Every day, most of us try to do better by implementing healthier eating habits, exercising more, and making choices that will benefit us over the long term. However, sometimes, despite how hard we try to take proper care of ourselves, our lives can be unexpectedly turned upside down due to life-altering medical diagnoses, like receiving a cancer diagnosis. Currently, there are more than 100 different types of cancer, and chemotherapy is one of the most common treatment methods. In most cases, chemotherapy delivers adverse side effects including pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, depression, and appetite loss. Although different conventional medications are available to help treat these symptoms, several are ineffective and/or make matters worse. However, one natural form of medicine that can help alleviate numerous chemotherapy-induced symptoms is a cannabis cannabinoid known as cannabidiol (CBD). Keep reading to learn more about the role CBD plays in alleviating chemotherapy-induced symptoms and how CBD can positively improve cancer patients’ lives.
The Growing Prevalence of Cancer Development
Currently, not only do more than 100 different types of cancer exist, the number of people diagnosed with cancer continues to rise worldwide, making this disease one of the leading causes of death. Specifically, in the US, it was estimated that roughly 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2018, and out of those, about 609,000 people will die. Out of all types of cancer the most common is breast cancer, and it is estimated that 268,670 new cases of breast cancer will occur in America in 2018. After breast cancer, the other two most common types are prostate and lung cancer.
However, one significant silver lining is there are millions of cancer survivors annually, giving cancer patients and their loved ones hope during this traumatic time. Two years ago in America, there were about 15.5 million cancer survivors overall. It is estimated that by 2026, the number of survivors will jump to 20.3 million. There are several different reasons why the number of cancer survivors will increase in the coming years including alternative forms of medicine like cannabis and CBD.
Traditional Cancer Treatment Methods, Associated Risks, & Unwanted Side Effects
Chemotherapy is one of the most commonly used traditional methods to treat cancer. Specifically, in America, roughly 650,000 cancer patients undergo chemotherapy treatments annually in outpatient oncology clinics. Other traditional forms of cancer treatment include radiation therapy, surgery, hormonal therapy, immune therapy, and targeted therapy. Although these treatment methods are widely used, there are numerous risks that come with them, especially with chemotherapy. Those undergoing chemotherapy are at risk of developing harmful infections, undergoing frequent hospitalizations, or experiencing several adverse symptoms. Death is also a possible outcome.
On the plus side, CBD can help lessen the severity of many chemotherapy-induced symptoms while helping improve overall well-being and quality of life of cancer patients. Also, since CBD possesses numerous medicinal, therapeutic, and nutritional benefits, several of these can be delivered post-CBD consumption.
CBD’s Impact in Alleviating Chemotherapy-induced Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Over the years, different studies, clinical trials, and anecdotal evidence has been released regarding CBD’s role in alleviating numerous chemotherapy-induced symptoms. Nowadays, there are various research findings supporting the usage of CBD for lessening symptoms caused by chemotherapy treatments. For starters, although there are several painful symptoms associated with and/or caused by chemotherapy, the two most common are nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, CBD’s anti-nausea and anti-emetic properties have been discovered, which can be especially helpful to cancer patients during chemo treatments.
CBD works to interact with serotonin releasing receptors, and when it’s consumed in small amounts, it can lessen nausea and vomiting. It’s also common for many cancer patients to experience the “nocebo effect,” which means they have negative beliefs about chemo treatments thus resulting in anticipatory nausea. So far, most existing prescription anti-emetics aren’t beneficial nor effective for most cases of anticipatory nausea. However, cannabinoids have exhibited opposite results. In particular, behavioral neuroscientist Linda Parker discovered that THC, CBD, and CBDA (the unheated form of CBD) alleviated anticipatory nausea in conditioned lab animals.
Based on various research findings, consuming CBD to help treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is accepted by most doctors. One study supporting this found 80 per cent of oncologists have conversed with their cancer patients about the usage of medical cannabis. Then, close to two-thirds of the study’s participating oncologists believe cannabis could be a beneficial adjunct medicine and it could be equally and/or more effective than conventional treatment methods, especially when treating pain, nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss.
Anxiety and Depression
In general, cancer and chemotherapy treatments can take a substantial toll on one’s quality of life, well-being, and mental health. Although millions of people struggle with anxiety and depression daily, most cancer patients experience these symptoms too. Fortunately, CBD contains anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties. Thus, via the usage of this cannabinoid, cancer patients’ mental health can positively improve whether they’re undergoing chemo or not.
It’s no secret cancer and chemotherapy treatments can cause significant pain and discomfort on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Regarding physical pain management, CBD can help due to its natural analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. One specific type of chemotherapy-induced pain is neuropathic pain, which can be difficult to treat with conventional medications.
However, in one study, several randomized controlled trials demonstrated the effectiveness of medical cannabis for treating neuropathic pain thus indicating that cannabis could be consumed as a tolerable and safe medicine. As support, Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained doctor with a specialty in cannabis, expressed the following about cannabis and neuropathic pain: “…with the right dosing of cannabis, people can enjoy relief from neuropathic pain with a barely perceptible high.”
Another common chemotherapy-induced symptom is appetite loss, which can result in significant weight decreases, weakness, and fatigue. Although CBD is medically and therapeutically beneficial, according to several studies, the cannabinoid that can stimulate one’s appetite is THC.
To balance out the high that THC causes, it’s suggested to consume cannabis strains that contain both THC and CBD, which results in the entourage effect. The entourage effect occurs when multiple cannabinoids interact with each other thus producing synergistic benefits. Therefore, to reap the most benefits possible while also experiencing an appetite boost, consuming both THC and CBD is recommended.
Accumulating Benefits of CBD
Overall, CBD is safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, non-psychoactive, and medically and therapeutically beneficial, which can significantly improve one’s quality of life. Despite the pharmaceutical medications that were released over the years to help treat chemotherapy-induced symptoms, many are ineffective and deliver adverse side effects. Whereas CBD delivers little to no side effects and provides much-needed medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
As more medical uses of cannabinoids are revealed, this alternative medicine is being consumed at higher rates than in previous years. Although additional clinical trials are needed to confirm cannabinoids’ long-term efficacy for treating chemotherapy-induced symptoms, based on existing findings, consuming CBD can be life-changing for struggling cancer patients.
Rather than going the traditional route of consuming pharmaceutical medications that often come with their own slew of side effects, do your mind and body a favor by trying CBD, a natural form of medicine that can help alleviate painful side effects and/or use it as an adjunct medicine to help improve your quality of life.