Just as there is nothing in weed that causes cancer (though smoking can be a cancer factor), there is also there nothing in the plant that cures it. While researchers regularly discover new ways to use pot for the medical treatment of chronic ailments, they’ve yet to find a way it can arrest, reverse or prohibit the growth of cancer cells. There’s interesting research suggesting that we may one day use some of the compounds within pot to battle the disease. As of now, though, there’s nothing concrete. Sorry.
However, personal testimonies and scientific studies show that pot can be a significant and helpful part of a larger course of cancer treatment.
Patients of chemotherapy and radiotherapy—two of the more effective and prevalent cancer treatments—often experience chronic conditions including loss of appetite, muscle pain, stomach pain, nerve pain, restlessness, weakness, nausea, a compromised immune system, dizziness, neurological damage and depression. These side effects not only make life miserable, they can jeopardize the patient’s ability to sustain or survive treatment.
There’s a growing institutional acceptance of pot as one of the better ways to treat nausea and loss of appetite when prescription drugs fail. Provided one uses the right strain, marijuana also can mitigate muscle, stomach and nerve pain, alleviate fatigue, restlessness and dizziness, and lessen the depression and anxiety that come with a cancer diagnosis. Overall, judicious and moderate pot use can help a patient keep on weight, maintain a positive mood, and live their lives with less discomfort, things crucial to a successful cancer battle.
Now, there is no one silver-bullet strain that alleviates all side effects, though some are certainly more effective than others. Leafly—a great source for marijuana information—has compiled two lists of the best strains for fighting specific conditions here and here. For those with access to legal medicinal marijuana (and there are a lot of you) their picks should be easy to find at your local dispensary.
As to those of you with limited or no legal access, you’ll have fewer options and strains available. In that case, ask your supplier about Indica and Indica-leaning hybrid strains. They’re far more effective than Sativas for treating body pain, lack of appetite and nausea. As for specific names, keep an eye out for the ubiquitous and well regarded Northern Lights, Bubba Kush and Super Lemon Haze.
It’s important to note that all weed strains—Indicas in particular—have the potential to cause depression, fatigue, or anxiety depending on person using it. To avoid any kind of downward spiral when adding weed to your cancer therapy, move slowly. Try using no more than a puff at a time for the first week or more and see how it goes. The goal isn’t to get ripped, after all. It’s to treat symptoms.
Finally, do not start using weed to alleviate your side effects legally or illegally without first consulting with your physician, oncologist, or other member of your medical team. Only they will know if pot use conflicts with your conditions or medications.