Finding Relief During Cancer Treatments With Cannabis
In July, we hosted our Super Survivors event at The Mint Dispensary in Tempe. There were many people who could not attend so we would like to pass along some of the information. Below is a statement from Rudy Molina, Director of Operations at The Mint locations.
Finding Relief: The Role Cannabis Can Play in Easing the Most Common Side Effects of Cancer Treatment
By Rudy Molina, Director of Arizona Operations, Mint Cannabis
Over the past few decades, there has been growing interest in the role that cannabis can play in helping manage the life-altering symptoms of many conditions and their treatment regimens. Cancer is no exception.
A diagnosis of breast cancer often comes a grueling treatment regimen from surgery and radiation to chemotherapy and even immunotherapies. These life-saving treatments often come with a host of symptoms that vary in severity, including joint pain, insomnia, anxiety and a host of digestive challenges such as nausea, vomiting and a diminished appetite.
For years, patients have found relief through cocktails of prescription medication, each carrying reprieve from a specific symptom. A number of studies, and more importantly, cancer patients’ own feedback, are pointing to cannabis as an opportunity for effective mass-symptom management. In fact, a study presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology revealed that the overwhelming majority of oncology providers who were surveyed believed that medical marijuana can help patients.
How does cannabis help manage cancer treatment symptoms?
For hundreds of years, cannabis has been used as a natural treatment for many of the most common symptoms associated with cancer treatment. Its active ingredients, cannabinoids, help regulate a number of biological functions by interacting with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which produces its own cannabinoids.
What symptoms will it alleviate?
Pain: In treating pain, cannabis works similar to opioids, without the debilitating side effects and risk for opioid use disorder (OUD). It has also been shown to provide relief for patients experiencing pain from neuropathy, or nerve damage that manifests itself in weakness, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, which be a complication of chemotherapy and other treatments.
Insomnia: As many as half of all people undergoing cancer treatment have trouble falling or staying asleep, increasing risks for anxiety and depression. Cannabis can help restore a natural sleep cycle through its analgesic properties that relive pain and stress.
Anxiety: Worry, nervousness and fear are all normal reactions for cancer patients undergoing treatment. Lower-dosages of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid, can be used as a tool to relax the body and mind, providing relief for patients experiencing anxiety.
Nausea, Vomiting and Loss of Appetite: According to research on evidence-based management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, up to 80% of patients receiving chemotherapy will experience some level of these symptoms. When the body’s endocannabinoid system is suppressed, experiencing nausea and vomiting, along with other digestive issues is relatively commonplace. The cannabinoids from cannabis, namely THC, mimics the cannabinoids the body produces and prevent feelings of nausea and vomiting. Similarly, researchers have proven that cannabis is an appetite simulant.
Where can oncology patients and their caregivers learn more?
Finding out if cannabis can help ease a patient’s symptoms begins with education and open communication. As the stigma around cannabis use for medical purposes begins to dissipate, more open communication increases.
Beyond physicians and medical teams, organizations such as Check for a Lump are critical sources for accurate and factual information. Beyond the internal resources and tools that they offer, they can provide insights on the use of marijuana and may even have a roster of survivors and caregivers who can share their own experiences.
Marijuana dispensaries are also an invaluable tool, especially when faced with the depth and breadth of available product and dosages. And just as there are countless strains of cannabis available, so too are there many different ways to consume it, not to mention dosages. Working with a budtender at a trusted dispensary is usually the best way to figure out the optimal strain, method and dosage as these vary greatly from individual to individual.
While cannabis isn’t a cure for cancer, it can certainly help alleviate many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with treatment options and improve a survivor’s quality of life. To learn more about cannabis and how it can help ease treatment symptoms, please visit Mint Cannabis at themintcannabis.com, call at 480-749-6468 or visit one of their three Valley locations in Guadalupe/Tempe (5210 S Priest Dr, Guadalupe, AZ 85283), North Phoenix (17036 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032) and Mesa (330 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85210)
Rudy Molina is Director of Operations for Mint Cannabis’ Arizona locations.