As the rate of cancer diagnoses rises worldwide, patients are finding more options with their treatments and healthcare routines. Patients can suffer from the disease itself, or from the side effects of chemotherapy and other pharmaceuticals medications. Patients report experiencing anxiety, insomnia, appetite issues, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2018 there will be 1,735,350 new cases of cancer diagnosed and 610,000 cancer deaths in the United States. This epidemic affects not only patients, but their families and caregivers.
In 1975, The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a revolutionary study within the medical industry which showed that tumor growth slowed or stopped in laboratory mice after the use of THC and cannabis compounds. Since then, numerous studies have been published to support the idea that cannabis can aid in improving quality of life and possibly modifying malignancy.
The National Cancer Institute states that the chemical compounds within cannabis ignite cells and receptors throughout the body which produce pharmacologic effects within the immune system and the central nervous system. Additionally, the NCI recognizes that cannabinoids “may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.”
Dr. Jordan Tishler, a cannabis-prescribing physician based in Cambridge and Brookline, Massachusetts, believes that patients should begin with cannabis rather than opiates because “typically [patients] use only 20 percent of the amount of opiates [they] would have otherwise needed” when medical cannabis is introduced. Tishler added that “with opiates, your risk goes up every time you increase [the] dose by a milligram. If you have someone who would need 100 mg of opiates, if you cut back to 20 mg, you’ve saved them 80 percent of the risk of the opiate. That’s huge.”
Increasing science-based evidence supports medical marijuana in the management of cancer symptoms including chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, appetite stimulation and for pain management. Cannabis has given cancer patients relief, improved their mood and anxiety, and relieved insomnia.
3 cannabis strains to treat cancer:
1. Granddaddy Purple
For cancer patients seeking relief from appetite loss, stress, insomnia, pain and nerve pain/damage, GDP is the ideal indica choice. This is a strain that has a THC content of approximately 22% which means it has quite an effect on a variety of symptoms. This strain is typically best reserved for high-pain moments or times when the patient is able to rest and relax because it is heavy on the body.
2. OG Kush
OG Kush is a very popular indica-dominant hybrid strain for cancer patients suffering from the emotional distress associated with a chronic or terminal illness. It’s characteristics include mellow indica-like body effects, but with an almost euphoric effect, like a sativa. This hybrid is effective for patients who suffer from multiple symptoms as it helps with both body and mind. Use it throughout the day.
3. Girl Scout Cookie
Girl Scout Cookies has a THC level around 28% which makes it one of the most powerful indica-dominant hybrid strains. It’s highly effective for patients who have little appetite, a common side effect from Cancer. GSC can help patients suffering from depression, anxiety and deep, chronic pain.
It is important to speak to your oncology team and your medical cannabis physician to determine which methods and strains may be most effective. Start out slowly, so that you can self-report the effects of the medical cannabis and understand your necessary dosage. Consult with the Medical Marijuana Treatment Center staff for available strains and options.