When you have pain, it’s easy to turn to anti-inflammatory medications and pain killers. However, medical marijuana can be a safer solution that helps your body decrease inflammation and pain on its own, even when you have cancer.
Our experienced pain specialists at Metro Pain and Vein Centers rely on the most advanced management solutions available to help keep you comfortable no matter what’s causing your pain. If you have cancer, here’s how medical marijuana could help control your symptoms.
Marijuana has a reputation for being an illegal drug in the United States, but it’s medicinal practices go back centuries. That’s because the cannabis sativa plant contains several chemical components called cannabinoids. Two of the most well-known include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC and CBD cause different reactions in the body, hence their therapeutic benefits. THC, for example, can act as an antioxidant and relieve pain, nausea, and inflammation. This is also the substance that creates feelings of euphoria, or being “high.”
CBD, on the other hand, reduces paranoia, anxiety, and seizures, while also counteracting the feelings of euphoria triggered by THC.
When used for medicinal purposes, we can control how much THC or CBD you take in order to get your symptoms under control.
You may have heard that medical marijuana can help relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. However, cannabis also offers other benefits during cancer treatment, including lessening pain. Cancer treatment can trigger a wide range of pain and discomfort, including neuropathy, the medical word for nerve damage.
Studies show that medical marijuana can offer pain relief similar to opioids, which are the strongest pain relievers on the market — and potentially dangerous and habit-forming. But medical marijuana can offer the same results, along with an anti-inflammatory effect. Unlike opioids, however, cannabis comes with fewer serious side effects and little risk of addiction.
Plus, taking medical marijuana as part of your treatment strategy can even help prevent some of the nerve damage caused by radiation and chemotherapy, and possibly slow the growth or even kill certain types of cancer cells.
Medicinal cannabis comes in several different forms, but the most common and effective methods include edible and inhaled options.
You take these types of medical marijuana orally by eating or drinking them, often as teas, baked goods, or candies. This approach can take longer for your body to absorb, and the digestive process produces a second psychoactive compound, which affects your brain, mood, or consciousness.
Medical marijuana also comes in tinctures that you put under your tongue for quicker absorption.
These forms of medicinal marijuana get inhaled by smoking or vaping. When used this way, THC can enter your bloodstream and go directly to your brain, so you have smaller amounts of the second psychoactive compound produced, causing less impact. While inhaling medical marijuana often provides faster results, it also fades more quickly than edible forms.
We usually recommend including medical marijuana as part of your overall cancer treatment strategy. For most individuals new to cannabis therapy, we typically start slow with small doses to see how you feel. Based on your response, we try different doses, strains, and delivery methods until we find the perfect approach for you.