Sometimes, mesothelioma patients can’t get any pain relief when using traditional medications and therapy to treat their symptoms. They may rely on herbal treatments, including medical marijuana. Using herbal and complementary medication isn’t new. In fact, physicians in the “old days,” before traditional medication was available, often used herbs, plants, seeds, and roots to treat pain. Today, medical marijuana is being shown to provide substantial pain relief, but since its illegal in some states, while other states only recently made it legal, using it for its medicinal value is still relatively new.
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What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana refers to using an unprocessed marijuana plant or extracts of the plan to treat pain, disorders, and diseases. The term medical marijuana is seen and heard literally everywhere these days, but the main ingredients and how the plant works remains a mystery to some people, especially those who only know of the stigma of marijuana.
Marijuana, also known as the cannabis plant, has more than 400 chemicals, but its two main active ingredients for medical treatment are THC and CBD. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient found in marijuana that causes people to feel a “high.” Yet, it’s also been shown to improve appetite and suppress nausea. CBD, or cannabidiol, doesn’t produce a high feeling, but it also helps relieve pain, among numerous other benefits.
According to Dr. Barth Wilsey of the University of California in Davis, pain is often the primary reason that most people seek out medical marijuana. The pain ranges from anything as minor as a headache, to something as severe as mesothelioma cancer. Additionally, Laura Borgelt, PharmD, of the University of Colorado’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, stated that the chemicals in marijuana help the already natural chemicals that our bodies produce, which in turn helps to reduce pain.
How Does Medical Marijuana Help With Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma patients suffer from a range of different side effects, both from the disease itself and the from the effects of aggressive treatment options, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In numerous clinical trials that studied mesothelioma patients who took medical marijuana, the end results indicated that the patients not only experienced pain relief, but also experienced:
- A decrease in nausea
- Better sleep quality
- An increased appetite
- Diminished anxiety
- Improved food intake for IV patients (when smoked)
As with most medical treatments, marijuana has its own side effects, but the participants in the studies that the side effects were mild. The most common side effects include:
- Feeling paranoid
- Food digestion issues (slower to digest food)
- Red eyes
- Increased heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
CBD oil is becoming increasingly popular as more research details the tremendous benefits it brings, not only to patients with mesothelioma, but to children with severe epilepsy and other painful disorders that traditional medication hasn’t helped. CBD oil uses the non-intoxicating cannabis as an oil-based medication, that’s said to treat a number of ailments, including cancer. In fact, a number of mesothelioma patients reported great success in battling pain after using CBD oil.
There are still relatively few studies on adults with mesothelioma and CBD oil, but there have been several studies done on how it would work as a treatment for lung cancer in general. For instance, in 2007, Harvard University scientists performed a study on CBD oil and cancer, and determined that cannabinoid stops epithelial growth in lung cancer cell migration. In 2011, Harvard researchers performed another study, which determined that cannabinoids can indeed be used to treat lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article, entitled “Marijuana and Cancer,” that backed up the findings. The story indicated that “certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer”
CBD oil can be taken by simply adding drops of it onto your tongue and swallowing. There’s no conclusive study to determine how many drops to take or how many times per day, but research indicates that it more likely depends on each individual person’s health makeup. It can also be used in a vape pen or by adding it to recipes, but it’s recommended that you talk to your doctor beforehand.
In 2012, two scientist from San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center found that the CBD compound can stop malignant growth in numerous types of cancer. According to one of the scientists involved in the study, Pierre Desprez,
“What we found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially ‘turn off’ the ID-1……We started by researching breast cancer. But now we’ve found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers—brain, prostate—any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.”
ID-1 is a gene found in the body that causes cancer to metastasize.