* Disclaimer * Please consult your physician(s) before undertaking a chemotherapy treatment program that includes cannabis or CBD products.
The earliest evidence of cancer dates back to ancient Egypt around 3000 B.C. and since then has ravished countless lives. Although scientists get closer every day to a solid cure for cancer, the threat of cancer is yet to be completely eradicated like polio was roughly 25 years after the first vaccine was introduced to the American public in 1955.
History aside, cancer is still commonplace in most areas of the world with many patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments to get rid of their cancerous growths. But, even after chemotherapy, many patients get tremendously weak and have difficulty regaining their appetites. This is where patients have latched on to cannabis as a drug to offset these side effects and help them recover from their chemotherapy with ease. Let’s see just how chemotherapy treatments affects the body and how cannabis can be safely incorporated into the post-treatment program to revitalize normal bodily functions.
What Are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy drugs are cytotoxic, which means that they are toxic to all living cells. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill as many cancer cells as possible while minimizing the death of healthy cells. Although chemotherapy is still seen as one of the most effective ways to eliminate cancer in the body, it is still not without side effects that include (but are definitely not limited to):
- Hair Loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain when swallowing
- Appetite/weight changes
- Mood changes
- And many more
Safely Using Cannabis During Post-Cancer Treatment
These side effects make it extremely difficult for patients to overcome and bounce back. Those wishing to alleviate these side effects after chemotherapy have gravitated to cannabis with interesting results. According to a 2018 survey of cancer patients, 1 in 8 patients (12.5%) reported using cannabis to treat their cancer symptoms. Cancer patients use cannabis for two reasons:
- to reduce the reactions of cancer treatment.
- to accomplish anti-tumor responses.
Now, THC has been proven in clinical trials to help patients avert the sickness and loss of craving brought about by chemotherapy. However, not all situations are pertinent for chemotherapy patients to use medical cannabis as their preferred treatment choice. This is due to the interaction between cannabis and a group of enzymes called cytochrome P (CYP) which are predominantly made by your liver making a potentially dangerous combination.
Of course, your liver can be bypassed if the mode of administration is changed to inhalation, using topical patches and creams, or intra-rectal/intra-vaginal routes (i.e. suppositories). In other words, stay away from oral (pills and edibles) and sublingual cannabis types to avoid having an unpleasant interaction in your gut. Overall though, inhalation is the best method to use since 100% of the gasses that you inhaled are absorbed in your lungs and exchanged with CO2. The inhaled cannabinoids bind directly to your red blood cells and are injected directly into you bloodstream immediately.
What Does The Future Hold for Cannabis for Treating Chemotherapy Side Effects?
Now that medicinal cannabis is available for many cancer patients in states across the country, there is a much greater sample size for scientists to study its benefits. Many studies have already shown the benefits of using cannabis to alleviate these types of symptoms, and with more time, we will likely see more studies be released that will tell a similar story.