, whether in color, thickness, size, shape or even texture. All this can signal a problematic mole which could be a possible carrier of skin cancer cells. This is why doctors regularly recommend keeping an eye on moles and warts and even getting them burned off if they seem to be problematic, even if they are not necessarily cancerous.
Lastly, the “N” represents a nagging cough and/or hoarseness. This criteria is broad and could be a symptom of a mass number of conditions or diseases, but regardless if a cough persists for a long period of time, it should be examined by a professional for further information.
Other Cancer Symptoms
Other symptoms of cancer can of course exist, including rapid with loss or loss of appetite, infections that don’t seem to disappear after protocol treatment, low-level fevers that continue to arise repeatedly, a strange or unusual feeling of pain within the bones or throughout the rest of the body that only seem to worsen and ongoing fatigue, vomiting or nausea.
Just try and constantly remember that having one of these symptoms does not necessarily guarantee cancer. They could be pointing towards something completely different. It is still better to confront a medical health professional about it, for it is better to be safe than sorry.
Conventional Cancer Treatments That Do Not Include Cannabis
Unlike cannabis treatments, which are fairly new and reserved for helping with the side effects of cancer treatment, there are quite a number of conventional medical treatments for cancer patients available. And of course, more continue to add onto the list as advancements are being made in this rapidly developing field of medicine.
Two categories of cancer treatment are the most prevalent, but first, a medical practitioner must determine the stage that the cancer is in.
As mentioned above, this system of stage classification is primarily beneficial, because it allows doctors to determine what course of action they will be taking during treatment.
Stages 1 and 2
For stages 1 and 2, cancer usually has not spread outside of the point of origin, aside from a few specific cases. If the cancer cells are local within a single region or organ, surgery is used to remove the unhealthy cells, so that they cannot continue to spread and grow at rapid rates.
By removing every last cancer cell, there’s nothing left to infect the body and the disease halts there. In some cases, the cancer can return again, either within the same location or at a different one. If this occurs, the doctor has to devise a new course of action and start over.
Stages 3 and 4
By stage 3 and 4, the cancer is already likely much larger and more developed, so it tends to have spread throughout other regions of the body. In these mass scale circumstances, a more complete treatment must be used, known as systemic treatments. You can remember the name by considering what takes place during this course of action, where cancer cells are killed throughout the entire system of the body.
The most common forms of systemic treatments include chemotherapy and radiation. Other, less used, types of conventional cancer treatments exist as well, including hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. However, we won’t be going into detail about these additional methods in this article.
Medical Marijuana and Cancer
Medical marijuana has proven to be beneficial for some in improving the well-being of cancer patients, often assisting those who are reacting adversely to conventional medicine treatments; specifically, treatments within the systemic category (such as radiation and chemotherapy). Side effects of radiation and chemotherapy can include lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and extreme pain throughout the body.
Thankfully, there are medical cannabis strains on the market specifically devised to bring relief to patients experiencing these unpleasant negative side effects of cancer treatments. Let’s examine the research and studies to understand more about the evidence and effects of cannabis on cancer and cancer treatments.
Studies on Cannabis as a Potential Cancer Treatment for Chemotherapy Side Effects
1. Evidence for marijuana’s effectiveness at pain relief
In a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, researchers tested the effectiveness of THC:CBD extract versus placebo at pain relief amongst 177 randomly selected subjects. In the end, these were the findings that researchers concluded with: “This study shows that THC:CBD extract of cannabis is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids.”
2. Evidence for cannabis’ effectiveness at relieving nausea
Published in the BMJ scientific journal, researchers tested the effectiveness of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant against chemotherapy-induced nausea compared with other traditional medicines. They concluded that “cannabinoids were more effective antiemetics than prochlorperazine, metoclopramide, chlorpromazine, thiethylperazine, haloperidol, domperidone, or alizapride…”
3. Evidence for marijuana’s ability to increase appetite amongst disease-related anorexia patients
Dronabinol is a man-made, synthetic form of cannabis. It is used primarily to treat patients experiencing anorexia and loss of appetite mostly as a symptom of HIV/AIDs. It had its effectiveness reviewed and researched in a scientific article published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
A team of researchers concluded their findings by stating: “Patients tended toward stable body weight for at least 7 months. Adverse events were primarily related to known central nervous system effects of dronabinol. These data support long-term, safe use of dronabinol for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS.”
