Dear Nurse Susan - Can Cannabis Help My Migraines?

Dear Nurse Susan,

I have been plagued with migraines for the last 20 years. I have tried everything and sometimes it helps, but most of the time it doesn’t. I’ve never tried cannabis and I’m a little bit afraid, but willing to put up with the high if it will ease my pain. I figure I can’t function with the pain, so what does it matter if I get high?

Thanks for your help,

Splitting Headache

Dear Splitting Headache,

You are not alone; migraine is an extremely prevalent headache syndrome affecting 14% of Americans, with a 3:1 female:male ratio with an annual cost of $20 billion. Ethan Russo, MD, a world-renowned cannabis researcher posits that migraines (and many other disorders) are the result of an endocannabinoid deficiency (ECD). The endocannabinoid system interacts with every other system in the body and is responsible for maintaining balance or homeostasis. Here is a link to a short video that explains the endocannabinoid system:

Migraine is a neurovascular disorder with neurogenic inflammation. Researchers have found that endocannabinoid (cannabinoids that we produce in our body) levels were significantly lower in chronic migraine patients. Serotonin levels were also strongly reduced in chronic migraine patients. This information supports the hypothesis that dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system is involved in migraine headaches and the fact that cannabinoid treatment, in the form of cannabis, frequently provided symptomatic benefit.

Significant differences in levels of anandamide (a cannabinoid that we make in our bodies) in cerebrospinal fluid have been documented in migraine patients, and advanced imaging studies have demonstrated below-normal function of ECS in post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinical data have also produced evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits to cannabinoid treatment and adjunctive lifestyle approaches affecting the ECS.

According to Dr. Russo, until recently, only case reports and surveys of use of THC and cannabis and its effects on migraine have been published but a more formal observational trial has been reported from a cannabis-oriented clinic in the state of Colorado. Among 120 adults with migraine for whom cannabis prophylaxis (prevention) was recommended, and of which 67.8% had previously used cannabis, the frequency of headache diminished from 10.4 to 4.6 attacks per month. Overall, 85.1% had decreased migraine frequency, with 39.7% reporting positive effects: prevention of or reduced headache frequency (19.8%) or aborted headache (11.6%) in this selected and uncontrolled population employing a mixture of administration techniques with unanalyzed but presumably high-THC cannabis. Here is a link to an interview with a neurologist from the world famous Cleveland Clinic discussing cannabis for migraines and other health concerns: Although the video is a little long, it is filled with great information from a very knowledgeable specialist.

It is worth remembering that cannabis was a mainstay of treatment of migraine in Europe and North America for a century between 1843 and 1943, similarly supporting claims of a high degree of efficacy of cannabis treatment in both acute and prophylactic treatments of migraine. The only thing that changes was the politics around cannabis…..not its’s effectiveness as a treatment.

The best results are usually found with a combination of preventive (ongoing use) and acute (when having an event) use of cannabis. A daily regimen of the lowest possible dose of THC combined with CBD whole-plant medicine (oil, tincture, sublingual spray for THC or CBD) will help prevent the onset of migraines, but when they do appear, treat immediately, as soon as you think a migraine is coming on. When a migraine hits, vaping or smoking is quickest way to ingest the medicine and get results.

So, Splitting Headache, cannabis does have promise for patients suffering from migraines. If you’re not a frequent cannabis user make sure you have something on hand for when the next migraine sneaks up on you. Experiment as needed to find out what works best for you.

Wishing you the best in your efforts to manage the pain of this debilitating and all too common problem,

Nurse Susan

p.s. Here are a few more informative resources – University of Colorado Pharmacy School - Article by Dr. Eric Baron of the Cleveland Clinic (speaker in the above video) - article - article

Dear Nurse Susan - Cannabis and the NFL

Dear Nurse Susan,

I am a huge football fan, from high school football, all the way to the NFL. I’d watch football 24/7 if I could! The Super Bowl is this weekend and I cringe every time one of those NFL players bangs his head. I’ve been hearing more and more about CTE and how devastating it is to football players, boxers and hockey players. Is medical marijuana really helpful for that? I saw in the news a while back that retired NFL player Marvin Washington is suing attorney general Jeff Session over marijuana! That’s bold!

