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Information about Chemotherapy Treatments:
More than 12 million people have some form of cancer. Many of those people are undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
While sometimes successful, chemotherapy treatments are also difficult to undergo. Many patients require additional medications to deal with the effects of their treatment.
In many places, marijuana is an approved alternative medication for managing the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. When combined with CBD oil, patients can enjoy better health and have a better chance of beating cancer. This article explains how.
What are Chemotherapy Treatments
Chemotherapy is a common type of treatment that combines medications to fight cancer. Also known as chemo, its goal is to slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells. This form of therapy affects your whole body, attacking cancer cells rapidly growing inside. However, chemo meds kill rapidly growing healthy cells as well, leading to some very negative side effects.
What Causes Cancer and the Need for Chemotherapy
Cancer is caused by mutations, or changes, to cell DNA. This DNA, located within the cell, is packaged into a massive number of individual genes. Each gene contains a set of directions that direct the functions the cell perform, including how to divide and grow. If instruction errors exist, this can cause the cell to cease functioning normally. This could lead to the cell becoming a cancerous one.
Gene mutations can give a healthy cell instructions to do the following:
Promotes Rapid Cell Growth – When a gene mutates, it could tell a cell to divide and grow faster. This leads to the creation of numerous new cell with the same mutations.
Fails to Control Cell Growth – Cells that are normal, know when you have the correct number of each cell type. They will then stop growing. Cancer cells lose the tumor suppressor genes, which control the growth of cells. Mutations in these types of genes allow cancer cells to keep continuously accumulate and grow.
Misses Repairable DNA Errors – Errors in DNA cells are corrected by DNA repair genes. When a mutation occurs in this gene, it’s safe to assume that other errors haven’t been corrected. This leads to cells becoming cancerous.
Numerous gene mutations can lead to cancer. These are just the most common mutations known to contribute to causing cancer.
Why do gene mutations occur? There are several causes of gene mutations, including:
- Gene Mutations at Birth – Some people are born with genetic mutations they inherited from one or both parents.
- Gene Mutations after Birth – These mutations are caused by a number of forces, such as:
- Lack of exercise
- Chronic inflammation
- Cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens)
During normal growth of cells, gene mutations frequently occur. However, each cell contains a mechanism that notices mistakes and repairs them. If a mistake is missed, one or more cells can become cancerous. The gene mutations you have at birth and those you acquire after birth work together to cause cancer. It’s unclear how many mutations must take place before cancer actually forms.
Symptoms of Bad Side Effects to Chemotherapy
One of the biggest side effects of chemotherapy (aside from hair loss) is nausea, which leads to vomiting. When the body receives a dose of chemo, the brain, and digestive system’s sensor rightfully sense it as a foreign substance.
The chemo medication sends a multifarious series of signals throughout the mouth, brain, bloodstream and small intestines. This leads to the stimulation of the brain’s “vomiting center.”
Substance P, serotonin, and various other chemicals are released. A nausea response and the need to vomit is triggered. This is your body’s way of ridding itself of the foreign substance.
For some chemo patients, nausea and vomiting chemotherapy side effects occur within the first few hours after the medication is administered (acute nausea and vomiting). Others don’t feel nausea and vomiting symptoms for a few days (delayed nausea and vomiting).
Current Treatments for Chemotherapy Side Effects: Nausea & Vomiting
There are various anti-nausea prescription drugs prescribed by doctors to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. These chemo meds can be used alone, or in combination with others to help treat the side effects caused by cancer drug treatment. They work by blocking serotonin, a natural substance in the body that causes vomiting.
One popular nausea and vomiting drug commonly prescribed to chemo patients is Zofran. This selective 5-HT3 and antiemetic receptor antagonist is given to patients going through chemotherapy treatments, as well as after surgery. But, just like any prescription drug, medications such as Zofran have their side effects, such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
Anti-nausea meds can be administered in pill form, liquid form, suppositories, skin patches and intravenously.
CBD and Chemotherapy
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active ingredients in cannabis and has major benefits when it comes to managing the side effects of chemo. Chemotherapy patients have been known to develop a form of anorexia, due to loss of appetite, which is also treated by CBD
Marijuana also contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient which acts as an antiemetic known to increase appetites drastically. This helps patients eat healthy foods needed to help fight off cancer cells and heal after chemo sessions. Studies show this also allows CBD to act as an effective treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Cannabis helps combat nausea and vomiting, but many prefer prescription drugs because they don’t want a “weed high.” However, CBD helps to counteract the psychedelic effects caused by THC. So, the user gets the benefits of its anti-nausea effects, without actually being high, as if they just smoked marijuana.
