Cancer has affected the lives of nearly every person living in the United States today. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with cancer, which is the country’s second-leading cause of death. When you or a loved one finds out they have cancer, it is both shocking and devastating.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments and ways to manage the disease on a regular basis. If you are struggling with cancer treatment, you may be curious about using medical marijuana to ease your symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
While the verdict has yet to be determined on whether or not marijuana can treat or cure cancer, there are many ways in which the plant is beneficial to cancer patients.
The following are common ways cannabis can help cancer patients:
- Alleviate chronic pain - Chronic pain is considered one of the most severe side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Many cancer patients use marijuana to manage symptoms over prescription painkillers. Cannabis is considered a less-addictive and non-toxic alternative compared to pharmaceutical drugs.
- Reduce nausea and vomiting - Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can be brutal, causing intense nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, cannabis compounds have antiemetic properties which can reduce nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment.
- Increase appetite - Aside from pain, nausea, and vomiting, an extreme loss of appetite is a significant side effect of chemotherapy treatment. Marijuana taps into cell receptor systems which stimulate the release of the main hunger hormone, ghrelin. Additionally, it boosts the pleasure response to food in the brain, helping cancer patients get more enjoyment out of eating.
- Curtail digestive distress - Constipation and diarrhea are two potential side effects of cancer medications, especially opiate pain medications. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marijuana can reduce inflammation which results in intestinal distress.
- Relieve skin irritations - Cancer patients using medicinal marijuana treatments report relief from itchy side effects. Cannabinoids, the compounds in cannabis, are potent anti-inflammatory agents--helpful for calming allergic dermatitis. Patients can consume oral or inhaled marijuana and be applied topically in balms and salves.
- Benefit mental health - Having cancer can also do damage to mental health. Marijuana has many euphoric and mood-stimulating properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) boosts serotonin, providing an antidepressant effect. While cannabidiol (CBD) boosts levels of neurotransmitter serotonin, the compound also improves mood and promotes positive well-being.
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