Finding Balance: The Best Edibles for Cancer Pain

by Angela G

Key Findings

  • Cancer, the second leading cause of death in the US, has profound physical and emotional effects on patients.
  • Cannabis is slowly gaining recognition for its potential in alleviating cancer-related symptoms.
  • Research shows promising results in using cannabis to manage nausea, vomiting, pain, appetite loss, anxiety, and sleep issues in cancer patients.
  • THC, CBD, and balanced THC-CBD ratios are critical components in edibles for cancer symptom relief.
  • Precautions like starting with low cannabis edible doses and consulting healthcare professionals are crucial.
  • Various edible options, including gummies, capsules, and oils, offer discreet and smoke-free alternatives for symptom management.

Cancer continues to be a formidable adversary, ranking as the second leading cause of death in the United States, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The relentless toll it takes on patients, both physically and emotionally, is undeniable. However, amidst the challenging landscape of cancer treatment, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of cannabis. 

A growing body of research suggests that cannabis may relieve some of the most debilitating symptoms of cancer and its treatments. Keep reading to get into the potential benefits of cannabis for cancer patients and explore the best edibles for cancer pain and other distressing symptoms.

Can Cannabis Help Cancer Patients? Science Explains

Benefits of cannabis for cancer patients

Cannabis, often considered a controversial plant, has gained significant attention recently for its potential therapeutic properties, particularly in cancer care. While more research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and effectiveness, several studies have provided valuable insights into the benefits of cannabis for cancer patients.

Nausea and Vomiting

One of the most well-documented uses of cannabis in cancer care is its ability to combat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. A 2001 quantitative systematic review ran a study that found cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, can significantly reduce these distressing side effects, improving the quality of life for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Pain Management

Cancer-related pain is a pervasive and often excruciating symptom. Cannabis may offer relief here as well. Medicines infused with cannabis could alleviate cancer-related pain, reducing the need for opioid medications with their associated risks.

“Our data suggest a role for [medicinal cannabis] as a safe and complementary treatment option in patients with cancer failing to reach adequate pain relief through conventional analgesics, such as opioids,” suggests the results of a multicentre registry study published online in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

Appetite Stimulation

Loss of appetite and weight loss are common challenges for cancer patients. Cannabis has been shown to stimulate appetite, with the famous “munchies” effect. A 2001 study demonstrated that cannabis can improve appetite and help patients maintain weight during cancer treatment.

Researchers worked with 21 adult cancer patients, randomly split into two groups: one received capsules containing THC, while the other received placebo capsules. The THC group took capsules starting at 2.5mg once a day for three days, increasing to twice a day, with the option to go up to a maximum of 20mg daily. The treatment lasted for 18 days.

The study used questionnaires to gather patient feedback before, during, and after the trial. The results showed that most (73%) patients in the THC group reported an improved overall appreciation of food, compared to only 30% in the placebo group. Furthermore, more patients in the THC group (55%) felt that the study medication enhanced food taste, compared to just 10% in the placebo group.

Regarding appetite, 64% of THC-treated patients reported an increase, while none experienced a decrease. In contrast, 50% reported a reduction in appetite among those receiving a placebo, with 20% showing no change.

Dr. Wendy Wismer, Ph.D., who served as the lead researcher on the Oxford University Press study mentioned above, expressed that: “This is the first randomized controlled trial to show that THC makes food taste better and improves appetites for patients with advanced cancer, as well as helping them to sleep and to relax better.”

Anxiety and Stress

Cancer patients often grapple with anxiety and stress, significantly impacting their overall well-being. Cannabis, particularly CBD, has gained recognition for its potential in reducing these emotional burdens. The American Cancer Society suggests that CBD may interact with receptors in the brain that regulate mood and anxiety, offering a natural way to alleviate these emotional challenges for cancer patients.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances are common among cancer patients, often stemming from pain, anxiety, or the side effects of treatment. Quality sleep is essential for the body’s healing and recovery processes. Cannabis, when used judiciously, may offer solutions to improve sleep quality, as suggested by various studies.

In a 2023 study in the article “Beyond Weed: Clinical Applications of Cannabis and Cannabinoids” on cancer patients consuming cannabis edibles, when people were allowed to use cannabis freely for two weeks, they experienced positive changes in their pain levels, sleep quality, and how well they thought.

Interestingly, using cannabis with a high CBD content (a component of cannabis) during these two weeks led to even better improvements in reducing pain and getting better sleep than using cannabis with a high THC content.

Another 2023 Colorado survey suggests that after two weeks of regular cannabis use, patients experienced improved pain relief, sleep quality, and cognitive function. Referring to the same, Professor Angela Bryan, a cannabis researcher and cancer survivor, says, “I was extremely lucky because I had some knowledge about this [cannabis use for cancer patients]. Most patients don’t. Either they don’t know it’s an option, or they’ve got well-meaning but potentially under-informed budtenders advising them.”

By addressing these five critical aspects—pain management, nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation, anxiety, and sleep—cannabis and weed edibles present a comprehensive approach to enhancing the quality of life for individuals undergoing cancer treatment. However, it remains imperative for patients to work closely with healthcare professionals to tailor their cannabis use to their unique needs, ensuring a safe and effective therapeutic experience.

