In an ever-growing number of countries, cannabis is an approved approach to the challenging side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is well known for the many terrible side effects that come with its cancer-fighting powers. The problem with chemotherapy is that while it does effectively target cancerous cells, it also targets healthy cells. Typically, chemotherapy hits blood cells, hair follicles, and the digestive tract the hardest. It’s why cancer patients receiving chemotherapy often lose their hair, become anemic, and experience severe nausea and vomiting. Thankfully, cannabis is there to help with these difficult side effects.
Cannabis is a Proven Cancer Co-Therapy
The science behind using cannabis as a co-therapy with chemotherapy is by now well established. In many places, cannabis has already made its way into cancer treatment protocols. Depending on where you live, you could have access to dronabinol, a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC, or a medical cannabis prescription. Both are scientifically proven to reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis published a decade ago, researchers were already concluding that synthetic THC, dronabinol, was statistically more effective for reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy than other pharmaceuticals. Dronabinol is a standard solution in places without legal access to medicinal cannabis, but pure-cannabis based medicine is also an invaluable method of fighting the effects of chemotherapy.
In a small randomized and placebo-controlled study, researchers gave pure cannabis-based medicine to a group of patients undergoing chemotherapy. In the end, only one person withdrew from the study due to unwanted side effects, but 83 percent of the remaining participants experienced a reduction in nausea and vomiting. Those are pretty impressive returns.
When it comes to chemotherapy-related headaches, both smoked cannabis and dronabinol are equally as effective for reducing pain. In a study explicitly exploring cannabis for headaches, on average participants saw a reduction in monthly migraines from 10 to 4.6. Roughly 40 percent of the patients reported positive benefits, approximately another 20 percent saw a decrease in migraines, and 11 percent reported the therapy successfully aborted their headaches.
With the wealth of information into both all-natural and synthetic cannabinoids for the treatment of the challenging side effects of chemotherapy, it’s safe to say cannabis is a confirmed effective co-therapy. With its ability to reduce pain, reduce the frequency of migraines, and decrease the experience of nausea and vomiting, cannabis has a well-deserved place in cancer treatment today.