Medical Marijuana in Tampa: Cancer Pain and Symptom Management

Introduction

Dealing with cancer is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging battles. The physical and emotional toll that cancer and its treatments can take on patients is immense. In recent years, medical marijuana has emerged as a potential game-changer in providing relief and improving the quality of life for cancer patients. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of medical marijuana for cancer pain and symptom management, as well as some important information on types of medical marijuana, dosing, indications, and legal aspects. 

Understanding Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana refers to the use of the marijuana plant, or its extracts, to alleviate symptoms and treat various medical conditions. It contains compounds known as cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce therapeutic effects.

How Does Medical Marijuana Help with Cancer Pain and Symptom Management?

Cancer pain can be relentless and debilitating. Medical marijuana offers several benefits in managing this pain:

1. THC and CBD: Key Players in Cancer Pain and Symptom Management

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two primary cannabinoids found in medical marijuana, play pivotal roles in managing pain.

THC and Pain Relief

THC is well-known for its analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. A study published in the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management” [1] found that cancer patients who used THC-based medical marijuana reported significant reductions in pain intensity compared to those who did not use it. This data underscores the potential of THC in providing tangible relief to cancer patients in the Tampa area dealing with chronic pain.

CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Effects

CBD, on the other hand, possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation often contributes to pain in cancer patients. A study in the “European Journal of Pain” [2] demonstrated that CBD can effectively reduce inflammatory pain in animal models. While more research is needed, these findings suggest that CBD in medical marijuana could be beneficial for pain management.

The Entourage Effect

When various compounds within the marijuana plant are used together, they can produce more significant effects than when used individually. For example, the terpene myrcene, commonly found in some strains of medical marijuana, may enhance the analgesic effects of THC.

Studies, such as the one published in the “Journal of Psychopharmacology” [3], have indicated that whole-plant medical marijuana extracts may be more effective at managing pain and other symptoms compared to isolated compounds. 

2. Nausea and Vomiting Control

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy often lead to severe nausea and vomiting, significantly impacting the quality of life for cancer patients. Medical marijuana, particularly THC-rich strains, has been a source of significant relief. If you have tried and failed common anti-nausea medications such as ondansetron (Zofran), promethazine (Phenergan), prochlorperazine (Compazine), and metoclopramide (reglan), medical cannabis may be for you. 

THC and Antiemetic Effects

Numerous clinical trials, including one published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” [4], have demonstrated that THC possesses potent antiemetic (anti-nausea and anti-vomiting) properties. It can effectively reduce the severity and frequency of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, making the treatment process more tolerable for cancer patients.

3. Appetite Stimulation

Cancer and its treatments often lead to appetite loss and weight loss among cancer patients. Medical marijuana, particularly strains with higher THC content, has shown promise in stimulating appetite and helping patients maintain nutritional intake.

THC and Increased Appetite

4. Anxiety and Depression Management

Cancer diagnosis and treatment can lead to anxiety and depression, affecting the emotional well-being of cancer patients. Medical marijuana, specifically strains with balanced THC and CBD ratios, has shown promise in managing these emotional challenges.

THC and Mood Enhancement

THC can have mood-enhancing properties in some individuals. While the effects can vary from person to person, a study published in the “Journal of Affective Disorders” [6] indicated that moderate doses of THC were associated with a reduction in symptoms of depression in cancer patients. It’s important to note that the response to THC can be individualized, and patients should monitor their experiences carefully.

CBD’s Potential for Anxiety Reduction

CBD, another essential cannabinoid, may help reduce anxiety. Research published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychology” [7] suggested that CBD could have anxiolytic effects. Cancer patients in Tampa experiencing anxiety may find products with higher CBD content beneficial.

5. What are the approved medical conditions for the use of Medical Marijuana in Florida? 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Cancer

Crohn’s Disease

Epilepsy

Glaucoma

HIV/AIDs

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Parkinson’s Disease

PTDS

Terminal conditions 

6. Methods of Consumption

Patients can choose from various methods of consuming medical marijuana, including:

Smoking or vaporizing

Edibles (such as gummies or baked goods)

Oral (such as capsules)

Tinctures or oils

Topical creams and Patches

Suppositories 

It’s essential for patients to work closely with their healthcare providers to determine the best method and dosage for their specific needs.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and Anti-Cancer Benefits

The Rick Simpson Story

Rick Simpson’s journey with RSO began when he claimed to have used it to treat his own skin cancer. His story, while anecdotal, sparked interest in the potential of RSO for cancer patients.

7. General Cannabis Recommendations

If you are new to medical cannabis you should look for products with 1:1 CBD:THC ratios or products that have higher levels of CBD when compared to THC.

Make sure you are hydrated, have at least a small amount of food in your system, you are in the right state of mind, and in a comfortable safe environment when first using cannabis. 

Cannabis should not be mixed with alcohol. 

8. Potential Side Effects of THC

It’s essential to acknowledge that THC, while effective in pain management, may have potential side effects that cancer patients should be aware of:

Cognitive Impairment

THC can temporarily impair cognitive function, leading to difficulties with memory and concentration. Patients using medical marijuana with higher THC concentrations should exercise caution, especially when engaging in tasks that require mental clarity, such as driving. Unless you have a terminal condition lower THC products are generally recommended for this reason. If you are below the age of 25 it is important to know that your brain is still developing and you are particularly susceptible to side effects of high THC products. 

Anxiety and Paranoia

In some cases, THC may induce or exacerbate anxiety and paranoia, particularly in individuals who are prone to these conditions. Patients should communicate any such experiences with their healthcare providers to adjust their treatment plan if necessary.

Dry Mouth and Increased Heart Rate

THC commonly causes dry mouth (cottonmouth) and an increased heart rate, known as tachycardia. These side effects are generally mild but may be bothersome for some patients.

9. Legal Considerations

Hawthorne Oncology Pain Experts (HOPE) and Dr. Podgorski are not lawyers and the information provided in this blog is not legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer if you have any questions. 

10. Conclusion

[1] Smith, F. L., Cichewicz, D., Martin, Z. L., & Welch, S. P. (2007). The enhancement of morphine antinociception in mice by delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 321(3), 880-889.

[2] Costa, B., Trovato, A. E., Comelli, F., Giagnoni, G., & Colleoni, M. (2007). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European Journal of Pharmacology, 556(1-3), 75-83.

[3] Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.

[4] Meiri, E., Jhangiani, H., Vredenburgh, J. J., Barbato, L. M., Carter, F. J., Yang, H. M., … & Breuer, A. (2016). Efficacy of dronabinol alone and in combination with ondansetron versus ondansetron alone for delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 32(6), 1085-1093.

[5] Strasser, F., Luftner, D., Possinger, K., Ernst, G., Ruhstaller, T., Meissner, W., … & Giese, T. (2006). Comparison of orally administered cannabis extract and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in treating patients with cancer-related anorexia-cachexia syndrome: a multicenter, phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial from the Cannabis-In-Cachexia-Study-Group. Annals of Oncology, 18(9), 1660-1666.

[6] Trigo, J. M., Lagzdins, D., Rehm, J., Selby, P., Gamaleddin, I., Fischer, B., … & Huestis, M. A. (2017). Effects of fixed or self-titrated dosages of Sativex on cannabis withdrawal and cravings. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 37(3), 341-348.

[7] Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.

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