In terms of cancer-fighting properties, cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit, and even prevent cancer growth across a variety of cancer types. What’s even more promising is that cannabinoids, chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, can potentially kill cancer cells, especially if used after chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy works by attacking cancerous cells, but also damages normal, healthy cells in the process. While organic cannabis oils, dried herb, or edibles aren’t a cure-all, they can be a potent treatment against the distressing effects of chemotherapy including nausea, vomiting, pain, appetite problems, anxiety, and depression.
Cannabinoids Enhance Effectiveness of Chemotherapy
It hasn’t been until very recently that researchers have found that both THC and CBD can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. The International Journal of Oncology published a study that tested the effects of highly-concentrated and purified cannabinoid extracts on leukemia patients.
Anti-leukemia drugs, including cytarabine and vincristine, proved to be even more effective when used with cannabinoids. While THC and CBD showed improvements when used alone, they worked even better together. These cannabinoid therapies may enable people receiving chemotherapy to reduce their chemotherapy without losing the efficacy of the treatment.
Cannabinoids Reduce Nausea and Vomiting
As many as one-third of patients receiving chemotherapy experience nausea and vomiting from the treatment. In fact, FDA approved a cannabinoid-derived drug called dronabinol in 1985 to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The synthetic cannabinoid is modeled after THC which has also proven to have antiemetic characteristics.
Doctors currently treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting with 5-HT3 serotonin receptor antagonists. Research has shown that THC acts on 5-HT3 receptors by blocking these receptors that lie in the vomiting center of the brain.
THC Improves Appetite In Cancer Patients
As many as 90% of cancer patients experience extreme weight loss combined with loss of muscle mass. Dronabinol, the medication used to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, has been shown to increase cancer patients’ appetite, but may be too expensive for many of the patients.
In a promising line of research, HIV-positive cannabis smokers showed an increase in appetite after they smoked cannabis. Follow-up studies showed that THC increased appetite by more than 60% by making food taste better for patients and increasing their enjoyment of it. Cannabis candies in the form of lozenges and lollipops can be easy ways to consume for people who have a hard time swallowing.
CBD Reduces Anxiety, Pain and Improves Quality of Life
According to a psychosocial screening questionnaire during 2004-2009 of 10,153 patients, 41.6% reported to feel anxious and 29.4% felt depressed, especially women. CBD works by activating the 5HT-1A serotonin which regulates mood. CBD inhibits the enzyme that breaks down anandamide, a naturally-produced mood-enhancer.
Studies have also found that neuropathic pain caused by chemotherapy drugs can be alleviated by smoking CBD-rich cannabis strains. Chemotherapy can cause nerve damage, but cannabinoids THC and CBD can show significant improvements in pain sensitivity without adversely affecting chemotherapy treatments.
For many patients, using cannabis has helped them reduce dosage of other medications, sometimes even with chemotherapy itself, while retaining strong cancer-fighting properties. The key is to start with low doses and build up to determine how much you need. Green Door West offers everything from delicious edibles to potent concentrate pens for maximum relief delivered to your door.