When my mother was diagnosed with a rare and often fatal type of cancer known as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in the fall of 2015, my whole world came to a crashing halt. Suddenly, all the trivial details that I thought were important didn’t matter anymore. All I could focus on from that point forward was how I could help my mom win the formidable battle against cancer by any means necessary.
Being the bookworm that I am, I began pouring through research on the disease trying to learn everything I could about what it was and how it could be beat. I searched, frantically, for better options than the traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatment plans that would surely just poison my mom to the brink of organ failure while doctors kept tabs and hoped for the best.
When we were left with no other options, she began the aggressive chemotherapy treatments. As her hair fell out and she got sicker and sicker, my research went from finding cures to seeking remedies. Through all the hours and sleepless nights of scouring the internet for answers, the one wildcard I kept coming across was marijuana.
Cannabis, the cure all?
The healing properties of marijuana have long been known to medical researchers to provide relief for a variety of ailments and diseases, most notably cancer. Most recognize that medical marijuana does in fact provide relief for cancer patients on some level, but the lack of research into nature’s medicine has more to do with legality of a plant than helping those in need.
Without dragging out the entire history on medical marijuana research any longer than need be, here are at least five ways that cannabis can help cancer patients:
Nausea & vomiting
Chemotherapy is a nasty process in which powerful medicines are pumped into the bloodstream to destroy cancerous cells that make your body want to literally turn on itself. The problem is that chemo is a systemic treatment that also destroys healthy cells, often leaving the patient extremely nauseated and sick.
Cannabis is well-known to provide relief against nausea and vomiting that are often caused from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The active compound in marijuana known as tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) is so effective that a synthesized version of it called Marinol has been approved and in-use by the FDA since 1985.
Cannabis is also known for being extremely effective in managing pain. As a cancer patient, whole body pain is a daily burden that is actually rated on a scale by nurses in order to assess type and quantity of prescription drugs to give to the patient. For reference, my mom was often at a 7 or 8/10 on the pain scale once her treatments were in full swing.
Chemo causes nausea which causes lack of appetite and leads to scary amounts of weight loss. Personally, I’ve never found anything that stimulates my appetite more than a fat bowl of Weedies in the morning. When you have to eat but feel like crap, marijuana is a wonder drug for appetite stimulation that should not be overlooked.
Cancer patients often suffer through sleep issues when they need it most. One of marijuana’s widely known side effects is that it causes sleepiness, even for those battling severe insomnia in some cases. Give me a fat rip off a powerful indica like Northern Lights and within the hour, I guarantee snoring will ensue.
A cure for cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, preclinical studies have shown that cannabis “may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”
The key point to this article is that regardless of what you believe about cannabis, do some research and you’ll find that it is proven to be an extremely powerful tool in the fight against cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatments. The relief it can provide to those who need it most cannot be understated and if we are to evolve in the war against cancer, we are to study and embrace it beyond closed doors.