Cannabis and Cancer

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5 Best Marijuana Strains for Cancer Relief [2018 Update]

The complete guide to Marijuana and Cancer

MarijuanaBreak Staff / Updated on June 25, 2018

Best Marijuana Strains for Cancer


Cancer is a complex and heavily researched medical disease that we still have very few answers about, as well as no official cure, but in recent times, multiple cannabis studies across the globe have discovered just how many healing benefits medical marijuana can provide for patients of cancer, especially regarding some symptoms from conventional cancer treatments.

Did you know that in 2014 alone, there were a little less than 15 million people living with some type of cancer within the United States according to the National Cancer Institute? As we take a look at a worldwide survey, the National Cancer Institute expresses that when observing data from 2012-2014, 38.5% of men and women will, at some point in their life, be diagnosed with some form of cancer.

Although these numbers may seem fictional, made up or even completely absurd, they are very real and astounding statistics that bring reality to just how serious cancer is. Although there are constantly advancements being made in this aspect of medicine, there is still no PROVEN cure, but cannabis does step in to hold hands with conventional treatments, as cannabis brings some relief to patients suffering from adverse effects of chemo, radiation and some other alternative treatment methods.

What Is Cancer and Why is Cannabis a Good Treatment?

Scientifically defined, cancer is a category of related diseases in which unhealthy, cancer cells begin to rapidly grow and divide throughout the body. This process can be harmful, because compared with normal, healthy cells, cancer cells do not have a direct function or purpose, and rather become invasive within the body instead of specializing for a specific reason to assist the body. These cancerous cells can form together without stopping or pausing, rapidly growing into what are known as tumors, which then often have to be removed later on.

Tumors that are cancerous are known as being malignant, meaning they are capable of invading other nearby tissues and growing rapidly in those locations as well. During this process, other cancer cells can break off and travel far from the source location into other, far away places throughout the body. This is why we often hear of stories where cancer has spread into various parts of a person’s body.

Sometimes, tumors can be classified as benign. This is generally a much more positive result, because although this class of tumors can grow extremely large and needs to be removed surgically, benign tumors don’t have cells that break off and spread throughout the body. Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors likely do not grow back after removal. Benign tumors, once removed, generally are not life threatening, unless they are located within the brain, which is an exception where the mass then needs to be urgently removed in order to prevent any complications from arising. Hospitals take any type of mass within the brain very seriously and act quickly upon a result such as this one.



Cancer cells arise due to a malfunctioning within the genes, and in this sense, cancer is genetic. Genes control the way in which the body’s cells function; how they grow, divide and then eventually sometimes die off. As cells divide, errors can occur within these genes, as well as the DNA itself can become damaged.

Additionally, some individuals inherit this faulty genetic programming from family members, making their cells more susceptible to problems later on. The DNA itself can become damaged mostly due to environmental toxins, such as exposure to radiation (including from the sun) and carcinogens, such as the smoke from cigarettes or other tobacco products. There are plenty of substances within the environment, including everyday pollution that can damage the cells, genes and even DNA, but just because one is exposed to these toxins, does not guarantee that they will acquire cancer in their lifetime, it simply increases their risk statistically speaking.

Common Types of Cancer:

Since cancer is essentially just a collection of incorrect cells, it can occur just about anywhere in the body, and spread extremely far from the point of origin, through the body or even the lymph system. Due to this, the most common types of cancer in the world are mostly in unrelated, unconnected parts of the body.

What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer MarijuanaBreast cancer is an extremely common form of cancer amongst females, with around 3 million women said to be living within the United States with breast cancer currently. Women are not the only individuals at risk however, men can also develop breast cancer, with about 2,500 men typically being diagnosed with the disease each year. Breast cancer occurs when the cells within the breast tissue become unhealthy and spread rapidly, often times forming tumors that can sometimes be felt as lumps during important self-checks, and other times can be seen with x-ray pictures.

These rapidly growing cells can be cancer cells, although most of the time any lumps present end up benign and don’t pose much threat once removed. In other, more severe situations, the tumor can be malignant, containing cancer cells, and these can invade other parts of the breast tissue, or they can even go as far as invading other parts of the body, which is known as metastasizing. Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer amongst women in the world.

What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a very different kind of cancer compared to the other most common forms, for it affects the blood and the marrow within the bones. Nothing can be done to prevent someone from developing Leukemia, and although most of the cases publicly seen are amongst children, more adults actually develop Leukemia than kids.

Additionally, men are more likely to develop this disease, and Caucasians are more likely than African-Americans to be diagnosed with Leukemia. Leukemia is the 10th most common form of cancer amongst all genders and races, and it is said that more than 350,000 individuals will be living with Leukemia in 2017 in the United States alone.

What exactly is going on within the body when one has Leukemia?

As a basic description, this disease is diagnosed when an individual’s body over produces white blood cells, which are the ones that help to fight infections. Due to this, not enough red blood cells (which carry oxygen) are produced and neither are platelets (which cause the blood to clot when it needs to). All of these blood cells, millions to be exact, are being produced from within the bone marrow, which means that the marrow is not correctly outputting the cells. The extra white cells being produced are Leukemia cells, which cannot actually properly fight away infections or protect the body from its surroundings. This overproduction of faulty white blood cells can take over the body and begin to shut down organs, causing some, if not many, major organs to function improperly, as well as the red blood cells not being able to supply the body with enough internal oxygen. A third issue, the platelets within the blood stop being able to clot the blood, which can generate a severe loss of blood from a minute injury, or even extreme bruising and anemia.

The combination of these three basic body functions shutting down can cause detrimental issues, even in drastic cases leading to death. Sometimes, Leukemia patients need to have a blood transfusion in order for their chances of survival to go up, as well as some end up having a bone marrow transplant. Aside from these more extreme treatments, most Leukemia patients end up undergoing some form of chemotherapy or radiation treatment to kill the cancer cells within the body.

What Is Skin Cancer?
Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer at some point in their lifetime?

Skin cancer occurs when there is an abnormal and uncontrollable growth of the skin cells, often times spotted because of a wart of mole on the body changing color, shape, texture or size. It is mostly caused because of UV radiation, which is extreme amounts or with prolonged exposure can damage the actual DNA of skin cells, causing a triggering of mutations or genetic defects, which further can turn into rapidly multiplying unhealthy skin cells that grow and form tumors that can be either benign or malignant.

There are three common types of this disease: melanomas, basal cell skin cancers and squamous cell skin cancers, with the later two being the most common because they are very heavily linked to amount of sun exposure. These two more common types of skin cancer are also less likely to spread throughout other parts of the body, but they are still extremely vital to discover early and treat, so that no further cancer cells can grow. Melanomas, the third class of skin cancer, although they are more rare, they are much more serious than basal and squamous cell skin cancers, because they have a tendency to grow and spread at a much quicker rate, making them far more dangerous. It can be effortlessly taken care of in early stages, but if it gets left alone unchecked, it can cause real issues that could end up as life threatening.

Due to all this information, wearing sunscreen and sun protection lotion can help to prevent the development of cancer growth within the skin cells, as well as regularly getting any warts or moles checked on the skin that look questionable or odd in any way. Aside from these three common types of skin cancer, many others do exist as well, but they are far less likely to develop.

What Is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is caused by an uncontrollable and abnormal growth of cells within either one lung or both. These cells, known as cancer cells, can group together to form masses, known as tumors. When new cells attempt to develop, they turn into these unhealthy cancer cells and are therefore unable to perform the normal functions of constructing new lung tissue, repairing the lungs and going about the normal day to day functions of these organs that literally supply our body with oxygen, so we can survive. Lung cancer primarily affects individuals over the age of 65, with 2 out of 3 adults getting diagnosed after 65 years of age. The average age of diagnosis is 70 years old, so often times people are diagnosed even older than 65.

When not including skin cancer, lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women, where only prostate cancer (in men) and breast cancer (in women) ranks higher in prevalence. More than 220,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2017 in the United States alone, showing that this cancer is, indeed, extremely common. Additionally, lung cancer is the leading cause of death by cancer amongst men and women, with many cases of this disease arising due to a history of regular tobacco smoking. Although lung cancer can arise from reasons other than a history of smoking, consuming cigarettes does increase the risk quite greatly.