Medical Research on Medical Marijuana, Cancer and Chemotherapy
In 2014, University of Anglia researchers found that THC may help reduce the growth of tumors in cancer patients. Research in this area is limited but continues to move forward.
December 2016, researchers in Australia began the world’s first medical cannabis clinical trial related to managing chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. They plan to use current cannabis products during the trial to treat chemotherapy patients.
When the study is complete, scientists should have a clearer view of the effects of using medical marijuana to treat chemo side effects. They’ll have a better understanding as to how it’s tolerated, whether it’s effective and whether it interferes with the effects of traditional anti-nausea medications.
According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, different marijuana compounds have different effects in your body. THC, for example, is responsible for the “high” marijuana users tend to experience. It also helps to relieve both pain and nausea caused by cancer treating drugs, such as chemo. CBD helps with anxiety suffered by many cancer patients. It can also counteract the “high” THC causes.
There are many different strains of marijuana, which all vary in the amounts of THC and CBD they contain. Therefore, medical cannabis can have varying effects, depending on the strain used. The effects are also determined by the way the cannabis product enters the body.
Medical Research on CBD and Chemotherapy
According to the American Cancer Society, there have been multiple studies conducted on smoking marijuana to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Researchers found that it was useful and did help patients find relief from nausea, vomiting, and pain caused by chemo treatments.
Chemotherapy can damage nerves throughout the body. A few studies show that vaporized or smoked (inhaled) marijuana can also help treat neuropathic pain. This is the pain caused by those damaged nerves.
Other research has proven that HIV patients’ appetites can be improved by smoking cannabis. The idea is that it has the same effect on chemo patients, who also suffer from loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
CBD vs. THC
For centuries, scientists have been studying the effects of THC and CBD. THC is the compound known to give cannabis users a psychedelic high. CBD counters that high, while still giving the user potential medical benefits.
For chemotherapy patients, THC helps to combat nausea and vomiting caused by the cancer-fighting drugs. THC also helps marijuana users improve their appetites, which can be a major issue for people fighting cancer.
CBD is known to help with pain, which many cancer patients experience after cancer-related surgeries and chemo sessions. Cannabidiol also helps to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and depression. These are very common issues among cancer patients worrying about surviving and chemo patients suffering weight loss, hair loss, and other chemotherapy side effects.
How to Take Medical Marijuana for Treating Chemotherapy Side Effects
Cannabis can be incorporated into a cancer regime in various ways to manage nausea, vomiting, and pain caused by chemotherapy. Many people use marijuana by inhaling it via smoking or vaporization.
For chemo patients suffering from serious weight loss, raw cannabis juices and marijuana edibles can relieve side effects of chemo, while adding nutrients to your body. These juices can help increase your daily calorie intake while helping improve your appetite.
Pharmaceutical forms of THC, such as Dronabinol, exist on the market, as well as man-made cannabinoid drugs, such as nabilone. These primarily help with symptoms of nausea and appetite loss. Cannabis oil provides those going through chemotherapy with a more natural way to take medical marijuana for the side effects of chemo.
CBD Oil for Chemotherapy Side Effects Treatment
Cannabis oil can help relieve certain side effects of chemo, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, depression, anxiety and nervousness. According to Wendy Gwinner, an oncology social worker, marijuana is one of the best anti-nausea meds known to man.
Most cancer patients getting chemo suffer major losses in their appetites. CBD oil contains compounds needed to help improve appetite significantly. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory medication. That means it helps decrease the suffering (and nausea and vomiting) caused by to the inflammation of the digestive tract.
According to Rick Simpson, legendary cannabis activist, cannabis oil was responsible for healing his cancer. He also recommends it to help undo carcinogenic effects caused by chemo treatments.
Growing Your Own Chemotherapy Treatment
Wondering if growing your own medical marijuana is a good idea? It takes a specific amount of THC to combat nausea, vomiting, and pain, and a specific amount of CBD to combat the emotional effects of having cancer and going through chemo. DIY cannabis growing will help you stay in control of the quality of the cannabis you inhale or intake.
Growing your own cannabis makes using marijuana more affordable and convenient as well. No more running out to medical marijuana dispensaries trying to get quick relief from chemo side effects. When you need to smoke medical marijuana, its right there at your disposal.
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