For centuries, humans have relied on the cannabis plant for its therapeutic properties. More than ever, cannabis can aid in the treatment of chronic disease and as a supplement to cancer treatments. 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.
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.
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.”
Mainstream media has begun to illustrate just how effective medical marijuana can be in helping cancer patients. Newsweek Magazine labeled marijuana the “wonder drug when it comes to the horrors of chemo.” National Public Radio (NPR) opened-up a dialogue about the needs of cancer patients to speak openly to their physicians about the benefits of medical marijuana.
There are 3 ways Florida medical marijuana can be used to treat cancer:
- Topical: Topical applications, through a cream, salve or lotion, infused with medical marijuana can be applied directly to your skin. This method has a less systemic effect which means its good for localized pain and symptoms. As the skin absorbs the pain-relieving compounds, the pain is blocked, but without affecting other parts of your body. Often, skin cancer or dermatological patients benefit from this method, however those with chronic pain and inflammation may benefit as well.
- Oral: Oral administration of medical cannabis may present an effective option for patients when other treatments and managements are not successful. Cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant and an extract oil is created. Full extract cannabis oil (FECO) is highly potent and often popular among cancer patients who want to include medical marijuana into their healthcare regime. Another variety Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was designed by a cancer patient and has more of a THC concentration. The American Cancer Society reported that studies have consistently shown that during clinical trials patients who used marijuana extracts needed less pain medicine and opioids. Oral medical marijuana in the form of tinctures can be beneficial for patients who cannot tolerate other forms of administration.
- Suppositories: Cannabis suppositories are cone-shaped capsules administered rectally. Some patients are unable use medical marijuana through other methods. Suppositories work quickly and the effects linger, often lasting longer than inhaling medical marijuana. The administration of medical marijuana through suppositories could benefit those patients affected by certain cancers and GI symptoms. Suppositories do not deliver the same psychoactive results as other methods of cannabis administration.
It is important to speak with a medical marijuana physician to determine which method will work best with your medical condition.