Additionally, breathing asbestos or exposure to radon gas throughout a lifetime, can increase the chances of healthy cells developing genetic mutations within the cell’s DNA, leading to unhealthy cells that cannot perform their functions correctly. Cancer will not arise from a few mutations, rather it takes a series of mutations of the cells within the lungs to cause lung cancer to appear, which may be the reason as to why this disease is typically developed during the senior years. Primary and secondary lung cancer are two classifications of this illness, with primary cancer beginning within the lungs and sometimes spreading into other parts of the body as it develops further along, while secondary cancer rather begins in another part of the body and then metastasizes into the lungs. This secondary lung cancer isn’t actually referred to as lung cancer, but rather a metastasized version of whatever type of cancer spread into the lungs (e.g. metastasized breast cancer, etc.).

Related article: Marijuana Users 45% Less Likely to Get Bladder Cancer

Who Does Cancer Affect?

The scary fact regarding this disease might be, that cancer can affect absolutely anyone of any age, race, gender or class. This is what possibly makes it such a terrifying medical disease for so many, because no one is safe from cancer. However, preventative measures can be taken to decrease your chances of getting cancer. Those who have an ancestral history of cancer in their genetic lineage are more likely to acquire it, as well as those who make poor lifestyle choices; smoking, drinking heavily, drug use, eating bad food regularly, not exercising, etc.

Those who are overweight, obese, have diabetes, heart conditions and so much more are also at greater risk. Keeping healthy and living an active lifestyle is the best solution to subsiding any possible fear, and taking care of yourself physically has also been proven to increase the quality of mental health, leading to not only a happier body, but also a happier mind. Cannabis is also a great treatment, but you’ll have to continue reading to find out more about cannabis as a cancer treatment.

Stages of Cancer

There are four stages of cancer used to classify how far along one’s cancer has gotten, and each stage typically describes the size of the cancer, as well as if it has spread anywhere else within the body, whether it be within the same general region, or to a completely different area. By determining a patient’s stage of cancer, the correct action for treatment can be determined. Cancers that are not so far along typically are only located in one smaller portion of the body, therefore they need to be treated locally, while more developed cancers require a treatment that can cover a greater region of the body, known as systemic treatments. An explanation of the stages are as follows:

Stage 1. This cancer is the least developed of the four stages, and generally has a high recovery rate. Cancer that is only in stage 1 of development is caught early and can be treated quite simply with today’s advanced medical technology. Stage 1 cancer is also typically relatively small and contained within its single organ of origin. Local removal through surgery or another similar medical procedure generally can take this cancer out of the body, although sometimes it can come back.

Stage 2. Stage 2 cancer is further along than stage 1, however it likely has not spread into other parts of the body yet. Although, in some types of cancer, stage 2 can mean that the unhealthy cells have begun to travel through the lymph nodes, typically nearby the tumor. Stage 2 tumors are generally larger than in stage 1, and with this classification of cancer, sometimes local removal is efficient enough at making the body cancer-free, but other times it has to paired up with systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. It all depends on each individual’s case.

Stage 3. Cancer is stage 3 is significantly larger and further developed than it is in the previous two stages. Often times, it has begun to spread throughout surrounding tissues, and the removal of the point of origin for cancer this far along, is a much more challenging and gruelling task for medical practitioners. By stage 3, doctors are typically already resorting to the use of chemotherapy, radiation or another systemic treatment, because often times the simple removal of the point of origin is not effective enough, and the cancer can quickly return.

Stage 4. Cancer that has grown to stage 4 is at its most serious level, and by this point is oftentimes referred to as metastatic cancer or secondary cancer. Systemic treatments almost always must be used by this point, and even these treatments do not guarantee and individual will stay cancer-free or make a recovery. Once a cancer is classified as stage 4, it has spread into another organ or part of the body, which is why it becomes such a difficulty to treat and eliminate.

Causes of Cancer:

There is a massive variety of factors that are said to be causes of cancer, although none of them are truly and completely understood and are more so considered a risk increase rather than a guarantee. Possibilities range from genetic predisposition, to accidental environmental exposure, to poor lifestyle choices. In reality, anything that can produce some form of abnormality in the cells of the body, has a potential for becoming a cause of cancer, which is why there are just so many conditions in our world that can put us at risk. Even if proving the direct origin for one’s cancer is almost impossible, we will at least discuss the most common causes here, so that one can better grasp just how cancer is affecting populations globally:

Inherited Cancer/Genetic Predisposition:
Although it is extremely unusual to be born with cancer, individuals can more commonly be born with a greater likelihood of developing cancer sometime during their lifetime, which is often why doctors will ask about your family’s medical history during checkups. It is said that someone who has family members affected by cancer, are more likely to develop cancer themselves, which is also a reason why these individuals are told to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, drinking only recreationally, having a proper diet and partaking in sufficient amounts of exercise. All these improved choices still do not guarantee a cancer-free life for anyone, but it certainly does lessen the odds.

Toxic Compound Exposure/Environmental Toxins and Pollution:
There’s a hefty list of chemical and toxic compounds that when an individual is exposed to them for a generous period of time, it can lead to cancer cells forming more rapidly in the body. It is common knowledge that these components do encourage cancer growth, and many are advised by professionals to stay away from them as much as possible, yet still they can be present in our surrounding environment, sometimes even without our knowledge. Some of these toxic compounds include: cigarette smoke, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, nickel, aflatoxin and many more. Primarily, cigarette smoke is the most heavily prevalent, with more than 36 million adults said to be smokers just in the United States alone. That is why second and third hand smoke prevention has become a massive matter throughout the states, especially to protect children and babies from potentially experiencing the effects of these toxic components. Everyday exposure to pollution, poor-air quality and toxins naturally present in the environment, can also disrupt the natural flow of healthy body cells, causing them to alter into cancer-containing cells. Those who are present around pollution are more at risk of developing cancer, primarily those who reside for long periods of time in heavily populated and dirty, big cities.

Poor Lifestyle Choices/Carcinogens:
Cancer Smoking

Making poor lifestyle choices, is likely one of the more common reasons for the development of cancer, but this category is so wide and all-inclusive, that many activities not listed here could also be viewed as poor lifestyle choices. Probably the most prevalent, is smoking and the use of tobacco. Many cancer cases have been discovered by doctors globally amongst frequent smokers who have used some form of tobacco for many years. Additionally, having a poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive use of tanning beds and drug use, are all activities that can increase the risk. Some acquired medical conditions can also lead to cancer, including diabetes and obesity, which sometimes present a potential for this disease. Staying away from cigarette use, only consuming alcohol in moderation and leading a healthy and active lifestyle, are all ways of benefitting your health and helping to keep your cells from turning into rapidly spreading cancer cells. Still, it is vital to remember that nothing can actually completely remove the possibility of acquiring cancer. Even some individuals who have led completely healthy lives have still developed cancer. Additionally, some individuals have had high exposure to a mass variety of toxic compounds, poor lifestyle choices and plenty of carcinogens, but still do not develop cancer during their lifetime.

Radiation can occur casually through everyday wear-and-tear, or it can be due to a more serious cause, such as residing in a vulnerable location during a nuclear bomb, or radioactive meltdown. For example, after Chernobyl happened in Ukraine, some individuals developed a plethora of diseases and conditions after the nuclear power plant melted down.

Unfortunately, these unlucky people were too close in proximity to the disaster, impacting their health in a very direct way, some passing due to acute radiation syndrome, while further health effects long term are still being investigated amongst surviving citizens. It may turn out in the future, that some of the individuals too close in proximity may have developed cancer due to this radiation literally changing their DNA structure. This is why during a nuclear disaster, the evacuation of nearby civilians and residents is vital to the long-term survival and health of everyone.

