Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells. Cancer is primarily an environmental disease, though genetics influence the risk of some cancers. Common environmental factors that may lead to cancer include: tobacco, diet and obesity, infections, radiation, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants.
Chemotherapy is a prominent feature in cancer treatment. While it has great impact on cancer cells, it also affects other cells in your body causing undesirable symptoms. These may include severe nausea, vomiting, fatigue, low appetite (anorexia) and depression, and delayed nausea also often develops 3-4 days after treatment and is usually unresponsive to standard anti-emetic treatment. Some cancer drugs actually cause intestinal secretion of serotonin which binds to cells on nerves involved in the vomiting center.
Radiation Therapy is a local treatment that damages the DNA of cells. It affects tissues surrounding the area of cancer cells causing nutritional dysfunction when gastrointestinal tract structures or the central nervous system is irradiated. Side effects are limited to the treated area, as well as the typical cancer fatigue and depression. These may include nausea, headache, anorexia, dysphagia, malabsorbtion, or malnutrition.
Standard medical treatments:
Anti-anxiety drugs – helps with chemo low appetite
Supportive and alternative treatments:
Nutritional – detoxifying raw food diet
Vitamin C – anti-inflammatory, depleted in radiation tx, take after tx is over
Vitamin E – antioxidant, depleted in radiation tx, take after x is over
Kelp – nutritional and detoxifying minerals
Selenium – antioxidant, especially for radiation
Fish oil / flax oil – essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory
Ginger – treats nausea
Cat’s claw – helps white blood cell counts
Astralagus – reverses immune suppression
Reishi – increases blood cell counts
Chaparral – protects against radiation, anti-neoplastic (use only with supervision)
Peppermint – stimulates appetite
Cancer and Cannabis
The benefit of cannabis for cancer patients has traditionally been centered upon its relief of nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite that may be a consequence of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In fact, cannabis has often proven more effective than any other medication, and has long been prescribed in the form of Marinol, the only federally approved form of THC. In addition, marijuana is used to treat the chronic pain or depression that may accompany cancer treatments. But, recent scientific research has found that cannabinoids can affect tumor growth as well.
It is generally agreed that if anything, cannabis does not cause cancer, rather in some cases, it may inhibit the growth of tumors. This has best been studied in the case of Gliomas, where cannbinoids have been shown to decrease the growth of these tumors in experimental animals. In a recent (2006) article on the effects of CBD on breast cancer cells, the authors comment,
“To date, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting, two common side effects that accompany chemotherapy in cancer patients. Nevertheless, the use of cannabinoids in oncology might be somehow underestimated since increasing evidence exist that plant, synthetic, and endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) are able to exert a growth-inhibitory action on various cancer cell types.“
Currently researchers are investigating the effects of cannabinoids on several forms of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, skin, and the brain.