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Medical Marijuana and Lymphoma

What Is Lymphoma?

  Lymphoma is the name given to a broad group of blood cancers that develop within the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system actually performs a number of important roles within the human body. As part of the circulatory system, the lymphatic system helps to deliver nutrients, hormones and oxygen from the blood to the cells that make up the tissues of the body. The lymphatic system also acts as an important aid to the body’s immune system by filtering waste and destroying pathogens, and then returning lymph to the circulatory system. Finally, when operating properly, the lymphatic system removes threats to the body such as pathogens and cancer cells. Lymphoma is sub-divided into two general categories -- non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the more common of the two and is characterized by cancerous tumors that develop from lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is marked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells which are large, cancerous cells found in lymphoma tissues. Surgical removal of the tumor may be required. As with most types of cancer, radiation and/or chemotherapy are common treatment options following surgery. Radiation therapy works by using high dose x-rays aimed at any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by using medications that kill the cancerous cells or prevent them from dividing. The cause of lymphoma is unknown. The symptoms of lymphoma can vary depending on the specific area of the body affected by the disease. The most common symptom is swelling of the lymph nodes located in the groin, underarms, or neck. Although the lymph nodes swell, the swelling is not usually associated with any pain. Other symptoms may include an unexplained fever, weight loss, itchy skin, extreme fatigue, a persistent cough or shortness of breath, red patches on the skin, and pain in the back or abdomen. Lymphoma is the name given to a broad group of blood cancers that develop within the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system actually performs a number of important roles within the human body. As part of the circulatory system, the lymphatic system helps to deliver nutrients, hormones and oxygen from the blood to the cells that make up the tissues of the body. The lymphatic system also acts as an important aid to the body’s immune system by filtering waste and destroying pathogens, and then returning lymph to the circulatory system. Finally, when operating properly, the lymphatic system removes threats to the body such as pathogens and cancer cells. Lymphoma is sub-divided into two general categories -- non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the more common of the two and is characterized by cancerous tumors that develop from lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is marked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells which are large, cancerous cells found in lymphoma tissues. Surgical removal of the tumor may be required. As with most types of cancer, radiation and/or chemotherapy are common treatment options following surgery. Radiation therapy works by using high dose x-rays aimed at any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by using medications that kill the cancerous cells or prevent them from dividing.The cause of lymphoma is unknown. The symptoms of lymphoma can vary depending on the specific area of the body affected by the disease. The most common symptom is swelling of the lymph nodes located in the groin, underarms, or neck. Although the lymph nodes swell, the swelling is not usually associated with any pain. Other symptoms may include an unexplained fever, weight loss, itchy skin, extreme fatigue, a persistent cough or shortness of breath, red patches on the skin, and pain in the back or abdomen.  

Medical Marijuana and Lymphoma

Medical Marijuana and Lymphoma

Although radiation and chemotherapy may be effective treatments for lymphoma suffers, both come with serious negative side-effects. Along with hair loss and other unpleasant side-effects of radiation and chemotherapy, extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting often accompany radiation and chemotherapy. Extreme weight loss may result as the patient simply cannot hold down food. This creates another problem -- a lymphoma sufferer needs all the strength he or she can get, yet the treatment itself often causes weakness because the patient is not getting enough vitamins and nutrients from eating.

Cancer is such a deadly disease in large part because cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells, allowing the disease to spread quickly through the body. Chemotherapy works by delivering a drug cocktail into the patient’s body that kills the rapidly dividing cancer cells. The problem is that cancer cells are not the only rapidly dividing cells within the human body. Other places in the body where rapidly dividing cells can be found include hair follicles, bone marrow and the digestive tract. As a result, one of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy is the inflammation of the digestive tract which results in the inability to keep food down. Radiation therapy has some nasty side-effects as well, most notably extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting for days, or even weeks, after a treatment.

Lymphoma and Medical Marijuana History

Medical marijuana has a long history as an effective appetite stimulant and anti-nausea treatment. In addition, recent research has shown that medical marijuana has significant anti-inflammatory qualities as well, making medial marijuana an excellent addition to any lymphoma treatment regime.

Medical Marijuana and Lymphoma: Clinical Evidence

Of all the recent research done on the use of medical marijuana, some of the strongest results have been obtained on cancer patient research. While there is rarely ever complete consensus among the medical community, there is widely held agreement that medical marijuana does work to stimulate the appetite as well as reduce the nausea and vomiting that often accompanies treatment for lymphoma.

One way that medical marijuana helps lymphoma patients who are going through chemotherapy is through the anti-inflammatory properties found in marijuana. Along with other important chemical properties, Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a major component found in medical marijuana. Numerous clinical studies have shown that CBD contains properties that relieve convulsion, inflammation and anxiety as well as prevents nausea. Studies have even shown that CBD may inhibit the growth of some cancer cells, making medical marijuana not only a beneficial drug to counteract the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but a potential first line defense against the cells that cause lymphoma as well.

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