The more common form of radiation that we all experience in various amounts on a day-to-day basis, is from the sun. UV-rays from the sun can cause cells to mutate in extreme amounts, which is why doctors often advise the use of full spectrum sunscreen when going outside, even if it is simply for a short period of time. Sunscreen can help to prevent radiation from the sun’s harmful UV rays, keeping your risk of developing skin cancer much lower. Even if these risks are well understood, some people still choose to enter tanning beds, where their skin is impacted with a strong burst of UV rays, to mimic the sun, so a brown glow can be quickly achieved.

Tanning beds are extremely harmful to the skin, with oncologists telling people to boycott these facilities due to their negative impacts on the health and their ability to increase the risk of skin cancer. Some oncologists have even gone as far as saying that tanning beds are to blame for the increase in lethal melanoma cases (skin cancer), which seems to be one of most common forms of cancer amongst young adults who are under the age of 30.

Other forms of radiation also exist, aside from these two heavy contenders, including uranium and radon radiation, as well as any radiation that can come of over exposure to beta, alpha, gamma and x-ray emitting sources.

Some viruses and bacterias are linked to a cancer risk, although much research is still being conducted on a large assortment of potentially harmful bacterias, viruses and even some parasites. As of now, HPV (human papillomavirus), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Merkel cell polyomavirus and the hepatitis b and c viruses, are all linked to a potential risk increase in developing this disease. There are some more viruses and bacterias as well, but these are some of the more common examples. For some of the sexually contracted viruses, the best method of avoiding contracting them, is by taking the proper precautions and using contraceptives regularly. Preparation and readiness are the ways to avoid contracting an STD or STI, but additionally some vaccines have arisen in recent times to generate prevention in contracting these viruses, specifically with the vaccination for HPV.

The pattern of who cancer effects is rather an odd one, for just because one is exposed to pollution or carcinogens, does not mean they will necessarily develop cancer. Additionally, some people can go their entire lives smoking cigarettes on a regular basis and have no complications, even if they might have a genetic predisposition. In reality, anything can happen, and it is not that these factors guarantee that cancer will present itself at some point during life, rather they are guidelines for keeping yourself healthy, because these factors do have a potential for possibly increasing the risk of cancer.

Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer is such as complex and diverse disease, it would seem likely that its symptoms are just the same. Often times, no two cancer patients’ symptoms are same, which can sometimes make recognizing a presence of this disease in the body a difficult task, with many people having their faulty cells or tumors go unnoticed for many years before they end up with a proper diagnosis. For some types of cancer, such as Breast Cancer, there are some self-checks and hospital checks that exist so that early detection is more likely, but with other types of cancer, often the presence of the disease is discovered when a patient goes into the hospital for a different reason.

Overall, symptoms are tied to three main criteria: what type of cancer is it?, where is the cancer located?, and where has the cancer spread? By identifying these three points, the symptoms you may be having can become more clear. If you do happen to have cancer, but are fortunate enough to develop symptoms which bring your attention to the presence of this difficult disease early on, know that these symptoms have a wide-range of possibilities, but here we will discuss the most common:

The acronym CAUTION is often used to remember the seven main symptoms of cancer, which should be quickly brought to the attention of a doctor or professional if you are experiencing one of the following:

The “C” in CAUTION stands for a change in bladder or bowel habits. If these basic disposal functions become irregular, there may something deeper going on with the body.

The “A” represents a non-healing sore throat, (one that persists with no change in pain or discomfort). Constantly feeling a very hoarse or sore throat, is not normal and should be checked out.

The “U” stands for unusual discharge or bleeding. This often greatly depends on the type of cancer, because the location of discharge or bleeding can sometimes correlate with the form of cancer. For example, if you are experiencing strange colored discharge or even blood coming from the nipple of the breasts, this could indicate a potential for breast cancer and needs to urgently be examined by a doctor for further inspection. These are known as nipple secretions, and sometimes even a sore that will not heal and continues to discharge can appear, which is just as serious.

The “T” represents thickening or a lump in some region of the body, (usually this is in the breasts or testicles). If you perform a self exam or happen to notice some strange mass on your body, this could potentially be a tumor and should get examined by a doctor.

The “I” stands for indigestion, most often chronic and recurrent, or experiencing a difficulty swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can sometimes be a symptom of throat cancer. Having a one time difficulty in swallowing isn’t something of grave concern, but if the issue persists, then it may be a more urgent and time-sensitive ordeal.

The “O” means an obvious change in a wart or mole on the skin, whether in color, thickness, size, shape or even texture. All this can signal a problematic mole which could be a possible carrier of skin cancer cells. This is why doctors regularly recommend keeping an eye on moles and warts, and even getting them burned off if they seem to be problematic, even if they are not necessarily cancerous.

Lastly, the “N” represents a nagging cough and/or hoarseness. This criteria is broad and could be a symptom of a mass number of conditions or diseases, but regardless if a cough persists for a long period of time, it should be examined by a professional for further information.

Other symptoms of cancer can exist, including rapid weight loss or loss of appetite, infections that don’t seem to disappear after protocol treatment, low-level fevers that continue to arise repeatedly, a strange or unusual feeling of pain within the bones or throughout the rest of the body that only seem to worsen and ongoing fatigue, vomiting or nausea.

Just try and constantly remember that having one of these symptoms does not necessarily guarantee cancer, for they could be pointing towards something completely different. It is still better to confront a medical health professional about it, for it is better to be safe than sorry.

Conventional Medical Treatments That don’t include Cannabis:

Unlike cannabis treatments which are fairly new, there are quite a number of conventional medical treatments for cancer patients available, and more continue to add onto the list as advancements are being made in our rapidly developing field of medicine. All in all, two categories of treatments are probably the most prevalent, but first a medical practitioner must determine the stage that the cancer is in. As mentioned above, this system of stage classification is primarily beneficial, because it allows doctors to determine what course of action they will be taking during treatment.

For stages 1 and 2, the cancer usually has not spread outside of the point of origin, aside from a few specific cases. If the cancer cells are local within a single region or organ, surgery is used to remove the unhealthy cells, so that they cannot continue to spread and grow at rapid rates. By removing every last cancer cell, there’s nothing left to infect the body and the disease halts there. In some cases, the cancer can return again, either within the same location, or at a different one. If this occurs, the doctor has to devise a new course of action and start over.

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By stage 3 and 4, the cancer is already likely much larger and more developed, so it tends to have spread throughout other regions of the body. In these mass scale circumstances, a more complete treatment must be used, known as systemic treatments. You can remember the name by considering what takes place during this course of action, where cancer cells are killed throughout the entire system of the body. The most common forms of systemic treatments, includes chemotherapy and radiation. Other, less used, types of conventional cancer treatments exist as well, including hormone therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant, but we won’t be going into detail about these additional methods in this article.

Medical Marijuana and Cancer

Medical Marijuana for Cancer

Medical marijuana has proven to be immensely beneficial in improving the wellbeing of cancer patients, often assisting those who are reacting adversely to conventional medicine treatments, specifically treatments within the systemic category, such as radiation or chemotherapy. Unlike cannabis treatments, some side effects of radiation and chemotherapy include, lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue and extreme pain throughout the body.

Thankfully, there are medical cannabis strains on the market specifically devised to bring relief to patients experiencing these unpleasant negative side effects, so that they may find peace. Additionally, in recent years, some cannabis studies have been released that have leaned in a direction of the actual cannabis plant itself containing compounds that may be a cure to cancer, and not just as a means of relief from the adverse effects of conventional medications. Who knows, maybe in the future we will not need to rely on challenging conventional cancer treatments anymore, and instead switch to the good cannabis herb, but for now, let’s just exam the research and studies to understand more about the evidence and effects of cannabis:

Studies on Cannabis as a Treatment:

1. Evidence for marijuana’s effectiveness at pain relief:

In a study conducted by Johnson JR, Burnell-Nugent M, Lossignol D, et al. published in J Pain Symptom Manage, the scientific journal, researchers tested the effectiveness of THC:CBD extract versus a placebo at pain relief amongst 177 randomly selected subjects. In the end, their findings concluded, “this study shows that THC:CBD extract of cannabis is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids” (Johnson JR, Burnell-Nugent M, Lossignol D, et al.).

