Cancer is a complex and ever-evolving disease. The more we discover, the more we realize how much there is to understand. Researchers continue developing increasingly powerful cancer-fighting chemical cocktails, but these are designed to kill cancer aggressively. The aggressiveness of cancer treatments continues to be an issue, with grave long-term side effects for the patient.
Because chemotherapy and radiation side effects often are harsher than the cancer itself, supplemental treatments increasingly are needed. This has led scientists and patients to turn toward cannabis oil and its cannabinoid compounds; specifically, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Lab research and anecdotal evidence are making clear that THC and CBD are effective supplemental cancer treatments.
The Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation
Chemotherapy targets active cells throughout the body. However, it does not discriminate between cancerous cells and healthy cells, which can have many adverse side effects.
Some of the most common side effects include pain, nausea, and vomiting, as well as mental and physical fatigue. Over time chemotherapy also disrupts digestion, leading to constipation and diarrhea. Many of these side effects come and go, but under some circumstances, they turn into long-term issues.
Radiation also is meant to target cancerous cells, but often also kills healthy cells as well. However, it is much more precise than chemotherapy, so it tends to be targeted to a particular area.
Since radiation is focused, the side effects are localized. For instance, when radiation targets head and neck cancer, patients often experience side effects such as dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and tooth decay. Other more widespread effects can include diminished fertility, fatigue, and skin problems.
Cancer treatment’s side effects are, in many ways, worse than the cancer itself. This is such an ongoing medical dilemma that many medical professionals are looking for alternatives. In recent years, CBD oil specifically has caught the attention of internationally renowned research centers. It seems to offer relief for patients suffering from some of the most serious side effects. Most importantly, CBD oil appears to do this without creating more side effects of its own.
1. Chemotherapy-Triggered Pain
Cancer and the associated treatments often are extremely painful. Many patients report widespread neuropathic pain during and after treatments. Cannabidiol oil, both on its own and in conjunction with THC, has been found in preliminary research to reduce pain resulting from cancer treatments. This is likely because CBD oil interacts indirectly with CB1 receptors, which are found mostly throughout the brain.
This cannabinoid also influences the CB2 receptor, which is located in the central nervous system. Through its ability to gently influence the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Some research indicates that when CBD oil is used in conjunction with opioids or other traditional pain medications, it helps enhance their analgesic effects.
Dr. Donald I. Abrams, author of a study entitled, “Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care,” explained that in his own experience he found significant areas where CBD oil is applicable for treating cancer-related pain. In particular, he notes many patients prefer to use CBD oil and THC at the end of life, instead of relying on opioids, because they remain much more lucid. He has found it is imperative for his patients to maintain quality communication in their final days, instead of becoming comatose through over-application of opioid pain medications.
2. Appetite Stimulation
Chemotherapy and radiation have a long track record of decreasing appetite. This side effect can become so severe that it develops into cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome, which has an extremely high rate of death. Patients who develop this syndrome begin wasting away and are less likely to respond to chemotherapy treatment.
While many patients and physicians already use cannabis and cannabinoid products containing CBD oil to increase appetite stimulation, there continues to be a lack of research on the subject. Some limited, small-scale studies have shown that people treated with dronabinol (a cannabis synthetic) enjoyed food more, found it tasted better, and had higher calorie intake than when given a placebo.
3. Nausea and Vomiting Reduction
One reason CBD oil and other cannabinoids are useful in treating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy is because synthetic cannabinoids already are licensed for use in the U.S. This means patients already are using similar products with huge success.
According to a 2001 study entitled, “Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting,” researchers concluded that cannabinoids were much more productive in reducing nausea and vomiting than more traditional pharmaceuticals. The study included an extensive list of comparisons, such as prochlorperazine, chlorpromazine, thiethylperazine, haloperidol, and alizapride. After the study finished, the researchers also noted that the majority of patients preferred to continue the cannabinoid treatment instead of returning to the pharmaceuticals.
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Final Thoughts on CBD and Cancer
As the body of research grows, one of the main reasons people are turning toward CBD oil is because they have become fed up with the alternatives. When faced with the awful side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, even those who traditionally have been averse to all things cannabis have decided to at least give it a try.
With or without examining the full body of research, cancer patients have discovered that CBD oil treats cancer treatment side effects. Through experimentation, people have found out how to use CBD oil for cancer. This anecdotal evidence is slowly but surely being backed by solid scientific investigation. Given more time, it seems inevitable that CBD oil will gain professional respect for its ability to manage cancer-treatment side effects.
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