Huge NFL Fan


Dear NFL Fan,

I know exactly what you mean; it hurts to watch (and hear) when a player lands on his head or careens with another player. My heart stops when they get knocked unconscious, because I know all that is happening in their brains, and its not pretty. When we watch football, its easy to think that that is the only time players suffer head injuries or concussions. We don’t think about all the practices when they are also experiencing repeated head injury. These videos convey the ongoing, repetitive nature of the injuries that lead to CTE.

To illustrate how helpful cannabis is for brain injury, let me first explain what is happening in the brain during trauma. Under normal circumstances, the brain is bathed in cerebral spinal fluid that helps to protect the brain and regulate the pressure inside the skull. During impact, the brain bounces off the inside of the skull and then flings in the opposite direction and bounces off the opposite side of the skull, also known as coup-contracoup. That force causes bruising of the brain at the points of impact and shearing of the nerve cells throughout the brain. This can lead to brain swelling, cell death, increased pressure inside the skull, and brain herniation. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains:

Basically, the compounds in cannabis are neuroprotective, meaning they protect nerves from a variety of insults such as neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, Lou Gehrig’s disease etc.), damage from the lack of blood/oxygen to the brain (stroke, near-drowning and drug overdose) and traumatic brain injury (CTE, car accident, etc.). The compounds in cannabis are also neurogenerative, meaning they stimulate new nerve cell growth, and anti-inflammatory; all important processes that protect the brain and facilitate healing.

For all you medical nerds out there interested in the scientific literature on the use of cannabis compounds following brain injury, here are a couple of my favorites:

Ever wonder what it’s like to be an NFL player sustaining a concussion during a game? Watch this…

It’s important to note that when it comes to any of these brain injuries, there really aren’t any pharmaceutical drugs that protect, regenerate and reduce brain swelling; particularly without toxic or lethal side effects. For example, a common course of treatment following brain injury is the use of corticosteroids, i.e. Decadron, to reduce brain swelling. There is a list of 45 adverse effects associated with Decadron including potential rupture of the heart, psychosis, peptic ulcer, seizure, pulmonary edema, etc.  Yikes!

Every year, almost 2 million people suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) which accounts for about 30% of all injury-related deaths. Those that survive TBI suffer from headaches, mood swings, depression and anxiety, suicidal thoughts, memory loss, seizure disorder, attention deficits, extremity weakness, impaired coordination and balance, impaired hearing and vision, personality changes, impulse control, and more.

On a more personal note, and perhaps too much information, but I have given my husband instructions, if I have a brain injury, to pump me full of whole-plant cannabis extracts. If I am comatose or unable to take it by mouth, he promised to give it to me via suppository (TMI?). Anyway, I always try to weigh the risks and benefits of any medical treatment, and given cannabis’s low toxicity, and that it also helps manage the ongoing consequences of TBI by reducing pain and inflammation, depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, etc., I’d say it’s a no-brainer! (Excuse the pun).

Listen to what retired NFL players say about the use of cannabis, in lieu of pharmaceutical drugs that are passed around like candy to the players.




I first met Eben Britton at the CannMed Conference at Harvard University Medical Center. This annual medical conference brings together medical researchers and clinicians from around the world to share their latest findings on medicinal cannabis. He was part of a panel of retired NFL players (Nate Jackson, Lance Johnstone, Ricky Williams) who are advocating for the NFL to revise their policies on the use of cannabis. I was so impressed with this group of warrior athletes who were crisscrossing the country to help the players that are currently in the game. Remember, the NFL policies have no impact on them now that they are retired, but they are so passionate about how this plant has helped them with the issues faced by players today, that they spend their time and money educating people.

Finally, have you ever wondered why we think man can create products that are better for us than what Mother Nature provides? Clearly the pharmaceutical companies benefit from this concept. I believe if the cannabis plant was discovered today and did not have an 80-year history of misinformation and stigma, the entire world would celebrate our good fortune. Isn’t it worth considering?

So Huge NFL Fan, I hope this information is helpful to you and everyone involved in contact sports. I couldn’t throw a football if my life depended on it, but I’m glad to know this information about one of the many therapeutic effects of cannabis that can help football players.

Hope your team won the Super Bowl!