2. Evidence for cannabis’ effectiveness at relieving nausea:

Tramér MR, Carroll D, Campbell FA, et al. published a study in BMJ scientific journal, in which they tested the effectiveness of cannabis cannabinoids from the cannabis plant against chemotherapy induced nausea, compared with other traditional medicines, concluding that, “cannabis cannabinoids were more effective antiemetics than prochlorperazine, metoclopramide, chlorpromazine, thiethylperazine, haloperidol, domperidone, or alizapride…” (Tramér MR, Carroll D, Campbell FA, et al.).

3. Evidence for marijuana’s ability to increase appetite amongst disease related anorexia patients:

Dronabinol, a man-made, synthetic form of cannabis used primarily to treat patients experiencing anorexia and loss of appetite, mostly as a symptom of HIV/AIDs, had its effectiveness reviewed and researched in a scientific article published by Beal JE, Olson R, Lefkowitz L, et al. in the journal J Pain Symptom Manage. This team of researchers concludes their findings by stating; “Patients tended toward stable body weight for at least 7 months. Adverse events were primarily related to known central nervous system effects of dronabinol. These data support long-term, safe use of dronabinol for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS” (Beal JE, Olson R, Lefkowitz L, et al.).

4. Evidence for cannabis’ possible anti-tumor effects:

In a rather ground-breaking and revolutionary study conducted by the National Toxicology Program, rats and mice were observed after being administered varying doses of Cannabis THC and the results showed that, “The incidences of mammary gland fibroadenomas and uterine stromal polyps were decreased in dosed groups of female rats, as were the incidences of pancreatic adenomas, pituitary gland adenomas, and interstitial cell adenomas of the testis in dosed male rats and liver neoplasms in dosed mice” (NTP toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of 1-trans-delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (CAS No. 1972-08-3) in F344 rats and B6C3F1 mice (gavage studies)). This might all seem like a bunch of gibberish, but it essentially just means that these specific types of tumors decreased within the mice and rats over time, after the doses of THC from the cannabis plant were administered.

Although much more research needs to be conducted regarding the capabilities of cannabis as an effective treatment to cure cancer, these studies are an outstanding start towards more progress being made in the medical marijuana field.

5 Best Marijuana Strains for Different Types of Cancer:

Best Strains for Cancer Treatment

1. ACDC Marijuana Strain

About this Cannabis Strain:

ACDC is a highly promising cannabis strain, classified genetically as a hybrid. It descends from the CBD heavy marijuana strain known as Cannatonic, and therefore also contains mass amounts of CBD itself. This cannabis strain allows patients to reap the healing benefits of CBD, which are incredible for numbing down pain, especially the type that can be felt amongst cancer patients after the harsh and tiresome chemotherapy treatments have finished. In addition to featuring an incredibly prominent CBD content, its THC content is quite low, ensuring that few psychoactive or “high-like” effects will be experienced. Instead, this marijuana strain focuses almost completely on assisting and healing the symptoms of patients undergoing serious conventional medical procedures, or those suffering from difficult medical illnesses or conditions.

CBD: 15-25%; THC: 0.5-1.3%.

How this cannabis strain helps: Pain relief from the negative effects of systemic treatments amongst cancer patients.

2. Northern Lights Cannabis Strain

Northern Lights Marijuana Strain

About this Cannabis Strain:

Northern Lights is an indica dominant cannabis strain, bred from the pure land-race parents Afghani indica and Thai sativa. This untainted and popular marijuana strain, although very high in THC and rather low in CBD, offers a relief on a different level. Due to its classic indica tendencies, Northern Lights provides immense nausea relief for those who are suffering from this uncomfortable sensation on a regular basis. Those who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer, often experience massive amounts of nausea as an adverse effect of the medical treatment, so consuming some Northern Lights in the form of cannabis may be helpful in calming down these discomforts.

CBD: unknown, but not high; THC: 16-21%.

How this cannabis strain helps: Nausea relief for cancer patients who have recently undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

3. Granddaddy Purple Cannabis Strain

About this Cannabis Strain:

A relaxing and calming marijuana indica that brings about tiredness and pure serenity, Granddaddy Purple lets you fall asleep fast, first giving you a case of the mad munchies. For those who are suffering from loss of appetite and are concerned about extreme weight loss because of it, Granddaddy Purple serves as a quintessential cannabis strain to keep appetite levels up, especially after they have subsided due to any form of treatment against cancer. Granddaddy Purple is a genetic cross between Big Bud (indica) and Purple Urkle (indica) cannabis strains, making its indica dominance rather prominent. This class of cannabis strains are notorious for making you hungry, followed by couch-lock and falling fast asleep; all a plus if you are recovering from cancer treatment.

CBD: 0.1%; THC: 17-23%.

How this marijuana strain helps: Brings back appetite for those who have suffered appetite loss as a result of cancer treatment, or even extreme weight loss tied to a decreased appetite.

4. Chocolope Cannabis Strain

About This Cannabis Strain:

Chocolope is an energizing and uplifting sativa cannabis strain, that is capable of awakening even the most fatigued of individuals. If you suffer from constant tiredness, specifically as a negative side effects of some form of conventional cancer treatment, Chocolope is exactly what you need to pick you back up and keep you going. Bred by the combination of Cannalope Haze (sativa) and Chocolate Thai (sativa), this double sativa lineage guarantees pure genetics within Chocolope. Many report experiencing a complete euphoria mood enhancing high, that keeps a smile on your face and an overall positive attitude.

CBD: unknown, but low; THC: 18-22%.

How It Helps: Diminishes fatigue amongst tired or worn-out cancer patients, who desire more energy and liveliness in their lives.

5. Charlotte’s Web Cannabis Strain

About this Cannabis Strain:

An extremely low THC sativa cannabis strain that has gained recognition within the medical marijuana community, for its ability to assist a wide range of serious medical conditions, because of its enormous CBD content, with little to no psychoactive or typical “high” producing feelings (it’s the absence of THC, after all). Used primarily by seizure patients as a relief, those who are suffering from cancer can also try out Charlotte’s Web Cannabis Strain, which may bring peace and calm down a grand variety of symptoms, including pain and inflammation.

CBD: 20%; THC: 0.3%-1%.

How this Cannabis Strain: Insanely high in CBD content, brings relief to an onslaught of various cancer symptoms, with little to no psychoactive effects and all the healing powers of the CBD.

Final Thoughts about Cannabis as a Treatment for Cancer and Why Marijuana is so Effective

Although much research still needs to be conducted, studies releasing their results regarding cannabis, primarily all lead in a direction of medical marijuana serving as an adequate form of treatment for patients suffering from a variety of symptoms related to cancer and systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy. The world has far to go to initiate a greater tolerance for medical cannabis within the commercial medical industry, and we hope more evidence will point towards herbal solutions, so one day marijuana can be sold as effectively as any other pharmaceutical.

These cannabis related findings are absolutely steps in the right direction towards a greater tolerance for cannabis related medicines, which expresses just how many healing powers this unearthly plant possesses. We hope you have enjoyed reading this article on cannabis and cancer, and that you not only found it to be entertaining, but also educational and informative. It is important to remember that the consumption of marijuana is the sole responsibility of the user and discretion should be taken before any cannabis consumption.

Marijuana and Cancer

Marijuana is the name given to the dried buds and leaves of varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, which can grow wild in warm and tropical climates throughout the world and be cultivated commercially. It goes by many names, including pot, grass, cannabis, weed, hemp, hash, marihuana, ganja, and dozens of others.

Marijuana has been used in herbal remedies for centuries. Scientists have identified many biologically active components in marijuana. These are called cannabinoids. The two best studied components are the chemicals delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (often referred to as THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Other cannabinoids are being studied.

At this time, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana and its cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This means that they cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law. Whole or crude marijuana (including marijuana oil or hemp oil) is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical use. But the use of marijuana to treat some medical conditions is legal under state laws in many states.

Dronabinol, a pharmaceutical form of THC, and a man-made cannabinoid drug called nabilone are approved by the FDA to treat some conditions.


