Q: What can you tell me about using marijuana for someone dealing with colon cancer? I have a friend dealing with this, and I am wondering where to begin research to see if marijuana can help him. Purchasing medical marijuana in Texas could be a challenge. Do you have any suggestions about where to start?
A: In a recent survey, nearly one-fourth of patients with colorectal cancer in Western Washington reported using cannabis (Cancer Causes & Control, July 14, 2021). The reasons included pain management, relaxation, help with sleep or appetite and control of nausea or vomiting.
Starting Sept. 1, people with cancer will be eligible to use medical marijuana in Texas. The psychoactive substance that makes people “high,” THC, is limited to 1%. That is significantly lower than the amounts permitted in other states. Some states allow as much as 15% THC in medical marijuana.
Q: I had debilitating migraines periodically from about age 12 until my mid-50s. Ordinary over-the-counter painkillers did not help at all once the headache began.
I tried an herbal remedy, a capsule that contained feverfew, butterbur and something else. The directions were to take it every day and this would lessen the incidence of migraine. It worked for me, but eventually my source went out of business. Is there anything else you recommend?
A: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and butterbur (Petasites hybridus) have long been used for migraine prevention (StatPearls, July 8, 2021).
Recent research demonstrates that the active compounds in butterbur root extract inhibit calcitonin gene-related peptide (Journal of Headache Pain, April 13, 2021). New prescription migraine medications like erenumab (Aimovig), fremanezumab (AJOVY) and galcanezumab (Emgality) work through the same mechanism.
One popular combination medicine sold for migraines is MigreLief. It contains riboflavin, magnesium and feverfew extract. Feverfew extract reduces brain inflammation and inhibits dopamine release (Molecules, Dec. 23, 2020). Presumably, these actions explain its ability to ease migraine pain.
You can learn more about nondrug approaches to migraines in our eGuide to Headaches and Migraines. It also lists the pros and cons of medications. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q: When you write about natural products that help with blood pressure control, please add aged garlic extract to the list. There are several research studies to support its lowering effect on blood pressure. You may also wish to check out olive leaf extract.
A: A review published last year in the Journal of Family Practice (Sept. 2020) answered the question, “Does evidence support the use of supplements to aid in BP control?” The authors present data on a number of natural therapies that can reduce systolic blood pressure (the upper or first number in the reading).
Aged garlic is one of these, along with olive leaf extract, beetroot, cocoa flavanols, flaxseed and L-arginine. Some people experience mild digestive symptoms such as flatulence or heartburn when they are taking aged garlic.
These reviewers also mention potassium supplements. Although they can lower blood pressure, people taking certain BP medications must avoid extra potassium. Patients should always check with the pharmacist before considering a potassium supplement or potassium-based salt substitute.