Medical Marijuana For Cachexia Patients In Missouri
Does Cachexia Qualify For Medical Marijuana In Missouri?
According to Cancer Cachexia Hub, the rate of cachexia diagnosis is growing. According to current estimates, roughly 9 million individuals are affected by cachexia, which is about 1% of all patients that have been diagnosed with any disease or condition. In the United States, this translates to nearly 5 million patients affected by cachexia. The good news for patients in Missouri suffering from cachexia is medical marijuana treatment is now available, and patients with cachexia and wasting syndromes are eligible for medical marijuana in the State of Missouri.
How Does Medical Marijuana Help Cachexia?
Currently, there is no single medicine or treatment plan that has been shown to effectively treat cachexia and its symptoms. As more research is being conducted, the possibility of cannabis treatment to reduce cachexia symptoms is becoming more prevalent.
The effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment option for cachexia is directly linked to the effect cannabis has on the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is integral to the regulation of homeostasis in the body's regulatory systems, helping regulate appetite, energy balance, and weight gain or loss.
The most optimistic research findings concern cachexia associated with HIV/AIDS. An early trial of oral THC to treat cachexia in AIDS patients found success in maintaining patients' appetite, and a 2007 Columbia University study discovered that cannabis significantly stimulated patients' appetites, promoted weight gain and caused an increase in calorie intake. In 2011, another study found that THC treatment for cancer patients increased appetite by 64%.
Furthermore, a 2013 study from Israel found that a wide range of cancer patients reduced weight loss utilizing cannabis as a palliative treatment. In fact, the study found that nearly all cancer and anticancer treatment-related symptoms were improved with cannabis.
Based on the current research, cannabis serves as an optimistic treatment option for cachexia and wasting syndrome symptoms. Medical cannabis has been found to improve patient appetite and weight stabilization, however actual weight gain directly from cannabis treatment is less likely. Additionally, medical cannabis can be used to help with energy and physical activity levels, and as a result can help lower the risk of atrophy and improve overall mood.
Generally, cannabis is used by cachexia patients to aid in appetite, nausea and vomiting, depression, and energy.
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What Is Cachexia and Wasting Syndromes?
Cachexia is a "wasting" disorder that involuntarily causes extreme weight loss and muscle wasting, including the loss of body fat and muscle mass. Cachexia often affects patients that are in the later stage of serious conditions and diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, COPD, chronic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and congestive heart failure (CHF), among others. Those suffering from cachexia can become so weak and frail that their body can become more susceptible to infections, increasing the likelihood of death as a result of their condition.
The rates of cachexia of are based on the disease associated:
CHF and COPD: 5%-15% of patients
Stomach and other upper GI cancers: up to 80% of patients
Lung cancer: up to 60% of patients
According to a study published by the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, it is estimated that roughly 0.5-1.0% of the population is affected by cachexia, with an estimated 1.5-2 million deaths occurring each year. This means that up to 610,000 Missourians currently suffer from cachexia and wasting syndromes.
There are three (3) main categories of cachexia:
Precachexia: defined as a loss of up to 5% of body weight
Cachexia: a loss of more than 5% of body weight in over 12 months or less
Refractory Cachexia: applies specifically to individuals with cancer
While there is currently no single treatment or medicine to effectively combat cachexia and its symptoms, cannabis can play a promising role in dealing with many of the symptoms associated with cachexia and wasting syndromes.