Different compounds in marijuana have different actions in the human body. For example, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) seems to cause the “high” reported by marijuana users, and also can help relieve pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant. Cannabidiol (CBD) can help treat seizures, can reduce anxiety and paranoia, and can counteract the “high” caused by THC.

Different cultivars (strains or types) and even different crops of marijuana plants can have varying amounts of these and other active compounds. This means that marijuana can have different effects based on the strain used.

The effects of marijuana also vary depending on how marijuana compounds enter the body:

  • When taken by mouth, such as in baked goods, the THC is absorbed poorly and can take hours to be absorbed. Once it’s absorbed, it’s processed by the liver, which produces a second psychoactive compound (a substance that acts on the brain and changes mood or consciousness) that affects the brain differently than THC.
  • When marijuana is smoked or vaporized (inhaled), THC enters the bloodstream and goes to the brain quickly. The second psychoactive compound is produced in small amounts, and so has less effect. The effects of inhaled marijuana fade faster than marijuana taken by mouth.

How can marijuana affect symptoms of cancer?

A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.

A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).

Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.

There are no studies in people of the effects of marijuana oil or hemp oil.

Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.

More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.

There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.

Relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.

Possible harms of marijuana

Marijuana can also pose some harms to users. While the most common effect of marijuana is a feeling of euphoria (“high”), it also can lower the user’s control over movement, cause disorientation, and sometimes cause unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia.

Smoked marijuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke.

Because marijuana plants come in different strains with different levels of active compounds, it can make each user’s experience very hard to predict. The effects can also differ based on how deeply and for how long the user inhales. Likewise, the effects of ingesting marijuana orally can vary between people. Also, some chronic users can develop an unhealthy dependence on marijuana.

Cannabinoid drugs

There are 2 chemically pure drugs based on marijuana compounds that have been approved in the US for medical use.

  • Dronabinol (Marinol®) is a gelatin capsule containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that’s approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy as well as weight loss and poor appetite in patients with AIDS.
  • Nabilone (Cesamet®) is a synthetic cannabinoid that acts much like THC. It can be taken by mouth to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy when other drugs have not worked.

Nabiximols is a cannabinoid drug still under study in the US. It’s a mouth spray made up of a whole-plant extract with THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in an almost one to one mix. It’s available in Canada and parts of Europe to treat pain linked to cancer, as well as muscle spasms and pain from multiple sclerosis (MS). It’s not approved in the US at this time, but it’s being tested in clinical trials to see if it can help a number of conditions.

How can cannabinoid drugs affect symptoms of cancer?

Based on a number of studies, dronabinol can be helpful for reducing nausea and vomiting linked to chemotherapy.

Dronabinol has also been found to help improve food intake and prevent weight loss in patients with HIV. In studies of cancer patients, though, it wasn’t better than placebo or another drug (megestrol acetate).

Nabiximols has shown promise for helping people with cancer pain that’s unrelieved by strong pain medicines, but it hasn’t been found to be helpful in every study done. Research is still being done on this drug.

Side effects of cannabinoid drugs

Like many other drugs, the prescription cannabinoids, dronabinol and nabilone, can cause side effects and complications.

Some people have trouble with increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure (especially when standing up), dizziness or lightheadedness, and fainting. These drugs can cause drowsiness as well as mood changes or a feeling of being “high” that some people find uncomfortable. They can also worsen depression, mania, or other mental illness. Some patients taking nabilone in studies reported hallucinations. The drugs may increase some effects of sedatives, sleeping pills, or alcohol, such as sleepiness and poor coordination. Patients have also reported problems with dry mouth and trouble with recent memory.

Older patients may have more problems with side effects and are usually started on lower doses.

People who have had emotional illnesses, paranoia, or hallucinations may find their symptoms are worse when taking cannabinoid drugs.

Talk to your doctor about what you should expect when taking one of these drugs. It’s a good idea to have someone with you when you first start taking one of these drugs and after any dose changes.

What does the American Cancer Society say about the use of marijuana in people with cancer?

The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.

Medical decisions about pain and symptom management should be made between the patient and his or her doctor, balancing evidence of benefit and harm to the patient, the patient’s preferences and values, and any laws and regulations that may apply.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the Society’s advocacy affiliate, has not taken a position on legalization of marijuana for medical purposes because of the need for more scientific research on marijuana’s potential benefits and harms. However, ACS CAN opposes the smoking or vaping of marijuana and other cannabinoids in public places because the carcinogens in marijuana smoke pose numerous health hazards to the patient and others in the patient’s presence.

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Marijuana for Cancer Prevention

Marijuana for Cancer Prevention

Marijuana for Cancer Prevention

Research into the health effects of cannabis have yielded a mixed bag (so to speak) of results. Predictably, studies that have looked for harmful effects have found them. But there are also beneficial effects, the most surprising of which involve the ability of cannabinoids to combat cancer.

Of course, smoke (of any kind) is not good for you, and the available evidence (see this study and also this review) seems to show that smoking marijuana brings roughly the same increase in lung-cancer risk as smoking tobacco. But that’s not where the story ends.

In one two-year study involving THC, a dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma was observed in mice, and decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas were noted in rats. In another study, delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC, and cannabinol were seen to inhibit growth of lung adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo.

In yet another study, cannabinoids reduced the viability of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells in vitro and demonstrated antitumor effects in HCC subcutaneous xenografts in mice.

An in vitro study of the effect of cannabidiol on programmed cell death in breast cancer cell lines found that the chemical induced programmed cell death and inhibited survival of both estrogen receptor–positive and estrogen receptor–negative breast cancer cell lines, inducing apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner while having little effect on nontumorigenic mammary cells.

Cannabidiol has also been demonstrated to exert a chemopreventive effect in a mouse model of colon cancer.

For a list of 37 studies showing beneficial effects of cannabis, see the National Cancer Institute’s page on cannabis.

How is it that cannabinoids are able to fight cancer? Apparently, THC and its relatives are able to facilitate apoptosis (programmed cell death) in neoplastic tissues, hastening the death of cancer cells. But also, cannabinoids exert an anti-inflammatory effect, and it is well known that anti-inflammatory drugs tend to have anti-cancer properties.

It should be stressed that the studies showing positive results did not use smoke as a delivery mechanism. If you decide to light up, you’re probably driving your cancer odds in the wrong direction.

Rick Simpson Oil for Cancer: Does It Work? Claims, Research, and Risks

Rick Simpson Oil for Cancer: Does It Work? Claims, Research, and Risks

Can Rick Simpson Oil Treat Cancer?

What is Rick Simpson oil?

Rick Simpson oil (RSO) is a cannabis oil product. It was developed by Rick Simpson, a Canadian medical marijuana activist.

RSO differs from a lot of other cannabis oils because it contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that gets people “high.” Other therapeutic cannabis oils tend to contain a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) and little or no THC. In addition, Rick Simpson doesn’t sell RSO. Instead, he encourages to people to create their own using his methods.

Read on to learn more about the health claims behind RSO and whether it lives up to the hype.

What are the potential benefits?

The main claim surrounding RSO is that it treats cancer. After Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003, he began applying RSO to the cancerous spots on his face and neck. According to Simpson, the spots healed within a few days.

According to Rick Simpson’s website, RSO is made from a particular type of cannabis called Cannabis indica, which produces a sedative effect that helps the body heal.

In addition to cancer, RSO is said to also treat:

What does the research say?

Rick Simpson decided to try cannabis oil after reading the results of a 1975 study that tested the use of cannabinoids in mice with lung cancer. The study found that both THC and another cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN) slowed the growth of lung cancer in mice.

Since then, there’s been a good amount of research involving cell samples and animal models that look at the effects of cannabinoids on cancer growth.

A 2014 study on mice examined the effects of THC and CBD extracts alongside radiation therapy. The cannabis extracts appeared to increase the effectiveness of radiation against an aggressive type of brain cancer. According to the study’s authors, these results suggest that THC and CBD may help to prepare cancer cells to respond better to radiation therapy.

However, another study involving human cells found that THC actually increased the growth rate of certain lung and brain cancer cells.