Nurse Susan

p.s. Here are a few links related to athletes and organizations that are addressing the issue of how cannabis can help with sports injuries, pain, etc. - Athletes for Care is an organization of over forty professionals from various sports, united to provide support, information and care for athletes with injuries. – Our mission is to be on the forefront of medical research and development as it relates to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Through research, treatment and education, change the NFL policy as it relates to medical cannabis. We will pursue treatment protocol with a greater focus on holistic medicines over pharmaceutical drugs. - Sue Sisley, MD, Nate Jackson, and Eben Britton: Cannabis: Banned Drug or Medical Treatment for Sports Injuries? Presentation at 2017 “Patients Out of Time” medical cannabis conference.

Cannabis in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Dear Nurse Susan,

I’m a mom to my 5-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for a majority of my adult life and have found that cannbis helps me feel grounded, present, and allows me to be my true self to my children, my partner, and myself. Since getting pregnant with my daughter nearly a year ago, I used cannbis to help with nausea during the first trimester (it literally was the only thing that actually helped), but cut back on my usage thereafter for fear of the “unknown.” Now, as a nursing mother, I’m really looking to learn more about cannbis and breastfeeding and if I’m doing harm to my baby girl by using in moderation. It’s hard to think that cannbis would be causing her harm when it is so helpful to me, but I really just don’t know and haven’t found any helpful literature. Can you help?

California CannaMom

Dear CannaMom,

This is an important question, and to cut to the chase, there really is no clear cut answer. As of now, this controversial topic continues to be an “unknown”. I have included numerous resources here so any moms with this question can weigh the evidence for themselves. Please check out as many as you like to make your decision. We’ll start with the clinical evidence I’ve found.

There have been a few research studies on the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy and the neonatal outcomes of cannabis exposure. The results have been inconclusive. One study, concluded that prenatal cannabis exposure was associated with fetal growth reduction and decreased head circumference. Some investigators have reported deficits in birth weight, length and gestational age, whereas other investigators observed no adverse effects:  Long-term consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure have been reported, including poorer performance on intelligence tests, increased depressive symptoms and increased likelihood of cannabis use during adolescence, but results of other studies have demonstrated no differences between prenatally exposed and nonexposed children and adolescents.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, 2015) recommends screening and education regarding potential adverse effects of marijuana use in pregnancy. Women contemplating pregnancy or currently pregnant are encouraged to discontinue medicinal or recreational marijuana use and also discourages marijuana use during breastfeeding and lactation due to insufficient evidence regarding safety:

So, to paraphrase, we just don’t know. Another consideration is the possibility of intervention by the Department of Child Protective Services. Unfortunately, depending on the attitudes in your community, it is not uncommon for children to be removed from the home where cannabis is present when certain authorities are informed. Know what happens with your medical test results and your community politics to avoid this awful possibility!

In all medically related questions you need to weigh the risks and benefits of any intervention, including medicinal cannabis. For example, a child with intractable epilepsy, and having 300+ grand mal seizures per week, is at very low risk from using cannabis to control seizures, compared to the risk of continual brain damage from the seizures and pharmaceutical anti-convulsant medications. Conversely, in a healthy baby/child/adolescent, with a developing brain and nervous system, cannabis exposure may pose a higher risk than non-exposure.

A different option, with similar inconclusive evidence is using only CBD to relieve your symptoms. CBD has no psychoactive component and is an effective anti-inflammatory and neuroprotectant for healthy adults. We all know the incredible value that CBD plays in relieving autism and epilepsy in children. As well, both patient’s experience and the research shows that CBD effectively stops inflammation in the way of soothing the nerves and pain receptors as well as creating a way in which the body is able to relax. The following article does a good job of outlining how CBD use can be helpful in pregnancy and suggests that it is safe.  While it certainly seems there would be no ill effects, I have not found any conclusive research regarding CBD use during pregnancy being “safe”.

As all women know, everyone has their opinions of what is good and bad, helpful and not helpful during and post pregnancy. My experience with frequent cannabis users is they have made a lifestyle choice and presume “it’s all good” regarding cannabis. As a nurse, I do my best to stick with the facts and research. In my opinion, when it comes to babies and kids, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution. If you’re having insufferable symptoms I’d start with CBD only (oil, vaping, topicals, etc.) and see if that helps. After looking at the information I’ve provided here, if you want to use THC to help you out let your doctor and partner know of your choice so you’re going forward with as much awareness, openness and support as possible.

