DISCLAIMER: Nothing in the below text should be substituted for professional advice from a medical physician. All information is researched to the best of the writer’s knowledge, but in no way is it meant to treat or replace any advice from a licensed medical practitioner.
The Chemo Bomb
“How do I feel after chemo? Like I’m dying.” Helen has been going through chemotherapy for her cancer for several months now. “Exhaustion, nausea, lots of throwing up, but mainly it’s just the way I feel after. Weak, aching, it’s horrible.”
She’s not alone in her struggle. According to the CDC, each year there are approximately 650,000 people who receive chemotherapy.
Chemo is a systematic treatment that spreads through the whole body. The medicine is supposed to slow the cancer from spreading and stop it from duplicating. The problem is that chemo is not some guided smart drug, it doesn’t just affect the cancer cells, it attacks everything; healthy cells included. Hence why, Helen was weak and sick after.
“They dropped a nuclear bomb in my body,” she told me. “I hope it works.”
Helen’s story is one of many. While cancer impacts a large segment of our population(42% of men and 37% of women will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime, according to cancer.org.), many people struggle with the decision whether or not to even take chemo because of the massive side effects involved, and the effectiveness of it afterwards.
Helen talked to me shortly after a morning treatment. She was shaking, her breathing would come in heavy, and she looked pale. We talked awhile about her treatment, sometimes she said it was going well, and sometimes not. After twenty minutes she needed to lay down because she was dizzy and a feeling nauseous. She asked me what the questions were for, so I told her that I blog for a medical cannabis company. “Do you have any?” she asked with a smile. Sadly I couldn’t help her.
Easing the Pain
Where Helen lives, cannabis is still on the banned list of medical alternatives. In fact if you happen to be caught with it, depending on the amount, you can still face up to 180 days in prison, or a fine up to $10,000.
If she lived in a more progressive state like California, Colorado, Washington, etc… she might be better off than she currently is. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have both been shown to have positive effects on those who are undergoing cancer treatment, like Helen. If she lived a few states away, she might not be in the pain she is.
Chemotherapy comes with a laundry list of side-effects, and some people experience them to a greater or lesser degree than others. Cancer.org (and numerous other sites) list fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, easily bruising and, or bleeding, kidney problems, and more as some of ailments that people experience when subjecting their body to chemotherapy.
How Cannabis Helps
Both cancer, and conventional treatments cause pain and discomfort. Cannabinoids when absorbed into your body begin to work quickly and counter the pain. By mimicking the endocannabinoids your body creates, and by binding to different receptors in your body, (THC binds to the brain, whereas CBD attaches to various organs and parts of the body) the individual can experience a variety of positive benefits, including a reduction of pain.
The THC in cannabis has been shown to ease the pain and symptoms of: Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Crohn’s Disease, and other ailments. The CBD component has helped people with Cancer, Anxiety, Diabetes and more.
If Helen were allowed to use cannabis, which has been proven to help with the side effects of chemotherapy, she would be in less discomfort. Her nausea might be reduced down to a non-existent or at least a more manageable level. This isn’t anything new, in fact a study back from 1975 that studied the effect of THC on stomach ailments like nausea or vomiting showed that, “No patient vomited while experiencing a subjective ‘high.’ Oral tetrahydrocannabinol has antiemetic properties and is significantly better than a placebo in reducing vomiting caused by chemotherapeutic agents,” (New England Journal of Medicine, 1975).
The neuropathy that Helen sometimes experiences, weakness or numbness in parts of her body, it turns out cannabis can help that too. Individuals who use cannabis experience a reduction in the pain associated with neuropathy, and gain relief from the neurotransmitters activating because of THC and CBD. According to the research, when the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body activate, they “…regulate the release of neurotransmitters and central nervous system immune cells to manage pain levels”(Woodhams, Sagar, Burston & Chapman, 2015). Interestingly enough, a later study in 1999 found that the best way for these cannabinoids to interact with you body is through an inhalation or vaporization method, allowing for the fastest method of transport.
There is a great deal of relief that cannabis can bring to those going through chemotherapy. Below are some of the ways that it can benefit an individual suffering from various symptoms. As always consult with your physician.
Pain and Neuropathy: As mentioned above, cannabis interacts with just the right receptors in your body to help ease nausea and also the chronic pain that can come from neuropathy. When used in conjunction with chemotherapy it can help ease the discomfort.
Mood/Depression/Anxiety: Cannabinoids are known to interact with areas of the brain that affect how we feel, and have been shown to offer anti-anxiety and antidepressant benefits.
Weight Loss: The benefits from the anti-nausea also play a role in maintaining appetite, that in turn keeps body weight regulated, which is needed to stay healthy while fighting cancer and chemotherapy.
Different strains may have different results depending on what an individual is needing. BumbleBee Vape pens offer cartridges that are preloaded with medical varieties needed to help alleviate various symptoms. Talk to your physician to see what is best suited for your condition.
In Conclusion: If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legalized, count yourself fortunate. For Helen, and others like her in non-approved states, she’s not so lucky. Instead, she has to deal with the cancer and the chemotherapy with no additional remedy. “I wish I didn’t feel this way all the time,” she said.
It was very difficult to talk to someone who was in obvious pain, and more difficult knowing there are means by which she could be feeling better, made it worse. It doesn’t make sense that anyone should have to suffer needlessly. Going through cancer is frightening enough, but the pain that comes with the treatment seems as bad as the disease itself. I hope that common sense catches up with other states, and people like her are allowed to have everything at their disposal to ease their pain. If it is within our power to stop such difficulties, we have a duty to do so.
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