Cachexia, also referred to as wasting syndrome, is a wasting disorder that affects patients suffering from severe conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, kidney diseases, cancer, multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure, and chronic renal failure. Cachexia wasting syndrome causes patients to lose over 10% of their body weight in only 6 to 12 months, significantly reducing strength and even mobility. Needless to say, a disorder like this one can be scary, especially to those who don’t know where to turn for help. That’s exactly why we’re discussing using medical marijuana for cachexia and whether or not this is the right choice for you.

medical marijuana for cachexia

What is Cachexia & What Are the Causes?

What is cachexia or wasting syndrome? The Lancelet Oncology defines it as a “multifactorial syndrome characterized by an ongoing loss of skeletal muscle mass (with or without loss of fat mass) that cannot be fully reversed by conventional nutritional support and leads to progressive functional impairment.”

Symptoms of cachexia may manifest in patients suffering from other chronic diseases and conditions, such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions listed earlier. Cachexia may cause patients to feel extremely weak and thin due to increased weight loss, as well as fat and muscle depletion.

What causes cachexia differs from patient to patient. However, the most known causes of cachexia include:

  • Severe pain due to some diseases
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Malaria
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Severe sepsis
  • Various types of cancer, especially stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, colon, and rectal cancer).
  • Tuberculosis
  • Celiac disease
  • Depression
  • Underlying symptoms of AIDS, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cystic fibrosis, chronic kidney disease, and other chronic diseases.
  • Dysphagia
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Doctors also detect cachexia in elderly patients; sometimes, they detect it in patients without any of the conditions listed. Cancer is the condition most associated with cachexia, and what causes cachexia in cancer patients is often a result of the body being unable to utilize and convert the glucose from the blood to energy. This is often because the liver, fat, and muscle cells are not responding well to the hormone insulin.

Symptoms of Cachexia

Having known what cachexia is, what are cachexia symptoms? It is important that you know the symptoms of cachexia because, as with every other disorder, early detection may help in the better treatment or management of the disorder. At this point, it may seem obvious looking malnourished is a clear-cut sign of cachexia. However, even people that appear to be of normal weight might have cachexia. Hence, it helps to pay attention to indicators that may signal the occurrence of the disorder in the body.

Cachexia symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent fatigue
  • Noticeable decrease in muscle strength
  • A low Fat Free Mass Index (FFMI)
  • A high inflammation level
  • Anemia
  • Low albumin levels (under 35 grams per liter)

Doctors who diagnose patients with cachexia have lost at least 5% of their body weight in the past 6 to 12 months and have any three (or more) of the symptoms listed above.

How Can Medical Marijuana Treat Cachexia?

Generally, no known treatment totally treats or eliminates cachexia or its effects. The choice of treatments often depends on the disease-inducing underlying conditions and what you can do to alleviate them. Hence, most medical, therapeutic, or holistic treatments aimed at treating wasting syndrome are directed at improving the patients’ life – helping them manage the disorder to become healthier. 

Irrespective of the devastating effects of this condition, researchers have not placed much focus on exploring better treatments for the disorder. This poses an exceptionally difficult challenge for patients who are often in despair because of a seeming lack of means to manage the disorder. Thankfully, a series of studies have been ongoing across various research institutes indicating the potentials between medical cannabis and cachexia. And patients appear to be finding profound relief.

Thankfully, the medical community recognizes medical marijuana for its potency in supporting the treatment of numerous conditions. This has inspired medical scientists to research how medical marijuana can help cachexia and wasting syndrome specifically. Most of the studies are still pretty new, and a lot more promising studies are still underway. So far, outcomes have been positive, and results show that medical marijuana can be helpful in cancer cachexia treatment and in managing the loss of appetite likely induced by cachexia in AIDS patients.

In the same vein, cachexia treatments using medical marijuana are often directed at improving the patient’s tolerance of the disorder and gear them towards recovery. Dietary supplements, appetite stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs are often used in the treatment of cachexia. And medical marijuana, through various studies and applications, has been shown to be very potent in all those capacities and more. Medical marijuana helps treat cachexia by working with these effects to alleviate some symptoms of the disorder.

What Symptoms Can Marijuana Help?

Based on numerous studies, cannabis appears to be responsible for helping numerous patients manage various cachexia symptoms and improve their quality of life. Some of the wasting syndrome symptoms that medical marijuana helps with include:

  • Depression
  • Pain and inflammation associated with underlying autoimmune and neurological diseases causing cachexia.
  • Appetite – cannabis helps improve the appetite of cachexia patients
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Marijuana may help improve and stabilize body weight in cachexia patients
  • Weight loss – indications show that marijuana helped reduce weight loss in palliative treatments
  • Fatigue – cannabis regulation of the endocannabinoid system helps regulate energy balance
  • Nausea
  • Tumor necrosis – cannabis appears to decrease the levels of tumor necrosis factor after treatment

medical marijuana for cachexia. weed and pills

Best Strains for Cachexia

Now that you have the question of “how can medical marijuana help treat cachexia” out of the way, it is important that you understand that not all medical marijuana products will be the right fit for the treatment of cachexia. Some strains are more effective than others, and research indicates that when you inhale, smoke, or vape THC-dominant strains, they may be more effective in alleviating cachexia symptoms. However, do avoid strains with THCV, as they may reduce appetite. That being said, some of the best strains for cachexia are discussed below.