Pregnancy and babies are a beautiful time in your life…do what you think is best to insure the best outcome for you and the baby.

To you and your baby’s excellent health!

Nurse Susan

p.s. Here are some additional resources to check out on the topic.

Hayes JS, Lampart R, Dreher MC, Morgan L. Five-year follow-up of rural Jamaican children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy. West Indian Med J 1991;40:120 –3

Dear Nurse Susan: Understanding Cannabis as a Schedule 1 Drug

Dear Nurse Susan,
Cannabis (marijuana) is a Schedule 1 drug, according to the US Government, which states it is highly addictive with no medical applications. However, a lot of publications say it is only mildly addictive, similar to coffee. If that is true, then shouldn’t caffeine also be considered a Schedule 1 drug? I can’t imagine what people would do if the federal government declared a war on caffeine! So, what’s the real story, is cannabis highly addictive?
California Coffee Addict


Dear CA Coffee Addict,
There is a lot of conflicting information out there, not only between scientists and politicians, but also between different departments of our federal government. You are correct, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has cannabis classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Schedule I drugs are those that have the following characteristic according to the DEA:

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.
  • No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances, and they are not readily available for clinical use. Other drugs and substances on the DEA Schedule 1 include: Heroin, LSD, Peyote, Ecstasy, Quaaludes, GHB (“date rape” drug), Bath Salts (similar to amphetamines), Psilocybin (mushrooms), and KHAT (plant with actions similar to amphetamines).
    Interestingly, Schedule 2 drugs include such names as: Oxycontin, Morphine, Amphetamines, Fentanyl, Adderall, Vicodin, Opium, Demerol, Methamphetamine, Deluded, Methadone, and Secobarbital, to name a few.
    Check out these clips of DEA testimony on marijuana:
    Also, the following

So, let’s look at the facts behind cannabis as a substance with a “high potential for abuse.” Below is a hierarchy of addiction, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science:

  • 32 percent of people who try tobacco become dependent.
  • 23 percent of those who try heroin become dependent.
  • 17 percent of those who try cocaine become dependent.
  • 15 percent of those who try alcohol become dependent.
  • 9 percent of those who try cannabis become dependent.


Now let’s look at the facts behind cannabis as a “drug or other substance that has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.” Below is a link to the patent that was granted to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 20 years ago, on the compounds (cannabinoids) of the cannabis plant as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.
According to the US government, as stated in their patent application:
“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia.”
That sure sounds like “accepted medical treatment use in the US.” Every year, more people die from Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. That is a lot of needless suffering for nonsense political reasons. Hopefully soon, science will triumph over ideology.
Finally, let’s look at the facts about cannabis as it relates to the third criteria of a Schedule 1 substance: “There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.” Below are the number of annual fatal overdoses caused by alcohol, opioids, tobacco, cocaine, and cannabis:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol poisoning kill 6 people every day (CDC). More than 100,000 people die every year from alcohol related causes: drinking and driving crashes, other accidents, falls, fires, alcohol-related homicides and suicides. (NCAAD) Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year – that’s more than all illegal drugs combined. (MADD) Alcohol abuse is the third highest cause of death in the U.S. (NIAAA)
  • Opioids: Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. As little as two grams of fentanyl, equal to a few grains of salt, has the potential to be lethal. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015. In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers. In 2015, an estimated 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users. Additionally, an estimated 6,000 adolescents had a heroin use disorder in 2014.
  • Tobacco: Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness (CDC).
  • Cocaine: 6,748 cocaine overdose deaths were logged in 2015. More than 1,500 were found to have also used fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid used to manage chronic pain in cancer patients.
  • Cannabis: According to the DEA Drug Fact Sheet on Marijuana, “No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.”
  • In terms of safety, cannabis is the clear winner. All legal substances, alcohol, tobacco, and prescription opioids, kill more than 630,000 people every year. That is 1,644 people every day, and climbing.
    So, given the US patent and these facts provided by various US government agencies, why is cannabis a Schedule 1 drug? In a world of “fake news” and revisionist history it’s harder and harder to know what to believe. Take a look at this video and decide what you think about cannabis prohibition.

    Given all this seemingly accurate information about cannabis I say enjoy your coffee with no worries while you ponder these facts!


