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Blog / CBD Oil for Terminal Illness

CBD Oil for Terminal Illness

CBD Oil for Terminal Illness

Though there are now many different types of illnesses and conditions that people can take CBD oil for, there still remains a bit of a question when it comes to terminal illnesses.

When you are suffering from a condition that will ultimately end your life, what good is there in trying out new kinds of medication, especially ones like CBD oil that you don’t understand or have easy access to?

Is there actually a reason to take CBD oil if you are suffering from a terminal illness?

What Kind of Terminal Illnesses are We Talking About?

When discussing terminal illnesses, it might seem a bit difficult to actually define what kind of conditions we are talking about. When we speak of terminal illnesses, we generally mean any kind of condition that will, eventually, result in your death. For example, this could include many forms of cancer that have metastasized, progressing from just an unpleasant illness to a truly dangerous, life-ending ailment.

Though cancer is the biggest known condition you could group as a terminal illness, you could also lump end stage diabetes into this list, as well as a myriad of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

In each of those conditions, the sufferer endures gradual degradation of bodily functions and mental acuity, continuously declining in health until their body fails in some way and they pass away.

To some callous people, they might think that there is no point in prescribing further medication to those that are already going to die – they reason that resources should be used on those that can still be saved. While this is certainly utilitarian, this ignores one of the major intentions behind medicine entirely; palliative care.

Palliative care is perhaps the oldest forms of medicine – caring for those who have no hope of recovery, but just trying to ensure that their last days alive are not unpleasant.

When discussing CBD oil and terminal illnesses, it is primarily the field of palliative care that is interested in this lesser known cannabinoid.

How Can CBD Oil Help Those with Terminal Illnesses?

CBD oil has a myriad of different uses, from treating inflammation and pain in the body to actually trying to cure many different ailments, but it also has a huge use for those with terminal illness – to simply help them pass with dignity.

In his report Journal for Current Oncology, S.K. Aggarwal discusses the use of cannabinoids in palliative care, specifically for cancer care.

He writes that, across the world, 60% of all people who die are lacking some form of palliative care, meaning that the majority of those that pass away each year are not given the dignity and care needed to make sure their passing is peaceful.

The use of cannabinoids to help treat and improve the quality of life for terminal patients goes back a long way. During an early study regarding cannabis in 1843 (referred to as Indian Hemp, or “Gunjah” ), the author, W.B. O’Shaughnessy, noted that it was obvious that there was one significant advantage of using cannabis to treat those with terminal illnesses – “the awful malady was stripped of its horrors”.

Ending on a very somber note, O’Shaughnessy recommended that physicians use cannabis to help “strew the path to the tomb with flowers.”

However, the use of cannabinoids in treating those with terminal illness has always been a controversial one due to the tenuous legalities of cannabis in the USA and across the world.

This isn’t due to lack of evidence, though; cannabinoids’ potential to help treat those suffering from the pain and irritations associated with terminal illnesses is extremely well known.

So, in what ways can CBD oil and cannabinoids in general help those with terminal illnesses?

CBD Oil & The Reduction of Pain

The use of CBD oil to help treat pain has been well documented; during a clinical review for the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Society, researchers made note of the effect that cannabinoids had on the body’s pain receptors.

By triggering the CB1 receptor, CBD oil had the ability to, in essence, shut off the body’s sensation of pain, or in the very least help mitigate it.

Additionally, CBD oil helps reduce the irritation behind inflammation, due its interaction with the adenosine receptor, A2A. As first discovered in the seminal study by Carrier et al., CBD oil is able to help shut down the body’s inflammation response and ensure terminal patients have a higher quality of life.

A big part of terminal illnesses is that they cause, in some way or another, pain or irritation. This is the result of the body shutting down and it makes the sufferer’s last days particularly difficult.

By being able to help treat these feelings of pain, CBD oil has the potential to greatly improve the palliative care of patients. However, it’s not just pain that causes undue suffering on terminal patients’ lives – there are also other factors affecting their happiness and comfort ability, such as their inability to sleep properly.

CBD Oil’s Effect on Sleep

For those with terminal illnesses, getting a full night’s sleep is one of the hardest things imaginable.

Whether it is due to the persistent pains that they are suffering or simply because they require regular visitation by medical staff to keep them cared for, getting a good night’s sleep is something that becomes increasingly difficult for those at the end stage of their illness.

Though some doctors recommend regular sleeping medication, this has the problem of actually knocking the patient out, making them unable to wake up when they might need to.

Thankfully, CBD oil can help here, as it has been demonstrated to help improve sleep and aid in restfulness. Part of this is thanks to the reduction in pain and irritation that can keep a terminal patient up at night, but another part is the actual effect it has on the body.

By triggering the CB1 receptors, the brain is encouraged to release melatonin, the brain chemical that encourages sleepiness and gives you that uncontrollable feeling to yawn. Rather than putting them into an artificial sleep, CBD oil helps terminal patients fall into a more natural slumber, enabling them to still wake up if need be.

Is it Worth it?

As with any medication, whether it is paracetamol or a hardcore anti-pain medication, CBD oil does have some side effects. When considering giving a terminal patient new medication, it important to understand how that medication can affect them.

CBD oil’s primary side effects are mainly the result of unintentional effects that CBD oil has on the body already.

For example, CBD oil causes vascular relaxation which can lower your blood pressure; this is only dangerous if you already suffer from low blood pressure and it exacerbates the issue, but it is still something to be aware of.

Additionally, CBD oil can cause slight diarrhea for a short while after beginning taking it, though this is mostly due to your body acclimatizing to its new regimen of cannabinoids.

For the most part, the side effects of CBD oil are not something that terminal patients have to particularly worry about – there aren’t any long term problems to worry about anyway, and most of the short term issues are not going to overly influence their lives.

The key thing with end of life, palliative treatment, is that it is all about making their last few days as pain free and pleasant as possible.

If there are a few unpleasant side effects associated with taking CBD oil as a terminal patient, it seems worth it when compared against the positive benefits for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Final Thoughts on CBD for Terminal Illness

Palliative care is easily the most distressing topic in medicine – unlike in all other forms of medicine, there is no coming back from it, no miracle cure that can suddenly make it all better. Sadly, the person is going to pass away.

However, the goal of caring for someone with a terminal illness is to ensure that they pass away with as much dignity, calmness and tranquility as is possible in their horrible situation.

To that end, CBD oil is absolutely something that palliative carers should consider. It lacks the side effects of other drugs, as well as the psychoactive effects associated with regular cannabis.

Not only that, but it can provide effective pain relief and act as a useful, consequence-free sleep aid.

Though the prospect of introducing new medication to those at the end of their life might seem traumatic, CBD oil has the potential to help improve the quality of their lives, even if their lives are winding down.

It isn’t pleasant, nor is it enjoyable, but CBD oil could help make their passing a lot easier and pain free.

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