Trainwreck

Trainwreck is a sativa dominant hybrid with about 18% THC and about or less than 1% CBD. It has berry and spicy allure, which makes it easy for nauseous patients to consume. The primary aftereffects may leave the patient energized and creative while alleviating inflammations, depression, and anxiety. This strain is closely related to Afghani, Thai, and Mexican sativa.

Pearl Scout Cookies

Pearl Scout Cookies is a 1:1 sativa-indica hybrid, containing less than 1% CBD and about 23% THC. It is a slight deviation from Pink Pearl and Girl Scout Cookies and has a zesty lemon-orange smell and taste. This strain is suitable for boosting appetite and alleviating depression, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, anxiety, spasticity, and stress. Additionally, people don't report many side effects with this strain. Woo-hoo!

Granddaddy Purple

This is an indica marijuana strain that is already very popular among patients. It is inarguably very potent in stimulating appetite and in alleviating pain, nausea, and inflammations. It contains up to 23% THC and less than 1% CBD.

Sour Diesel

Sour diesel is a skunky sativa strain with a zesty scent. It is a well-recognized natural remedy for various symptoms of cachexia, such as nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue, inflammations, stress, and pain. It contains about 22% THC and less than 1% CBD.

Sonoma Coma

Sonoma Coma is a hybrid strain with 70% sativa — hence, sativa-dominant. The ratio of THC to CBD is 25:1. It has a long-lasting spicy taste, and its effects are particularly pinpointed to increasing energy and appetite in cachexia patients significantly.

Gigabud

Gigabud is an indica (60%) dominant hybrid strain with up to 16% THC content and less than 1% CBD composition. It is derived from a cross between Northern Lights and Big Buds; consequently, it has an earthy aroma. This strain is popular among cachexia patients for boosting appetite and the subsequent calming effect it provides to ease anxiety and stress.

Other noteworthy strains include Strawberry Cough, Cannalope Haze, AC/DC, Stephen Hawking Kush, Cannatonic, OG Kush, Durban Poison, Orange Skunk, Monster Cookies, and Platinum Purple Kush.

Side Effects of Medical Marijuana for Cachexia Patients

Compared to other drugs usually prescribed to cachexia patients, such as Megace and Dronabinol, researchers find medical marijuana to have less severe or worrying side effects. This knowledge may have influenced patients with cachexia to start opting for medical marijuana for relief. However, it is important to note that depending on the strain and dosage. Patients may experience some side effects when using medical marijuana to treat cachexia. Some of the side effects may include:

  • Psychotropy – it is common knowledge that marijuana may provide psychotropic effects when consumed. Always bear this in mind when using any marijuana product, and if you have a low tolerance for such effects, do inform your medical marijuana doctor.
  • Drowsiness – some medical marijuana products may make you feel too relaxed and chill when relieving your anxiety. Hence, those products may be better used at night.

Other side effects may occur due to allergies or low THC tolerance. Always inform your medical marijuana doctor if you’re allergic to any of the common contents of medical marijuana products or have low THC tolerance so that they may prescribe appropriate medical marijuana products to you.

Is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Cachexia?

All this being said, medical marijuana does appear to be an effective treatment for cachexia. While the plant won’t cure you of your disease, it sure has the potential to make side effects feel a whole lot more manageable. And that’s what all of this is about, after all.  

Beyond widespread narratives and testimonials from cachexia patients, numerous studies have shown again and again that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for cachexia and its symptoms. Irrespective of that, the medical community is still trying to conduct more research at a larger scale to determine its effectiveness and how it can be streamlined to improve patients’ experience better.

How to Get Approved for Medical Marijuana for Cachexia

Generally, patients can be approved for medical marijuana if they are suffering from any conditions recognized by the state authority and the governing health community as requiring the potency of medical marijuana to help relieve their suffering. Cachexia is one of the approved conditions in legal states. However, to access medical marijuana products in dispensaries, patients are required to have a state-authorized medical marijuana card in whichever state they are in or reside in.

Elevate Holistics is renowned across the country for linking patients with certified medical marijuana doctors in legal states and subsequently helping those acquire a medical marijuana card in just three easy steps. All of our services are 100% online and hassle-free, ensuring that patients have one less thing to worry about when seeking to regain control of their health. More importantly, our services are comparatively and competitively affordable! Are you suffering from cachexia or any other condition? Contact us today to get linked with a medical marijuana doctor and get approved for medical marijuana.

For more information on how to get a medical card, check out state How-To pages. Then, once you're ready, book an appointment with us using the button down below. Whether you require medical marijuana for cachexia or another qualifying condition, we have your back 24/7.