New Study Finds Over-the-Counter Cannabis Products Can Aid Cancer Patients in Coping with Symptoms and Chemotherapy Side Effects.
In a recent research investigation reported in Exploration in Medicine, it has been revealed that over-the-counter cannabis products can assist individuals battling cancer in effectively managing their symptoms and mitigating the adverse effects of chemotherapy.
The study, conducted in Colorado, involved the assessment of 25 cancer patients who voluntarily purchased and consumed legal cannabis edibles. Over a span of two weeks, the participants experienced notable enhancements in their sleep patterns, cognitive abilities, and a reduction in pain levels.
The University of Colorado, Boulder initiated the study by recruiting the 25 cancer patients through advertisements in oncology clinics and social media posts. The participants represented a diverse range of cancer types, including lung, colon, brain, and breast cancer.
Before the commencement of cannabis consumption, all participants were required to complete a survey assessing their sleep quality, psychological well-being, pain intensity, and overall quality of life.
Following this initial assessment, the patients were tasked with procuring their own cannabis edibles from state-approved retailers, allowing them the freedom to select their preferred products and quantities. The participants chose from a variety of edible options offered by 18 different brands, including chocolates, gummies, and tinctures with varying THC:CBD ratios.
After the two-week period of cannabis usage, the participants completed a follow-up survey, enabling the research team to compare the results with the initial questionnaire.
The findings indicated that the average sleep quality among participants had significantly improved, particularly for those who consumed CBD-rich edibles. Moreover, products with a higher CBD content appeared to alleviate the pain experienced by many patients, leading to greater reductions in pain intensity.
Surprisingly, the researchers observed a substantial enhancement in cognitive abilities among the participants. Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-author of the study, expressed her astonishment, stating, “We thought we might see some problems with cognitive function, but people actually felt like they were thinking more clearly. It was a surprise.”
Bryan and her colleagues linked this cognitive improvement to the reduction in pain experienced by the patients. As the intensity of pain decreased, there appeared to be a corresponding enhancement in cognitive function.
However, the survey results did not show significant changes in other areas, such as overall quality of life, anxiety levels, or depression. The researchers concluded that while over-the-counter edibles could provide substantial benefits to cancer patients dealing with pain and sleep issues, further comprehensive studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
Gregory Giordano, the lead author of the study and a professional research assistant at the University of Colorado, Boulder, emphasized the importance of investigating the potential indirect role of cannabis use in improving cognitive function, especially since oncologists and patients are concerned about the potential negative impact of cancer treatments on cognitive abilities.
The study conducted in Boulder is considered one of the initial investigations to examine the effects of commercially available cannabis products. Most previous studies on cannabis and cancer have focused on clinical cannabinoid formulations, yielding conflicting conclusions.
A systematic review conducted in 2020, which examined six randomized controlled trials, found no discernible difference between cannabinoid formulations and placebos in terms of altering cancer patients’ average pain scores. Mike Bennett, a professor of palliative medicine at the University of Leeds and co-author of that review, expressed his belief that while the evidence does not currently support the use of cannabinoid medicines for managing cancer pain, there is potential benefit in exploring different types of cannabis products and employing alternative outcome measures in future research.