Nursing Note: Cannabis for Breast Cancer

Cancer patients in New Mexico are fortunate to live in a State with a medical cannabis program. Medical cannabis provides an alternative or adjunctive option for cancer patients who are suffering from pain, chemo-induced nausea and vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and neuropathy.  Many oncology patients use cannabis as a supplement because of the plant’s anti-cancer properties. Cannabis has an impressive safety profile and has never resulted in a lethal overdose.

How does cannabis work with cancer?

Cannabis works through multiple mechanisms to provide symptom relief and inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The cannabis plant has over 100 cannabinoids that work together to produce a wide variety of effects.

The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

CBD is not psychoactive and helps prevent neuropathy from chemotherapy. CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and helps to balance and enhance the immune system. It is also an anti-depressant and is highly effective on combating feelings of anxiety. THC is mostly known for its psychoactive, mind-altering effects but its anti-cancer properties extend well beyond its ability to induce feelings of bliss.  THC has been shown to lyse cancer cells in vitro, induce apoptosis (cancer cell death), inhibit angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and metastasis. Inhaled cannabis is remarkably effective for treating nausea and vomiting.

How do you get access to medical cannabis?

Cannabis has so much to offer but there are challenges with obtaining the medicine. The application process is lengthy and can be expensive if an agency is used. The application for the medical cannabis card can be downloaded from the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

The Registered Nurses at The Verdes Foundation suggest you ask your oncologist or primary care physician for their signature on the application.

Many physicians are reluctant to recommend medical cannabis, so if your physician will not sign the paperwork for your card there are other agencies that can assist you with this process.

How do I learn more about cannabis and cancer?

At the Verdes Foundation we understand that a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. It is life-changing, and the fear of the unknown is frightening. The Nurse Educators at the Verdes Foundation will provide support and guidance during this difficult time.

The Verdes Foundation offers a comprehensive educational-based program that provides direction and monitoring to patients in need.

Our nurses will conduct an hour-long consultation to review medical history and medications and will provide individualized guidance with written instructions. During the consultation, we will assess your personal goals of care and provide education specific to your needs.

What are the mechanisms of action for breast cancer?
  • CBD mediates breast cancer cell apoptosis
  • CBD inhibits the survival of both estrogen-receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative cell lines
  • CBD interrupts the cytokine inflammatory cascade
  • CBD is able to switch off the gene responsible for metastasis in the “triple negative” aggressive form of breast cancer
  • Turns off the over expression of ID-1, stopping it from traveling to distant tissues
  • CBDA inhibits migration of the highly invasive MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells
  • CBD has the ability to switch off the DNA that causes breast and other types of cancers to metastasize
  • CBD modulates the tumor microenvironment to inhibit cancer through multiple mechanisms
  • THC has been shown to induce apoptosis in ErbB2 positive breast cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth in animals
  • CBD inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms

If you are interested in the various CBD products at our stores, please browse them here.

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