Medical marijuana and CBD products are becoming increasingly legalized across the U.S., and this is hugely beneficial for cancer patients. These products, which are still somewhat controversial, can help those with cancer find relief from pain while avoiding opioid use, provide relief from chemotherapy side effects like nausea, and help induce relaxation and minimize stress and anxiety.

Studies of marijuana for medical uses have long been difficult to conduct as the drug remains illegal by federal law. But this is changing, and there is growing evidence that cannabis is a powerful medicine that can help cancer patients and others.

CBD Oil and Medical Marijuana

As more states legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, patients with cancer and other illnesses benefit. There are various products that patients can try, and some are significantly different. One important product is CBD oil. CBD is cannabidiol, a natural compound found in the cannabis, or marijuana plant. It is proving to have health benefits but does not produce the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is psychoactive. It refers to any product that comes from the cannabis plant and includes a range of natural compounds. Among these is THC, the main psychoactive element in the plant. Medical marijuana products can be smoked or consumed and provide some unique benefits for cancer and other patients.

CBD Oil for Cancer Patients

Many patients prefer to try CBD products, most of which come in oil form, rather than medical marijuana. Not everyone has the same experience with marijuana, but a lot of patients prefer to avoid the psychoactive effects. Fortunately, CBD without the THC is proving to have numerous benefits for those living with cancer:

  • CBD relieves pain as well or even better than products with THC. Cancer patients often experience severe pain as a symptom but also a side effect of treatments.
  • Treatments for cancer, especially chemotherapy, can cause nausea and vomiting. CBD oil can provide relief from these side effects.
  • CBD oil may also help relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
  • There is growing evidence from research that CBD extracts can slow the growth of cancer cells and tumors. So far, the results come only from animal and cell studies, not human patients.

Medical Marijuana

Cancer patients are also getting similar benefits from smoking or consuming marijuana. These medical marijuana products contain THC, and some people experience typical cannabis side effects from using them—euphoria, perception changes, poor coordination, sensory changes, a feeling of relaxation, paranoia, and delusions are some common effects.

Despite these psychoactive effects, many people living with cancer get worthwhile benefits from medical marijuana. Many of these are the same as those conferred by CBD products: pain relief, management of nausea and vomiting, and anxiety and stress relief. Marijuana can also help cancer patients who have lost their appetites eat better and gain weight.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved two drugs that are based on cannabis compounds. These include Dronabinol and Nabilone, approved for managing chemotherapy-caused nausea and vomiting. According to “these medications can also help restore appetite and help patients maintain or put on weight.” Not yet approved in the U.S. but under investigation is Nabiximols, which may help manage pain.

There are many options for cancer patients looking for relief from symptoms and side effects, and they go well beyond traditional medicine. It is important to always consult with your cancer care team before trying something new, but giving medical marijuana or CBD products a try comes with few risks and can provide significant benefits for improving quality of life.

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