A cancer diagnosis can be life-altering for patients. Inevitably, they are faced with uneasy feelings about the difficulties of treatment, and the reality of living with the disease chronically. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment modalities offer promising results, but with difficult side effects. Recent medical advances have shown that cannabis has great efficacy in helping patients deal with the treatment side effects, and show an overall positive influence on the patient’s mental health as a result of a higher quality of life. Before truly understanding cannabis’ benefit to the patient in the cancer treatment setting, you need to differentiate between its two key components: THC vs. CBD.
Actions of Different Components of Marijuana: THC vs. CBD
THC, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is what allows someone to experience the high feeling often reported when smoking or ingesting marijuana. Some effects that have been attributed to the use of THC are euphoria, relief of nausea and pain, and overall lowered inflammation in the body. Simply put, the natural effect of THC as it lowers inflammation in the body can cause pain relief.
The second known cannabinoid is CBD, also known as cannabidiol. This is responsible for more of a mental health boost, often putting the user in a calm state without the loss of control and feeling of being high. If the patient is struggling with depression, anxiety, or even seizures, CBD may be a treatment option to explore with your doctor.
If the patient is struggling specifically with appetite loss (this is fairly common in cancer patients, affecting up to 80%) a man-made pure THC substance called dronabinol could pose a strong treatment option. Dronabinol works to create feelings of hunger in the brain and can override nausea that the patient may experience in treatment. As always, before pursuing any form of alternative treatment, please consult with your doctor to come up with a healthy treatment plan for you.
Types of Marijuana Products Available
THC and CBD-laced products are widely available on the market, and you can purchase them in a variety of mediums that work within your needs and lifestyle. Below is a list of common products that you can find at your local dispensary:
- Loose Leaf or “Flower” Options
- Flower is used through either combusting, vaping, or orally consuming. As a cancer patient, one may find vaping a better alternative if nausea & vomiting are a challenge.
- Edibles can take many shapes and can be infused with either THC or CBD in the form of baked goods, candies, chews, and more. Edibles are helpful for those who experience insomnia or depression as a side effect of cancer treatments as it is long-lasting (8+ hours)
- Topicals are helpful for cancer patients who are diagnosed with skin cancer. Transdermal compounds are optimal as well as using products such as RSO.
In conclusion, cannabis-infused products can be a great asset to those undergoing cancer treatment and may mitigate several unpleasant symptoms associated with treatment and disease progression. Talk to your doctor to see if cannabis is right for you – or come see us for an appointment!