Is Cannabis Really Effective Against Chemotherapy Side Effects?

Cannabis, mostly known as Marijuana, is a member of family Cannabaceae with genus Cannabis and includes three species Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis. It is popular for its psychoactive effects, which are of use for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Cannabis plant exerts both mental and physical effects on health.

There’s a discovery of a powerful link between the use of cannabis and the psychosis risk as its use as a recreation exceeds the certain limits. Because of excessive use of cannabis as a drug, US government back banned its cultivation in 90s. However, we cannot overlook its medical efficacy. It shows a positive response in treatment of unconventional kinds of cancers, not only by inhibiting the cancer cell growth but also reducing the chemotherapy-mediated side effects.

Chemical Composition of Cannabis

The major components Cannabis plants are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol, cannabinol, tetrahydrocannabivarin and Cannabinoid along with other over 400 important components.

The Endocannabinoid System

The preparations from Cannabis are being used for centuries, both medically and for recreation. The chemical composition of their very active component; Cannabinoid received clarification in the late 1960s. It has received wide acceptance that the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most active component derivatives of Cannabinoid which shows high potential activity as a biological factor by mimicking the endogenous compounds, called endocannabinoids that binds to certain cell-specific Cannabinoid receptors. CB1 and CB2 are two widely known endocannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoids along with their receptors and respective proteins that carry out their synthesis, transport and degradation together make up the whole Endocannabinoid System. 

Cannabis and Cancer

One of the major functions of the Cannabinoid system is to manage many kinds of diseases favorably by developing promising strategies along with regulatory effects in the body including immunity, reproduction, cardiovascular tone, and energy metabolism, etc. In one study conducted in Canada, they have approved Cannabinoids to possess anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects. Original studies have also proved that the expression intensity of endocannabinoids, Cannabinoid receptors, and endocannabinoid-mobilizing enzymes and proteins have an association with cancer aggressiveness. It gets over-activated in cancer and thus called as pro-tumorigenic. Other scientific studies provided with evidence that the endocannabinoid signaling have tumor-suppressive effects as observed by the excessive up-regulation of endocannabinoid degrading enzymes have been pragmatic in violent tumor and cancer cell lines in a human body.

Prevailing Cancer Treatments and Their Side Effects

There are many treatments available and in use for the cancer cure including medicines, surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy etc. however, the choice of therapy partially or entirely depends the stage and location of the cancer. Some of them are quiet expensive and although these therapies provide a cure to the disease, they also responsible for causing life-threatening side effects. Some studies even proved that many patients die of these cursing side effects caused by the chemotherapy instead of the disease itself, specially the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy patients face adverse episodes of nausea, vomiting, headaches, loss of weight, loss of hair, anxiety, excessive pain, and also insomnia as they give steroids before every chemotherapy treatment. Loss of appetite is another enormous factor induced while having chemotherapy.

Role of Cannabis in Reducing Chemotherapy-Mediated Side Effects

We know cannabinoids to exhibit palliative effects specifically for the antitumor-generated side effects such as chemotherapy. However, the understandings at the molecular level for their potential activity, is still under trials. 

  • Inhibition of emesis, nausea and vomiting

According to the most basic and the well-recognized study proved that one of the basic and most approved effects of Cannabinoid is the inhibition of vomiting, emesis and nausea. It provides relaxation to the cancer patients receiving chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Most of the patients leave the therapy just for unbearable side effects. When Cannabinoid are under administration along with chemotherapy, patients felt relieved and lesser nausea.

  • Appetite Booster

Many patients who were receiving chemotherapy treatment claimed the loss of appetite, which makes their condition even worse. However, the use of Cannabinoid in the form of dornabinol or any other derivatives of THC brought back the appetite. A famous youtuber, Cheyann Shaw suffered from ovarian cancer at 23, stated that the use of THC derived tablets helped her bring back the lost appetite.

Gain of Weight and Muscle Mass With the successive use of Cannabinoid under proper guidance from concerned doctor causes regain of appetite and hence, the lost body mass is easily recoverable by taking healthy diet and proper medication.

  • Defeating Insomnia 

As chemotherapy proved as painful, patients receive administration mostly with steroids. The side effect of those steroids results in prolonged insomnia. However, the use of Cannabinoid medicines helps patients to fall asleep after painstaking therapy. 

  • Reduced Exhaustion

The wearisome therapies always result in exhaustions, pain, loss of energy and fatigue along with the sufferings of disease alone. Patients need to gain energy to fight back the disease. And utilization of THC medicines only under the supervision and approval of a concerned doctor can be helpful to reduces the exhaustion and regains energy.


There is now scientific proof that to reduce mortality rate based on cancer, there should be more focus on the more targeted and specific treatments, Although the cancer treatments are fruitful to a certain extent yet their side effects are also the reason most of the patients do not muster up courage to go for chemotherapy and so. However, Cannabinoid use has solved this very problem. Most of the patients have proved it trustworthy in many studies performed on elucidating the efficacy of cannabis use. However, it may have hallucinating effects and can induce depression on the long run, but this is avoidable only if the use gathers proper administration. 

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