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Terminal Illness and Medical Marijuana

Terminal illness is a broad term used to describe any kind of illness that is incurable or untreatable. Patients with a terminal illness have been told that they have a certain remaining life expectancy and their disease will likely result in death. Illnesses like cancer, AIDS, and kidney disease can be diagnosed as terminal illnesses when the disease is too advanced to be treated. However, there are countless other diseases that can become terminal.

Potential mental benefits of medical marijuana

One of the main issues surrounding a terminal illness is the psychological trauma associated with the diagnosis. Many patients fall into a deep depression and may even turn to substance abuse. Additionally, many of these patients have such advanced illnesses that they suffer from chronic pain, which only further amplifies their psychological symptoms.

While there are many different conditions that cause terminal illnesses, each having their own unique symptoms, most patients experience a similar set of symptoms during the end stages of life, including both physical and emotional or mental symptoms.

Patients with terminal illnesses often struggle with the types of palliative treatments they’re prescribed. Opiates and antidepressants can both produce side effects that can aggravate many of the end-stage struggles people experience. Medical cannabis is an alternative or complementary treatment option that many people with terminal illnesses have had success with.

Potential physical benefits of medical marijuana

One of the strongest arguments for medical marijuana and terminal illness is for the treatment of nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Nausea and vomiting can occur with several terminal illnesses such as cancer and HIV / AIDS.

Cancer and HIV / AIDS can also result in loss of appetite. It is expected at the very end of life that appetite decreases until it is nonexistent in many cases. However, it is often good for patients to eat as much as possible until it becomes impossible. Medical marijuana can help by producing hunger-inducing effects and is prescribed for just such occasions.

Links

Pot in Palliative Care: What We Need to Know

Journal of Palliative Medicine

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Medical Marijuana Use in Older Adults

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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A selective review of medical cannabis in cancer pain management

Annals of Palliative Medicine

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