No one wants to hear the word cancer. However, at some point, chances are it will affect you or someone you know as statistics show that around 30% of Americans will develop some form of it in their lifetime. As such, research is continuously being done on ways to not only cure this deadly disease but to treat the conditions and bring relief to those who suffer. Recent studies have shown Cannabis Sativa, marijuana, to have medicinal properties which help relieve some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
More is becoming known about the benefits of medical marijuana as more and more states are legalizing it. One thing we are learning is that the use of cannabis as a treatment for ailments is not new; it has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries. What was once an illegal recreational drug is now being used as a treatment to help regulate physiological functions like pain, appetite, mood, memory, stress and more within our endocannabinoid system (ECS), the largest neurotransmitter network in our bodies which helps regulate the nervous system and peripheral systems.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Treating Cancer
Our body’s ECS produces its own cannabinoids. These cannabinoids react with the natural chemicals cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in the marijuana plant. While the chemicals found in THC are psychoactive, meaning they cause a “high,” they also provide relief from pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and act as an antioxidant. CBD is used as a treatment for seizures, anxiety, paranoia, and it can help counteract the “high” from THC.
Due to the medicinal properties found in marijuana, some physicians are now prescribing this herb to treat their patients. Some studies have shown that smoking THC can help with nausea associated with chemotherapy or the neuropathic pain from the damaged nerves. Moreover, recent studies have shown marijuana to slow the growth of cancer cells. It has also shown to provide relief in patients with HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
Other conditions marijuana has shown to provide relief from are:
• Nausea and vomiting as mentioned before in chemotherapy patients
• Increase appetite in HIV patients.
• Chronic, peripheral neuropathy or other nerve pain
• Stress and anxiety
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Chron’s Disease
• Depression (this can also be a side effect as individuals react differently)
Side Effects of Medical Marijuana
The study of cannabis as a treatment for patients is still new. As with all medication, there are always possible side effects. One concern that has risen is the fact that some of the same substances found in tobacco smoke can be found in cannabis smoke. Since the use of cannabis as a medicinal product is moderately new, long term effects are still in question.
Short term medical marijuana effects:
• Inability to think clearly or concentrate
• Slows reaction time
• Fast heartbeat
• Low blood pressure
• Bloodshot eyes
Long Term medical marijuana use may cause:
• Bipolar Disorder
• Chronic Bronchitis
Medical marijuana is a Schedule I drug meaning while it may be legal in some states; it is still illegal under federal law. As such, it’s not allowed in hospitals, most pharmacies cannot sell it, and insurance will not cover it. However, most insurance companies will cover Dronabinol, which contains active components of THC. In states like Florida, where medical marijuana is legal, there are even mobile medical marijuana certification services, like Cannabimed, that not only educate patients on the potential benefits of medical marijuana for cancer patients, but also provide a service that provides convenience in a growing industry.
It is important to note, to use THC, you will need to obtain a medical marijuana ID card. However, before you can get a card, your physician must submit a certification letter that indicates your condition warrants medical marijuana. Your card is only valid in the state in which you reside. However, some states will accept other state’s ID card. Find out the rules and regulations for your state and any state you are planning on visiting. If you move to another state, you will need to have an updated certification letter and reapply for a new ID card in that state.
There is still a lot to learn as the study of the cannabinoid plant is fairly new. Keep in mind, while it may provide relief for your condition, using THC or CBD is not to replace medical treatment. As with all medication and supplements, check with your physician to make sure it does not interact with other medication or supplements.