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Is Cannabis a Good Option for Palliative Care?

If you or a loved one are battling a severe illness, you know how difficult it can be to find relief from the physical and emotional challenges that arise. If you are considering palliative or “comfort” care, you should know that you have options. There are many methods of dealing with the pain and discomfort associated with fighting a health battle, but some of them come with uncomfortable side effects. Let’s take a look at how cannabis for palliative care can address pain and discomfort in a healthier way.

What Does It Mean to Receive Palliative Care?

Palliative care is often referred to as “comfort care” or “supportive care.” It focuses on a whole-body approach to address a patient’s physical, social, psychological, and spiritual needs. You can receive palliative care at any time during a disease, but many people make the choice when other types of treatments stop working. Comfort care can be given along with traditional medical treatments, but the goal of palliative care is to improve or prevent symptoms and side effects that make you feel uncomfortable.

Palliative care is given in hospital settings, care facilities, clinics, and at home. It is most commonly used to address symptoms like pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. While it is often associated with hospice or the end of life, people of all ages benefit from supportive care and can see improvements in their quality of life.

Cannabis for Palliative Care Nurse holding cannabis leaf

What About Cannabis for Palliative Care?

Because the goal of palliative care is to prove comfort on many different levels, cannabis can be a powerful tool. Pain is often the number one reason people seek this type of care, and it can affect the mood and overall wellbeing of patients fighting a catastrophic disease. Commonly prescribed pain medications like opioids are very addictive and even toxic, making cannabis a sought-after alternative.

Fortunately, a lot of the current research on medical cannabis focuses on its analgesic benefits. In a Harvard-led review of 28 studies looking at the effectiveness of cannabinoids for pain, almost all found significant improvements in pain symptoms among patients. Both CBD and THC are known to provide analgesic effects, giving palliative patients options when it comes to using cannabis.

Other common symptoms addressed by palliative care include nausea, loss of appetite, and insomnia – all of which can be treated with cannabis with minimal side effects. Cannabis has been used for decades to stimulate appetite and ease nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also known to be a mild sedative and can help people fall asleep more easily while inducing a calm, relaxed state of mind.

Patients needing palliative care are often dealing with emotional issues and spiritual questions – especially people facing the end of life. Cannabis could help ease this existential suffering because of its positive effects on mood. While the psychoactive qualities of THC can cause anxiety for some patients, others experience feelings of euphoria and relaxation. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD has been shown to have antidepressant-like effects and is an excellent option for people who don’t tolerate THC.

If you want to learn more about how to use cannabis for palliative care, or about becoming a medical cannabis patient in Maryland, schedule a consultation with Haven. We can help you start your journey to holistic pain relief and comfort.

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