Read more: CBN for Sleep: Unveiling the Best CBN Products

Best Edibles for Cancer Pain and Other Symptoms

Cannabis edibles for cancer pain

When using cannabis to manage cancer symptoms, edibles are the next-best option for many patients if a certified doctor signs off on using cannabis for cancer pain. They offer a discreet, smoke-free way to consume cannabis and are known for providing long-lasting relief. Here are some essential cannabinoids for cancer pain and edibles that can help with specific symptoms in cancer patients:

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Edibles

THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, known for its pain-relieving properties. It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system, to relieve pain, anxiety, and more. Edibles containing THC, such as gummies or chocolates, can be a practical choice for managing cancer-related symptoms.

Extensive clinical research published in 2000 in the National Academies Press suggests marijuana can address nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. THC, available as Marinol (dronabinol), has been employed for over a decade to alleviate these symptoms in cancer patients and has also been a treatment option for AIDS patients for several years. 

The US FDA approved Dronabinol in 1985 for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) when conventional antiemetic treatments were ineffective.

It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various physiological processes, including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and the immune system.

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors mainly in the periphery, especially in immunocytes and mast cells. These receptors can be activated by cannabinoids from cannabis, synthetic sources, or those produced naturally in the body. Dronabinol and other cannabinoids work by affecting these neural receptors.

Dronabinol typically starts working within 0.5 to 1 hour, peaks at 2 to 4 hours, and its psychoactive effects last around 4 to 6 hours.

You can try Wyld for THC-infused gummies in flavors like Huckleberry, Marionberry, and Raspberry. They’re the best gummies for cancer patients, especially with all the delectable flavors Wyld offers.

1:1 THC-CBD Ratio Edibles

Some cancer patients find relief from a balanced combination of THC and CBD. Edibles with a 1:1 THC-CBD ratio are available in various forms and may provide a well-rounded approach to symptom management, addressing pain, anxiety, and other issues.

Medicinal cannabis products come in various forms, including dried cannabis flower (for smoking or vaping), specialized formulations such as nabiximols with an approximate 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD, concentrated cannabis extracts in various formats like oils, capsules, pills, sublingual or intranasal sprays, suppositories, transdermal patches, E-Liquids for vaporization, and topical ointments. There are also single-molecule drugs like nabilone and dronabinol, which are FDA-approved and can be synthetic or semi-synthetic. 

For the best edibles for cancer pain with THC and CBD, consider checking out products by Kiva Confections.

CBD Edibles

CBD is another vital cannabinoid for cancer pain found in cannabis, and it’s non-psychoactive. It has been studied for its potential to reduce anxiety, inflammation, sleep disturbances, and even seizures. CBD-infused edibles, like tinctures or capsules, may help alleviate anxiety and inflammation in cancer patients.

So, can you use CBD with chemotherapy? There’s an ongoing discussion regarding its use in cancer treatment. 

Generally, it’s premature to assert that CBD can be a definitive cancer treatment. Although initial findings from limited studies involving cancer cells show promise, they are not absolute or conclusive.

Read more: Edibles Dosage: Adapting for the Perfect High Experience

Charting a Course to Wellness with Ganja Goddess

Elderly woman consuming weed edible

Cannabis and its diverse compounds offer potential benefits for various medical conditions, including cancer. While there’s promise in pain management, nausea relief, appetite stimulation, anxiety reduction, and improved sleep, it’s crucial to approach these options cautiously and in consultation with healthcare professionals.

As research continues to unfold, the full extent of cannabis’s therapeutic potential remains to be seen. For those seeking relief, Ganja Goddess provides guidance and access to products that may help alleviate suffering and enhance the quality of life. We understand that the journey towards relief is complex, and we’re committed to being your partner in finding the right solutions. You can trust that you’ll discover the best edibles for cancer pain, helping you feel better quickly.

FAQs About Best Edibles for Cancer Pain

Are there any specific strains of cannabis recommended for cancer pain in edibles?

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, some strains with higher CBD and lower THC content are often preferred for cancer pain management in edibles. These strains may relieve pain without the intense psychoactive effects of high-THC strains. However, individual responses vary, so consulting with a healthcare professional or a knowledgeable budtender at a reputable dispensary can help you find the right strain for your specific needs.

What precautions should I take when using edibles for cancer pain management?

1. Start with a low dose and wait at least two hours before considering more.
2. Consult your healthcare provider about the research and efficacy of the best edibles for cancer patients, whether cannabis tinctures or gummies.
3. Purchase from reputable sources.
4. Keep edibles away from children and pets.

What types of edibles are available for cancer patients seeking pain relief?

Various edible options are available to suit different preferences:

Gummies and chocolates: These are popular choices, offering precise dosing and a variety of flavors.
Capsules and pills: Provide a discreet and controlled way to consume cannabis.
Tinctures: Offer sublingual administration for fast-acting relief.
Infused oils: Can be added to food or beverages, allowing for dosage and consumption method customization.
Topical balms: These are formulated to target localized pain when applied directly to the skin.

How should I determine the correct dosage of edibles for my cancer pain?

1. Consult a healthcare provider or cannabis specialist.
2. Begin with a low dose (2.5-5 mg of THC).
3. Monitor your effects and adjust your dosage gradually, if needed, with the go-ahead from your doctor.
4. Be patient and track your response to find the optimal dosage for pain relief.

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