Cancer is the number one cause of death in Canada. In 2017 alone, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer, according to figures reported by the Canadian Cancer Society.
Evidence is mounting that medical cannabis may have a role to play in treating symptoms of cancer. Unfortunately, some media outlets have taken the research out of context and a quick web search will unearth dozens of sites claiming that medical cannabis can cure cancer, which – at this stage – is simply not true.
This type of sensationalism does a disservice to the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Because, while cannabis can’t ‘cure’ cancer as such, it can alleviate many of the associated symptoms and significantly improve the quality of life for cancer patients.
Here are just three of the ways medicinal cannabis can be used to treat symptoms of cancer.
1. Alleviate Pain
One of the most common symptoms associated with cancer is acute and/or chronic pain, which may be caused by the tumor putting pressure on parts of the body. Less commonly, cancer pain may also be the byproduct of some chemotherapy drugs.
Medical cannabis could provide potent relief from pain. A recent review published in Annals of Palliative Medicine found that both THC and CBD offered effective pain relief during cancer therapy. Other studies have shown that medical cannabis can be just as effective as powerful opioids at relieving pain without exposing users to the same risks and addiction potential, making it a far safer choice for many patients.
2. Stimulate Appetite
Loss of appetite is common amongst cancer patients and can be directly caused by the cancer itself, metabolic changes or radiation and other anti-cancer therapy. Medical cannabis may help stimulate appetite in this regard. A number of studies have shown that medical cannabis – particularly products that are rich in THC – can promote appetite due to how the endocannabinoid system interacts with and regulates feeding behavior.
In addition, research from the University of Alberta has indicated that cannabis’ ability to stimulate appetite may be the result of its power to heighten the sensory aspects of food. During the study, investigators separated adult advanced cancer patients with poor appetite into two groups: a placebo group and a group that received a synthetic form of THC. Sixty-four percent of those in the THC experienced an increase in appetite and 73 percent reported increased appreciation of food, while 50 percent of the placebo group experienced a decrease in appetite.
3. Reduce Nausea and Vomiting
Of all the symptoms associated with cancer, nausea and vomiting are some of the most disruptive. Conventional antiemetic medication is often ineffective because cancer patients with nausea tend to vomit up the pills before the medicine can take effect.
Medical cannabis may offer a powerful alternative for treating this symptom of cancer. In a comprehensive review published in BMJ, researchers analyzed the results of 30 studies comparing the effects of cannabis with placebo or traditional antiemetics. They found that cannabis was more effective than conventional antiemetics across the board at treating this symptom, with the exception of patients who were receiving very low or very high emetogenic chemotherapy.
As patients take an increasingly holistic approach to treating the symptoms of cancer, it’s likely that medical cannabis may play a greater role in the future of treating symptoms of cancer.
Treat Sleep Issues with Cannabis
Canabo Medical Inc. has identified a few strains of cannabis that work well for treating sleep issues. The company has recently launched an online self-referral program for individuals with sleep issues.
Each patient is unique and should be assessed by one of Canabo’s Cannabinoid Specialists to get the correct strains and amount of cannabis.
By: Jareth Trigwell