Studies have explored the possible benefits of medical marijuana on cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
There is an overwhelming amount of support online for the claim that marijuana (cannabis) is more effective in treating cancer than chemotherapy. This tweet presents a fine example, along with the #PotHeals thread.
Till date, there has been no credible research to prove that marijuana or any cannabis products can help stop the growth of cancer cells. “There are no studies or references that find that marijuana can treat cancer,” says Dr Subiya Kaneez, a radiation oncologist from Government Medical College, Srinagar, India.
However, studies have explored the possible benefits of medical marijuana (compounds called cannabinoids, which can cause drug-like effects on the body) on cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. “Almost 80% of terminally-ill patients will experience pain in their lifetime. Pain management is an important part of cancer treatment,” avers Dr Subiya.
“Depending on the patient’s condition, we gradually increase non-steroidal analgesics (medications that relieve different types of pain). In case, the patient doesn’t respond to these, we prescribe opioids like morphine and codeine for pain relief. Marijuana also has a sedative effect on the pain receptors, but it doesn’t impact cancer cells,” she further explains.
Experts caution against the use of marijuana as a sedative, unless under medical advice. “Studies show that there is a risk of side effects, such as an altered sensorium (changes in brain function, such as confusion, loss of memory, loss of alertness), drowsiness, and nausea, to name some. Also, there may be no significant improvement in pain response,” notes the oncologist.
Cancer can be a debilitating disease. From discovery to treatment, it often takes a very heavy toll on not just the patient’s life, but also the lives of their near and dear ones. So, the desire to find easy solutions is understandably tempting. Nevertheless, the best bet in fighting this chronic illness (which can be cured in many cases) comes from heeding sound medical advice.
Do not fall for unproven treatments. Trust evidence-based cures.