4. Evidence for the Possible Anti-Tumor Effects of Cancer in Rats
In a rather ground-breaking and revolutionary study conducted by the National Toxicology Program, rats and mice with adenomas were observed after being administered varying doses of cannabis THC. Results were as follows:
“The incidences of mammary gland fibroadenomas and uterine stromal polyps were decreased in dosed groups of female rats, as were the incidences of pancreatic adenomas, pituitary gland adenomas, and interstitial cell adenomas of the testis in dosed male rats and liver neoplasms in dosed mice.”
This information essentially means that these specific types of tumors decreased within the mice and rats over time after doses of THC from the cannabis plant were administered.
Although this research by no means implies the capabilities of cannabis as an effective treatment to cure cancer, similar studies need to be carried out in order to better understand how cannabis influences cancer physiology. Researchers have made an outstanding start towards the progression of knowledge on medical marijuana for cancer, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for Different Types of Cancer Related Treatments and Therapies
1. ACDC Marijuana Strain
About This Cannabis Strain | acdc is a highly promising cannabis strain, classified genetically as a hybrid. It descends from the CBD-heavy marijuana strain known as Cannatonic, and therefore also contains mass amounts of CBD itself.
This cannabis strain allows patients to experience the soothing benefits of CBD, which are incredible for numbing down pain; especially the type that can be felt amongst cancer patients after harsh and tiresome chemotherapy treatments.
In addition to featuring an incredibly prominent CBD content, the THC content of ACDC is quite low, ensuring that few psychoactive or “high-like” effects will be experienced.
Instead of producing a high, this marijuana strain focuses almost completely on assisting the symptoms of patients as a result of serious conventional medical procedures, or those suffering from treatment-related side effects as a result of difficult medical illnesses or conditions.
Typical Cannabinoid Profile | CBD: 15-25%; THC: 0.5-1.3%.
How This Cannabis Strain May Be Able to Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects | Pain relief from the negative effects of systemic treatments amongst cancer patients.
2. Northern Lights Cannabis Strain
About This Cannabis Strain | Northern Lights is an indica-dominant cannabis strain, bred from the pure land-race parents Afghani indica and Thai sativa. This untainted and popular marijuana strain, although very high in THC and rather low in CBD, offers a relief on a different level.
Due to its classic indica tendencies, Northern Lights provides immense nausea relief for those who are suffering from this uncomfortable sensation on a regular basis. Those who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer, often experience massive amounts of nausea as an adverse effect of medical treatment. Consuming some Northern Lights may be helpful in calming down some of these discomforts.
Typical Cannabinoid Profile | CBD: Unknown, but not high; THC: 16-21%.
How This Cannabis Strain May Be Able to Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects | Nausea relief for cancer patients who have recently undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
3. Granddaddy Purple Cannabis Strain
About This Cannabis Strain | A relaxing and calming marijuana indica that brings about tiredness and pure serenity, Grandaddy Purple lets you fall asleep fast, first giving you a case of the mad munchies.
For those who are suffering from loss of appetite and are concerned about extreme weight loss because of it, Granddaddy Purple serves as a quintessential cannabis strain to keep appetite levels up.
Granddaddy Purple is a genetic cross between Big Bud (indica) and Purple Urkle (indica) cannabis strains, making its indica dominance rather prominent. This class of cannabis strains are notorious for making you hungry, followed by couch-lock and falling fast asleep; all a plus if you are recovering from cancer treatment.
Typical Cannabinoid Profile | CBD: 0.1%; THC: 17-23%.
How This Cannabis Strain May Be Able to Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects | Brings back appetite for those who have suffered appetite loss as a result of cancer treatment, or even extreme weight loss tied to a decreased appetite.
4. Chocolope Cannabis Strain
About This Cannabis Strain | Chocolope is an energizing and uplifting sativa cannabis strain that is capable of awakening even the most fatigued of individuals. If you suffer from constant tiredness, specifically as a negative side effects of some form of conventional cancer treatment, Chocolope is exactly what you need to pick you back up and keep you going.
Bred by the combination of Cannalope Haze (sativa) and Chocolate Thai (sativa), this double sativa lineage guarantees pure genetics within Chocolope. Many report experiencing a complete euphoria mood enhancing high, that keeps a smile on your face and an overall positive attitude.
Typical Cannabinoid Profile | CBD: Unknown, but low; THC: 18-22%.
How This Cannabis Strain May Be Able to Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects | Diminishes fatigue amongst tired or worn-out cancer patients who seek more energy and liveliness in their lives.
5. Charlotte’s Web Cannabis Strain
About This Cannabis Strain | An extremely low THC sativa cannabis strain that has gained recognition within the medical marijuana community for its ability to assist a wide range of serious medical conditions. Because of its enormous CBD content, little to no psychoactive “high” is produced from this strain (due to the absence of THC).
