The side effects of cancer treatments can often be as debilitating as cancer itself. The American Cancer Society supports the need for more research on cannabinoids (the chemical compounds in cannabis) for cancer patients. In the United States, research has been hindered by marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, strong anecdotal evidence, as well as initial research in the U.S. and longer-term studies from other countries, suggests that cannabis can alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment.
While cannabis has hundreds of chemical components, the two primary ones are CBD and THC. When it comes to cannabis and cancer, which compound is best? Learning more about these components and their impact on cancer treatment symptoms (and cancer itself) can help you make an informed decision, in consultation with a Florida cannabis doctor.
CBD and Cancer
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the component most frequently associated with medical marijuana. CBD, unlike THC, does not cause a high. A paper published in the Journal of Pain Management examined the use of medical cannabis in cancer patients seeking relief from treatment symptoms such as:
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Lack of appetite.
The study showed that CBD helped cancer patients ease pain, relieve inflammation, reduce nausea and improve sleep.
However, while many patients use CBD-only products to treat cancer symptoms, other options may provide more powerful results.
THC and Cancer
THC can be just as helpful as CBD to cancer patients. Although it can have psychoactive side effects (the “high” commonly associated with marijuana), there are reports that CBD can blunt those effects. In particular, THC can be a helpful tool for stimulating appetite. According to a Washington Post article, THC increases ghrelin, which is a hormone associated with hunger.
THC also helps to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and ease nausea. In fact, the FDA has approved two TCH-based drugs for treating nausea and vomiting: dronabinol and nabilone. There is also some pre-clinical research that shows THC may slow tumor growth, although more research is needed in this area.
Does all this mean that THC is the best option when it comes to cannabis and cancer? There may be a better option.
Whole-Plant: A Better Approach?
Whole-plant medical cannabis offers the best of both worlds: THC and CBD as they are found in nature. A study conducted in Israel and published in Pharmacology & Pharmacy found that whole-plant cannabis provided more consistent pain relief; CBD alone requires larger doses but became less effective when the dose got too high.
Whole-plant preparations also allow patients to take advantage of the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect refers to the fact that medical cannabis is more impactful on the body when taken as a whole plant. THC and CBD are more effective when working together than as separate compounds. As a bonus, whole-plant preparations also include therapeutic terpenes, which are aromatic molecules found in the plant.
This whole-plant approach may be one of the reasons Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) has become popular among cancer patients. RSO is derived from the whole plant and can be an effective option for reducing cancer treatment symptoms.
Finding the Right Approach for You
When it comes to cannabis and cancer, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The right option for you or your loved one depends on several factors, including:
- Type of cancer
- Treatment regimen
- Current medications
Consulting an experienced Florida cannabis doctor can help you sort fact from fiction and find a medical cannabis solution that complements your treatment regimen. Many Florida patients look to Dr. Daniel P. Stein at Neurology of Cannabis for an expert medical marijuana recommendation.
Dr. Stein has more than a quarter of a century of practice experience. He is a board-certified physician with a background in neurology. Dr. Stein takes the time to talk with each patient, providing personalized recommendations that make sense for them. He and his friendly staff are available to answer any questions you may have along the way.
You deserve the highest quality of life possible. Contact us for an appointment to learn how medical cannabis can help you manage your symptoms and improve your life.