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Should I Start Using Cannabis as Part of My Cancer Treatment Plan?

Find out if using cannabis as a way to manage cancer symptoms is a good option for you and which methods of ingestion are best.

Should I Start Using Cannabis as Part of My Cancer Treatment Plan?

Even just a few years ago the use of marijuana used to be an extremely taboo subject. However, as more and more states begin to legalize marijuana both medically and recreationally you may be wondering if you should consider using cannabis products as part of your cancer treatment plan.

While there are no credible studies that support the ability of cannabis to treat or cure cancer, it has been linked as an effective way to help with pain and symptom management. This includes both the physical and mental side effects that are linked with cancer and chemotherapy.

In this article, we will take a look at all of the ways cannabis can help and hurt with symptom management.

Which Chemo and Cancer Symptoms Can Marijuana Help With?

There is a lot of information on the internet about how marijuana is a cure-all and the solution to every medical problem. 

While there is a definite need for further research on the benefits of the cannabis plant, it’s important that you get your information from a credible source before using cannabis to help manage symptoms. 

Additionally, it is important to consult your doctor and care team prior to using marijuana. That being said, cannabis has been shown as an effective way of helping manage the following symptoms associated with chemo and cancer:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stimulation of appetite
  • Pain relief

Watch our interview with Dr. Donald Abrahms to learn more about the impact of cannabis in managing cancer and chemotherapy symptoms.

What is the Best Way to Ingest Cannabis to Help Manage Cancer Symptoms?

When it comes to cannabis you have a lot of options when choosing how to consume it. Each method of consumption will impact you differently. One of the best ways to consume cannabis in terms of the effectiveness of managing symptoms is through smoke inhalation. 

However, what’s best for you may vary based on how you react to each form of consumption and the type of relief that you are looking for.

I always tell people, if you want better control over the onset, the depth and the duration of the effect, inhalation is probably better than oral ingestion.

Dr. Donald Abrahms
Smoke or Vape Inhalation

When you inhale cannabis by through smoke, it takes about two and a half minutes to heat peak concentration in your plasma. It then dissipates rapidly. 

For this reason, you have more control over when you get a “high” from inhaling the plant, and over time you will understand how long the high lasts. You also are less likely to “overdose” yourself because the feeling is more instant.

Oil Vaping

Another popular method of consumption of cannabis is through oil vaping. While this will produce the same psychological effects as smoke inhalation, you are also inhaling the oil. This is unnatural and can damage your lungs. 

Edibles

Edibles like baked goods or gummies are also a popular way to consume cannabis. While these can be more convenient, they produce a different kind of “high.”

When you consume an edible the THC takes the first pass through the digestive system. This results in it are taking about two and a half hours to feel the effects of the cannabis. Additionally, it enters your plasma at a much lower concentration. As a result, you feel a little more “zonked.”

Oils and Tinctures

Another form of cannabis consumption is through a liquid drop that you place under your tung. This results in a form of hybrid high between edibles and smoke inhalation. 

You feel the immediate high from the oil absorbed under your tung. However, you also digest some of the oil and get a portion of the prolonged high that you feel from edibles. 

FDA Approved Pills

According to the American Cancer Society, The FDA has approved two pills that contain THC to help in the management of nausea, dizziness, and appetite stimulation. The two drugs are:

  • Dronabinol (Marinol®) – A gelatin capsule of THC.
  • Nabilone (Cesamet®) – A synthetic cannabinoid that acts like THC.

Both drugs give you a high and are absorbed similarly to edibles. The benefit here is that the dose can be controlled and since they are FDA approved, you know what’s going into them.

Of course, cannabis I like for symptom management. Cannabis is good for decreasing nausea. It’s the only anti-nausea medicine that also increases appetite works against pain for some people, it’s useful for anxiety, depression and sleep.

– Dr. Dr. Donald Abrahms

What are the Negative Side Effects of Cannabis Use in Cancer Patients?

While cannabis can help with symptom management, it can also have some negative side effects. Some of the common side effects linked to marijuana use include:

  • Increase heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • An extended euphoric feeling
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucination
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If you feel these side effects, but want to continue using cannabis try decreasing your dose or starting a smaller dose and increasing it slowly.

Read about how Candy W. used cannabis to help manage nausea.

Candy

Do CBD Products Work in Helping Manage Cancer Symptoms?

With the legalization of CBD products in several states, there have been many claims as to how CBD can help with cancer symptoms. In reality, it is a combination of THC and CBD that provides symptomatic relief. Therefore, a product that is solely CBD-based has not been scientifically proven to provide relief.

While studies in the future may prove otherwise, you a better of using a product that has THC in it to help manage your symptoms.

The studies in people who use the relief app show that the whole plan is the best for symptom management and that it’s the amount of THC that is associated with relief of symptoms as well as the adverse effects, whereas CBD does neither

-Dr. Donald Abrahms

Where is Medical Marijuana Use Legal?

The status of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use is changing on a yearly basis. If you are looking for the most up-to-date information check out a map of each state’s marijuana law’s here.

Should I Consult with My Doctor Before Using Cannabis to Manage Cancer Symptoms?

You need to consult with your doctor before trying to use cannabis to manage your symptoms. Even if it’s illegal in your state you should still inform your doctor that you are using cannabis. The use of the drug could impact your treatment plan and how your care team is interpreting your medical results.

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