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Healthy Colorado: CU Boulder research shows cannabis may help cancer patients

BOULDER, Colo. (KRDO) -- New research by the University of Colorado Boulder shows that cannabis may ease 'chemo brain.' Cancer patients who use cannabis to address their symptoms have less pain and sleep better, according to a new CU study.

While use is associated with cognitive impairment immediately after use, sustained use of certain cannabis products could potentially improve cognition by reducing pain, the study suggests. Published in the journal "Exploration in Medicine," the research is among the first to assess how cannabis bought at dispensaries impacts cancer symptoms or chemotherapy side effects.

Because federal law prohibits university researchers from possessing or distributing cannabis for research unless it's government-issued or of pharmaceutical grade, most studies have looked only at prescription products or government cannabis strains that tend to be less potent and lack the variety of over-the-counter offerings.

According to a press release from CU, as a workaround to this challenge, researchers collaborated with oncologists at CU Anschutz Medical campus to observe 25 cancer patients who used cannabis over two weeks.

After a baseline appointment to asses their pain levels, sleep patterns, and cognition, participants were asked to purchase the edible product of their choosing from a dispensary. Patients selected chocolates, gummies, tinctures, pills, and backed goods from 18 different brands, all containing varying ratios of THC and CBD at a wide range of potencies.

After two weeks of sustained use at the frequency of their choice, they had a follow-up exam and a different pattern emerged: patients reported improvements in pain, sleep quality, and cogitative function.

Larger controlled studies are needed, but the authors of this study say the findings raise an intriguing possibility. While some forms and dosages of cannabis for pain relief may impair thinking short-term, some regimes might improve cognition in the long run by reducing pain.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Brynn Carman

Brynn is an anchor on Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Brynn here.


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