The Healing Properties of Cannabis for Cancer Patients
When I was in third grade, my mother was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. At only 40 years old, my mom thought getting a mammogram was a bit overkill considering she had felt no lumps when performing her own breast exam, as well as the doctor not feeling anything of significance during her annual gynecology exam. At her doctor’s prodding, she opted to have a mammogram. Thanks to that mammogram her doctor was able to detect small, dust-like particles spread throughout my mom’s right breast. Today, my mom is 23 years cancer-free.
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, The Source honors those who have lost their battle against this disease and the survivors still fighting it by raising awareness with a commentary on the benefits of using cannabis while battling this horrible disease.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast Cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the breast tissue. It is the most common type of cancer among women, and affects thousands of people, including men, every year.
Statistics show that every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed in the United States with breast cancer, including 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with the disease in her lifetime (National Breast Cancer Foundation [NBCF], n.d.). Although rare, men are susceptible to this disease, with 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed being found in a man (CDC, 2021).
On average, women should begin receiving breast cancer screenings at least every other year starting as early as 40 years old.
CANCER + CANNABIS
Over the years, people have begun to learn about the benefits of using cannabis as a form of medication. When it comes to cancer, cannabis has become a common method of treating side effects caused by the disease and the many treatments used to fight it, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Believed by supporters to be a more natural form of medication, cannabis contains cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are active ingredients in the cannabis plant that can help treat many symptoms experienced by Cancer patients.
THC and CBD are the most common terms cannabis users are familiar with.
THC is short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This cannabinoid is the psychoactive component that causes the “high” effect. THC is beneficial in treating symptoms such as chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting. It helps alleviate inflammation and can also serve as an antioxidant.
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. CBD, like THC, is helpful in reducing pain and inflammation, as well as treating seizures, insomnia, anxiety, and paranoia.
Research shows how cannabis and its main components may slow or reverse the growth of specific cancer cells. In 2019, a promising lab study found that the Cannabis sativa L. plant from South Africa was most successful in disturbing MCF-7 breast cancer (a hormone-positive breast cancer) cell growth (Villines, 2022). Although cannabis has not been proven to cure cancer, there are undeniable benefits to medicating with this plant.
TERPENES FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Cannabis has a very distinct odor commonly compared to that of a skunk. When it comes to this exceptional plant, however, there are many other aromas detected underneath that skunky smell. These scents are caused by terpenes, the aromatic compounds that give many flowers and herbs their unique smells (Stone, 2021).
Every strain of cannabis has its own set of terpene profiles that give a strain its specific scent. Terpenes help enhance the effects of cannabis when combined with other cannabinoids through a process called “the entourage effect.”
There are over 150 different terpenes!
Some of the more common ones found in cannabis are myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, terpinolene, linalool, humulene, and ocimene.
For many years, scientists have been researching the benefits of terpenes and how they assist in fighting cancer. Some terpenes seem to display anticancer properties and help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Limonene, for example, has shown to be beneficial as an anticancer and antitumor agent. Other terpenes exhibiting anticancer properties are pinene, camphor, terpinolene, and beta-myrcene.
Below is a list of strains found in your area that may assist in your battle against cancer.
METHODS OF CONSUMPTION
There are many different ways of consuming cannabis. The most popular way is by smoking it. Smoking cannabis is beneficial as it gives the most immediate effect. It is great for when one needs quick relief from symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches or migraines, nausea, and panic attacks. Smoking, however, is not the only way to intake this medicinal plant.
Another method of consuming is through using cannabis concentrate. Cannabis concentrate comes in many forms including oils, waxes, sugars, etc, and is an extremely potent form of cannabis. Vaping is the easiest way to consume cannabis concentrate as it comes in a prefilled cartridge. Some cartridges are disposable with a battery included, while others are sold as a standalone cartridge. Vaporizer batteries are available at most smoke shops.
More experienced cannabis users prefer to “dab.” Dabbing is the act of vaporizing cannabis concentrate through means of a dab rig or nectar collector. A torch is needed to heat the equipment to allow the concentrate to evaporate. There are also electronic dab rigs and nectar collectors that make dabbing easier and more convenient. Like smoking, vaping and dabbing are methods for quicker relief of symptoms.
Edibles are a more delicious way to consume cannabis, however, the effects take longer to feel. When ingesting cannabis, effects typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour as it is being processed through the liver. Edibles come in a variety of products, including gummies, chocolates, drinks, tinctures, and more. When dosing, it is best to start out small, anywhere from 2.5mg to 5mg. Most cultivators dose their edibles around 10mg, which is considered one serving.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: WAYS TO COMBAT BEING “TOO HIGH”
If you are new to using cannabis or even if you are a longtime user, negative side effects can occur if too much THC is ingested. In the cannabis community, we call this “greening out.” Unlike other drugs, there have been no reports of fatalities related to overdosing on weed.
Let me repeat: You cannot die from the act of ingesting too much cannabis.
Side effects can range from mild to severe, and can include but are not limited to anxiety, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and paranoia (Coelho, 2021).
Fear not, though. There are many ways of combating these unpleasant feelings. If you feel like you are too high, take some deep breaths to try and relax yourself. Sipping on water or eating something light can aid in lessening the high. Since CBD aids in alleviating anxiety and paranoia, consuming a CBD tincture or edible will also help counteract any negative feelings caused from overindulging. If all else fails, other possible remedies include chewing or sniffing black peppercorn or sucking or smelling a tart lemon.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
Medical professionals and scientists are still researching the benefits and risks of using medical cannabis. Here at The Source, our budtenders are trained and educated in all things cannabis to provide our patients with the best experience. Our knowledge is based on research and personal experiences with cannabis and in no way should replace your physician’s orders.
If you suffer from cancer or are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, ask your budtender about what flower strains and products we offer to help assist you in your battle against cancer.
For more information on the benefits of cannabis on breast cancer, see the links below: