When it comes to the treatment of cancer, chemotherapy is the go-to option. Its benefits are colossal and as a very potent treatment option for cancer, it has saved a countless number of lives that would have otherwise perished through the illness. The other side of the coin, however is that it is one of the most feared treatment options for cancer because of its innumerable side effects.
For many people that are bogged down by cancer, and have to go through chemotherapy, it seems like a lose-lose situation. They reckon they not only have to suffer from the symptoms that the disease presents, but also have to suffer the side-effects that the treatment offers. The good news – if it offers any glimmer of hope – is that even though the treatment cannot be halted, its side effects can definitely be stifled.
The best news lays in the fact that CBD, a naturally occurring compound can be relied upon to complete this task and as effective as it is, it comes along with no side effects. Before we go into details about how CBD can make the adverse effects produced by chemotherapy more manageable, let’s discuss chemotherapy a bit.
What is Chemotherapy?
Regarded as one of the most potent forms of cancer treatment, chemotherapy engages the use of very strong drugs – which can be administered orally or intravenously – to obliterate cancer cells from the body. Chemotherapy focuses primarily on preventing the spread of cancer cells throughout the body, minimizing the growth of tumors and killing cancer cells.
This therapy, whiles going about its diligent duty of killing cancer cells, is likely to affect other useful body cells. This causes side effects like fever, hair loss, nausea, fatigue, anorexia, neuropathic pain, breathing troubles, joint pain etc. Generally a patient is likely to suffer from any of these. However, it is not expected that he/she suffers from all of these side effects. Everyone is different, and effects tend to vary depending on how bad the patient’s condition is.
How CBD helps with chemotherapy
A compound found in the cannabis plant, CBD contains antiemetic, anxiolytic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a very potent force in helping to curb side effects from chemotherapy. Research has even shown that CBD can help mitigate many of the terrible side effects like pain, inflammation and intense fatigue in patients who use CBD right after chemotherapy sessions.
CBD has been shown to have anti-nausea properties as well as antiemetic properties (where it is able to treat vomiting).. When CBD is incorporated into the patient’s regime, it can help his/her body contain chemotherapy treatment to tolerable levels. CBD is able to put its antiemetic property into action within the body by indirectly activating the serotonin 1A receptor in the dorsal raphe nucleus, a part of the brain located in the brain stem where basic functions of the digestive system are controlled.
One of the most troubling effects that come with chemotherapy is neuropathic pain. This affects up to 75% of patients who undergo chemotherapy and occurs as a result of the treatment’s ability to cause nerve cells to die or dysfunction. Though neuropathic pain can be treated with a wide range of prescription medication including anti-epileptics like gabapentin and antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), they also come along with their own side effects and may not even be effective. Today, more and more people are beginning to lean towards CBD as a potent reliever of (neuropathic) pain as it is not only efficacious but comes along with no side effects as well. The good thing is that CBD can be used alone as well as in conjunction with other pain relievers without disrupting the effectiveness of the chemotherapy treatment. CBD does this by elevating the Anandamide levels in the brain which help reduce the body’s sensitivity to pain.
Parts of our bodies begin swelling as a result of the body’s reaction to any damage or distress that a tissue may be facing. CBD has been found to have very powerful anti-inflammatory properties that kick into action when CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system and binds itself its network of cannabinoid receptors (found in the immune system and other parts of the body). By binding itself to CB2 receptors ( found in the immune system) and since inflammation is an immune response, it helps to reduce inflammation.
Anxiety and depression
Undergoing chemotherapy treatment is no easy feat by any means. With the potential of dying a very painful death in the event that treatment fails, many patients are weighed down by heavy thoughts and can be very anxious/depressed. CBD has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression by interacting with CB1 receptors which are prevalent in the brain region. CBD influences CB1 receptors to absorb serotonin (a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of wellbeing and happiness) for longer periods of time, and in effect helping to reduce anxiety.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment and are bent on using CBD, do well to talk your doctor about it. In any case, CBD has no side effects and it is also not possible to overdose on it meaning higher doses can be taken progressively depending on how well it does on your body.