Cannabis Use and Cancer
Cannabis is a big news story these days because of the current movement to legalize marijuana. The movement is picking up momentum and gaining traction both at the state and federal levels. As the sales grow, the different uses and applications of cannabis grow as well. A large buying demographic includes those suffering with different types of cancers. Here we will take a look at cannabis: it’s uses, side effects, and benefits. We will also examine what the legitimate medicinal values of cannabis are and how these benefits influence cannabis use and cancer.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis derives from a group of three plants with psychoactive properties; they are known commonly as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Cannabis originates from the flower part of these plants. They are then harvested and dried out and what results is one of the most common drugs in the world. These drugs are known recreationally as weed, pot, and/or marijuana. As mentioned, weed is becoming more and more legal and so names for it are always evolving. Today, more and more people are using the term cannabis to refer to weed.
Cannabis is made up of 120 components, and while not all are understood, there are two main ones: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Each component comes with its own effects:
- CBD – A non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD won’t get you “high.” It’s most often used to reduce inflammation and ease pain. It also relieves nausea, migraines, seizures, and/or anxiety.
- THC – The main psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC is what is responsible for the “high” usually associated with cannabis use.
Cannabis products can contain just CBD, just THC, or a combination of both. However, the dried flower that most people associate with cannabis contains both cannabinoids.
Cannabis is usually consumed recreationally for producing euphoric, relaxing and calming effects. However, in some U.S. states, doctors also prescribe medical marijuana to help with a range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, and poor appetite.
Cannabis Use and Cancer
A growing number of the population and within the medical field have turned to cannabis with regard to cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, recent reports show that THC and other cannabinoids like CBD slow down the growth and reduce the spread of certain types of cancer cells. In addition, there are plans for more studies and clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans. What we know so far, is that while cannabinoids may be safe in the treatment of cancer, they have not been shown to cure the disease in any way. Cannabis is most helpful in alleviating the harmful side effects of chemotherapy treatments. Notable effects of chemo treatment and drugs are nausea and vomiting and a number of small studies have shown that cannabis is helpful in relieving these effects and in so doing, helping increase the appetites of cancer patients.
Harmful Side Effects of Cannabis
While a certain sector of cancer doctors and patients embrace the use of cannabis, it is by no means a substitute. Relying on marijuana in lieu of conventional medical care for cancer can have serious health consequences. You should always consult your doctor. In terms of non-cancer cannabis users, marijuana can also lower the user’s control over movement, cause disorientation, and sometimes cause feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Marijuana plants come in different strains and they all have different levels of active compounds. This means that each user’s experience is very hard to predict. Effects will vary based on how deeply and for how long the user inhales. As is the case with all chemical substances, some chronic users can develop an unhealthy dependence on marijuana.
Indeed, cannabis can have positive medicinal benefits for cancer patients and for many other people and ailments. However, if you or someone you know finds that using cannabis is becoming more and more of a problem or feels that there may be an addiction, there is no shame in reaching out and asking for help. It can be a simple phone call; or, contact us online. We are always willing to help those looking for a clearer, healthier path.