Can Cannabis Help? Cancer and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are among the most commonly used treatments for many types of cancer. Both involve damaging cells throughout the body, including those that make up hair follicles, skin, and glands. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

There is some moderate to strong evidence supporting the benefits of cannabis oil for cancer side effects and to help manage chemotherapy symptoms. More specifically, cannabis may help with:

  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
  • Cancer-related appetite loss
  • Cancer-related chronic pain


Cancer-Related Chronic Pain


       There is growing evidence to suggest the benefits of CBD and THC for relieving various types of pain, including chronic pain. One large review of 28 studies on cannabis and chronic pain led researchers to conclude that “there was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain.”
       In addition, a 2010 study on people with cancer pain who weren’t responding to conventional opioid medications, researchers found that combining CBD and THC helped to significantly reduce pain. In fact, 43% of patients reported a 30% or greater improvement.

Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV)


       In cases where first-line treatment options are not effective, medical cannabis may be a suitable treatment option. There is some evidence to support the potential of cannabis-based medicines in reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and cancer.
       In a review of 23 randomized controlled trials on cannabinoids and nausea in adults receiving cancer chemotherapy, researchers found that cannabis may be useful for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Cancer-Related Appetite Loss


       Cannabis has long been thought to be an appetite stimulant, making it a potentially useful adjunct therapy for cancer patients. A number of studies have found that THC, in particular, can promote significant improvements in appetite loss. It is clear, however, that more studies are needed.

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