According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1,735,350 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2018 alone, impacting virtually everyone in the nation, either directly or indirectly. Characterized as the uncontrollable dividing of abnormal cells, cancer cells proliferate throughout the body and cause a host of issues. Cancer can wreak havoc in all aspects of a person including physical appearance, mood, emotions, appetite, energy level, pain, sleep patterns, and bodily functions. The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, which are alarming odds. Treatment quickly becomes expensive; the nation spent $147 million dollars on cancer care in 2017. Across cancers, from pancreatic to skin to brain, there is one fundamental building block for treatment: chemotherapy.
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy, often referred to as chemo, is a well known and highly effective treatment for many types of cancer. Chemo uses radiation to target cancerous cells, stopping them from multiplying and spreading through the entire body and ideally, kill the cells. While chemotherapy executes its intention and destroys cancer cells, it is accompanied with some adverse effects. Chemo can also kill or slow down the growth of normal cells that the body needs, especially when fighting disease. Cells that line the intestine and mouth, as well as cells that promote hair growth are normally affected by the chemo drugs. This results in common side effects such as hair loss, nausea and mouth sores. Other side effects of chemo are vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, chills, and immunosuppression, meaning those receiving chemo are often sick with other conditions as their immune system is suppressed.
Can I use CBD while undergoing chemotherapy?
CBD has recently been used to help treat symptoms of chemotherapy such as pain and inflammation, as well as potentially assisting with hair regrowth. Alleviating pain is a huge benefit that CBD provides as it is natural and less harmful than the typical pharmaceutical drugs that are used to combat pain resulting from chemo. Not to mention, CBD is non-habit forming unlike controlled substances such as pain killers. Inflammation can cause disruptions in the body and inhibit the functionality of some tissues such as the skin. CBD fights inflammation, therefore allowing cells and tissues to heal and regrow faster. In some studies, CBD has been found to aid and in some cases prevent nausea and vomiting. This is an extremely helpful aspect for chemo patients, as it allows the patient to regain their appetite so they can eat and receive the nutrients necessary to heal. This will also help fight against muscle wasting and promote weight gain.
There is some recent research considering CBD and medical cannabis as a complementary treatment for cancer, to be used with conventional therapies. Cancer and other chronic diseases are qualifying conditions for medical marijuana programs in many states. Studies conducted at Western New England University show that CBD works in tandem with chemotherapy to increase success rates for treatment of some forms of cancer. Researchers at St. George’s University have also found that CBD promotes cancer cell death in patients with leukemia. While the research is promising, it is still unclear if cannabidiol is a suitable treatment in regards to treating cancer or being used during cancer treatment. Because of the federal view on cannabidiol and other cannabis products, scientists, unfortunately, have difficulty conducting clinical trials. Always consult your physician before taking CBD as it can mess with the metabolism of your other prescribed medications.
Cannabidiol may be a valuable aid for patients going through chemo. It is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to pharmaceutical drugs, which may also require a prescription to purchase. Another advantage of using CBD products is that there are different delivery methods to best fit the patient’s needs. For example, to treat overall pain and promote internal healing, one should consider taking a CBD oil tincture. Alternatively, you can seamlessly add CBD to your regimen with supplements to take alongside your other medications. To soothe any aches or physical pain, there are CBD topicals like lotions and salves to apply directly to the skin and better target the pain.
What are the side effects of CBD?
While CBD is generally considered safe to use, especially in comparison to the usual pharmaceuticals used for cancer care, some people may experience minor side effects. Studies show that the main side effects reported are fatigue and diarrhea. Some patients also experienced changes in appetite and weight. These undesirable consequences may be avoided by adjusting the dose of CBD, as that can fluctuate depending on your metabolism as well as the potency of the product. However, finding your ideal dose may be hard to pinpoint since everybody metabolizes the substance differently. The standard method is ingesting 5mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight, divided into three doses. For example, if you are 120 pounds, you’ll take 60mg per day, in three 20mg doses. Based on the effects you experience from this starting point you can gauge if you should increase or decrease your milligram intake from there.
CBD for post chemotherapy care has many benefits with very few risks involved. Cannabidiol products are affordable and come in a wide variety of delivery methods, making it easy to find the one that works best for you. They are mainly nature based and are substantially less harmful than the conventional alternative such as opiates and other narcotics. It also aids in relieving a plethora of unrelated symptoms and conditions, meaning CBD could become a staple of your daily health and wellness routine.