- Therapeutic cannabis finds many uses as a supportive and medicinal substance in a number of diverse areas
- One of the newly explored areas of possible use of cannabis is palliative care
Therapeutic cannabis is currently under the search of scientists as a possible safe choice of therapeutics aimed at supporting patients who can help with the symptoms associated with various malignancies. The most frequently mentioned symptoms against which medical cannabis can help are in the case of oncological care:
- sleep problems
- feelings of anxiety and depression
Researchers especially like the fact that cannabis is often able to help with all of these symptoms at the same time, and thus the administration of a large number of different pharmaceuticals at once can be avoided.
The results of the official study were published in the leading European scientific journal "European Journal of Internal Medicine". The research specifically analyzed 2,960 patients from Israel suffering from various types of cancer. The total observation lasted 6 months, but only 1742 of these patients survived to the end of the study. "In 60% of the survivors, the therapy was successful," adds one of the study's leaders, Dr. Victor Novak, who works at the official clinic for cannabis research at Soroka University in Israel.
Israel - The driving force behind cannabis research in palliative care
The Israeli Ministry of Health approved cannabis for medical purposes as early as 2007, but to date researchers have lacked key data on individual patient characteristics such as frequency of cannabis use, observed adverse effects and the overall epidemiology of individuals. However, it was helpful to obtain data from patients who are also customers of " Tikun-Olam" (translated from Hebrew "let's fix the world"). Tikun-Olam is a private, state-approved organization that focuses on the production and healing of cannabis for patients.
The research team analyzed the results of questionnaires answered by a total of 3,000 cancer patients prescribed for cannabis treatment to obtain better data. Patients completed the questionnaires during the first and sixth months of therapy. The main symptoms that patients struggled with (including the percentage):
Sleep problems (78.4%)
Nausea and loss of appetite (48.9%)
It should be noted here that 902 (24.9%) fewer patients completed the follow-up questionnaire after six months due to premature death, and another 682 (18.8%) stopped using cannabis during the study period.
The remaining 1211 examined patients (60.6%) answered the final questionnaire as follows:
95% reported improved fitness during cannabis therapy
3.7% of patients did not notice any change
0.3% reported deteriorating condition
Integration of cannabis in oncology
Dr. Donald I. Abrams, who works as a hematologist-oncologist in San Francisco, advocates the use of medical cannabis to alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer as well as chemotherapy. "I have been able to see clinically and first-hand how cannabis can help cancer patients and their symptoms," explains Abrams, adding that compared to cannabis, pharmaceutical opiates used for end-of-life pain can prevent normal communication skills. , and therefore a proper farewell to your loved ones.
"Many of my patients have been able to phase out all opiates and painkillers with cannabis gradually and safely." Donald I. Abrams
Although analgesics and opiates are a very effective choice for relieving pain, the negative symptoms associated with them may ultimately be detrimental to overall treatment. One of the problems is, for example, the patient's subsequent inability to cope with pain without pills and to perceive them even more strongly after stopping treatment.
Cannabis combined with opiates?
In contrast, cannabis treatment offers several major benefits. One of them is, of course, the markedly lower toxicity of cannabinoids and the negligible chance of developing addiction, especially physiological addiction. Another benefit of cannabis treatment is its connection with the original opiate therapy.
"Although there is still a need for follow-up research in this area, it appears that cannabinoids are able to increase the effect of opiates themselves, which in turn can reduce their dose and thus toxicity, degree of dependence and negative side effects. It should be noted here that cannabis therapy is integrative in the treatment of cancer - that is, complementary to existing treatment.
"Any patient who decides to use cannabis to treat their type of cancer must first consult their doctor. Leaving existing treatment can be fatal in some cases."
Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, acting at the Washington State Multicare Institute for Research and Innovation, also contributes his opinion: “The way in which cannabis medicine develops and what possibilities it takes to implement substances from this plant leads me to believe that that we should reach a point that I would call 'Integrative Cannabinoid Medicine ' (IKM) . While integrative medicine today focuses on combining botanically derived substances with pharmaceuticals, in the case of IKM, the main emphasis is on the implementation of cannabis, ie plants rich in various types of cannabinoid substances. ”
Existential and spiritual process in oncological care
Another no less interesting aspect of the use of cannabis in oncology is its effect on the psychological process of end-of-life patients. Thus, not only is this plant able to suppress the aforementioned physiological symptoms, doctors also find hope and potential in the area of existential suffering, which is understandable for people aware of the near end of life.
“During the effects of medical cannabis on end-of-life patients, mentally beneficial effects have been observed. The most interesting responses here were feelings of peace, emotional integrity and overall mental fulfillment. ”
Medical cannabis can also help patients in their ability to communicate with their loved ones and the overall effort to stay present until the last minute. Dr. Aggarwal's commentary builds on this topic: “ Improving the perception of the present moment combined with an increase in the ability of introspection and meditation that cannabis is able to catalyze helps to achieve an emotionally balanced state leading to 'good death'. Cannabis has also been used in the cultures of the past. ”
Final supplements: treatment of cannabis cancer or rather a therapeutic supplement?
Although you can read about several studies in which apoptosis (programming of cell death of cancer cells) was induced by cannabis, we cannot immediately jump to the opinion that cannabis is guaranteed to cure cancer . Patients who confuse the premature results of in-vitro experiments with the true ability of cannabis to kill cancer cells are fatal.
"The results of cannabis cancer treatment studies are only preliminary and certainly cannot be considered final, conclusive data. In addition, the vast majority of experiments to date have only concerned 'in vitro' or in-animal experiments. "
Cannabis research is moving in the right direction
The legislative situation regarding the availability of medical cannabis is visibly improving all over the world, and we can also see certain steps for the better, especially thanks to the political influences of the Czech Pirate Party. The receding cannabis taboo also helps the interest of doctors and scientists themselves, who are beginning to turn to it with curiosity, and we have the opportunity to look deeper into the potential therapeutic benefits of this versatile plant. One of the most promising possible uses is the area of oncological treatment and care for dying patients.
However, it is still important to remember that even cannabis, which is considered very safe compared to other medicines and plants, is able to do more harm than good in certain cases. Communication between the patient and his caregivers or doctors is thus still essential. Equally essential is proper education on the part of both patients and doctors and carers. For the time being, however, it still seems that if the correct approach to use is followed, this plant can be used in a very wide range of therapeutic uses.