Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease. Healthy blood cells are shaped like donuts without a hole. These disc-shaped organisms are small, but contain our genetic code and, more importantly, our oxygen. Oxygen, as I’m sure you know, is what we breathe, and most times when our oxygen supply is put in jeopardy, so are our lives.
As the name suggests, sickle cell disease changes the shape of these once disc-like cells into that of crescent moons (or sickles). This reshaping makes it very difficult for blood cells’ hemoglobin to hold on to and circulate oxygen, and can also cause blockages in the circulatory system that can have fatal results.
Common symptoms of sickle cell anemia include:
Shortage of red blood cells, causing anemia
Bouts of “sickle pain” where congested parts of the circulatory system become swollen and inflamed, eliciting a throbbing/stabbing pain that is only abated by taking medication and/or increasing circulation
Swelling of hands and feet
Spleen and internal organ inflammation and damage, which can lead to frequent infections
Slowed growth and delayed puberty
Risk of stroke
Cannabis may not be a panacea for everyone, but its usefulness and versatility cater to many, including those suffering from sickle cell disease. Alongside the mood enhancing, uplifting, and euphoric effects, cannabis also has analgesic (pain relief) and anti-inflammatory (anti-swelling) properties that are particularly useful for sickle cell patients. These attributes lend themselves to people surviving sickle cell disease.