Technology

Medical cannabis can help cancer patients to get rid of chemotherapy side effects

Most people use cannabis for recreation. They don’t really care about the positive health effects that cannabis might have. However, cannabis is being researched for its positive characteristic against many chronic health conditions. Now scientists in Australia found that cancer patients could benefit from medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis could be used to treat a wide variety of chronic health conditions. Image credit: Cannabis Pictures via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Scientists from the University of Sydney and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre conducted the world’s largest trial of medicinal cannabis at the time. The government of New South Wales invested 21 million Australian dollars into this project. Scientists wanted to see how medical cannabis can be used to aid people who are suffering from cancer. And they found that medical cannabis can significantly improve the quality of life for those who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy oftentime causes significant adverse side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. This new study showed that a quarter of the patients taking medicinal cannabis experienced no vomiting and nausea, compared to 14 % of people who took a placebo. That’s a significant difference. Doctors say that nausea and vomiting are the most discouraging adverse side effects of chemotherapy. They make you want to quit. And what cannabis helped achieve is a significant improvement in the quality of life for chemotherapy patients.

This study took two-and-a-half years with 81 participants enrolled. Those that did use medical cannabis did experience sedation, dizziness and drowsiness. But only one third of people using medicinal cannabis rated them moderate to severe. These symptoms were also easily manageable, especially when compared to adverse side effects of chemotherapy. This was just a pilot phase of a much bigger study and scientists already know their further steps. Peter Grimison, chief investigator, said: “The trial will now move to a larger phase to determine with much more certainty how effective medicinal cannabis is and whether it should be considered for use in routine cancer care”. 170 more people are set to be involved in the next phase.

Medical cannabis became legal on a federal level in Australia in 2016. However, cannabis culture is very strong in Australia. A 2019 study revealed that 36 % of all Australians had used cannabis in their lifetime and 11.6 % did so in the last 12 months. Most of them, however, used cannabis recreationally.

There are a lot of countries where medical cannabis is still not legal. Hopefully, studies like this will help convince the governments that the positive impact of medical cannabis is worth looking into. Nausea and vomiting are hugely uncomfortable symptoms, but medical cannabis can do much more than to alleviate them.

 

Source: University of Sydney


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