Recently, there have been a few early-stage clinical trials involving human participants with cancer. While these studies have shown that cannabinoids are safe to use in cancer patients, they don’t fully demonstrate whether cannabinoids can help to treat or control cancer.

There’s also a case report from 2013 involving a 14-year-old-girl with a specific type of leukemia. Her family worked with Rick Simpson to create a cannabinoid resin extract, referred to as hemp oil, which she took daily. She eventually tried using some other oils from different sources with mixed results. However, the hemp oils appeared to treat her cancer, though she died a little over two months into the treatment from an unrelated gastrointestinal condition. This makes it hard to conclude anything about the long-term effectiveness of cannabis for cancer.

While these results are promising, much larger, long-term studies are needed to fully understand how different cannabinoids and cannabis strains affect cancer cells.

Are there any side effects or risks?

THC is a psychoactive substance, meaning it can produce a range of psychological symptoms, such as:

It can also cause physical side effects, such as:

  • low blood pressure
  • bloodshot eyes
  • dizziness
  • slow digestion
  • sleeping issues
  • impaired motor control and reaction time
  • impaired memory

However, these side effects may only last for a few hours and usually don’t pose any major health risks.

The biggest risk associated with RSO is that there isn’t much evidence that it effectively treats cancer. This becomes very dangerous if someone stops following their doctor’s recommended cancer treatment. If the RSO doesn’t work, cancer can continue to grow and become harder and harder to treat, even with conventional methods, such as chemotherapy.

In addition, Rick Simpson advocates for making your own RSO, which carries some risks. First, you’ll need to obtain a good amount of marijuana, which is illegal in some areas. Second, the process for creating the oil is quite risky. If a spark reaches one of the solvents used to make RSO, it can cause an explosion. Further, these solvents can leave behind cancer-causing residue if they aren’t properly handled.

If you want to try using RSO for cancer, it’s best to keep up with any other treatments recommended by your doctor while you use it. You should also read up on medical marijuana laws in your area. If you live somewhere that allows medical marijuana, consider asking for advice on getting a premade oil at your local dispensary.

The bottom line

While there’s some promising research surrounding the use of cannabis to treat cancer, experts are still a long way from having conclusive evidence about which cannabinoids and strains work best. In addition, some research suggests that THC can actually increase the growth of cancer cells. Large human studies are needed before cannabis becomes a recommended cancer treatment. If you’re interested in using cannabis for cancer or to treat the side effects of conventional treatments, talk to your doctor.

U.S. Admits Cannabis DOES Kill Cancer Cells

U.S. Admits Cannabis DOES Kill Cancer Cells

U.S. Admits Cannabis DOES Kill Cancer Cells

Cannabis DOES Kill Cancer CellsLifeWise

It’s official – cannabis does kill cancer cells.

There have been rumblings in the past, following reports that scientists have conducted tests with the drug, and now the U.S. government have one hundred per cent confirmed the news on their website.

In a page of official advice, the U.S. government wrote:

Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.

Cannabis DOES Kill Cancer CellsRex

The National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health, now claims that “cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment” by smoking, eating it in baked products, drinking herbal teas or even spraying it under the tongue.

Although they are also keen to stress that marijuana has only shown these effects on mice, and are not yet ready to recommend the drug for human use in fighting cancer, the news will nevertheless be a huge step in the fight for those who want to see the drug legalised across the U.S. (and the UK, where it remains illegal nationwide).


Given all those prior examples of the health benefits of cannabis, it’s not surprising that the site also lists numerous other uses for cannabis including anti-inflammatory activity, blocking cell growth, preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumours, antiviral activity and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.

Although Cancer Research pointed out that there is not yet enough evidence to determine whether cannabis can be effectively used for cancer treatment, this could be a big moment in the battle against the disease.

So, following this revelation, as well as last month’s news that an e-petition gained more than 100,000 signatures to debate the legalisation of the drug in the UK, is it time Britain officially gave marijuana the green light?

Nearly all cancer patients medicating with cannabis report improvement – NY Daily News

Nearly all cancer patients medicating with cannabis report improvement – NY Daily News

Nearly all cancer patients medicating with cannabis report improvement

Nearly all cancer patients medicating with cannabis report improvement
Active components of cannabis are effective for pain, sleeplessness, nausea and vomiting, among others. (belterz/Getty Images)

The European Journal of Internal Medicine recently published a study that should wake even the most steadfast deniers of the effectiveness of cannabis as medicine. The Israeli research team included the godfather of cannabis research, Raphael Mechoulam, the man who first identified cannabinoids (active compounds in the plant) and the system of receptors that make them effective.

The study was a large population analysis over a two-year period of nearly 3,000 patients, each with various types of cancer. Just over half of participants were in stage 4 of the disease when studied. About the same percentage said that the pain they had been experiencing was extreme. Their average age was 60.

Specific strains of cannabis from one producer were made available to patients. The specific reasons for use were primarily for pain, inducing sleep, nausea and lack of appetite.

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While outcomes of studies like this can sometimes be ambiguous, the results of this one could not have been foretold. At a six-month follow-up a whopping “96% reported an improvement in their condition.”

As may be expected, the researchers concluded, “Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients seems to be well tolerated, effective and safe option to help patients cope with the malignancy-related symptoms.”

The efficacy of cannabis for these symptoms is documented and the evidence grows. Research has shown that the active components of cannabis are effective for pain, sleeplessness, nausea and vomiting, among others.

Although cautious in their messaging even the National Cancer Institute has admitted, “Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.” The American Cancer Society has published on their website that, “Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.”

The FDA has still not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication but seems to believe that synthetic versions are acceptable, as evidenced by their approval of a handful of lab-created cannabinoid knockoffs.

As more patients have the opportunity to try cannabis products, we may expect more of the same type of positive reaction. Many who are in need of relief will not wait for government agencies and official organizations to get on board, not in the age of social media and patients sharing their success stories.

Studies like this one from European researchers will undoubtedly create interest, more opportunity for funding and, ultimately, more information. Because if we know one thing about cannabis, its skeptics must be deluged with data before they will budge.

This Plant Can Slash Tumor Growth Better Than Chemo

This Plant Can Slash Tumor Growth Better Than Chemo

can cannabis fight tumors


  • Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body. It has a long history of use for pain and seizure disorders
  • Doctors working with medical cannabis are also using it to treat cancer-related side effects, and evidence suggests the herb may even have antitumor effects all on its own
  • Cannabis is proapoptotic, meaning it triggers cellular suicide of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched, and antiangiogenic, meaning it cuts off a tumor’s blood supply
  • CBD and THC together appears more effective against cancer than either of them in isolation. The sequence of administration also matters; when administered after chemotherapy, it induced greater apoptosis (cell death) than when administered prior to chemo
  • Another recent study suggests CBD from hemp may be helpful against ovarian cancer, reducing metastasis and slowing ovarian cancer better than the current ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin

By Dr. Mercola

Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic,1 and is now legal in 30 U.S. states,2,3 the majority of which allow limited use of medical marijuana under certain medical circumstances. The medicinal qualities of marijuana are primarily due to high amounts (about 10 to 20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes and flavonoids.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel “stoned,” but it too has valuable medical benefits, so depending on your problem, you may want higher or lower levels of THC. Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body.

There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates these cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabis Has Long History of Use for Pain, Seizures and More

The U.S. government, through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), actually holds a patent on CBD as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant — an ironic and paradoxical situation considering the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which by definition has no accepted medical use.

This federal classification also makes it very difficult, time consuming and expensive to study the health effects of marijuana. Labs have to jump through a lot of legal hoops before being granted permission to study Schedule 1 drugs. Despite such difficulties, a number of studies have found a wide range of uses for the herb. For example, The Journal of Pain,4 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.

Cannabis also has been used for over 80 years for drug-resistant seizure disorders. In January 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy statement on marijuana,5 acknowledging that cannabinoids “may currently be an option for … children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,6 which also has information relating to the medicinal aspects of marijuana, preclinical and clinical trials are also underway to test marijuana and various extracts for the treatment of a number of diseases, including autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, substance use disorders and mental disorders.

