Cannabis is more than just a herb that you can get high by smoking. When certain cannabinoids are extracted and isolated from the plant matter, they can be used to treat patients with widespread medical conditions, even cancer. In fact, one man named Rick Simpson claims to have cured his own cancer using the extracted CBD (Cannabidiol) oil, of which he now markets as “Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).”

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cancer has been used for thousands of years as a form of medication. NCI has also claimed that cannabinoids can ease cancer-related side effects, such as those caused by chemotherapy. CBD is non-psychoactive and products containing this powerful compound can be acquired at San Francisco dispensaries with a medical marijuana card (MMJ).

Is medical cannabis a cure for cancer?

Just under 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. This frightening statistic is pushing people to find alternative cures to the life-threatening disease. Approximately 8.8 million people around the world lost their lives to cancer in 2015 and according to WHO, the number of new cancer cases is anticipated to increase from 14 million in 2012 by 70% over the next 20 years.

Oncologists advocate the use of cannabis in cancer treatment programs, because it is an effective pain-reliever and can reduce the symptoms of nausea – a common side-effect of chemotherapy.  Although more testing is necessary, cannabis has been shown to banish cancer cells and shrink brain tumors.

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How can marijuana help chemotherapy patients?

Chemotherapy may have the potential to save the lives of cancer patients, but this does not come without some hardship on the patient’s part. Decreased bowel motility, increased nausea and vomiting, increased levels of anxiety and chronic pain are just a few downsides associated with chemotherapy treatment.

Many patients will also have difficulty sleeping and may suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The good news is that medical-grade marijuana can reverse the effects of chemotherapy, all the while ensuring this form of treatment continues to work effectively for the cancer-stricken individual.

Cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids as they are commonly known) are derived from the Cannabis plant matter in many forms, including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). One study that focused on integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care saw how depression, vomiting, nausea, insomnia and pain were relieved when cannabinoids were administered to the patient.

Which strains are best for reducing chemotherapy symptoms?

  • Northern Lights – One of the most famous strains in the cannabis world, Northern Lights is an Indica-dominant strain that has won awards for its quick flowering time, big buds and deliciously sweet flavor. Sometimes, THC potency can reach around 18%, making this a preferred strain for pain relief and relaxation.
  • AC/DC – Another medical marijuana strain that is well-known among MMJ holders is AC/DC. It has a THC:CBD ratio of 1:20 and is Sativa-dominant. The leafy strain may contain as much as 19% CBD and it induces hardly any psychoactive effects.
  • Granddaddy Purple – If you look closely at these buds, you will notice how they are covered in fuzzy orange hairs. A purple strain that proves popular among both recreational and medical marijuana users, Granddaddy Purple will leave users feeling calm. This type of medical-grade cannabis is usually used to treat insomnia, muscle spasms, appetite loss and stress.
  • Charlotte’s Web – This internationally-known strain is the main ingredient for Charlotte’s Web (CW) Oil. Favored for its ability to treat seizures, the strain contains less than 1% THC, making it ideal for young children, older medical marijuana patients and even pets!
  • Chocolope – Last but by no means least is Chocolope, which is a type of medical marijuana that can provide relief for people with chemotherapy-related symptoms, like fatigue and nausea. The strain’s cerebral effect and cantaloupe-chocolate flavor makes it a suitable choice for consumers who want to enjoy the taste and the effects.

What is the eligibility criteria for medical cannabis patients?

Have you been thinking about using cannabis to ease chemotherapy-related symptoms? Perhaps you know somebody who would benefit from using medical marijuana? In the State of California, cancer patients can get a written recommendation from their Doctor or physician and apply for an MMJ card on the Internet. With this MMJ card, it is possible to legally buy marijuana for medical use.

A long list of conditions are included on the list of eligible ailments for medical marijuana, including:

  • Cancer (any type/stage)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Bulimia or Anorexia
  • Seizures
  • Excessive Vomiting and/or Nausea
  • Chronic Pain, Tremors
  • Autoimmune Diseases

You can get a full rundown of eligible conditions/symptoms here. The fee for residents to obtain an MMJ card is $33 or $66 for non-residents.

By Skyler West

Piper Skyler West: Piper, a sports medicine expert, shares advice on injury prevention, athletic performance, and sports health tips.