Cancer survivors are cherished champions. The life-threatening disease and its treatment cause severe damage to the mind and body of the patient. The disease not only affects the patient but also challenges the patient's family members. However, medical Cannabis subsidize the post-chemotherapy challenges, and the quality of life can improve.
In India, the number of cancer patients in 2020 stood at 1.39 million . The patient number will grow to 1.57 million by 2025, according to a report by ICMR and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research. In 2018, cancer was the second most deadly disease worldwide, with 9.6 million deaths.
One of the most common methods of treating various types of cancer is chemotherapy. The anti-cancer drugs target rapidly growing cancer cells either throughout the body or in a specific area of the body. Along with killing the growing cancer cells, chemotherapy drugs also harm healthy cells. Chemotherapy drugs can cause several harmful side effects. The various known side effects are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain, hair loss, peripheral neuropathy, constipation, etc.
Cancer and its treatment come bearing multiple challenges and complications. It is easy to comprehend that being subjected to numerous side effects can drastically reduce life quality.
A study was published for 87 cancer patients with a mean age of 59 years who had received the first cycle of chemotherapy. Below is the percentage of patients with side-effects encountered:
Nausea and vomiting: 79.3%
Decreased appetite: 65.5%
Changes in taste: 60.9%
Hair loss: 60.0%
Dry mouth: 51.7%
While it is inevitable to avoid the post-chemotherapy side effects in the first place, it is possible to manage them with cannabis extract. The cannabis extract can be made from the leaf, flower, buds, or stem of the plant. Cannabis leaf is used in India for medicine manufacturing as per the Drug and Cosmetics Act.
Cannabis leaf extract contains naturally occurring compounds called Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids, including Cannabidiol (CBD), have multiple therapeutic abilities, including inflammation reduction, pain relief, stress reduction, help in bowel conditions, anxiety management, diet improvement, and several other abilities. Various known Ayurvedic classical medicines contain cannabis leaf (Vijaya/Bhang) as an ingredient. One example can be Trilokya Vijaya Vati for pain management, anxiety, bowel, and several other conditions. Full-spectrum CBD extract from Cannabis leaf is available in the Indian market as proprietary Ayurvedic medicine that helps in managing multiple conditions.
Below is an infographic based on a published paper for Israeli cancer patients who used Cannabis for managing post-chemotherapy conditions.
The two major takeaways are:
83% of patients graded the overall efficacy of Cannabis as high.
70% of patients reported improved general well-being.
In India, two studies have emerged on medical Cannabis. The first is Phase 3 clinical trial by G.W. Pharmaceutical for their product Sativex on 162 advanced cancer patients for pain management. The other study is by Central Council For Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) in collaboration with the Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar which was conducted on patients undergoing treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. The study found Cannabis leaf helpful in treating post-chemotherapy side effects.
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India never shuts the door on cannabis medicines to make sure the patients have access to the plant's medicinal use. Medical Cannabis is a proven field of medicine for managing various unbearable conditions due to chemotherapy.
Cancer Statistics, 2020: Report From National Cancer Registry Programme, India Link
Cancer Cases In India Estimated To Be 13.9 Lakh In 2020, May Rise To 15.7 Lakh By 2025: Report Link
What is Chemotherapy? Link
The Most Common Side Effects Experienced by Patients Were Receiving First Cycle of Chemotherapy Link
Patterns of use of medical Cannabis among Israeli cancer patients: a single institution experience Link
A Two-Part Study of Sativex Oromucosal Spray for Relieving Uncontrolled Persistent Pain at any site of cancer related pain in Patients With Advanced Cancer Link
Study finds cannabis-based drugs help alleviate side-effects post-chemo AIIMS to research further Link
THE DRUGS AND COSMETICS ACT AND RULES Link