‘Cachexia’ or the layman term ‘wasting syndrome’ is enough to give nightmares even to the healthiest of people. Cachexia comes with a plethora of uneasiness starting from slight bodyweight to deteriorated energy levels. Naturally, the toll of its diagnosis and management for a pre-existing victim is more intimidating and dreadful. Well, we assure you to disclose the myths and facts about medical marijuana and its role in tackling the symptoms of cachexia. This discussion is particularly invaluable after the governmental decision of legalising marijuana in recent times. Now, medical marijuana can be titrated to cachexia patients in New York without any obstruction and with great ease.
Cachexia—causes, symptoms, and beyond
Whether cachexia qualifies as an isolated disease of its own and hence, calls out for a distinctive diagnosis plan for itself or not, is a highly ongoing debatable topic across all professions of medical science alike. Despite the well-known life-threatening potential and high mortality factor of the disease, the “cure” aspect of cachexia has remained under neglect by researchers and medicine developers to date. Cachexia is sometimes either the resultant condition developed after the end stage of some of the most serious diseases in a human body or at other times accompanied by the pre-existing ailment hand in hand. In the second case, the viable treatment option for treating cachexia is further narrowed down. The wasting syndrome is associated with excess loss of body weight and fat during which a person’s skeletal and muscle mass depletes rapidly and consistently, particularly when they are already struggling with some other illness. In cachexia, the person doesn’t intend or plan to lose weight in the first place. While the exact process behind cachexia appears vague and lacks proper studies, there are however certain factors responsible for the advancement and furtherance of the disease. Cachexia can appear especially you are already diagnosed with the following diseases:
- Various types of cancers ( 60% -80%), chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Congestive heart failure (CHF) (5%-15%).
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (5%-15%.)
- Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
- Chronic kidney and lung disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Dysphagia and anorexia.
- Cystic Fibrosis.
- Crohn’s disease.
- A severe case of sepsis.
It is also important to address the fact that cachexia might resemble some other diseases which also cause rapid weight loss such as mouth sores, an extreme case of food intolerance, anorexia nervosa intestinal hypermotility, pyloric stenosis, hiatus hernia, and sarcopenia. Hence, distinguishing cachexia is crucial for initiating proper diagnosis. Here, two points of distinction should be kept in mind.
- Cachexia occurs as the inherent defense mechanism of the body tries to protect the brain from dying. As a result, the body extracts all the stored nutrients from the adipose tissues and skeletal muscles. Hence, simply providing more nutrition or calories isn’t enough to reverse cachexia because no amount of nutrients can halt this biological tendency unless and until the root disease is eliminated.
- Having cachexia also means the elevated presence of proteins activin, myostatin, cytokines, glucocorticoids which are inflammatory substances leading to the prevention of muscle building capacity of the body.
One of the most common setbacks for recognizing cachexia is the overlapping of its symptoms with other similar wasting conditions. Therefore the physicians must rely on ticking off various criteria to conclude. Some of the most telltale symptoms are listed below.
- Having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 22 if you’re older than 65 and less than 20 if you are below 65 years old.
- Unintentionally losing more than 5% of their body weight over 6-12 months.
- Reduced muscle strength and reduced functional ability.
- Fatigue, extreme levels of weakness, lack of motivation.
- Loss of appetite and persistent feeling of nausea.
- Low fat-free mass index. ( However, not all people with cachexia appear malnourished and can appear average-sized because of their prior obesity).
- High levels of inflammation identified by blood tests.
- Low levels of the protein, albumin leading to edema or swelling.
- Having less than ten percent body fat.
Implications of cachexia
As already mentioned earlier, cachexia can potentially skyrocket your chances of morbidity. Apart from this, there are other complications and risk factors involved which undoubtedly, give a terrible living experience to the person suffering.
- The foremost risk that cachexia holds is in the form of its treatment obstructing tendencies. The wasting syndrome can worsen the primary disease it is born from by not letting the body respond to treatments properly. In turn, the wasting syndrome is further aggravated.
- Cachexia also results in impaired metabolic turnover which in turn can lower one’s quality of life dramatically.
- It makes the sufferer more exposed to infections and deadly pathogens due to lowered immunity strength.
