Marijuana has had a turbulent history in the United States. Starting in the mid-1990s, however, there was a push to introduce the medical benefits of cannabis to the American people once again— “once again,” because before the 20th century, marijuana was almost entirely legal.
A patient’s perspective
Laura was a physician who spent much of her clinical time treating substance abuse disorders, and she had no recent experience with cannabis herself. Her aversion to using cannabis when she was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer did not surprise me. Nausea, and the anxiety that preceded its inevitable occurrence, were disabling. I trained with Laura in family medicine, and I had appreciated the beneficial effects of cannabis used by my cancer patients, but it was hard getting Laura to accept my advice.
Finally, I introduced her to a calibrated vaporizer – a method of administration that could provide quick relief, but was different than the ‘smoke a joint out behind the barn’ approach she had imagined. She started with a CBD-rich herb that had a ratio of 2:1 CBD:THC, hoping that the resulting intoxication would be mild enough to tolerate.
I received a call from Laura three days after her latest chemo, and quickly answered it to see if her trial of cannabis had been helpful to her. At first I was concerned because she was crying into the phone, but when I could understand her words I was thrilled. She reported, “It worked faster, better, and more completely than any of the prescriptions my oncologist gave me.”
If even reading about nausea and vomiting will make you queasy, you may want to jump to the end of this article and skip the potentially nauseating details. Nausea is like that – easy to feel if you are so inclined.
Nausea and vomiting are each distinctive, different problems – clearly related, but quite different when it comes to cause and treatment. Those who suffer know that nausea is worse to live with than vomiting because it is a continuous sensation, and is harder to control.
What is nausea?
Nausea and vomiting are protective defense mechanisms in the human body, and short-term episodes can be therapeutic, though miserable. But what if nausea is not short-term? What if it is an unavoidable side effect, or chronic, with no relief in sight?
If there is no clear trigger for nausea, a patient should work with their doctor to discover the underlying problem. This is true especially if the nausea does not resolve within a day or two because that may be a sign of more serious problems.
Cannabinoid therapy is connected to the part of the biological matrix where body and brain meet. Since CBD and other compounds in cannabis are so similar to the chemicals created by our own bodies, they are integrated better than many synthetic drugs. According to Bradley E. Alger, a leading scientist in the study of endocannabinoids with a PhD from Harvard in experimental psychology, “With complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind.
High Times article by Martin A Lee highlights the breakthrough research on CBD, and how it has revolutionized the story of cannabis medicine.
Both milk thistle and cannabis convey therapeutic benefits that are mediated by the endocannabinoid system. The active component in milk thistle, silymarin, is responsible for its liver protective qualities and influence both CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body.
Nishi Whiteley discusses the theme of cannabinoids and oxidation from her book “Chronic Relief: A Guide to Cannabis for the Terminally & Chronically Ill”. In the same way that paint protects metal from rusting or lemon juice protects apples from turning brown, cannabinoids protect our cells from oxidation.
Low-dose and high-dose treatments, protocols for chronic users, and the potential benefits of psychoactivity.
An excerpt from Jonathan Treasure’s new book, The Thinking Patient’s Guide to Cannabis & Cancer.