Medical Marijuana to Treat Cancer-Related Nausea

Updated on January 30, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Medical Marijuana to Treat Cancer-Related Nausea

Cancer has impacted almost everyone in the United States. It could be the diagnosis of a co-worker, family member or close friend — maybe you’ve received this unwanted news from your doctor. There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and it’s estimated that more than 11 million people have some form of the disease. Some of the most common types include:

  • Skin cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer

The fight against cancer rages in the medical world, and new, innovative treatments are being discovered all the time. Unfortunately, some of these treatments come with unwanted side effects. One of the most common is nausea.

Medical marijuana is used by cancer patients all over the world. Not only is it proven to have cancer-fighting properties, but it also relieves many of the disease’s worst side effects. If you’re struggling with cancer-related nausea, cannabis medications could be an effective treatment option for you.

Cancer-Related Nausea

Nausea is the sick, queasy feeling you get in your stomach, typically right before you throw up. This uncomfortable side effect is often associated with cancer. Severity can range from slight queasiness to bouts of vomiting.

Nausea’s hard to live with on a long-term basis. It can lead to dangerous complications such as:

  • Dehydration, if too much liquid has been thrown up
  • Choking, if food or liquids are inadvertently inhaled

What Causes Cancer-Related Nausea

Nausea is a common side effect of cancer. Some people develop it because of the disease, while others start feeling nauseous from their treatments. Patients with cancer can develop nausea or vomiting for many different reasons:

  • The cancer itself, especially if it’s affecting the brain
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Bowel blockage
  • Constipation
  • Inner ear problems
  • Electrolyte deficiency
  • Infection
  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications

The most common cause of nausea in cancer patients is due to chemo treatments.

Common Treatments for Cancer-Related Nausea

If your cancer or cancer-related treatments are causing nausea, here are some recommendations you can try at home:

  • Eat frequent small meals
  • Drink clear liquids
  • Suck on hard candies
  • Eat bland food
  • Avoid fatty, fried, spicy or sweet foods
  • Distract yourself from the nausea with music, TV or conversation
  • Try slow, deep breaths or other relaxation techniques

Medications are available for nausea, but these can produce unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea or constipation, headache and fatigue.

These treatments don’t always work, leaving patients exhausted and disheartened.

Treating Cancer-Related Nausea With Medical Marijuana

Although nausea isn’t necessarily life-threatening, it impairs the quality of a patient’s life. For those fighting cancer, it’s important to stay as healthy and hopeful as possible.

Studies are showing that medical marijuana is a potent antiemetic which relieves patients from nausea and vomiting. It also increases their appetite, allowing them to eat and keep their strength up.

The key may be the cannabinoid compounds THCV and CBDV. These compounds help battle nausea and vomiting, especially in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Medical marijuana has the added advantage of having ingestion methods such as smoking and vaporization since patients struggling with nausea often find it difficult to swallow anti-nausea pills. With cannabis, this is unnecessary.

Strains for Cancer-Related Nausea

Be sure to speak to your doctor or budtender at your dispensary for product recommendations and dosage advice. However, strains that have been shown to help with cancer-related nausea include Northern Lights, Blueberry Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, Bubba Kush, Granddaddy Purple and Skywalker OG.

Information on Medical Marijuana & Cancer