Cancer Treatment with Medical Marijuana

Cannabis as a Treatment for Cancer

Most of us have been in some way touched by a cancer diagnosis, either on a personal level or through a friend or family member. The American Cancer Society estimates half of all men and one-third of women in the US will develop cancer in their lifetime. This is a staggering, almost unimaginable number.

I have been certifying a lot more cancer patients since I started working with the CT Medical Marijuana Program. Many cancer treatments seem to be toxic to individuals, and cannabis can definitely provide relief for them. The main ways cannabis can help is primarily through palliative care, for pain, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Once patients are certified, they work with the pharmacist at the dispensary to decide what the best method and dosing regimen should be. It is possible to attain relief of symptoms without the psychoactive effects. We recommend all patients start low and go slow.

The American Cancer Society estimates that close to 2 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and over 600,000 will die each year from the disease.

Cannabis has been used successfully to treat the major side effects of chemotherapy for many years- these include help with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sleep problems as well as reducing anxiety and lifting mood- which can significantly lift the spirits of patients undergoing cancer treatment. Medical marijuana can also have a major impact to reduce pain secondary to cancer.

Research with cannabis is being done on bone, breast, colon, lung, prostate, thyroid, and skin cancers. How and why the cannabinoids work as anti-cancer agents is complex- but they are thought to inhibit tumor growth, selectively kill certain types of tumor cells- while remaining non-toxic and with a favorable safety profile.

For more information on cancer and cannabis visit the National Cancer Institute’s page dedicated to cancer information and research.