Cannabis and Cancer: The Latest Research and Treatment Options

by Angela G
Woman smoking from a cannabis pipe

Over the past decade, a wave of curiosity and scientific exploration has been surging around the potential of cannabis as a formidable treatment alternative for cancer. As our understanding of the therapeutic properties of cannabis deepens, it becomes increasingly essential to stay abreast of the latest findings about how cannabis can be helpful in cancer treatment. 

This comprehensive article seeks to take you on a journey through the current landscape of cannabis and its promising role in cancer treatment. Prepare to delve into the intricacies of cannabis and cancer as we explore the scientific discoveries and potential breakthroughs that have ignited hope amongst cancer warriors and captivated the medical community. 

An Overview of Cannabis

Difference between cannabis strains indica, sativa, and hybrid

To get an idea of the potential benefits of cannabis for cancer, you must understand its components and various forms of consumption. Cannabis contains numerous chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, with the two most popular ones out there.

  1. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 
  2. Cannabidiol (CBD)

These cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various physiological processes. Different strains of cannabis can have varying effects due to the unique combinations and concentrations of cannabinoids and other compounds. 

Sativa strains are typically associated with energizing and uplifting effects, while Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedating properties. Additionally, Hybrid strains combine characteristics of both Sativa and Indica varieties.

The best part is that you can consume cannabis in several ways, including smoking, vaping, edibles, and oils. Smoking and vaping deliver cannabinoids directly into the bloodstream through inhalation, providing rapid effects. 

Edibles and oils, on the other hand, are metabolized in the digestive system, leading to delayed but potentially longer-lasting effects. While you can find various CBD oils for cancer in the market, the best edibles for cancer patients could be anything that is CBD-rich.

Cannabis and Cancer: The Science Explained Through Studies

Cancer, a complex and relentless disease, has challenged medical professionals and researchers for centuries. With the growing interest in alternative and complementary treatment modalities, cannabis has emerged as a great contender in cancer therapy. So, does weed cure cancer? While cannabis alone cannot cure cancer, it may possess anti-cancer properties.

Let’s navigate through the scientific nuances, clinical trials, and evolving understanding of how cannabis may play a role in alleviating symptoms, managing side effects, and potentially even inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

You must note that the research into the potential effects of cannabis on cancer is still in its early stages, but there have been promising findings from both preclinical and clinical studies. Let’s look at these studies and understand where cannabis comes in.

Pain Management

Facts about pain experienced during cancer

Pain, a distressing experience that profoundly affects the quality of life, is prevalent among cancer patients, impacting their emotional and physical well-being. 

A 2022 Pharmacological Management of Cancer-Related Pain study reports that approximately half of the patients experience pain at the time of cancer diagnosis. Of those with advanced-stage cancer, nearly 80% endure moderate to severe pain levels. Chronic pain is commonly associated with cancer, resulting from the tumor or cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. 

Despite advancements in pain management, many patients still receive inadequate treatment. Traditionally, opioids have been the primary approach, but their limitations and side effects have led to exploring alternative options, such as cannabis and cannabinoids.

A 2022 preclinical and observational study has shown promise in using cannabinoids for cancer pain management. It sheds light on how CBD treatment for cancer may be a viable option for patients. Of course, more robust clinical trials are needed to establish their effectiveness and to figure out the appropriate CBD dosage for cancer.

Nausea and Vomiting

Facts about nausea in cancer patients

According to the 2022 Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Cannabis-Based Medicines in Cancer Care publication by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, there is strong clinical evidence supporting the use of oral cannabinoids to alleviate nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy in adults effectively. 

Several meta-analyses have been conducted on the 1970s and 1980s studies focused on pharmaceuticals containing delta-9-THC, such as dronabinol and nabilone. These analyses found that cannabinoids were more effective than placebo and comparable to standard antiemetics available at that time.

A 2015 Cochrane Review, which included 23 randomized controlled trials, also suggested that cannabis-based medicines could be beneficial in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting resistant to other treatments.

Appetite Stimulation

Loss of appetite, known as anorexia, is a common and distressing symptom experienced by people with cancer, and effective treatments are limited. However, promising evidence suggests that medicinal cannabis may help alleviate appetite-related symptoms in cancer patients.

A 2022 Systematic Review of five studies compared the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis interventions, such as dronabinol, nabilone, and cannabis extract, against placebo or megestrol acetate. Although the specific measures and endpoints varied across the trials, only one study demonstrated positive outcomes. 

In this particular trial, dronabinol significantly improved chemosensory perception and secondary outcomes, including food taste, premeal appetite, and the proportion of calories consumed as protein compared with placebo. 

Overall, the use of cannabis interventions was well tolerated, irrespective of the specific product or dosage employed. 

