Cancer has touched the lives of nearly every American, either directly or through a loved one. Although the US Food & Drug Administration hasn’t approved marijuana as a cancer treatment, America’s shifting legal landscape has encouraged many patients to consult their physicians about the effects it can have on cancer and cancer-related symptoms.
The medical benefits of cannabis are no secret. In October 2003, the government patented medical marijuana under US Patent # 6630507, which mentions the antioxidant properties of cannabinoids. The patent also identifies the active chemicals in cannabis that cause drug-like effects on the body, and cites their benefits for patients going through chemo, radiation, or other sources of oxidative stress.
How Can Cannabis Help Cancer?
Cannabis contains at least 85 different types of cannabinoids, the active chemicals that create drug-like effects throughout the body. The impact of these cannabinoids in treating cancer symptoms as well as the side effects of cancer therapies is so favorable, cannabinoids are synthesized for legal, prescription use. Dronabinol and Nabilone/Cesamet, two synthetic pill forms of THC, are FDA-approved and currently being used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemo.
Cannabinoids that are known to benefit people living with cancer include CBC, CBD, CBDa, CBG, THC, and THCa. Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to relieve pain, lower inflammation, and decrease anxiety without the “high” of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. In Canada, a cannabis extract containing THC and CBD called Nabiximols/Sativex is approved for pain relief in patients with advanced cancer and multiple sclerosis.
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