How Medical Marijuana Helps With Cancer

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Unfortunately 30% of people in the US will develop cancer at some point, and two-thirds of those will eventually succumb as a result. In dealing with cancer, many patients have symptoms from the disease along with side effects of the medications that are extremely debilitating.

Chemotherapy can make patients feel sick, nauseous, and vomit repetitively. While the treatments are going on, it can make patients sicker than the disease itself. How exactly does  medical   marijuana  benefit patients in this situation?

It helps in 5 ways:

  1. Suppressing nausea
  2. Suppressing vomiting
  3. Increasing appetite
  4. Pain Relief
  5. Calming anxiety

Are there traditional medications that can assist with these problems? Yes. It appears, however, that medicinal  marijuana  has the advantage of being able to treat several of these problems at once whereas most prescriptions are confined to one or two on the list. Marinol is a synthetic THC available which helps nicely with nausea and vomiting. It is simply one compound. Case reports display that patients feel natural  marijuana  has a more consistent onset, duration, and broader symptom relief than Marinol.

When someone vomits, there is a chain of events leading up to it that are well known. A signal travels to the brain’s vomiting center through routes such as the throat (gagging), inner ear (motion issue), stomach nerves, and through higher thought centers (e.g. memory, fear).

What’s not well understood, however, is what triggers nausea. With vomiting comes a physiologic action. With nausea researchers need to rely on what a patient says is happening. It is not well understood how chemotherapy agents cause nausea and vomiting, but agents like cisplatin cause these issues in almost every patient being treated with it.

THC by itself has been shown to reduce vomiting after chemotherapy, but not quite as well as metoclopramide in studies. The US FDA approved synthetic THC, marinol, in 1986 for use with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. While the drug is effective, side effects include dry mouth, low blood pressure, mood changes, and sedation.

When looking at chemotherapy-induced nausea, it does make sense that a solution other than a pill would be best. An oral medication may not be able to stay down long enough to have a satisfactory effect. Smoking allows these patients to dose more specifically, meaning only the amount of puffs necessary to reduce the nausea with less side effects as a result.

Along with the nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy comes appetite loss and weight loss. Over 50% of cancer patients develop a condition called cachexia which represents a significant loss of lean body tissue. If it gets bad enough, patients can undergo IV or tube feeding.  Marijuana , however, has been shown to stimulate appetite very effectively.

The over-riding theme is that  marijuana  is effective at helping relieve numerous symptoms at once. There are more effective conventional medications for individual problems, but if one medication,  marijuana , can alleviate numerous simultaneously and decrease those medications then it has been effective. Also, if traditional medications are not effective for singular problems,  marijuana  may be a great backup for relief.

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Source by David L Greene