Is Cannabis An Effective Form Of Treatment For Cancer?
In a variety of published scientific studies over the last decade, Cannabis has gained a lot of attention regarding the medicinal benefits it contains. From chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and dystonia to glaucoma and epilepsy, medical cannabis has paved the way for new treatments options and methods for these illnesses and many more. Cannabis has been used as a medicine by healers for centuries. The criminalization of cannabis began in the early 1900s despite existing evidence of its medical benefit.
The therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis has been contested and tried by both federal and state legislators, but after countless research studies, the proof of cannabis’ medicinal properties has become overwhelmingly apparent.
Cannabis is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who are suffering with illness, yet it remains illegal in many states. Medical cannabis is now legal in 24 states and Washington D.C. since the movement was pioneered by California in 1996.
Some states like Illinois have purposefully enacted very stringent medical cannabis programs in order to avoid some of the pitfalls seen in other states. These strict standards have created many obstacles for patients in need of cannabis, but as we explore in this post, the future for medical cannabis looks incredibly promising.
Medical cannabis is different from the traditional cannabis or “weed” that many enjoy recreationally. Humans are essentially hardwired to receive medical benefits from cannabis. The differences in types of medical cannabis are mainly in the concentrations of cannabinoids.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the crucial active chemicals in cannabis that bind with our naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors, or endocannabinoid system, in order to provide us with healing properties. Cannabinoids affect the central nervous system and immune system, making them highly efficient in treating the side effects of cancer. There are a variety of cannabinoids, with the most abundant and important cannabinoids being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These two are responsible for alleviating pain and inflammation, blocking cell growth, and preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors.
What kind of cancers can cannabis help treat?
So far, cannabis has been studied in labs with preliminary results showing cell death of breast cancer, colon cancer, and some of the most terminal and severe forms of brain cancer. The majority of americans with cancer should have access to medical cannabis in its purest form to treat their cancer. The blocking of cell growth and elimination of cancer cells has been seen in all cancer types.
We’ve created an infographic to provide brief overviews of the effects cannabis has on different forms of cancer. These overviews were based on the many public studies available at :
How can cannabis fight cancer?
Cancer cells are killed or slowed by cannabinoids in three different ways:
“Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may (1) inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, (2) block cell growth, and (3) block the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”- National Cancer Institute
The cannabinoids that are extracted from the plant bind with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies to kill cancer cells while actually protecting the healthy ones. Research done by scientists at St. George’s University in London and published in Molecular Cancer Therapies Medical Journal have found that THC and CBD “weakened the ferocity of cancer cells and made them more susceptible to radiation treatment.”
As other studies have also found, the addition of cannabis to the traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments already utilized for cancer could be a complementary combination for eradicating tumors. This recent finding has opened a new chapter for understanding how cannabis can help us find the cure cancer.
How can cannabis help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and cancer?
Cannabis is well-known as an effective treatment for those undergoing chemotherapy, as the medical benefits can provide great relief with little side effects. the medicinal properties of cannabis help alleviate symptoms such as nausea, depression, muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite, and insomnia. According to Dr. Donald Abrams, a thought leader in the field of using medical cannabis to effectively treat the symptoms related to cancer, cannabis provides the best solution for alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy. Dr. Abrams also points to the recent findings that cannabis has shown to arrest the development of cancer cells and even prevent spreading of tumors.
In this video, Donald Abrams, M.D., chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and a pioneer in the field of medical cannabis research, speaks on the need for more studies to be done, with more potent strains than those that have been used in the past, on cannabis as an effective therapeutic medicine for cancer and other conditions.