Sickle cell diseases are a group of blood disorders that results in abnormalities in the blood cells, of which the most common disease is sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a sickle cell disease that results in sickle-shaped, rigid blood cells. This is caused by an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein in the hemoglobin found in red blood cells. There are various subtypes of sickle cell anemia, and they are usually inherited from one’s parents.
Sickle cell anemia and other such diseases can cause problems such as pain (“sickle pain”), anemia, bacterial infections, swelling in the hands and feet, and an increased chance of stroke. The disease mainly affects people of Sub-Saharan origin, where about 80% of cases of sickle cell anemia are found. Although people from Arabia and India are also affected, due to the high incidence of malaria in such places.
As of 2015, 4.4 million people worldwide suffer from sickle cell anemia. An estimated 43 million have a sickle cell trait. Around 100,000 people in the US suffer from a sickle cell disease of some sort, and black- or African- Americans are more likely to be affected.
The therapeutic effects of cannabis for sickle cell carriers have only been looked at more recently. Traditionally, the opioids were used to manage “sickle pain”, but it has problematic side-effects like extreme sedation, nausea, appetite loss, constipation respiratory depression and, of course, addiction.