- It heavily invades one’s choice to live independently and pleasantly. It can lead to depression and anxiety issues.
Marijuana as an answer to cachexia
Yes, we readily accept that all the discussions made above can make all possibilities of treatment for Cachexia seem bleak. But to your sheer relief, there are an array of options towards the treatment of cachexia to choose from and fortunately enough they do work to great extent if not fully. Popular medications prescribed by physicians include Testosterone, Thalidomide, Megace, L-Carnitine, and Celebrex. However, the conventional procedure for treating cachexia comes with a flood of adverse effects and can often be an expensive choice. Exactly this is where medical marijuana comes to the rescue. It helps by 1. Correcting cachexia status, 2. Controlling the symptoms and 3. Improving the quality of life.
The efficacy of cannabis as an alternative treatment option for cachexia is inextricably related to the effect cannabis has on the endocannabinoid system of our brain which helps regulate appetite, balances energy, weight gain, or loss as well as our mood. THC, a form of most notable cannabinoid present in medical marijuana signals the brain to feel more hungry or instructs to ‘munch’ more. The FDA has sanctioned Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC to stimulate appetite for weight gain. Several research reports vouched for the appetite-inducing capacity of cannabinoids by several percent. A 2007 study observed that both “marijuana and dronabinol dose-dependently increased daily caloric intake and body weight in HIV-positive marijuana smokers.”However, all cannabinoid conditions produced intoxication, but it was rated positively as a good drug effect with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. Surely cannabis has shown necessary applications by providing supportive therapy or palliative medicine. The most immediate benefits of medical marijuana for cachexia are:
- Medical marijuana drastically improves low appetite syndrome. So, when you will consume more food, you will not only derive the required nutrients but also compensate for the loss of weight due to cachexia.
- Cannabis also works as an excellent anti-emetic medicine, therefore helping chronic nausea. This means that cannabis interacts with the cannabinoid receptors to disrupt the nausea signal. Experiencing less nausea lets you eat without worrying about vomiting or throwing up.
- Special types of medical marijuana can give you the sudden rush of energy and enthusiasm you need to conduct daily activities. It also has a calming and uplifting effect on the body.
- Cannabis can also aid in reducing your inflammation related to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and therefore correct digestive issues.
The medical administration of marijuana is carried on through a variety of products and methods. The most accessible and safe methods include :
- Vaping and sprays,
- Sublingual drops, tinctures,
- Juices, edibles, and lozenges
Avoid smoking marijuana as smoking is considered a poor route of administration for long-term usage. It is the least desirable method for the heap of adverse effects it possesses and can seriously hamper an already ill person. A strain with a higher THC load with calculated titration can give the exact relief you have been hunting for. Below are some of the best-known strains to hit the right chords to treat the symptoms related to cachexia.
|TARGET AREA||NAME OF THE STRAIN||SPECIFIC BENEFITS|
|APPETITE||Afghan Kush||Sedating, relaxing, strong appetite booster|
|Lavender Kush||Award-winning strain with potent psychoactive effects|
|Caramelo||Pain-relieving properties as well as hunger inducer|
|NAUSEA||Durban Poison||Powerful cerebral effects|
|Sour Diesel||Instantly motivating and relief from nausea|
|DEPRESSION||Blue dream||Relaxed, happy, and creative vibe|
|Grapefruit Haze||Popular for anxiety, depression, and migraines. Fits of giggles|
|ENERGY AND WELL BEING||Jack’s Cleaner||Makes you more focused|
|Original Kush||Makes you feel sleepy, balanced, and euphoric|
|Super Silver Haze||Motivating and mellow|
Surely medical marijuana can help to tame various symptoms of cachexia. It also removes the shadow of hopelessness the patient has to live to a great degree. However, the most probing argument against medical marijuana is that it is not an all-in-one versatile medicine that a school of thought advocates. It should strictly be kept in mind that there is no clinical evidence that suggests medical marijuana can reverse cachexia. Medical marijuana can be combined with diet and nutrition supplements, light-adapted exercise, a stress-free environment, and adjacent palliative care to get closer to the envisioned goal. So, hurry and apply for a New York medical marijuana card and start living the wonderful life you deserve.