Cancer sucks. There’s no pretty way to say how terrible it is because there is no reason to romanticize something like cancer. Luckily we live in an age where scientists are finding ways to make us live longer, battle disease, and defeat death when it’s on our door. While cannabis is widely used to treat cancer, many people are using the power of chemo and cannabis together to make sure that they win the tiresome battle they are struggling through. If you are thinking about taking CBD oil for your chemotherapy side-effects, you should learn how it works to know if this is the right route for your recovery.
How Cancer Works
We know cancer sucks, but why is it so dangerous? Did you know that your body is producing cancerous cells all of the time? Luckily, your body has a built-in system to help protect your inner goods. But sometimes your cells are overwhelmed, and your DNA gets damaged. These cells with this new genetic code begin to multiply faster than your body can handle, and cancerous tumors are formed. This is especially true when you expose yourself to things like cigarette smoke, causing more cancer cells to form than your body knows what to do with. That is when chemotherapy comes in like the A-Team guns a blazing.
How Chemotherapy Works
Chemotherapy is like a little militia that goes through your bloodstream and takes out dividing cells. This is great news when it comes to cancer because that’s the whole problem, it’s growing out of control! Chemotherapy comes in and targets the cells that grow and divide quickly throughout your entire body, unlike radiation or surgery which just attacks cancer in a specific area. In some cases, chemotherapy can be so effective in destroying cancer cells that your doctor can’t detect them in your body anymore. Sometimes it’s a little less effective and just stops the growth from spreading or shrinks tumors that are causing pain. But one thing chemotherapy does that we wish it didn’t is attacking healthy cells.
The chemotherapy A-Team really does have guns a blazing. They aren’t only attacking cancer cells, but they are also attacking other dividing cells like in your bone marrow, skin, mouth, throat, areas in the digestive system, and hair. This is why some of the most common side effects are losing your hair, skin lesions, and brittle bones. Chemotherapy does a lot of good for a lot of people, but it is a painful experience that isn’t just one trip to the doctor.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
The severity of the side-effects vary depending on the individual and the dose that they are taking. Not all chemotherapies have risky side-effects and a lot of the cell loss that you experience will recover after treatment.
- Hair loss
- Bruising easily
- Appetite change
- Generalized pain
- Mouth sores
- Skin rash
- Trouble breathing
- Low blood pressure*
*If you are experiencing low blood pressure from your chemotherapy, CBD oil may make this symptom worse. CBD oil has shown in studies to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, so talking to your doctor before using CBD oil is a must. Even if you don’t have low blood pressure! Your doctor should always know what medicines you are taking to make sure they are treating you to the best of their abilities.
How Can CBD Oil Help?
What Is CBD Oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis or hemp plant. In the United States, hemp is the way that many manufacturers use to comply with the laws that blanket over the entire country while still getting medical cannabis out to our communities. At CBD Instead, all of the products in our shop come from hemp plants to make sure that we can get to everyone in all 50 states.
How does CBD Oil Work?
A cannabinoid is a term used to label the chemicals in cannabis that interact with your brain and body when it is consumed. Some of these chemicals bind to receptors while others elevate compounds that are produced in your body to cause a reaction that makes a biological response. CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t directly bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, but instead, it elevates endocannabinoids to make the endocannabinoids system more effective. But for this to mean anything to you, you need to know what the endocannabinoid system is.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is in charge of how regulated your body is, also known as homeostasis. A good ECS will maintain the right body temperature, keep you in an overall good mood, and keep your metabolism healthy. The way that the ECS works is through endocannabinoids and cannabinoids receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors are all over your body from your toes to your colon to your brain. There are two receptors that we know of, possibly a third but scientists are still working on that one, and they are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is mainly located in the brain while CB2 receptors are more evenly spread throughout your body. CBD interacts with these receptors by elevating endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are chemicals that your body already produces with the purpose of binding to cannabinoid receptors to regulate the body. The endocannabinoid anandamide binds mainly with the CB1 receptor which helps to regulate your neurological functions. The endocannabinoid 2-AG binds primarily with the CB2 receptor which helps to regulate your immune functions.
CBD For Chemo Side Effects
Being able to interact with the endocannabinoids system gives CBD oil a lot of range when it comes to the treatment of side-effects. CBD can’t help with every side-effect you encounter, but it may make your life a lot easier when dealing with chemotherapy.
Nausea is unpleasant, and it can lead to vomiting and starvation. How can you eat when you feel like you can barely hold down water? Without food, how will your body be strong enough to continue on the fight? You are caught in a vicious cycle, but CBD oil may be able to help you break out.
When you get nauseous, your body is just trying to protect you. It’s like “Hey! There’s something in here, and we are just gonna go ahead and flush it out for you.” It is how your body combats food poisoning or ingesting dangerous chemicals. And you know those super awesome chemicals dopamine and serotonin that make us happy? Well, they betrayed us because they are at the heart of nausea. CBD oil has shown in studies to help with nausea by reducing the production of serotonin neurotransmitters that cause nausea.
Pain is another common symptom of chemotherapy that patients are tired of dealing with. Pain is another thing your body does to protect you. Don’t you notice how angry you get when you’re in pain? Your body uses this sensation as a threat detector, making changes in the body so that you can fight off predators. However, you don’t want to fight off chemotherapy, just cancer.
CBD oil has shown to help reduce pain by making your body less sensitive to it. The only reason you feel pain is because your brain tells your body to, so what would happen if that transmission was interrupted?
CBD elevates the endocannabinoid anandamide which binds to the CB1 receptor which we covered above. What you now know is that it helps with your neurological system, which includes your body’s sensitivity to pain. Anandamide will bind to the CB1 receptor and tell it to stop sending out so many pain signals. This interrupted transmission is how CBD oil is able to help relieve you of pain all over your body.
Did I mention that cancer sucks? It sucks so much it’s depressing. There is a lot to unpack when you get diagnosed with cancer, and a traumatic life event like this can lead to isolation and depression. It is imperative that you have a healthy support system to keep your mood uplifted when you feel like you have every right to be angry and depressed all of the time. It’s not that you don’t have the right, because you absolutely do, it’s just that it makes the whole experience worse and depression just plain isn’t healthy.
Taking CBD oil may be able to help with depressive symptoms by uplifting your mood and manipulating your brain chemistry. In studies, CBD hemp oil has shown that it elevates chemicals that are usually lacking in the depressed brain, and the CB1 receptor helps with more than just pain; it moderates your mood as well.
Stress and Anxiety
It can be stressful undergoing chemo. Having an illness is stressful enough, but cancer comes in with the gold medal for anxiety. But stress isn’t good for you either! It has shown to wreak havoc on your immune system and cardiovascular system. So if you are stressing out and feeling anxious, take some CBD.
When the anandamide that is elevated by the CBD oil binds to the CB1 receptor, it tells the receptor to stop sending out panic signals. Your amygdala is in overdrive, and CBD oil has shown in studies that it is able to reduce this overactivity.
Everyone is trying to lose weight, but many patients undergoing chemotherapy are trying to gain it. With nausea, pain, depression, and anxiety, hunger is nowhere to be found. But CBD oil may be able to help with this side-effect as well.
Remember that good old endocannabinoid anandamide? It does a whole lot of work in your body because it plays a role in your appetite as well. Studies have shown that by elevating anandamide in rodent models, their appetite was stimulated leading scientists to believe that CBD oil could be a valid treatment option for cancer and HIV patients with no appetite.