    To your health,
    Nurse Susan

Dear Nurse Susan: Does Cannabis Help with Menstrual Pain?

Dear Nurse Susan,

Every month, I experience horrible menstrual cramps that are debilitating. The only way I can get out of bed is by taking Vicodin or whatever prescription pain medication I can get my hands on. I work full-time and have a young daughter so it really bothers me if I feel out-of-it. Can marijuana help me?

Can't Wait for Menopause


Dear Menopause,
Cannabis can be a woman’s best friend. When used responsibly and strategically, cannabis can relieve menstrual pain, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, weight gain and insomnia, hormonal headaches/migraines, depression/anxiety, and general aging. I have many female clients who have fallen in love with cannabis, because it does the job with or without the “high”. I plan on doing a series on cannabis for women, but for now, lets just talk about using cannabis for menstrual pain, without the “high”.
Cannabis is a well-know superior pain reliever for all kinds of pain including cancer, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, nerve pain, etc. The trick is to find what works best for you, including the best product/strain, dosage, and route of administration. The choices can be overwhelming, but I will narrow it down so that you have a good starting point.
When it comes to menstrual pain, your best route of administration is a vaginal suppository, especially if you want to minimize or avoid the high. Suppositories enable you to use a higher dose of THC for pain, without the psycho-activity.
There are some good products on the market such as Foria Relieve Suppositories (2 pack) which costs $24 for 140mgs, or $.17/milligram. If cost is a concern, you can make your own suppositories (and save 75%) for about $.04/milligram (see instructions below). All you need is coconut oil or cacao butter, and cannabis oil. Myriam’s Hope has an OG Kush oil with 1000mg of THC for $35, which will yield 20 suppositories with 50mg/suppository. If you’d like to add CBD oil for some extra anti-inflammatory effect, Charlotte’s Web or any quality CBD oil can be used.
Dosage is different for every person, you just “start low and go slow” until you find the lowest effective dose for you. If you use suppositories, 50mg is a good place to start. If you use sublingual tinctures or edibles, use 2.5mg to start and wait at least 2 hours before consuming more. For inhalation, start with ½ of a pull on the vape or joint; you should feel the effects in about 15 seconds. The disadvantage of smoking is you don’t really know your dose, and you will get high. The advantage of suppositories is no high (as with edibles) and it lasts longer than smoking/vaping.
Although cannabis suppositories (rectal or vaginal) may seem like an odd choice for administration, they are my go-to for cancer pain, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite related to cancer and HIV/AIDS. Someone who can only tolerate about 10mg of THC due to the psychoactivity, is usually able to tolerate more than 100mg via suppository with little to no psychoactivity. That can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life.
So if you are feeling adventuresome, and want to say goodbye to pain, give suppositories a try!


To your health!
Nurse Susan


Making Your Own Cannabis Oil Suppositories


  • 1 gram (1000 mg) of THC oil – Start with 50 mg per suppository. (Use whatever product you prefer. Use a lab tested product that you can use in a measured dosage).
  • 250 mg of CBD oil – Optional; Start with 10mg per suppository (The CBD oil adds anti-inflammatory properties, but is not required)
  • Coconut oil or cacao butter ½ cup or less – Amount depends on how many suppositories you are making.
  • Something to use as a mold for the suppository – Mini ice cube trays, suppository mold, empty 00 gelatin capsules (Choose your preference; all available on Amazon)

What to do

  • Melt coconut oil or cacao butter in a hot water bath.
  • Measure THC and CBD oil for your dosage.
    • You can either put the medicine in your mold first and then add the additional coconut or cacao oil to the mold (as in the first video below), or
    • Blend the medicine into the warm coconut or cacao oil and then add to the mold (as in the second video below).
    • Use whichever method you prefer so you can control your dosage and reduce waste.
  • Put in the freezer for an hour.
  • Use as needed.
  • As everyone responds differently experiment with the amount of THC until you get the relief you need.


Here are a couple of examples of how to make suppositories. There are many Youtube videos on making suppositories and they are often overly complex. These are two easy examples of how to make the suppository. – Very simple. He doesn’t even heat the oil! – She is making essential oil suppositories, but the process is the same and she has a simple trick for the mold. – A brief look at Foria Relief suppositories. - An article on Foria

Dear Nurse Susan: Is Cannabis a Treatment for Cancer?

