Even though he doesn’t get into the relationship directly between cannabis, chemotherapy and appetite, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN did a small documentary on the health benefits of cannabis (I linked to it at the end of this post). The understanding that cannabis has very good health benefits is nothing new to those who have actually been forced (due to health conditions) to research the use of cannabis. But for those who haven’t looked into it and are still of the 70 year old mindset that it’s just for stoners… well… take a look. The story of it helping a little girl is very neat and hits close to home. The story is mostly about cannabis used for targeting specific health issues such as seizures and pain, but there are other indirect health uses for it.
Chemotherapy and Appetite
During our daughters cancer treatment involving an aggressive cocktail of 5 different chemical agents, cannabis may or may not have been used to help with Miette’s loss of appetite (there’s nearly a nearly 100% chance that those receiving aggressive chemotherapy treatment experience this side effect) by putting a half of a rice grain size bead of such oil on a Hershey’s Kiss. We understood that Miette’s body needed nutrition to help restore what the chemotherapy destroyed. Every kilogram of protein, potassium, iron, calcium, etc (at the strategic times, of course) was so extremely important to stay “ahead of the game” and not have to play a hopeless game of catch up. Chemotherapy annihilates the digestive tracts ability to absorb nutrients. It causes extreme diarrhea. It also causes extreme nausea since those fast growing cells in the digestive tract are being killed. The killing of the inner membrane (the carpet like fingers called “villi“) of the digestive tract also inhibits the tract’s ability to absorb any food that ends up getting there and thus, get it in the blood stream… IF the patient can even get over the nausea! Again, the idea is to literally stay ahead of the chemotherapy effects. Prepare the body by building up the strength of the blood, the organs, the immune system, etc. Then, when the chemo agents starts killing off the villi, the “hit” won’t be as bad as it would’ve been if the body wasn’t prepared and built up. Since the villi won’t be as badly damaged after a round of chemo, the villi can absorb more nutrients into the blood stream and help the re-building process itself and every other part of the body that WILL get damaged. The more research one does in how to combat cancer and chemotherapy agents, the more one will realize it all centers around the gut. It’s the front door to the body’s immune and healing system. If it’s closed, the body closes.
Don’t forget, chemo is literally poison. I’m not just saying that out of my dislike of chemo; it really is poisonous. You will hear me say this over and over… chemotherapy treatment is a process of killing the entire body. The modern medicine idea is to control that slow death and stop treatment just short of fatal doses. Concentrating on making sure the gut is doing the best it can will only work for a while (but that “while” is crucial to increasing the patient’s chances of succumbing to the chemotherapy). Eventually, the poison will overtake all the work one put into keeping the digestive tract as properly functioning as possible. The unknown is when will that overtaking happen? The chemo will be destroying the body faster than the body can heal… and that’s with doing everything correctly on the nutrition and natural medicine side. The “numbers” (the bloodwork numbers that show the condition of the blood and the immune system – aka, how much is the body still alive) get harder and harder to bring back up after every dose of these drugs. The more aggressive the treatment plan the faster this happens. The hope is that the cancer is gone before the chemo agents put the body into failure mode. So very thankfully, for Miette, the cancer was resolved before that happened and we were able to cut short her treatment as well. It’s nasty stuff.
Cannabis and Appetite
So back to appetite. Keeping the nausea down is crucial. There are pharmaceuticals that they give to chemo patients that are supposed to help with that (even though one of the side effects is nausea). Miette was given those drugs. She also, more or less, quite possibly, may or may not have, with any amount of uncertainty, undeniably consumed some substance that could or couldn’t quite have possibly been cannabis – if that wasn’t what it ended up not being. But whatever it was or wasn’t, her appetite increased after possibly consuming it; even with nausea. That’s the key, being able to EAT when feeling nauseous. She still threw up at times, but she was still hungry and it helped keep her body ahead of the game.
I’m not knowledgeable of the scientific reasons cannabis increases appetite. I haven’t dived into neuroscience yet. I do know no one has ever died from cannabis. I do know the side effects of cannabis are 99% less than that of drugs like etoposide or doxorubicin and the like. But if there’s something that has virtually zero side effects and it increases appetite at a time when eating was never so important then I’m all ears, even for my 5 year old… and you should be too.
Here’s the video. Watch it.