Monday, May 20, 2024

Medical Marijuana Might Help Cancer Pain

Cannabis research powerhouse Israel produces more cancer and medical marijuana data


Cannabis can not cure cancer, but it can help in a variety of ways including pain, neuropathy, nausea, appetite and more.  But for day to day life, pain and appetite have an oversized influence. Over half of patients  in cancer treatment and two thirds of those with advanced or terminal disease experience pain. Now studies are starting to take a deeper look into our medical marijuana can help with cancer pain.

Medical marijuana may be helpful for the management of cancer-related pain when conventional therapies are ineffective or are causing adverse effects. For patients with severe cancer pain, opioids are still considered the standard of treatment, but simultaneous use of marijuana may decrease pain signals in the brain, with additional anti-inflammatory properties. This could lead to a decrease in opioid dependence.

Medical marijuana can help those suffering from cancer-associated pain, as per a Technion study published Friday in the journal Frontiers in Pain Research. Almost half of the patients enrolled in the research discontinued their other pain medication after six months of medical cannabis treatment.

“Traditionally, cancer-related pain is mainly treated by opioid analgesics, but most oncologists perceive opioid treatment as hazardous, so alternative therapies are required,” said author David Meiri, an assistant professor at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

breast cancer
Photo by fstop123/Getty Images

RELATED: Science Says Medical Marijuana Improves Quality Of Life

According to the peer-reviewed research, medical cannabis helps lower the pain in oncology patients while also alleviating other symptoms as well. Patients fighting cancer are known to also suffer from depression, anxiety and insomnia, which can also negatively impact the treatment and prognosis.

While opioids are effective in reducing pain, they have numerous negative side effects. For example, the synthetic opioid fentanyl is highly addictive and can cause death by overdose. The U.S. is in the midst of an opioid crisis with two-thirds of overdose deaths accredited to illegal opioid fentanyl use.

To address this, federal health officials signaled they are willing to try new approaches to stem the tragedy. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra announced that the Biden administration’s strategy to deal with the epidemic could include allowing supervised consumption sites.

Research Offers Hope 

It seems that this new Israeli research also provides hope that medical marijuana can be utilized as an alternative to opioids.  The study included certified oncologists who prescribed medical marijuana to their patients and reported on their progress.

RELATED: Cannabis And Breast Cancer: What A New Study Reveals

“Patients completed anonymous questionnaires before starting treatment, and again at several time points during the following six months,” said study co-author Gil Bar-Sela, associate professor at the Ha’Emek Medical Center Afula. “We gathered data on a number of factors, including pain measures, analgesics consumption, cancer symptom burden, sexual problems and side effects.”

Medical Marijuana Is Booming Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic
Photo by Bill Oxford/Getty Images

After analyzing all gathered data, the results revealed patients notably improved, and more importantly, their opioid use was reduced.

“Although our study was very comprehensive and presented additional perspectives on medical cannabis, the sex, age, and ethnicity, as well as cancer types and the stage of cancer meant the variety of patients in our study was wide-ranging,” Meiri said. “Therefore, future studies should investigate the level of effectiveness of medicinal cannabis in specific subgroups of cancer patients with more shared characteristics.”





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