Marijuana Use in Patients Living with Lymphoma

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that not only displays the trademark side effects of other cancers, but also compromises the immune system, making the patient vulnerable to other diseases. It is a cancer of immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. 

There are lymph nodes all over the body, including in the brain, bone marrow, and spleen. You can feel them as little lumps in your groin, armpits, and along the underside of the jaw. If you can feel them in your bone marrow or brain, you are pressing too hard.

There are two broad types of lymphoma – Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s.

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma — cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the condition progresses, it compromises your body’s ability to fight infection and symptoms appear. Many symptoms may be similar to those of flu, such as fever, fatigue and night sweats. 
  • In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — normally, old lymphocytes die and your body creates new ones to replace them. But in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your body produces abnormal lymphocytes that continue to divide and grow without control. This excess of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing them to swell.

The compromised immune system also makes the patient vulnerable to infection, bacterial diseases, and viruses. When your body gets a cold or the flu, the symptoms you experience are your body’s battle with the pathogen flowing in your blood. All thanks to your immune system.

Without an active immune system, a dose of the flu can be devastating.

Can Cannabis Help Patients with Lymphoma?

Unfortunately, when it comes to cannabis research, much of the discussion has centered on the non-Hodgkin’s variety. Laboratory and clinical evidence on the effects of cannabis in Hodgkin’s lymphoma itself is lacking.

While cannabis compounds have successfully killed cancer cells in the laboratory, much of the research has centered around cancers like glioma, leukemia, breast, skin cancer, and a few others. This is important to keep in mind, as some types of cancers may respond better to cannabis treatments than others.

It may or may not be able to fight cancer cells and tumors caused by Hodgkin’s Disease, the herb may be able to help Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients in a variety of other ways. Here are four reasons why cannabis can help ease symptoms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and improve patients’ quality of life:

  • Pain management
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mental health
  • Sleep deprivation

Whether cannabis can be effective in the direct fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma remains to be seen. However, it may be able to help the patient in a number of other ways. Appropriate use of marijuana and its extracts can ease the symptoms of lymphoma and improve one’s overall quality of life.