Cannabis for cancer patients has become a popular topic of discussion in recent years, particularly for those undergoing chemotherapy. Undergoing chemotherapy is an arduous journey for patients, often resulting in severe side effects with each treatment, like nausea and vomiting. But have you ever wondered what triggers these distressing side effects?
When chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream, they can irritate the stomach lining and trigger signals to the brain’s vomiting center. This can result in persistent nausea and vomiting that lasts days after treatment. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of using medical marijuana and how it can help alleviate nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Nausea and Vomiting?
Your body sees chemotherapy drugs as foreign invaders and sends warning signals to your brain and digestive system. This triggers the vomiting center in your brain, which releases chemicals that make you feel queasy.
Researchers estimate that up to 80% of cancer patients with chemotherapy experience chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Nausea can be characterized by an unpleasant feeling in the back of the throat or a queasy feeling in the stomach, which may or may not be associated with vomiting. In addition, certain triggers, such as sights, smells, tastes, motion, anxiety, or pain, can also stimulate nausea and/or vomiting.
Chemotherapy can cause three types of nausea and vomiting: acute, delayed, and anticipatory. Acute nausea and vomiting start within a few hours of your treatment, while delayed nausea and vomiting won’t kick in until 24 hours after treatment and can last for a few days. Finally, anticipatory nausea and vomiting start before you get chemo because you expect to feel sick.
How Cannabis for Cancer Patients Alleviates Nausea and Vomiting
Cannabis has been found to be an effective treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. The active compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids, can interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates nausea and vomiting.
Specifically, certain cannabinoids like delta-9 and delta-8-THC, as well as synthetic cannabinoids nabilone and levonantradol, have been tested for their ability to reduce vomiting induced by chemotherapy. Clinical studies have shown that THC reduces chemotherapy-induced vomiting better than a placebo. However, few trials have used the same chemotherapy agent among all patients, and some contain flaws. In addition, THC has been found to be similar in efficacy to prochlorperazine, considered one of the most effective antiemetics in the 1980s. Still, with the advent of more effective medications like ondansetron and granisetron, the results of these comparisons carry little weight.
In a well-designed study, THC was compared to metoclopramide, another effective antiemetic, and THC was found to be less effective than metoclopramide in reducing vomiting. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Marinol, a drug containing THC, for use when other antiemetic medications are ineffective in relieving chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
It’s important to note that while cannabis can be effective for treating nausea and vomiting, it may not be the best option for every patient. Some patients may experience unwanted side effects or interactions with other medications. Therefore, it’s important for patients to discuss the use of cannabis with their healthcare provider to determine if it’s a safe and effective option for them.
Are There Risks Associated with Cannabis Use During Chemotherapy?
One potential risk is that smoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and cause respiratory problems. However, there are other methods of using medical marijuana that does not involve smoking, such as edibles, tinctures, and capsules. These methods can provide the same benefits without the risks associated with smoking.
Another potential risk is it can interact with other medications that cancer patients may be taking during chemotherapy. This can lead to unwanted side effects or reduce the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs. Therefore, it is important for cancer patients to consult with their doctor before using medical marijuana and to disclose all medications they are taking.
Overall, the use of medical marijuana during chemotherapy should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Cannabis for Cancer Patients: How to Get Started in Mississippi
Cannabis for cancer patients is now legal in Mississippi, thanks to the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, signed into law on February 2, 2022. If you have a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, or chronic pain, you can obtain a Mississippi medical marijuana card with a recommendation from a licensed practitioner.
At Pause Pain & Wellness, we offer consultations to determine whether medical marijuana is right for you. We can also help you obtain proper documentation for your medical condition. Simply bring your medical records, government ID, and proof of Mississippi residency to one of our clinics.
Once your application is approved, you will receive your medical marijuana card shortly thereafter from the Mississippi Department of Health. With your card, you may visit any medical marijuana dispensary in Mississippi. Our healthcare providers can also offer guidance on safe dosing, forms, and strains of the product that may best suit your particular condition and treatment goals. Contact us at 833-940-5060 or visit www.pausethepain.com to schedule your appointment.