Used by some seizure patients as a form of relief, those who are suffering from cancer can also try out Charlotte’s Web Cannabis strain, for its potential to help with treatment-related side effects. The strain may help bring about peace, and can help ease a variety of treatment-related symptoms, including pain and inflammation.
Typical Cannabinoid Profile | CBD: 20%; THC: 0.3%-1%.
How This Cannabis Strain May Be Able to Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects | Insanely high in CBD content, the strain brings relief to an onslaught of various cancer treatment symptoms and side effects with little to no psychoactive effects; just the therapeutic powers of CBD.
Final Thoughts About Cannabis as a Treatment for Cancer Related Therapies (Chemotherapy, Radiation, and More)
Although much research still needs to be conducted, studies releasing results regarding cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related treatments are positive. In fact, most of them lead in a direction of medical marijuana serving as an adequate form of treatment for patients suffering from a variety of symptoms related to the side effects of cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
The world has far to go to initiate a greater tolerance for medical cannabis within the commercial medical industry. We hope more evidence will point towards herbal solutions so that, one day, marijuana can be sold as effectively as any other pharmaceutical drug.
These cannabis-related findings are absolutely steps in the right direction towards a greater tolerance for cannabis-related medicines, which expresses just how many therapeutic powers this wonderful plant possesses.
Starting Rick Simpson Oil with Grandmother – Stage 4 CC
Thank you for sharing your grandma’s good news of tumor shrinkage. Fingers crossed her treatments continue to show good results.
One suggestion from our collective experience is to be sure any surgical opinions come from surgeons very experienced with cholangiocarcinoma. The surgery needed can be technically difficult, and there is a risk a less experienced surgeon might say that surgery is not possible. I had personal experience with this, where my first surgical opinion said that my tumor was not resectable, but with a different surgeon, the opinion was thankfully a green light. Other patients and caregivers have reported similar stories.
Another update – grandma just got results of her 3 month scan and tumor has shrunk from 2.5 cm to 1.5 cm. She is now able to start radiation and is also going to see a surgeon about possibly remove the rest of the mass which wasn’t an option until now.
Thank you for sharing the news that your grandmother is feeling better and doing well with her treatment. I hope she continues to do well. She is fortunate to have such a devoted and caring family.
Take care, regards, Mary
Just an update for anyone who is/was following:
My grandmother is doing good, she continued with her chemotherapy treatments and is still taking RSO. We slowly built her tolerance up and she is now taking about 1 gram per week, which is nowhere near where she needs to be but it is definitely more than I ever expected her to get to. Her doctors are beside themselves and cannot believe the progress she has made in such little time. Her oncologist told her it was fine for her to take cannabis in addition to her chemotherapy treatments, so I took her to go get her Medical MMJ card shortly thereafter. She has not been in the hospital for 3 weeks now. As I stated before, she was in and out of the hospital for the first 3 weeks that she was diagnosed. The last time she was in the hospital was to get a larger stent put in her bile duct (which meant the tumor had shrunk).
She is no longer laying in bed all day and is able to go out and about for short periods of time (2-3 hours). She goes on a walk every morning, makes herself breakfast, lunch and dinner. I cannot express how happy we all are. Of course, I cannot say for certain that it is the cannabis that is helping her, but I strongly believe that it is. I have also been making her a cannabis oil which is just two ingredients – cannabis and coconut oil. She bathes in it once a day and also massages her body with it daily. Her skin is so clear and smooth; she is even noticing some of her sun spots disappearing and has been taking photos of it.
She first noticed it on a basal-cell spot on her leg that she had planned to get removed. About a week after her bathing in the cannabis oil she looked down at her leg and could barely see the spot. She came over last Sunday and showed me a picture of what it used to look like and what it looks like now and I was amazed! It’s a very light pink color and hardly even large enough to see unless you’re really looking for it.
All I can really say is that whatever the reason may be, my grandmother is making progress and my family and I couldn’t be more thrilled. She is and always has been the backbone of our family and I would encourage anyone to give cannabis a try. There really is nothing to lose – it helps or it doesn’t. Whether it be her positive mindset; really believing that the cannabis is healing her and manifesting healing energy, or the cannabis actually working, I could care less.
Thanks for reading.
Thank you for your note and welcome to our community. I am sorry that your grandmother was diagnosed with this rare cancer, and hope that our community can support your family with information and a place to bring your questions as her care proceeds.
