In recent years, marijuana has been pushed to the forefront as a way to help treat chronic illnesses. And this is for a good reason—aside from the recreational benefits that people know cannabis for, early research has shown that weed also has some medicinal advantages. These advantages often involve alleviating pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that may come with minor and prolonged ailments.
However, it’s also worth mentioning that weed may also bring unsavory effects, from paranoia to changes in heart rate. It’s for this reason that it’s best to listen to your doctor and schedule your weed delivery with a reliable dispensary that offers safe and high-quality cannabis products.
That said, using marijuana for medicinal purposes is something that should be worth considering with an open mind. For terminal illnesses like cancer, weed may even hold the key to making such ailments more bearable. But before you urge your doctor to write up a recommendation, here are some things you should know about using marijuana to help manage life-threatening conditions such as cancer.
What Does Medical Marijuana Look Like?
Marijuana, which comes from a cannabis plant’s buds and leaves, is comprised of chemical substances called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are known for inducing drug-like effects on your body. The most active cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While THC is associated with the weed “high”, CBD lacks this effect but can encourage the medicinal effects of weed.
Medical marijuana can come in a variety of forms, including the following:
- Pills, capsules, and tablets
- Oral sprays
- Topical Creams
- Dried buds or leaves
- Edibles (i.e., brownies, gummies, and cookies)
Aside from these products, your doctor may also prescribe cannabis-based medicines to provide short-term relief. These prescription drugs are meant to alleviate cancer-related symptoms as well as the severe side effects of chemotherapy.
While leaves and buds can also count as medical marijuana, it may be better to opt for other forms of weed such as edibles that don’t need to be smoked. This is especially helpful for those with lung cancer who may need to avoid inhaling smoke.
What Are The Effects of Weed on My Body?
Both THC and CBD are known for helping ease a range of symptoms, including those brought on by cancer treatments. Although research on marijuana is still in the early stages, what we know so far is that medical marijuana may help alleviate the following:
Some studies suggest that marijuana can relieve pain related to cancer, especially when conventional therapies have been proven ineffective or counterproductive. The components of weed bind to the cannabinoid receptors in your body, which puts a halt in the pain signals in your brain and delivers anti-inflammatory effects.
Weed’s THC component is known for boosting appetite. This may help slow down or prevent weight loss for those with advanced cancer.
Neuropathy or Nerve Pain
One common side effect of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy is nerve damage. Some studies suggest that cannabinoids help relieve symptoms of neuropathy such as numbness, weakness, and tingles in the hands or feet.
Vomiting and Nausea
Another common side effect of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting. So far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved synthetic cannabinoids such as nabilone and dronabinol for helping relieve nausea and vomiting from cancer treatment—particularly when other options are rendered ineffective.
What Are the Risks of Using Weed?
Although most researchers, regulators, and members of the medical community generally agree that marijuana is safe to use for medical purposes, you still need to understand the adverse effects you might experience. For instance, potential chemical imbalances in your body might clash with the effects of weed. Some strains of marijuana may also be unfit for your desired effects, and your dosing might not be suitable for your tolerance level. On top of that, you might be at risk of developing marijuana dependence. Some of the common adverse effects of weed are:
- Paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations
- Lower blood pressure
- Heart rate fluctuations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry mouth
- Lung damage due to toxic chemicals in weed smoke
Because of our bodies’ unique responses, the effects of weed vary from person to person. For this reason, you need to consult your doctor and dispensary on weed strains, doses, and the best products for your specific condition.
Can Weed Treat or Cure Cancer?
The latest research on weed suggests that the herb may have the potential to treat cancer, not just alleviate the side effects of treatment. Some studies have shown that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids can slow down tumor growth or even terminate cancer cells. Other studies on animals suggest that cannabinoids may minimize the spread of cancer.
Still, it’s best to remember that using cannabis for treating cancer is still being explored and that one shouldn’t rely solely on the herb to cure or control chronic ailments like cancer. Until we can find a definite answer to whether weed can cure cancer, it’s best to rely largely on conventional treatments while keeping your mind open to science-backed, cannabis-based alternatives.
The Verdict: Weed May Help, But Don’t Rely On It
While research on using marijuana to help treat terminal illnesses like cancer is ongoing, there is undoubtedly some evidence that weed can help symptoms and treatment side effects be more manageable. And with the increasing recognition of cannabis and the push toward legality, more people are now able to access marijuana for health purposes. There’s no harm in exploring alternative treatment aids like weed, but it still pays to make sure that such aids are used safely. In addition, it would be wise to avoid relying on weed for everything and still consider traditional, tried-and-tested treatment options. In the end, what matters is that you are able to make an otherwise unmanageable condition a lot more bearable.