Cannabis and Cancer: Promising Treatment Options as Per Clinical Research

Cancer and cannabis: Promising treatment options

While cannabis is not considered a primary cancer treatment, it may have a role in symptom management and potentially complement conventional cancer therapies. Some of the ways weed and cannabis come together are:

Symptom Management

Cannabis has been found to manage various cancer-related symptoms effectively. For instance, cannabinoids can help reduce pain by interacting with the body’s pain receptors. They can also alleviate nausea and vomiting, commonly experienced as side effects of chemotherapy. 

Furthermore, cannabis has shown promise in stimulating appetite and improving sleep quality in cancer patients.

Potential Anti-cancer Effects

Emerging evidence suggests that cannabinoids, the active constituents of cannabis Sativa and its derivatives, may have direct anti-cancer effects. By inhibiting tumor growth and inducing cancer cell death, cannabinoids could potentially contribute to slowing down or halting the progression of certain types of cancer. 

However, further research is needed to understand the specific mechanisms and identify the types of cancer that may benefit the most from cannabis treatment.

Combination Therapies

As mentioned, cannabis has been reported to help manage chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and improve appetite and overall well-being in patients undergoing cancer treatments—the plant’s compounds alongside conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. 

Combining cannabis with these treatments may enhance their efficacy or mitigate some side effects.

Personalized Medicines

As with any medical treatment, the effects of cannabis can vary from person to person. Each individual may respond differently to cannabis-based therapies, emphasizing personalized medicine’s importance. 

Healthcare providers can work closely with patients to determine the most suitable strains, dosages, and administration methods based on their needs and medical history.

Palliative Care

Palliative care focuses on relieving the symptoms and stress associated with serious illnesses like cancer, intending to improve the patient’s overall quality of life. Cannabis has shown potential in this area by helping manage various symptoms commonly experienced by cancer patients.

Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, is prevalent among individuals undergoing cancer treatment. Cannabis, precisely strains with higher levels of the compound called cannabidiol (CBD), has been reported to have calming and sedating effects. Cannabis can aid in promoting sleep and combating insomnia.

Anxiety and depression are also common psychological symptoms experienced by cancer patients. Cannabis has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant properties. Certain cannabinoids, such as CBD, have shown promise in reducing anxiety levels and improving mood by interacting with neurotransmitter systems in the brain that regulate emotions.

Risks and Considerations of Using Cannabis for Cancer

While cannabis shows promise as a potential adjunct therapy for cancer, it is essential to be aware of the risks and considerations associated with its use. Some critical factors to consider include

Side Effects

Cannabis use can lead to short-term side effects, such as dizziness, dry mouth, and increased heart rate, if not taken precisely. 

If overindulged, long-term effects may include dependency, cognitive impairment in heavy and prolonged users, and potential mental health risks. It is crucial to be mindful of these possible side effects, especially when considering long-term cannabis use.

Drug Interactions

Cannabis can interact with certain medications commonly used in cancer treatment. It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals to understand potential interactions and ensure the safe and effective use of cannabis and conventional therapies.

Safety Considerations

Responsible use of cannabis is crucial to minimize potential risks. These risks could be significantly minimized and eliminated by using cannabis products from reputable sources, understanding and adhering to dosage guidelines, and avoiding impaired activities such as driving or operating machinery while under the influence of cannabis.

Current Regulations and Future Outlook

The legal and regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis varies across different regions. While some countries and states have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use, others maintain strict regulations or prohibit its use entirely. These legal restrictions can impact research opportunities and patient access to cannabis-based treatments. 

Advocacy for further research, policy changes, and education is necessary to ensure patients can access safe and effective treatment options.

Despite the challenges, the future of cannabis research and its potential for cancer treatment looks bright. Continued scientific exploration, clinical trials, and advancements in understanding the underlying mechanisms of cannabis and cancer interaction will provide valuable insights. 

Additionally, ongoing efforts to improve regulations and facilitate access to cannabis can potentially expand treatment options for cancer patients.

Cannabis as a Holistic Approach to Cancer Treatment

Cannabis smoker holding up weed joint

In conclusion, so far, we’ve established that cannabis holds potential benefits in various aspects of healthcare, including cancer treatment. With a staggering number of cancer cases worldwide, estimated at 18.1 million in 2020, it is crucial to explore all possible avenues to help ease the challenges faced by cancer patients. The blend of cannabis and cancer feels like it can work wonders, and we can’t wait to see where the research takes us.

Cannabis, with its therapeutic properties, sure emerges as a hopeful option. It has shown promise in managing symptoms such as pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and loss of appetite, which are everyday struggles for folks battling cancer. By using weed for cancer, patients may experience improved well-being and enhanced quality of life.

At Grassdoor, we understand the importance of reliable information and access to high-quality cannabis products. Whether you seek knowledge about cannabis or require assistance in finding the right products for your needs, we are here to support you. We aim to empower people on their wellness journey and provide a safe, convenient platform to access cannabis products of exceptional quality.

Remember, if we can do anything to help alleviate the challenges faced by cancer patients, cannabis may hold the key. Together, let’s continue to explore the potential benefits of cannabis and embrace a compassionate approach to cancer care.

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