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Examining the Use of Cannabis for Cancer Treatment

Cannabis Leaf

When it comes to cannabis products in your cancer treatment program, things can be pretty confusing.  Is it safe and helpful?  What side effects are there?  There is a great deal of information to sort through, and passions flare on both sides of the issue.  Here’s what you need to know so you can decide for yourself whether cannabis should be part of your treatment program. 

Gather some facts

Before you can delve far into the facts surrounding cannabis for cancer treatment, it’s helpful to get acquainted with some general information.  Begin by exploring whether cannabis use is legal in your location, and if so, what forms are allowed.  Online guides detail the laws, qualifying illnesses, and how much cannabis you’re allowed to possess and cultivate in each state.

Any time you elect to make changes to your health regimen, even for over-the-counter or in the form of supplemental therapies, make sure you get a go-ahead from your physician before you begin.  For example, cannabis and related products could potentially interfere with medications you’re taking.  While the rate of interaction is unknown for certain medications, others are rated as moderate and major—both of which mean you should avoid combining them with cannabis.  

Lastly, you might be unfamiliar with some of the phrases and words used in conjunction with cannabis products.  If your doctor agrees and you decide to add cannabis products to your treatment plan, make sure you’re familiar with the terminology involved.  


Promising products and drawbacks 

While not currently accepted everywhere, in some circumstances cannabis products appear to offer notable promise in conjunction with cancer treatment.  Here are some of the examples, along with pertinent information. 

Marinol.

Marinol is a synthetic form of THC, and is available with a prescription throughout the country.  It can help reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, although relief might take an hour or so to kick in.  Beyond directly assisting with side effects of cancer treatment, it also can provide relief from things like fibromyalgia pain, migraines, and sleep apnea. 

On the other side of the coin, Marinol can also produce some potentially unwanted effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and rapid heart beat. 

Medical marijuana. 

Medical marjiuana is quicker acting than Marinol, providing virtually immediate relief from symptoms.  Some cannabis strains have unique effects cancer patients can apply to their needs.  For example, Acapulco Gold can reduce fatigue, pain, and nausea, while Purple Kush can help fight insomnia and tension. 

However, medical marijuana might interfere with your mental state, it is not covered by insurance, and little is known about the possible long-term effects of use.  Those with lung cancer should be particularly cautioned about smoking marjiuana. 

CBD oil. 

As Medical News Today explains, CBD oil is being used to address the side effects of cancer with mixed results.  For instance, it does not appear to offer the appetite stimulation that products containing THC provide, nor does it help reduce nausea.  However, it appears that CBD oil can help lower levels of pain and inflammation. 

CBD oil is an unregulated supplement, so you take a chance on whether you will receive the product you pay for.  

Some research indicates you should be especially wary of CBD oil-infused foods, beverages, and other products.  This would include things such as chocolates, gourmet coffee drinks, and skin care products.  Because CBD oil is not government regulated, and because the amounts and products added to foods and drinks are an unregulated entity, you’re doubling the question of what you’re consuming and how much. 

When it comes to deciding about cannabis use in conjunction with cancer treatment, there are several areas of concern.  If you’re thinking about adding it to your treatment plan, do some careful research.  Talk with your doctor about products you’re considering, and put your personal health and safety first.