CBD oil has also been shown7 to protect the brain of stroke patients and those with Parkinson’s. It may also slow neurodegeneration caused by alcohol abuse.

Cannabis Shows Promise as Anticancer Agent

Doctors working with medical cannabis are also using it to treat cancer-related side effects, and evidence suggests the herb may even have antitumor effects all on its own, with dozens of studies pointing to marijuana’s effectiveness against many different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, colon and pituitary cancer, melanoma, and leukemia.

It fights cancer via at least two mechanisms that make it difficult for a cancer to grow and spread: It’s proapoptotic (meaning it triggers apoptosis or cellular suicide of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched) and antiangiogenic (meaning it cuts off a tumor’s blood supply). As recently reported by Scientific American:8

“… While the available data are limited, research that has been conducted around antitumor effects of cannabinoids so far shows great promise. The International Journal of Oncologypublished a study9 last year, for example, indicating that cannabinoids successfully kill cancer cells, and the benefits increase when combined with chemotherapy.

An early preclinical study10 we recently conducted also found that cancer cells derived from patient blood samples were differentially sensitive to the two main active compounds in cannabis — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).

A number of other laboratory and animal studies have been conducted in recent years oncolon, breast and brain cancers.11 They indicate that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by blocking cell growth, causing cell death and blocking the development of blood vessels that tumors require to grow.”

CBD and THC Combo Improve Anticancer Drug Effectiveness

According to the International Journal of Oncology study mentioned, phytocannabinoids ” possess anticancer activity when used alone, and a number have also been shown to combine favorably with each other in vitro in leukemia cells to generate improved activity.” The best results were obtained when the cannabinoids were paired with the leukemia drugs cytarabine and vincristine.

“Results show a number of cannabinoids could be paired together to generate an effect superior to that achieved if the components were used individually,” the researchers write, noting that CBD and THC together appeared to be more effective than either of them in isolation.

They also found that the sequence of administration mattered a great deal. When cannabinoids were administered after chemotherapy, it induced greater apoptosis or programmed cell death. When administered before, the opposite effect was achieved. According to the authors:

“Our results suggest that when certain cannabinoids are paired together, the resulting product can be combined synergistically with common anti-leukemia drugs allowing the dose of the cytotoxic agents to be dramatically reduced yet still remain efficacious. Nevertheless, the sequence of drug administration is crucial to the success of these triple combinations and should be considered when planning such treatments.”

Hemp CBD Shows Promise Against Ovarian Cancer

Another recent study suggests CBD from hemp may be helpful against ovarian cancer. Hemp and marijuana plants are in the same family but differ in their THC content. While marijuana plants contain varying amounts of THC, hemp contains very little or none of this psychoactive ingredient. According to a report in Medical News Today,12 Sullivan University College of Pharmacy in Louisville, Kentucky, is “a hotbed of research into hemp’s potential ability to fight cancer.”

Two of its laboratory researchers recently presented findings from two of its studies at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conference in San Diego. In the first,13 a strain called Kentucky hemp was found to reduce the ability of ovarian cancer cells to migrate, suggesting it could eventually be used to help prevent ovarian cancer metastasis.

The second study14 found Kentucky hemp reduced secretion of interleukin IL-1 beta in ovarian cancer cells, thereby lowering inflammation associated with cancer progression. What’s more, the researchers found Kentucky hemp “slows ovarian cancer comparable to, or even better than, the current ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin.” The team is now planning additional studies using mice, with the hope of eventually graduating into human trials.

Cannabis Versus Opioids

As mentioned, cannabis has well-proven analgesic properties, and evidence suggests it can be very helpful for those struggling with opioid addiction as well, easing withdrawal symptoms. In one recent study,15,16,17 138 seniors (ages 61 to 70) with osteoarthritis, stenosis, or chronic hip or knee pain were prescribed medical marijuana to assess the effectiveness of the herb against pain, and whether it would have any impact on opioid use.

Eighteen percent of the patients moderately decreased their use of other pain killers; 20 percent significantly reduced opioid use and 27 percent stopped using opioids altogether. In all, 91 percent said they would recommend cannabis to others. Forty-five percent of the patients in this study used vaporized oil, 28 percent used pills and 17 percent used marijuana-laced oil topically. Twenty-one percent used cannabis once a day, 23 percent twice a day, and 39 percent used it more than twice daily.

The results were presented at the May 3 annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Orlando, Florida. In an anonymous statement, one of the participants wrote, “My quality of life has increased considerably since starting medical marijuana. I was on opiates for 15 years, and six months on marijuana, [I’m] off both completely.”

Coauthor Dr. Diana Martins-Welch, a physician in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine at Northwell Health, also noted she’s been able to get patients off opioids using medical marijuana.

Cannabis Legalization Has Led to Significant Decrease in Opioid Overdose Deaths

Another major benefit of cannabis is the fact that there’s no risk of overdose or death. In fact, research from the Rand Corporation shows a 20 percent decline in opioid overdose deaths in states that had legalized medical marijuana, suggesting legalizing medical marijuana nationwide could save up to 10,000 lives a year. Together, these benefits make it a lead contender in the fight against rampant opioid abuse and escalating overdose deaths.18

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently published an open letter to U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, urging Sessions to change his stance on cannabis to help rein in the opioid epidemic. “Not only can cannabis work for a variety of conditions such as epilepsymultiple sclerosisand pain, sometimes, it is the only thing that works … It is time for safe and regulated medical marijuana to be made available nationally,” Gupta writes, adding:

“[P]erhaps most important, the compounds found in cannabis can heal the diseased addict’s brain, helping them break the cycle of addiction. There is no other known substance that can accomplish all this. If we had to … design a medicine to help lead us out of the opioid epidemic, it would likely look very much like cannabis.”

Cannabis Eases Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Other recent research19 shows cannabis can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, depression and high stress are not recognized as a qualifying condition for a medical cannabis card in most states that have legalized the herb for medical use. The reason for this is largely due to lack of scientific support, Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D., author of the study, says.

To evaluate the effectiveness of cannabis for mental health, the team analyzed data from Strainprint, a mobile application cannabis users can use to track changes in symptoms after using different doses and cannabis chemotypes. Overall, self-reported symptoms of depression decreased by 50 percent and perceived stress decreased by 58 percent with use of medical marijuana.

Of those who inhaled cannabis, over 89 percent reported a reduction in depression; nearly 94 percent reported lower anxiety and over 93 percent reported fewer stress symptoms.

The greatest stress reduction was achieved after 10 puffs or more, while just two puffs reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. These are rather impressive results, but the authors do note that results “may be inflated in the present sample because those who regularly have symptom exacerbation following cannabis use may be less likely to continue to use it to treat their symptoms and track symptom changes over time.”

Other studies have also shown cannabis can be very helpful for those struggling with post-traumatic distress disorder.20,21 Marijuana suppresses dream recall, so for those having nightmares, it can be transformative. Marijuana is also reported to help individuals stay focused in the present, which is beneficial for those experiencing flashbacks.

THC Appears Particularly Beneficial Against Dementia

Interestingly, animal research22 has shown THC — the psychoactive component of marijuana — has a particularly beneficial influence on the aging brain.23,24 Rather than dulling or impairing cognition in the elderly, THC appears to reverse the aging process and improve mental processes, raising the possibility it might be useful for the treatment of dementia.

To test the hypothesis, mice were given a small daily dose of THC over the course of one month at the age of 2 months, 12 months and again at 18 months of age. It is important to understand that mice typically live to be about 2 years old. The dose was small enough to avoid any psychoactive effects.

Tests assessed the animals’ learning, memory, orientation and recognition skills. Curiously, the 18-month-old mice given THC demonstrated cognitive skills equal to 2-month-old controls, while the placebo group suffered cognitive deterioration associated with normal aging.

According to one of the authors, neurobiology professor Andreas Zimmer, University of Bonn, “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals. We repeated these experiments many times. It’s a very robust and profound effect.” Even more remarkable, gene activity and the molecular profile in the brain tissue was that of much younger animals.

