One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a caregiver to a terminally ill loved one. You want to take away their pain and bring joy back into their bodies, but many times are unable to do so.

When modern medicine can no longer treat patients with late stage diseases — such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, cachexia, AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis to name a few — professionals often suggest hospice to the family.

Though somewhat controversial, there is a homeopathic medicine that can help your loved one by reducing their anxiety, increasing their appetite, lessening nausea and vomiting and lowering their pain levels: medical cannabis.

Your body already produces its own cannabinoid chemicals, but an increase in these chemicals can bring your loved one several much-needed benefits.

A State-Specific Alternative Medication

The cannabinoid chemicals found in the human body help to regulate your appetite, pain, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement and the five senses. Marijuana’s main ingredient is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The plant also consists of more than 100 other cannabinoid chemicals.

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is another cannabinoid chemical researchers are growing and testing to treat specific conditions, such as childhood epilepsy. The CBD oil does not promote an intoxicating effect, which decreases the likelihood of abuse.

Of course, you should check your state’s laws before seeking medicinal marijuana as an alternative medication. It may be the option that helps to prolong your loved one’s life while managing symptoms, but if your state doesn’t allow it, using cannabis as treatment would be illegal. However, states like Florida, where medical marijuana is legal, often have online eligibility surveys that you can fill out to determine if your loved one’s condition qualifies.

As many as 28 states have legalized medicinal marijuana with possession limits. Even CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta now advocates for the usage of medicinal marijuana, citing that the treatment does not increase likelihood for addiction and abuse. The incidence of developing dependence can happen in up to 10 percent of patients, which is a lower percentage compared to cocaine (20 percent) and heroin (25 percent).

There are also FDA-approved THC medications that reduce pain and inflammation as well as manage muscle control issues. CBD oil does not affect the mind and helps to decrease pain and inflammation. CBD may help patients with mental illnesses and addictions.

How Can It Help?

One of the studies conducted on cannabis extracts shows a positive outlook for the homeopathic treatment to kill certain cancer cells in animals while reducing the size of other cancer cells. There are ongoing preclinical and clinical studies to test marijuana’s extracts for its ability to treat diseases and conditions.

Currently, there are two marijuana medications approved by the FDA: dronabinol and nabilone. Both medications help to increase appetite and treat nausea. If you caring for a loved one who cannot hold down food due to their condition or its treatment, dronabinol and nabilone may help.

Sometimes the medication typically prescribed to boost appetite in terminally ill patients causes dangerous side effects, complicating treatment further. If your loved one is suffering from malnutrition and unable to take prescribed medication due to side effects like blood clots, medicinal marijuana may be the only humane option available.

Using Medicinal Marijuana to Manage a Condition

As a caregiver, you may feel helpless watching your loved one’s pain increasing while you’re unable to increase their pain medication. Increasing narcotics to control the pain can also be dangerous and result in overdosing. Medicinal marijuana is safer in this aspect.

If you live in a state where access to medical cannabis is legal, why not see if it helps?

Have you cared for someone who used medical cannabis to treat an ailment? What was the experience like? Tell us in the comments section below.

Image by Libreshot

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website:

Related Articles

I’m disabled. Please help me.

I’m disabled. Please help me.

Revolving doors at office towers might as well be called “blind-person milling machines.” Try finding the bottle of vitamins you want on a CVS shelf...

The State of Paid Family Leave

The State of Paid Family Leave

"The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world BECAUSE it doesn’t have paid family leave. In other words, our position as one of...

Old lesbian love

Old lesbian love

The week we move in together, Pam breaks her leg. They call it a fragile fracture, and I argue about the word fragile. “Why fragile? This woman...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.