The benefits of weed have been well documented, even if they haven’t been thoroughly and rigorously studied. Among these stories, the most intriguing would have to be the ones that speak of the benefits of weed for cancer patients.
From the neuropathic pain of cancer itself to the many side effects of chemotherapy, which can be in themselves another significant source of pain, cancer is one of the most common and serious afflictions that humans have yet to find a cure for.
Although cannabis has not been proved to be able to cure cancer, it can nevertheless ease many symptoms that, until this point, have just been accepted as unavoidable and untreatable.
So, why and how does weed affect cancer patients or post-cancer patients? Does weed have any affect cancer patients? Let’s look at what we do know from the research so far.
What We Know About Cannabis and Cancer
Cannabis can alleviate cancer symptoms.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), smoking weed can alleviate nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite, which cancer patients commonly experience after chemotherapy. Interestingly, smoking or vaping can reduce the neuropathic pain that comes from cancer’s damaging of nerves. (Not sure why vaping doesn’t have an effect on the first three symptoms).
Weed’s ability to relieve pain isn’t exclusive to cancer either—multiple sclerosis, lupus, and even menstrual pain are other conditions whose symptoms can be treated with cannabis.
Cannabis may hold the key to a cure.
It’s also encouraging that the ACS states: “scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes.” Even though more clinical trials need to be performed to be sure, these early studies definitely offer some hope for cancer patients who want to not just alleviate symptoms, but also find a cure.
For context, there are over a hundred types of cannabinoids, but only a few have been studied so far. There’s a lot of ground for scientists and researchers to cover.
More evidence? The International Journal of Oncology published findings suggesting that cannabinoids can kill cancer cells.
The National Cancer Institute has also found that “cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by blocking cell growth, causing cell death and blocking the development of blood vessels that tumors require to grow”—though with one caveat: these studies have only been performed on mice and rats so far.
The Best Weed for Cancer Patients
The best weed for cancer patients so far mainly help manage pain relief. Because the prospects of finding a cure are still relatively far off, the most effective use case for cannabis at this point is probably to alleviate the symptoms of cancer (and chemo).
High THC levels are generally good for melting away pain, though you’ll probably want to balance it out with CBD to maintain clear-headedness. Another argument for using high-CBD strains for cancer: CBD just might be the component that prevents cancer cell growth, in addition to controlling inflammation and offering pain relief due to its effects on the brain’s receptors.
Different strains are better suited to managing different symptoms, so you may want to try Northern Lights for nausea versus Skywalker OG for appetite loss, for example.
And if you’re wondering, “But does weed cause cancer?”, well, the answer is—like most questions of cannabis and health—yet to be determined. There just hasn’t been enough research done, over a long enough period of time, to confirm or reject major health claims related to weed. We do know that smoking is not good for your lungs, no matter if you’re smoking tobacco or weed. As to the paradox of whether smoking weed can cure cancer, that has yet to be determined.
Are There Strains of Weed for Killing Cancer?
Unfortunately, no strain of weed has been proven to kill cancer outright so far, nor is there a particular strain that’s best for fighting cancer. If you or a loved one has cancer, what you can do for the time being is try CBD oil, smoking, or vaping cannabis to alleviate neuropathic pain and chemotherapy’s side effects.
How to Use CBD Oil for Cancer
CBD oil can be taken in capsule-form, sprayed into your mouth, and there are also tinctures that you can drop below your tongue.
Where to Buy CBD Oil for Cancer
Generally, you should look for CBD oil—regardless of if it’s for cancer treatment or not—from a reputable licensed producer. (Currently, there are no CBD oils designed specifically to treat cancer and its symptoms.) Clear labelling, standardized practices, third-party-tested products, you know the drill. Stay away from shady web stores and unclear labelling.
You’ll want to be sure that the CBD oil contains a low or moderate amount of THC (depending on if you want the psychoactive effects), and a high level of CBD.
If you’re wondering if indica or sativa is better for cancer patients, well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want purely pain relief and a sense of relaxation or calm, you’ll probably want an indica-dominant strain like Northern Lights or Granddaddy Purple. These are high in THC and are good for relieving nausea and awakening appetite, respectively.
Best Edibles for Cancer Patients
If you’re looking for the benefits of cannabis without the potential harmful side effects on your lungs, you can always try edibles. For chemo patients or people who struggle with chronic pain, there are gummies, chocolates, mints, and more.
The nice thing with edibles is you get the body high that can numb the pain—and for an extended period of time too, as the effects of eating cannabis last longer than just smoking it.
The key is to make sure that the edibles you’re buying actually have the amount of THC that it claims to contain. Here are a few options: