Though still federally illegal due to its Schedule I status, cannabis is widely used to help treat many medical conditions including cancer and the side effects of its treatment. Advocates for cannabis reform often cite the benefit to cancer patients which go well beyond the head high that is typically associated with marijuana consumption. In fact, cannabis can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy – and minimize those nasty side effects – in many exciting ways.
How Cannabis Helps with Chemo
Chemotherapy is a process that uses special drugs to kill cells in the body before they split and spread. They can be ingested in a few ways – pills, shots, or an IV, for example – with the intention of stopping the spread of cancerous cells before they get out of control. The problem is that chemo targets all cells (including healthy ones) which can cause major damage and discomfort in patients. The side effects of chemotherapy can be devastating including things like hair loss, nausea and fatigue. Chemo patients also often suffer from depression due to the uncertainty of their condition which can exacerbate the negative side effects of chemotherapy.
Cannabis can effectively address many of these symptoms including pain, inflammation, nausea, appetite loss, and depression.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD work synergistically with each other and alongside cancer treatments to improve the outcome of cancer therapy and make the process much more bearable along the way. Research also shows that cannabis slows (and even reverses) cancer cell growth while leaving surrounding healthy cells untouched, though the exact mechanisms through which this happens are still being studied.
Best Marijuana Strains for Chemotherapy
Not all cannabis strains are created equal. Expert breeders spend years perfecting strains to deliver the best results with the fewest undesirable qualities. The result has been an influx of potent cannabis strains tailored to the consumer and his specific needs. Those who want to treat the side effects of chemo with cannabis should therefore focus on strains developed for the medical community and their own personal preferences. Here is a list of our top seven strains for chemotherapy.
1. Good Medicine: Topping our list is a strain aptly named Good Medicine. The strain was specifically developed as a medicinal strain with a THC:CBD ratio of 1:1 and a high CBN content (which makes this strain very sedating). Unlike other high-CBD strains, this strain boasts a flavorful mixture of fruit and musk. Good Medicine is a strain best used for the treatment of pain, nausea and sleeplessness.
2. ACDC: Though the band AC/DC is typically considered a “hard rock” group, the strain ACDC is most certainly not. Rather, ACDC is a mellow sativa strain containing only trace amounts of THC and a substantially higher amount of CBD. The intoxicating effects of ACDC are minor, making this strain ideal for novice consumers looking to treat symptoms like pain, nausea and neuropathic discomfort.
3. Blue Dream: Blue Dream is a popular strain among both the medical and recreational communities. Known for its distinctive blueberry flavor and invigorating buzz, this Northern California native is great for relieving pain and promoting deep muscle relaxation. Though somewhat speedy at first, the effects of Blue Dream level off within the first hour resulting in a relaxed, pain-free state. Blue Dream is best used to treat pain and nausea without interfering with menial tasks throughout the day.
4. Mental Floss #3: As the name suggests, Mental Floss #3 is a sativa strain that gives the brain a buzz. Though its analgesic and antiemetic properties are apparent throughout the high (which sets in rather quickly, we might add), it is the invigorating “head high” that sets this strain apart from the rest. We suggest using Mental Floss #3 to combat anxiety and depression, and for a boost of motivation when need be, as well.
5. Northern Lights: Northern Lights is a popular strain among growers for it’s ease of cultivation (and resistance to pests) but it is its therapeutic qualities that have consumers flocking to the stores. Capable of treating most of the side effects of chemo including pain, sleeplessness, depression and nausea, this pure indica strain will leave its consumers happy and hungry, albeit a bit too sleepy for daytime activities.
6. Grand Daddy Purps: Known for its powerful head-and-body high and amazing grape flavor, Grand Daddy Purpsis a go-to strain for anyone experiencing a case of the crummies. The indica dominant hybrid is a cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud, and can effectively treat things like pain, nausea, insomnia, weight loss, and stress, though its concentrated form may result in a mean case of couch-lock, as well.
7. Romulan X Chemo: Romulan X Chemois a powerful strain reserved primarily for medical patients. The indica-dominant hybrid hits hard and fast, leaving its users pain-free and ready for slumber almost immediately. Those who don’t fall asleep right away may find themselves drawn to the refrigerator as this strain is great for appetite stimulation, as well.
A cancer diagnosis is never welcome but when it occurs, there are steps that can be taken to make recovery so much easier. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, cannabis may be an excellent way to increase the odds of success and safely put the body into remission.
Have you used cannabis to treat the side effects of chemo? We’d love to hear about your experience.