Cancer affects almost 40% of the population.
Chemotherapy is a part of many peoples lives, including children. A 2014 study estimated that 15,780 children and teens learned what it means to have cancer that year. That same study found that 1,960 also died from the disease. The remaining 13,820 children had to receive treatment. Most elect for some form of radiation or chemotherapy if surgery isn’t an option.
Anecdotal (evidence based on personal observations and experience) evidence about the effectiveness of cannabis in treating cancer is strong. So strong that there are many studies trying to disprove their claims. Yet the studies consistently (for many types of cancer) show concrete evidence supporting the claims.
It is through these scientific studies that we have learned that cannabis is a powerful phytonutrient and antiseptic. Studies also prove that cannabis is linked to tumor reduction and apoptosis. Specifically in breast, lung, prostate, colon cancer but a variety of others are under consideration as well.
Not everyone uses it the same way though. There are a variety of ways canna-consumers incorporate it into their treatment. From Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) to edibles and micro-dosing, the world of cannabis does not require a pipe or patchouli oil. If cannabis is a treatment you decide to use, it doesn’t mean you have to be a stereotypical stoner.
Every cancer journey is unique. After diagnosis, it is up to YOU to determine the path you take. Traditional cancer therapy (chemo, radiation or surgery) is part of standard protocol. But certain cancers may require a combination of methods to properly remove.
Cannabis can play many roles in treatment. Research shows that cannabis is a great adjunct for system relief and healing after invasive procedures. While a typical course of chemotherapy significantly reduces overall immune system function, using cannabis supports quick recovery.
Multiple studies prove that cannabis provides symptom relief of chemotherapy. An Israeli study recently followed 200 traditionally-treated cancer patients. They found that cannabis use led to “significant improvements” in symptoms overall, including the symptoms and immediate side effects of chemotherapy.
According to the National Cancer Society (NCS), cannabis may help relieve a myriad of side-effects from chemo. These include: nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, itchiness and rash, nerve damage and pain associated with neuropathy. Not to mention their positive effects on generalized pain, and emotional imbalance and mood issues, including anxiety and depression.
In addition to whole plant or natural extracts, the FDA approved Dronabinol to treat “some conditions.” Known by the drug name Marinol, this synthetic cannabinoid treatment is considered less effective than organic cannabis. It also has certain ‘unique’ side effects like neurologic issues and possible seizures.
Traditional oncologists may discourage using cannabis while on chemo or radiation treatments. They may claim it could interfere with the treatment and suggest abstaining. It is important to listen to healthcare professionals but treatment is a personal choice.
It is important to remember that thousands of people use cannabis in conjunction with other treatments. Most individuals experience no negative side effects on their treatment. In fact, physicians in medical marijuana states often recommend using cannabis.
In a recent article for Newsweek, Dr. Donald Abrams, Chief of Hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital said “I could write six different prescriptions, all of which may interact with each other or the chemotherapy that the patient has been prescribed,” He followed up by saying “Or I could just recommend trying one medicine.” referring to medical marijuana.
The hardest part about chemotherapy is the toll it takes on the body. The majority of people who undergo treatment experience reductions in immune system function. This reduction can last anywhere from months to years after treatment finishes.
A 2016 article in the journal Breast Cancer Research reported that chemotherapy led to long-term changes in the immune system. These changes included lower than average levels of lymphocytes and natural killer cells (also known as NK cells, K cells and killer cells). These are main elements of the immune system and it’s their job to destroy pathogens like cancer cells.
Modern science has revealed that humans have a special element in our immune system. Called the endocannabinoid system, it helps the body achieve homeostasis and balance. Animals without this system (like insects or birds) don’t process THC or other cannabinoids so gain no benefit from using them.
In addition to providing a boost to recovery and immune system health, cannabinoids interact with the body in many ways. Cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system (called CB1 and CB2 cells) effect everything from hunger to tumor production.
A decrease in endocannabinoids may increase cancer cell tumor production. Researches in a 2008 preclinical trial conducted tests with colon cancer cells at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Their research indicates that cannabinoids have a preventative effect on certain types of cancer.
In addition to reducing cancer cell development, cannabinoids seem to calm the immune system and offer anti-inflammatory properties. This is a key part of healing under any circumstances but is especially important when dealing with cancer. Cannabinoid interactions also show increases in immune-system function.
Medical marijuana is gaining ground nationally. Oncologists and patients can see the benefits and challenges of integrating cannabis into treatment. Over a fifteen years ago, Harvard conducted a study where 44% of traditional oncologists advised marijuana use. A more recent study found almost half of the physicians surveyed supported medical marijuana.
These studies combine to show that patients have more options than ever. While many hospitals still ban doctors from prescribing/recommending medical marijuana, that number is decreasing. Thanks to scientific studies proving the efficacy of medical marijuana and the ceaseless efforts of the community, there are more options than ever.
Do you use cannabis during chemotherapy?
Did your doctor advise against it? What is your story and how did cannabis fit into it? let us know in the comments below and help others draw strength. Thanks for reading.