Dear Nurse Susan,
My mother is battling cancer. She has lost 35lbs and now weighs less than 100 pounds. Watching this illness ravage her body has been devastating for our family. She has had chemotherapy and radiation, and it made her so sick. I heard that cannabis actually kills cancer. Is cannabis really a treatment for cancer, or just a way to control the nausea, vomiting, pain and lack of appetite from chemotherapy? I want so badly to help her in any way that I can.


Dear Heartbroken,


I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s illness. Unfortunately, cancer has become so prevalent that it has an impact on most people: either they have been diagnosed, or they know someone who has been diagnosed.
Traditional cancer treatments are very difficult to endure and are toxic to our normal cells as well as the cancer cells. It is possible to die from the treatment for cancer, and not the actual disease. Therefore, it is imperative to know all the tools and options available in this fight for life. This is a huge subject, so I will touch on several topics and provide resources for additional education and guidance. To really understand how cannabis fights cancer, its important to know how our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) works. Here is the link to a short but informative video on the ECS:


Originally, cannabinoids (compounds in the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids), as well as those produced in our bodies (endocannabinoids) were used to manage wasting, nausea/vomiting, and pain for cancer and HIV patients. When it was discovered that cannabinoids were targeting and killing cancer cells, interest in the anticarcinogenic properties of cannabinoids surged. Since the discovery of the ECS in 1996, several cannabinoids have been shown to exert anti-proliferative, and pro-apoptotic (programmed cell death) effects and inhibit cancer cell migration, adhesion, metastasis, and invasion in several cancer types including glioma, lung, thyroid, lymphoma, skin, pancreas, uterus, breast, prostate and colorectal carcinoma.


Research on cannabinoids has contributed to the understanding of the biological actions of these molecules and of their medical significance, in almost every bodily function and disease process. To review the research on cannabinoids for cancer therapy, go to: In the search bar, type “cannabinoids cancer” and you will see more than 1,000 medical research papers to choose from. If you want to narrow your search, specify the type of cancer, i.e., “cannabinoids breast cancer.”


Scientists have discovered that cannabis kills cancer cells in preclinical trials by using several different mechanisms of action:

  • Apoptosis: the technical term for programmed cell death, or cell suicide, of cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone.
  • • Anti-proliferative: inhibits the rapid increase in the number of cancer cells.
    • Anti-neovascularization: interferes with the formation of new blood vessels that feed the tumor.
    • Anti-migration and invasion: interferes with tumor progression and migration of cancer cells.
    • Anti-metastatic: inhibits the spread of cancer from the primary site.
    • Anti-adhesion: interferes with cancer cells’ ability to stick to each other and to their surroundings.
    • Down-regulates (a decrease in sensitivity) Id-1 expression: The Id-1 gene has recently been shown to be a key regulator of the metastatic potential of breast and additional cancers. The Id-1 gene is active during human embryonic (unborn) development after which it turns off and stays off. But in breast cancer, and several other types of metastatic cancer, the Id-1 gene becomes active again, causing malignant cells to invade and metastasize.
    • Targeting Id-1 results in decreased tumor growth. CBD was the first non-toxic plant-based agent that could down-regulate Id-1 expression in aggressive hormone-independent breast cancer, and it also inhibits metastasis.


    Watch this short video on how cannabis and cannabinoids kill cancer cells:


    One of the outstanding cancer researchers, Dr. Christina Sanchez, explains the research they have done over the last 15 years on how the cannabinoids work to kill cancer cells:

    Cannabis during Chemotherapy

    Cancer therapeutic drugs (chemotherapy) are well-known to cause nausea, vomiting, pain, and loss of appetite. The video below is a brief overview of how chemotherapy affects the body:

    On the other hand, cannabis is well known to relieve nausea, vomiting, pain and loss of appetite (the “munchies”).

    Here is a video on how cannabis manages the side effects of chemotherapy:

    The nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy can be hard to describe. It can be horrible, depending on the chemotherapy drug. THC is the best cannabinoid to employ to relieve nausea. The quickest and most effective method of consumption is via vaporization. The onset of action is about 15 seconds, which is a godsend for patients. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a couple of hours, so whenever possible, follow up with an edible, which will have a much slower onset, 1 to 2 hours, but lasts for 6 to 8 hours. Ideally, the edible will kick in just as the effects of the inhalation start to diminish, and will last for several hours. Dosage is a very important factor in the success of cannabis therapy, so if you don’t have a medical professional to consult with, start with a low dose and increase the dosage slowly, until you find the lowest effective dose.

