Although 21st century medicine is as advanced and effective as possible, people can still be inflicted with severe illnesses, specifically cancer.
Cancer is the process in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably to the point of invading nearby tissue and perhaps spreading to lymph nodes and the bloodstream.
The most common treatment for cancer is chemotherapy, which is a series of medications given to the patient the ultimately kills all cells, cancer-inflicted or not.
With the approved treatment of chemotherapy, many have survived their diagnoses, but others, particularly those in the more progressed stages, have not.
Regardless of the result, chemotherapy all in all is noted to induce uncomfortable side effects, including nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
For many years, scientists have been wondering whether cannabinoids in marijuana can aid not only the side effects of chemotherapy, but also treat the cancer as a whole.
Even though there are few studies conducted on this topic, preliminary data a positive result. Therefore, an inclination of including CBD and THC as part of the treatment for various cancers has become part of the conversation.
The two best studied cannabinoids are perhaps THC and CBD, and both chemicals have different roles and effects upon the human body.
While THC is a psychoactive component responsible for producing the euphoric “high” of cannabis, CBD is non-psychoactive and balances out the former.
Excluding cancer, THC helps relieve pain and nausea, and reduce inflammation, while CBD treats seizures and reduces anxiety and paranoia.
With the reactions of THC and CBD in mind, the effects of chemotherapy align with the two types of cannabinoids, creating a relationship between cancer treatment and the chemical components of marijuana.
Cannabinoids essentially can aid cancer patients suffering with chemotherapy side effects, and could be the last resort of options when other medications have not worked.
For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience a loss of appetite, and THC in ingested cannabis can address that problem when delivered through the bloodstream. However, CBD alone cannot produce a solution as much as THC.
Pain can also result from cancer treatment, and some side-effects include inflammation, pressure on internal organs, or even nerve injury to the extent where serious opioids stop providing their effect due to grown resistance in the body.
While CBD indirectly acts on CB2 receptors, aiding in pain relief by reducing inflammation, the THC takes care of the CB1 receptors, thus helping lowering the pain resulting from nerve damage.
One of the most common effects of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting, and CBD has shown great promise in reducing any stomach-related issue.
Even though CBD and THC provide positive results on cancer patients, marijuana can cause some harm to users as well.
Due to THC’s characteristic of giving users a “high”, the chemical component can lower a person’s coordination and cause thoughts and feelings of anxiety.
Since marijuana plants come in different strains, each user’s experience is quite unpredictable, not to mention some can develop a psychological dependence on cannabis.
Not only have cannabinoids illustrated their strength in alleviating serious effects of chemotherapy, but CBD and THC also have the potential to enhance the outcome of cancer recovery.
Simply put, the combination of chemical components of marijuana and the already approved chemotherapy treatments can become a stronger force in aiding cancer patients. In addition, studies have shown cannabinoids’ antitumoral effects, such as slow cancer growth and inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor.
From testing different forms of cancers across the globe, scientists have found astounding results when cancer cells meet with THC or a whole plant containing THC.
Cristina Sanchez of Complutense University in Madrid recorded brain cancer cells only to notice their deaths as soon as they were exposed to THC. She further researched THC’s anti-cancer properties, concluding that the chemical component induces cell death in C6 glioma cells, which is an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Another study, the first clinical trial assessing the antitumoral action of THC on human beings specifically, was conducted by Spanish scientist Manuel Guzman.
Guzman administered pure THC into the tumors of 9 hospitalized patients with brain cancer, who had also failed to respond to standard treatments. The results were off the charts, as the THC treatment was the ultimate connection to the reduced tumor cell proliferation in every single patient utilized in the study.
Harvard University also contributed in testing THC’s anti-cancer components in treating in particular lung cancer. The scientists reported that the cannabinoid slows tumor growth, as well as the cancer’s ability to spread throughout the body, in common lung cancer.
THC targets and destroys tumor cells without harming the healthy cells, unlike chemotherapy, according to Harvard University scientists.
THC alone does not provide the best results, but rather it’s the whole plant cannabis oil that includes hundreds of chemical components yielding therapeutic and healthy properties for the body.
Spanish researches yet again led by Sanchez at Complutense University decided to conduct a study that compares the effectiveness of pure THC isolates and THC-rich oil extracts in a series of preclinical experiments focusing on breast cancer.
The researchers also investigated the effects of pure THC and THC-rich oil formulation when each was combined with standard chemotherapy drugs.
Sanchez’s study concluded that both THC and THC-rich oil had antitumoral properties. However, the oil worked better than the THC itself for all of the serious subtypes of breast cancer picked for research.
A specific example of THC to curing a tumor occurred when the scientists conducted an experiment tied to breast cancer.
The three detrimental, most aggressive forms of breast cancer are hormone-sensitive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative cancer; all were tested with Sanchez’s hypothesis. In every single type of breast cancer cells, THC became a significant and positive addition to the chemotherapy impacting the results (patients got better over time!).
With the case of hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells, the whole plant extract was more effective by 15-25% than THC alone.
In addition, the cannabinoids added to tamoxifen (chemotherapy drug) was 20-25% more potent than chemotherapy by itself. Furthermore, the components of marijuana did not negatively impact the treatment overall.
Bottomline: cannabis assists in aiding a higher success rate of chemotherapy – which is amazing in an on its own. At the same time, marijuana can tackle the common side effects of the cancer treatment.
Aside from helping with treatment options for various cancers, THC and CBD can aid the immune system, which is the real victim behind cancer patients.
According to Dr. Wai Liu’s 2014 report, THC and CBD combined with radiotherapy not only reduces tumors significantly, but also eliminates most, if not all, immune suppression.
Dr. Liu claims that cannabinoids have a “double-punch effect on 1) direct killing and 2) enhancing immunity by suppressing those immune cells that serve to hold back the immune-based killing cells”.
The NCI reviewed numerous studies regarding the relationship between cancer and cannabis with mixed results. For example, a study consisting of 64,855 men from the United States found that the chemical components of marijuana did not increase the risk of tobacco-related cancers.
Even with the only two chemically pure drugs containing marijuana compounds approved in America for medical use – Dronabinol and Nabilone – cancer treatment and prevention is not crystal clear.
The question still stands on whether cannabis should be included in a typical cancer treatment plan, as people are recognizing its strong effects upon the body.
Regardless of the results, one fact remains true: if a cancer patient is considering using marijuana during their chemotherapy, they must discuss the matter with their doctor.
This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling