To improve the quality of life, it is sought that with the treatment of cannabis cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy, take advantage of the benefits of this medicinal plant.
Antiemetic / Against nausea
Nausea and vomiting are very common side effects of chemotherapy. Cannabinoids (in particular CBD) reduce symptoms in chemotherapy patients by binding to HT-5 receptors and blocking the action of serotonin.
Both THC and CBD play a role in controlling nausea and vomiting, THC by agonizing the CB1 receptor, and CBD by antagonizing 5-HT receptors and blocking the action of serotonin.
Chemotherapy drugs are well known for causing loss of appetite, due to their effects on the serotonin signaling system.
Various studies have shown that the presence of ghrelin or cannabinoid agonists, such as THC, causes an increase in the production of an AMP enzyme, activated by protein kinase (AMPK), in the hypothalamus. The enzyme is crucial for the metabolic processes that regulate energy homeostasis (energy balance) in the body, and is produced in response to stimulation of the GHS-R1a ghrelin receptors found in the GI tract. Therefore, THC can do the job of ghrelin effectively by activating the receptors and directly stimulating the brain to produce the sensation of hunger.
Diarrhea can be a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and it can also be a symptom of the cancer itself. If episodes of diarrhea are prolonged, they can cause dehydration, weight loss, fever, and abdominal pain. Secretory diarrhea, in which the body releases excess water or hormones into the GI tract, is the most common form associated with cancer.
Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of secretory diarrhea, particularly THC, which agonizes CB1 receptors in the GI tract and thus helps in the regulation of intestinal motility and secretions. Inflammation of the gut can also play a role in causing diarrhea. The use of cannabinoids to reduce inflammation is well known.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often report pain (caused by nervous system failure). Much of the pain that occurs from chemotherapy occurs due to inflammation, although it can also arise due to the formation of lesions or ulcers on the mucous membranes. In addition to this, the disease itself can cause severe pain in its later stages, often due to tumors putting pressure on nerves, bones, or organs as they grow.
Cannabis is widely used in the treatment of chronic pain resulting from a wide variety of diseases that are not limited to cancer. The ability of cannabis to reduce inflammation is of vital importance in the treatment of pain that arises due to chemotherapy. CBD and THC reduce inflammation by inhibiting the function of macrophages, which are large and specialized white blood cells essential for various immune responses.
Depression in cancer patients is one of the symptoms that receives the least attention, but that can be seriously detrimental to the quality of life of the patient, and that most of them suffer. Left untreated, depression can lead to a number of complications that can work together to effectively make the patient feel even sicker - for example, loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy can increase, significantly, in patients with depression. It can also affect sleep quality and stress levels, which can cause physiological health problems. Cancer patients treated with antidepressants also report reduced fatigue, anxiety, and pain.
The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating mood and subjective levels of happiness, and endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, are central to the process.