    Finally, because cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug (no medical application, highly addictive and unsafe; NOT true) along with heroin and LSD, very little human research has been done, but here are some personal accounts of how cannabis impacted cancer patient’s quality of life.


    Heartbroken, I hope these resources will bring comfort and benefit to you and your mom. Please contact me if you would like personal guidance on cannabis therapy.
    Nurse Susan

Dear Nurse Susan: How Can Cannabis Give Me the Munchies and... Help Me Lose Weight Too?!

Dear Nurse Susan,
Every year I have the same New Year’s Resolution…Lose weight! I’m great for a month at most, then I eventually gain whatever weight I lost, plus some. My friend told me she was losing weight by using marijuana. Pleeeaaasssee!!! Can you imagine, claiming to lose weight by using something that is notorious for causing the munchies! Clearly she has smoked too much…but can it really help me lose weight???
Chubby, but not Gullible


Dear Chubby,

The good news about cannabis and weight management is you can gain weight or lose weight depending on how you use it! To start let’s talk about how our Endocannabinoid System modulates appetite. If you are unfamiliar with the ECS, you can learn about it in this short video:

Studies have shown that frequent cannabis consumers are less likely to be obese and have a lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes as compared to abstainers. Researchers at Oregon's Health and Science University assessed the relationship between cannabis use and a variety of health outcomes in a nationally representative sample of 4,743 participants between the ages of 20 and 59.

They concluded, "Heavy users of cannabis had a lower mean Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to that of never users, with a mean BMI being 26.7 kg/m in heavy users and 28.4 kg/m in never users." The finding is consistent with those of prior reviews, such as those here, here and here.
So, you are probably wondering, “How is this possible?”

Over activation of the CB1 receptor (commonly via THC) leads to greater food seeking behavior and appetite (“the munchies”). So, if you are trying to counter body-wasting due to cancer or HIV, this is good news indeed. If you want to gain weight using THC can play a role in increasing your appetite.

If your goal is to lose weight, minimize your THC intake and focus on your CBD and THCV intake. CBD is an appetite suppressant because it blocks the CB1 receptors and leads to decreased appetite. It also induces “fat browning” a process that turns white fat cells into beige or brown fat cells. White fat cells store energy and brown fat cells burn energy. By increasing the brown fat cells, your body reduces fat stores, improves glucose tolerance and blood lipid (cholesterol) abnormalities. (More at
THCV is a cannabinoid found in cannabis that is an appetite suppressant. It is difficult to find cannabis strains or products with lots of THCV, but lab results show it is more common in sativa and African landrace strains such as Durban Poison and Doug’s Varin.
CBD is readily available, so let’s talk about how CBD causes weight loss. Research cited in the articles included here shows that cannabinoids can decrease appetite, increase metabolism, and reduce insulin resistance, thereby reducing the risk of weight gain, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. The way to get started with CBD weight loss is:

  • Find products or strains high in CBD. Only buy high quality CBD products (sprays, oils, etc.) with lab results readily available. Use high “CBD cannabis –based products” which contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, rather than “industrial hemp” products which are a different and less complete form of CBD.
  • Start with 5-10mg about an hour before your two largest meals daily. Every three days increase you dosage by 5-10 mgs per meal until you feel a result. You can’t overdose on CBD and there is no psychoactivity related to CBD. 50mgs. – 75 mgs. per meal is not too much, if needed.
  • If you live in a legal state, supplementing CBD with a small amount of THC will amplify the effect of the CBD. This is known as the “entourage” effect. Use a few sprays of 18:1 or 8:1 spray before bed and you should feel no “high” and get a good night’s sleep.

Finally, realize that plant medicines are not fast acting like synthetics - patience is required! Prescription drugs have a quick result, although often they have a build-up period as well. It may take a month for you to feel the effects of a high CBD, low THC regimen. And like any medication, cannabis does not work the same for everyone.

