No doubt, cannabis is natural medicine. Researchers have found that its amazing cannabinoids provide relieving effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the body.
In the recent years, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has increased among patients with a variety of conditions. And, studies have concluded it may help alleviate symptoms of cancer. If so, then cancer patients can use the herb over expensive medications, and save thousands of dollars.
But, the main question is—does it really help?
Can medical cannabis help cure cancer?
Before we discuss whether cannabinoids can reduce symptoms of cancer, let’s shed light on cancer.
The human body is made of trillions of cells. These cells grow and divide leading to the formation of new cells, which grow old or damaged, and die. When cancer develops, this process breaks down. This can lead to abnormal growth of cells—old cells survive for extra time, new cells form when not required, thus forming growths known as tumors.
Cancerous tumors can break off and travel to other parts of the body through blood. And, benign tumors don’t spread into nearby tissues, and usually, don’t grow back after they’re removed.
Chemotherapy is one of the most effective ways to kill cancer cells. It kills dividing cells by damaging the genes inside their nucleus. Some of the common side-effects associated with chemotherapy are—fatigue, hair loss, nausea & vomiting, mood changes, weight changes, and changes in libido and sexual function.
A cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, which are known for providing drug-like effects in the human body. The cannabinoids that can benefit patients with cancer are—THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, CBDa, and THCa. CBD is helpful in reducing pain, inflammation, and anxiety without causing that HIGH effect like THC.
Cannabinoids are beneficial in alleviating the side-effects of chemotherapy and other cancer therapies. In the United States, two pharmaceutical drugs Dronabinol (Marinol ®) and Nabilone (Cesamet ®) are approved by the FDA for nausea and vomiting.
Cannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body, thus cannabis can play a vital role in immunity.
You can find a wide range of success stories online of cancer patients who have relieved cancer symptoms with medical cannabis use.
What do studies say?
A number of researches have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of cannabis in treating cancer. Here’re some of them-
A study performed on 21 chronic pain patients found that vaporized cannabis with morphine provided better results than morphine alone. But, cannabis with oxycodone didn’t give great results.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cannabinoids can also help in blocking cell growth, fighting viruses, relieving muscle spasms, preventing the growth of tumors.
NCI also acknowledges that inhaled cannabis can help improve mood, sense of well-being, and reduce anxiety.
Can CBD kill cancer cells?
In 2011, the American Association for Cancer Research found that CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, can help kill the cells associated with breast cancer while giving little to no effects to normal cells.
According to a study published in the National Institute Health, THC and JWH-015 restricted the growth of liver cancer cells. Cannabinoids were also found to inhibit tumor growth.
The International Journal of Oncology published a report in 2017, which tells that cannabinoids possess anti-cancer activity whether consumed alone or with chemotherapy. And, as per a research by Yale Cancer Center, most pediatric cancer centers are now considering medical cannabis for treatment in children with advanced cancer.
A 2017 review by the National Academy of Science on more than 10,000 studies found that cannabis can help reduce chronic pain and spasms related to multiple sclerosis. Also, THC can help reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Researchers have conducted various studies on the risks of various cancers from cannabis use. Some of these are-
As the cannabis smoke contains various substances that are also present in tobacco smoke, there’re concerns whether it can affect the lungs. According to a cohort study in Africa, the risk of lung cancer in tobacco smokers increased with smoking cannabis.
Contrary to that, a population study found that lung cancer patients who used low cannabis didn’t increase the risk of lung or other aerodigestive tract cancers.
In 1970, a study was performed on 49,000 Swedish men to note the effects of cannabis use. Researchers followed them from 19-21 years of age up to 42 years and found that there was no link between cannabis use and testicular cancer. But, the risks of the development of testicular cancer were more than twice in heavy cannabis smokers.
Medical marijuana is proven beneficial for relieving pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, etc. It can help patients alleviate cancer symptoms and reduce the side effects associated with cancer therapies.
Medical cannabis comes in a variety of strains, and each has different levels of cannabinoids, thus provide different effects. There’re different forms cannabis products available in the market-
Marijuana buds for smoking
Edibles—cookies, mints, candies, brownies, etc.
Cannabis oils to mix with honey, tea, etc.
Sprays and tinctures to use under the tongue
Many oncologists suggest patients not to smoke anything. However, for breast cancer patients who want to control weight, tinctures, oils, and sprays can be a better option over dried buds or edibles.
Since everyone’s condition is different, it isn’t necessary that same cannabis product work for every patient. Talk to a 420 doctor to get help to choose the right strain for your condition.
Cancer is included in the list of MMJ qualifying conditions of almost every medical cannabis legalized state in the United States. You can consult a specialist doctor to get medical marijuana recommendation online.
Have your loved one or you ever used medical cannabis products for reducing cancer symptoms? Describe your experience in the comment section below.