Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
A standard treatment for cancer patients is chemotherapy. However, this treatment is a double-edged sword. On one hand, chemo is one of the most effective treatments for cancer. On the other, in addition to killing cancer cells it can attack healthy cells, such as those found in the stomach lining, causing patients to experience many adverse side effects.
One of the most common uses for medical marijuana in cancer patients is as a treatment for the side effects associated with chemotherapy. No one can doubt the improvements shown by chemo patients who use cannabis to alleviate, and sometimes eliminate, side effects.
If you or a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy, consider using medical marijuana to ease some of your pain. Cannabis has allowed patients to get the help they need and improve their quality of life.
The use of any drug to treat a disease could be called chemotherapy. However, when we hear the word, we automatically think of the drugs used to treat cancer. The primary purpose of chemo is to destroy cancer cells. If that’s not possible, chemo can help control the disease or ease cancer’s symptoms.
Surgery and radiation therapy are also used to treat cancer, targeting cancerous cells in a particular area. However, chemo works better for cancers that have spread to other parts of the body, or metastasized.
More than 100 drug options are available for cancer treatments. When patients get chemo, they’re often given more than one type of drug to ensure their cancer won’t become resistant to a particular type.
The drugs chosen and the schedule on which they’re given depends on many different patient factors, like type and stage of cancer, age and the patient’s overall health.
Chemo involves drugs that target fast-growing cancer cells. However, other fast-growing cells can be affected by chemotherapy as well. Some of the healthy cells damaged by chemo are:
The results of damage to healthy cells cause chemo’s worse side effect. These vary from person to person, and usually not all side effects are experienced. Severity also varies. After chemo treatments are completed, these usually go away. The most common side effects associated with chemotherapy include:
Cannabis has been shown to treat many of the side effects associated with chemotherapy. For patients struggling with the worst aspects of chemo, this allows them to live their lives and find enjoyment amid cancer treatments. Some of the side effects medical weed can help alleviate include:
Other chemo symptoms that have shown improvement with the use of medical marijuana include:
Before you choose to use medical cannabis to battle the negative side effects you’re experiencing from chemotherapy, have a conversation with your doctor or a budtender at your dispensary to make sure it’s the right choice for you.