At the young age of 27, my life changed forever.
I found a swollen lymph node, and for the next several months, I was in and out of countless doctor’s offices trying to get a diagnosis. As a lifelong hypochondriac, my mind was constantly full of anxiety, expecting the worst.
I was eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a curable form of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system. My doctors prescribed me a seemingly never-ending list of drugs, and I quickly realized that the anxiety I felt over the past few months was nothing compared to the drugs’ side effects.
Six months of chemotherapy was partnered with steroids to ward off weight loss, anti-nausea medicine to reduce vomiting, and anti-anxiety medicine to help me cope mentally. The battle against cancer was simply exhausting, and it didn’t help that all the medicine I was on only seemed to make me feel even more sick and miserable.
As a last-ditch effort, I asked my doctor if I could replace some of my medications with medical marijuana (MMJ) — and thankfully, he wasn’t against it. Almost immediately, my quality of life increased, and my battle with cancer became much more tolerable.
Avoiding the Side Effects
Virtually every medication — whether prescription or over-the-counter — comes with a list of side effects. Some pills exist to calm the side effects of other pills, and even they come with their own lists of side effects. It’s a crazy cycle of discomfort.
Patients should consider incorporating MMJ not only because there is less risk of adverse side effects, but also because it could very well relieve the core ailment they’re suffering from.
If your medication is causing you any of the following side effects, seriously consider talking to your doctor about incorporating MMJ into your treatment plan:
- Insomnia: Whether it’s a side effect or a disorder on its own, addictive sleep aids are the typical go-to for treatment. Though they tend to be effective, the scary side effects of these medications are well-documented.Marijuana, on the other hand, is a much safer option for those struggling to sleep. For proof of that, check out this medical study where nearly every single participant fell asleep faster after ingesting cannabis. On a personal note, I can tell you that one small puff of marijuana (Indica strain) puts me to sleep within 10 minutes with no side effects whatsoever. No sleeping pill can compete with that kind of performance.
- Loss of appetite: Some medications can either cause food to lose its taste or cause patients to lose their appetites altogether. Either way, this leads to involuntary weight loss — something that’s especially dangerous for the elderly or anyone who’s battling a serious illness like cancer.MMJ has been proven to trigger hormones that stimulate the senses and drastically increase your appetite. Adding it to your treatment regimen will help you keep your weight up and avoid getting put on steroids.
- Nausea: The horrid sensation of nausea is something I know all too well. When undergoing chemo, I was given anti-nausea prescription medication that caused severe anxiety, clammy hands, and weirdly enough, hiccups. These side effects led to more prescriptions, until I eventually lost track of which drugs were fighting my cancer and which ones were fighting my side effects.Replacing my anti-nausea medicine with MMJ both eliminated all these nasty side effects and essentially cured my nausea. In my six months of chemo — something that’s notorious for causing stomach issues — I only vomited once, and that happens to be when I was brave enough to try and eat smoked salmon minutes after a chemotherapy session.
If you’re dealing with a chronically upset stomach, consider this recent study that found MMJ can soothe nausea before it even starts.
- Addiction: Chronic pain is a very real issue that many people suffer from, and unfortunately, it’s often treated with incredibly addictive and highly dangerous opiates. Nearly 200,000 people have overdosed on opioid painkillers since 1999, as what often begins as a simple prescription to help cope with a surgery or illness can easily explode into an out-of-control addiction.As you might expect, MMJ can be a contender in the fight against chronic pain and addiction, helping you sidestep the potentially fatal side effects of your medication. Less addictive and less harmful, marijuana can drastically reduce chronic pain and lead to a better quality of life.
Marijuana isn’t just for wayward teens and hippies anymore, and you don’t even need to be a smoker to reap its many benefits. More and more studies continue to point to the effectiveness of MMJ as it cements itself as a viable natural alternative to traditional medicine. It has the potential to help everyone — even kids.
If your medication is causing nagging or debilitating side effects, MMJ can likely provide the relief you’re looking for.
Faisal Ansari is the co-founder of MMJRecs, a telemedicine platform in the medical marijuana industry. As a former cancer patient who has reaped the medicinal benefits of marijuana, Faisal co-founded MMJRecs to help others connect to doctors with convenience and ease. He’s a University of Miami graduate with a degree in finance. Faisal owns College Hunks Hauling Junk franchises in Orlando and Tampa, Florida. He is trilingual and speaks English, Portuguese, and Spanish.