Medical Marijuana Can Help Sufferers Of Sickle Cell Anemia

There are various theoretical as well as tested applications for medical cannabis in relations to sickle cell anemia.

Sickle Cell Anemia
Photo by KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Sickle cell anemia is a genetically transmitted physical ailment that is the result of restricted blood flow within the human body. To elaborate, studies report that sickle cell anemia manifests due to irregularly shaped red blood cells—the name “sickle” is literally derived from their “crescent moon” shapes. In turn, these misshapen red blood vessels easily get stuck within veins and resultantly trap smaller, healthy blood vessels. These blockages of healthy blood flow express in extremely painful episodes for sickle cell patients known as “pain crises”. These pain crises are the primary symptom of sickle cell anemia and can be life-long debilitating disorders. Moreover, once an individual contracts the disease, the only possible cure is “a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, which requires a well-matched donor”. Donor lists are often extremely long, to the point of being beyond individual’s reaches within a lifetime. As a result, virtually all treatments for sickle cell anemia, medical marijuana included, exist to better the lives of those who have contracted the disease.


There are various theoretical as well as tested applications for medical cannabis in relations to sickle cell anemia. To begin with, pain crises, also characterized under the umbrella term of “chronic pain,” are reportedly quelled through use of the herb— physical issues causing these pain crises include “vascular inclusion, tissue infraction, and inflammation”. To elaborate, a 2005 questionnaire presented to sickle cell anemia patients medicating with cannabis in the U.S. revealed that 52% of them reported pain reduction and 39% reported helped with anxiety and depression. Even more, medical marijuana acts as an inflammatory medication for those patients experiencing tissue swelling from the disease. Resultantly, with more research it is conceivable that medical marijuana use could be beneficial for sickle cell patients concerning both chronic pain and inflammatory issues. This notion ads to the already expansive medical uses for this profound natural medicine.

Case Study

In a fascinating story from the Jamaica, a middle-aged man with sickle cell anemia reported that he had not had a pain crises since he was 15 yrs. old—a 30 year time span. This notion is relevant to medical marijuana because this sickle cell patient reportedly smoked 5 cannabis joints a day for this entire pain crises free timespan. Interestingly enough, a majority of medical marijuana doctors rarely promote the smoking of cannabis, as edibles and vaporizers are far less obtrusive on the human airways. However, at least in regards to this case study from Jamaica, even extremely heavy, daily cannabis smoking is still beneficial in bettering the lives of sickle cell anemia patients. Nonetheless, every persons’ body reacts differently to experiences with cannabis and should be treated as such: in case-by-case scenarios.

Kent Gruetzmacher M.F.A. is a Colorado based freelance writer and the Director of Business Development at Mac & Fulton Talent Partners (www.mandfconsultants.com), a recruiting firm dedicated to the indoor gardening and cannabis space. He is interested in utilizing his M.A. in the Humanities to critically explore the many cultural and business facets of this youthful, emergent industry by way of his entrepreneurial projects.


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