Work it! This approach is not magic and it doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want. The appetite suppressing and metabolism boosting effects of CBD and THCV will be helped by making some lifestyle changes. Eat healthy food and in moderation, get exercise and movement, and adequate sleep is crucial for any weight loss approach.
Chubby, Give CBDs a try and see what happens. Happy New Year to you and best wishes to all with whatever your resolutions may be!


To your health!
Nurse Susan


p.s. Just for fun, I’ve included some options available to improve health. I am not recommending any of these strategies for weight and health management, but if you resonate to any of these strategies, give them a try and see how you respond. Combining the benefits of cannabinoids with positive lifestyle changes is a recipe for success!

Intermittent Fasting:
10 Tips for better sleep:
Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever

Dear Nurse Susan: Does the US Government Really Have a Patent on Medical Cannabis?

Dear Nurse Susan,
Is it true that the US government has a patent on marijuana for medical uses, yet classifies it and as a Schedule 1 drug and continues to throw people in jail for possessing it, or is this more “fake news”? Thank you for any facts you can provide on this illogical situation.
Sincerely Confused


Dear Sincerely Confused,
I will get straight to the point….Yes, on April 21, 1999 the United States of America as represented by The Department of Health and Human Services filed a patent application, “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants” and was awarded Patent #6630507 B1.

Cannabinoids are the 100+ compounds in the cannabis (marijuana) plant; the most commonly recognized cannabinoids are THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THCA etc. The patent application states:

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”

I know, it sounds like gobbley goop. Let me restate it in layman’s terms. Cannabinoids (from the cannabis plant) are useful in the treatment and prevention of a wide variety of diseases including:
Inflammatory diseases: asthma, allergy, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, transplant rejection, chronic peptic ulcer, tuberculosis, chronic periodontitis, ulcerative colitis, chronic sinusitis, etc. (there are many more).

Autoimmune diseases: Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes type 1, autism, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, thyroiditis, psoriasis, eczema, leukemia, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy etc. (there are more than 100 autoimmune diseases).
Ischemic diseases: coronary artery disease, stroke, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, dementia, brain trauma, chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Age-related diseases: atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, glaucoma, essential tremor, etc.
Neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV dementia, epilepsy, etc.

I hope you understand how incredible this is:
• Not only can cannabis potentially treat diseases that have no current effective treatments, but it can also prevent them.
• Hundreds of diseases and symptoms can be treated by one plant, not a separate drug for every problem.
• Cannabis is non-toxic and has an excellent safety profile, no documented fatal overdose deaths in 5000 years.
• You can grow it yourself, no need to pay the pharmaceutical companies!

Below is a link to a video of a retired Chief of Police with Parkinson’s disease, trying cannabis for the first time:

This video illustrates one of the most researched and effective uses for medical cannabis – autism in children. It is heartbreaking that a treatment approach with a significant success rate is illegal and unavailable when it has been documented in many cases as a more effective and less harmful treatment method than prescription medication.

Now, back to your question, Sincerely Confused, here are some facts about marijuana arrests: According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch, “Marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. In 2010, cops made a pot bust every 37 seconds. States waste $3,613,969,972 enforcing marijuana laws every year. Over 50% of Americans support cannabis legalization.”

So, given the US patent stating the value of cannabis and then these crime statistics provided by various US government agencies, why do we have this huge contradictory situation and significant political issue regarding cannabis? In a world of “fake news” and revisionist history it’s harder and harder to know what to believe. Take a look at this video and decide what you think about cannabis prohibition.

I and thousands of others whom have benefitted from using cannabis to treat serious medical conditions continue to be baffled and tormented by this ongoing situation. As a patriotic citizen who loves my country, and spends every day working with the medical needs of suffering people, it is tremendously challenging to reconcile these two facts: Our government holds a patent on the incredible medical applications of cannabis, and on the other hand, greatly restricts medical research in our country and incarcerates citizens for possessing cannabis. I will conclude with two quotes from Thomas Jefferson:

<blockquote>"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny.”</blockquote>

<blockquote>“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”</blockquote>

So Sincerely, I hope this clarifies some of your confusion….I continue to find it baffling!
With all due respect to the powers that be,
Nurse Susan

CANNAHealthcare Magazine Volume 3, 4th Quarter, 2017

CANNAHealthcare Magazine Article

Scan to Page 38 for the article re: Nurse Susan!

Nurse Susan featured in Marijuana Retail Report