Malnutrition and the Role of Medical Marijuana

Cancer patients are greatly affected with two syndromes: appetite loss and wasting. These conditions reduce quality of life and at worst hasten death. Because patients are unable to take in food that their physical bodies need, the symptoms oftentimes become even more unbearable than the sickness itself. It is for this reason that researchers are working hard to study the possibility of medical marijuana in helping patients with these medical conditions  by alleviating their pain and other syndromes associated with cancer disease.

Depending on the type of cancer, between 50 and 80 percent of patients develop cachexia, an unequal loss of lean body tissues. Cachexia occurs oftentimes during the concluding stages of highly developed lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Stimulating the wasting process are cytokines, proteins which are generated by the body’s immune system as a reaction to tumor. Both AIDS and cancer patients presently are given similar treatments in case cachexia happens as an outcome of HIV infection.

The ability to stimulate appetite, or “having the munchies,” is what marijuana is really renowned for. Such effect is ultimately because of THC’s action, as confirmed in a number of studies. Patients with cancer who have taken THC in its dronabinol form were inclined to experience a slowing of weight loss and an appetite increase. Other patients could also take advantage of combination therapy which consists of cytokine blocker integrated with THC to enhance appetite and to, a greater extent, reduce anxiety, pain, and nausea.

The primary advantage of cannabinoids is their power to alleviate numerous symptoms at once. Patients who have poor responses to usual antiemetics may benefit greatly from cannabinoids as a helpful alternative. Likewise, because cannabinoids shown to suppress vomiting and nausea through a variety of mechanisms than other antiemetic compounds, there is also a probability that cannabinoids may be capable of making other medications more effective.

The IOM team has suggested the advancement of a rapid-onset drug delivery system that could give the advantages of inhaling cannabinoids without the harmful effects of smoking. The IOM team has resolved that the dangerous effects of smoking marijuana to relieve chemotherapy-induced vomiting might be overshadowed by the benefits of antiemetics. They suggest that patients be assessed on case-to-case basis, and those who qualify could be given marijuana for use under strict medical supervision.

  • There is logical probability that the patient’s symptoms would be eased through inhaling cannabinoids
  • Treatment of patients is facilitated under close medical supervision and their treatment is evaluated for effectiveness
  • An institutional review board oversees all the treatments, which consists of scientists who are experts in the fields yet are not involved in the particular study being assessed, as required for all federally funded research involving human subjects. The review board only approves studies that it will not abuse the welfare and rights of participants.

The harms of smoking are unrelated for the terminally ill. There are actually no grounds to disallow marijuana to a person who is nearing death, from a medical standpoint.

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