The side effects of chemotherapy are well-known, but cannabis can reverse them
More and more people are turning to cannabis as a complementary or alternative therapeutic option to treat their ailments. One of their most frequent questions is whether they can use it while undergoing conventional treatments such as chemotherapy.
Cancer patients approach cannabis with two types of objectives in mind, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive: to alleviate the side effects of the therapies they are undergoing or to achieve antitumor responses. Regarding the former, it has been clinically proven that cannabis prevents nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite caused by chemotherapy.
These adverse effects are, in many cases, so severe that they cause patients to abandon the treatments. On the other hand, the well-established properties of cannabis include others that are also very interesting for cancer patients, such as analgesic, anxiolytic and sleep facilitating. Thousands of cancer patients around the world are using cannabis in an attempt to mitigate the side effects of chemo.
Marijuana is the main source of plant-derived cannabinoids. These compounds share structural, and sometimes even functional, similarities with cannabinoids produced naturally by the human body so that they can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). In this way, cannabis compounds can influence the wide variety of bodily processes that are normally regulated by the ECS, and potentially induce beneficial effects for cancer/chemotherapy patients.
Many chemotherapy patients report using cannabis and its derivatives to cope with the nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite they experience as a result of treatment. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration has already approved two cannabinoid medications (dronabinol and nabilone) to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemo.
Many patients who are fortunate enough to have access to medical cannabis find that it can stimulate appetite. And it’s not hard to see why, as it’s not uncommon to experience a bout of hunger (known as “munchies”) after smoking or ingesting marijuana. In addition, cannabis can help treat those pesky chemotherapy-related aches and pains.