Medical marijuana is a topic that comes up from time to time on this board, mostly as a complementary care option for patients to ease discomfort from the cancer and treatment side effects. I have met patients who find it very helpful for easing nausea, for example. To my knowledge, there are no research studies yet involving patients that show cannabis-based treatments to be effective as a cure for cholangiocarcinoma. The usual cautions about the safety of supplements or other alternative treatments whose content is not regulated or certified by an independent professional body would apply here. From what you describe, you are investigating which products are best and gathering sound information, and I imagine it helps that medical marijuana is legal and presumably regulated where you live. I hope your grandmother finds relief from her symptoms and that the chemo is effective.
You may wish to check with your grandmother’s medical providers that any alternative treatments do not impair the effectiveness of her chemotherapy.
As you are researching treatments, please take a look at the many caregiver and patient resources on the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation website.
If it is difficult for your grandmother’s pain to be brought under control, you may consider pushing her doctors to adjust her pain meds. Many healthcare facilities have palliative care practices that work as part of the medical team to support the patient’s quality of life; this might be another resource to call upon. From what you describe, your family is providing tremendous support and loving care for your grandmother. I hope she finds relief from the pain she is feeling and that the chemo does its job.
For readers interested in this topic, I notice the National Cancer Institute has updated its patient fact sheet. Here is the link:
Let me start by saying that I am in no way saying that this is going to be a “cure” and I am not trying to encourage anyone to try this. Just sharing what my grandmother and I have decided to try. We are also not making our own oil (yet) so it is not exactly the treatment suggested by Rick Simpson on the Phoenix Tears website. I am only doing what she is comfortable with and what we can get our hands on right now. Being in Arizona, we do have access to medical mmj and I have been able to acquire some products through friends who are in the industry. My grandma is going to get her mmj card this week and I will be her caregiver.
My grandmother is a retired RN, and her sister is a nurse as well. She is the one who has been taking care of her and helping administer the medications. For those that missed my introduction post, my grandma is 71 years old and was diagnosed about a month ago. She has been in and out of the hospital ever since. She is home now, and taking cannabis along with chemotherapy treatments. We are not trying cannabis as an alternative, but as an addition to her traditional treatments. She is also eating gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, all organic foods. We are fortunate enough to have a very tight-knit family who has all been very helpful and loving. My mother is making her fresh squeezed juices daily, and I make her meals for the week.
So far, I have been trying to build her tolerance as she is not a fan of the psychoactive effects of THC. Prior to diagnosis she had already been taking CBD oil to help her sleep as she has been taking Ativan most of her life. I have gotten her some high CBD RSO which does not have the psychoactive effects due to the low amount of THC present. She is taking this sublingually 3x a day – about 1 grain of rice at a time. I have also been having her take some pourable THC syrup that she is taking orally – an indica strain at night to help her sleep, and a sativa strain during the day so she isn’t quite as drowsy. This is also supposed to help with pain, but I don’t think she is getting a high enough dose to help with pain relief. Her current dosage is 2.5 mg and I have been telling her to take this every 4-6 hours which I am not 100% sure that she has. The only thing I know for sure she is taking is the high CBD RSO.
One huge issue is that grandpa is a retired Sheriff, and is not having any part of these “illegal drugs” in his house. He also doesn’t want to do any research about this so he is upset that right now she is taking this in addition to her prescribed medications, such as morphine. I tried explaining that this isn’t going to be a replacement right now until we can build her tolerance and get her the proper dose. Everyone’s body is different so I am taking it very slow with her.
Today I made her a medication log sheet so that I can monitor her dosage and pain levels better and try to adjust accordingly. She started taking the RSO regularly, last Friday – 4 days ago. When my mother and I went to see her yesterday, we couldn’t believe how good she looked. The first thing my mother said was, “wow, mom your skin looks great!” Now, I am not saying that this is because of the cannabis, but nothing else in her daily regimen has changed aside from that.
Our goal is to get her to 1 gram of the 1:1 THC:CBD RSO per day which right now seems like a long shot, but that is where people have seen the most improvements. Once she finishes the high CBD RSO, I have gotten her some 1:1 THC:CBD RSO that we will start giving her. This one will have more of a psychoactive effect than the high CBD because of the THC content, so when we start that I will be with her and we will not have her take any other cannabis products until I know that she is comfortable. If we are seeing improvements, I will then begin making our own RSO following Rick Simpson’s recipe.
I will try to answer any questions anyone may have, and also update this tread as anything comes up. Thanks for reading – positive comments are welcome. Please keep any negativity to yourself.