Specifically, neurons in the hippocampus grew more synaptic spines — points of contact necessary for communication between neurons. According to Zimmer, the THC appeared to have “turned back the molecular clock” in the THC-treated animals. (Previous research has also shown that the brain ages much faster in mice who do not have functional receptors for THC, suggesting THC may be involved in the regulation of the aging process.25) The team is planning tests to see if the same holds true in human subjects.

In an earlier study, researchers at the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University found that low-dose THC also directly impedes the buildup of beta amyloid plaque in the brain,26,27which is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s, and enhances mitochondrial function in the brain.

Medical marijuana is also known to reduce some of the non-memory-related symptoms typically experienced by Alzheimer’s sufferers, including anxiety, irritability and rage,28 so cannabis may well have multiple benefits for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Is Cannabis Right for You?

While recreational use of marijuana is not advocated, it seems quite clear that certain strains grown specifically to boost medicinal qualities can have a significantly beneficial effect on a number of different ailments and diseases, including chronic pain. In 2010, the Center for Medical Cannabis Research released a report29 on 14 clinical studies about the use of marijuana for pain, most of which were FDA-approved, double-blind and placebo-controlled.

This report revealed that marijuana not only controls pain well, but in many cases, it actually does so better than pharmaceutical alternatives. When cannabis is inhaled, smoked or vaporized, its effects are rapid and short-lasting. Orally, it’s the most unpredictable and delayed. When ingesting it, it can take up to two hours to take effect, but if dosed appropriately, you can achieve once-a-day dosing with an edible medicine.

Compared to opioids and many other drugs, cannabis is also far safer. Cannabidiol has no toxicity and it’s virtually impossible to die from marijuana. It’s also self-limiting, as excessive doses of THC will provoke anxiety, paranoia and nausea. Such side effects will disappear as the drug dissipates from your system without resulting in permanent harm, but it’ll make you think twice about taking such a high dose again. Make the same mistake with an opioid, and chances are you’ll end up in the morgue.

Just be sure to seek out a knowledgeable cannabis physician, as the proper dosing needs to be carefully ascertained. If you are seriously considering medical cannabis for pain, please see my interview with Dr. Allan Frankel, one of the leading medical cannabis physicians in the U.S. He can do consultations on the phone if you need specific questions answered.

You can also learn more by reviewing my interviews with Dr. Margaret Gedde, who runs an alternative medical practice in Colorado where they specialize in the use of cannabis, and Todd Harrison, an attorney whose expertise is Food and Drug Law, in which he discusses the current legal status of CBD oil.

Research relating to the use of cannabis can also be found on cancer.gov30,31 (the U.S. government’s site on cancer). Simply enter “cannabis” into the search bar. You can also peruse the medical literature through PubMed,32 which is a public resource (again, simply enter “cannabis” or related terms into the search bar).

Marijuana Compound May Fight Lung Cancer

Marijuana Compound May Fight Lung Cancer

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) — While smoking marijuana is never good for the lungs, the active ingredient in pot may help fight lung cancer, new research shows.

Harvard University researchers have found that, in both laboratory and mouse studies, delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cuts tumor growth in half in common lung cancer while impeding the cancer’s ability to spread.

The compound “seems to have a suppressive effect on certain lines of cancer cells,” explained Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to the researchers, THC fights lung cancer by curbing epidermal growth factor (EGF), a molecule that promotes the growth and spread of particularly aggressive non-small cell lung cancers. “It seems to go to (EGF) receptor sites on cells and inhibit growth,” said Horovitz, who was not involved in the study.

The findings are preliminary, however, and other outside experts urged caution.

“It’s an interesting laboratory study (but) you have to have enough additional animal studies to make sure the effect is reproducible and to make sure that there are no overt toxic effects,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. “It’s a little more than tantalizing because it’s a compound that we know has been in humans and has not caused major problems.”

The findings were to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Los Angeles.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the world. Lung tumors that over-produce the EGF receptor tend to be extra-aggressive and don’t respond well to chemotherapy.

THC is the main active ingredient of Cannabis sativa –marijuana. It has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in cancer, but specific information on its action against lung cancer has so far been limited.

In the new study, the researchers first showed that two different lung cancer lines, as well as samples from patient lung tumors, produced the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.

Endocannabinoids — cannabinoids produced naturally in the body — are thought to have an effect on pain, anxiety and inflammation when they bind to cannabinoid receptors.

Next, the researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice implanted with human lung cancer cells. After three weeks of treatment, tumors shrank by about 50 percent in animals treated with THC, compared to those in an untreated control group, the researchers reported.

The findings may shed light on a question that has been puzzling Horovitz: Why hasn’t there been a spike in lung cancer in the generation that smoked a lot of marijuana in the 1960s.

“I find it fascinating, wondering if the reasons we’re not seeing this spike is that THC inhibits lung cancer cells,” he said. “It would be very ironic, although you certainly wouldn’t tell somebody who smoked cigarettes to add marijuana.”

A second set of findings presented at AACR suggested that a viral-based gene therapy could target both primary and distant tumors, while ignoring healthy cells.

When injected into 15 mice with prostate cancer, this “smart bomb” therapy eliminated all signs of cancer — effectively curing the rodents. Researchers at Columbia University, in New York City, said the therapy also worked in animals with breast cancer and melanomas.

And in a third hopeful trial reported at the meeting, German researchers at University Children’s Hospital, in Ulm, said they’ve used measles viruses to treat brain tumors. In mouse experiments, the virus attached to the tumor from the inside out, the team said.

Cannabis: Coping with Cancer Symptoms, Addressing US Opioid Epidemic

Cannabis: Coping with Cancer Symptoms, Addressing US Opioid Epidemic

Cannabis: Coping with Cancer Symptoms, Addressing US Opioid Epidemic

Israeli study shows cannabis is safe and effective for the palliative treatment of patients with cancer.
The use of cannabis may be safe and effective palliative treatment for patients with cancer, according to large scientific study results published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

For the first time, a study conducted at Tikun Olam clinics in Israel showed that 95.9 percent of respondents reported an improvement in their cancer-related symptoms such as sleep problems, pain, nausea and decreased appetite.

“Treatment with medical cannabis is increasingly commonplace and rates of clinical use have increased in many countries,” lead author Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, research manager at Tikun-Olam – the first and largest medical cannabis supplier in Israel – said in an interview with CURE.

“The vast use of cannabis in the medical field is mainly driven by the subjective feeling of the patients and their personal evaluation of the impact of cannabis on their condition,” she added. “There is a serious lack of clinical evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of this treatment for specific conditions, for example, cancer patients, a sensitive population that is often characterized with large number of symptoms and polypharmacy.”

The researchers analyzed data from 2,970 patients with cancer treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017 to characterize the epidemiology of those receiving medical cannabis treatment and to describe the safety and efficacy of this therapy as a palliative treatment.

All patients were prescribed one or more of Tikun Olam’s proprietary cannabis strains, which were developed to address specific symptoms.

Patients were approximately 60 years old, and majority were women (54.6 percent). Only 26.7 percent of patients reported previously using cannabis. The most frequent malignancies in the trial included breast (20.7 percent), lung (13.6 percent), pancreatic (8.1 percent) and colorectal (7.9 percent) cancers, and 51.2 percent of patients had stage 4 disease.

Patients were typically treated for sleep problems (78.4 percent), pain (77.7 percent; median intensity, 8/10), weakness (72.7 percent), nausea (64.6 percent) and lack of appetite (48.9 percent).

After six months of follow-up, 902 patients (24.9 percent) died and 682 (18.8 percent) stopped treatment. Of the remaining 1,211 patients, 95.9 percent reported an improvement in the condition they were being treated for with the cannabis.

The most improved symptoms were nausea and vomiting (91 percent), sleep disorders (87.5 percent), restlessness (87.5 percent), anxiety and depression (84.2 percent), pruritus (82.1 percent) and headaches (81.4 percent). Of note, only 4.6 percent of patients reported pain intensity of 8/10 after six months of treatment.

“Moreover, as can be expected in this population, less than 20 percent of patients reported good quality of life prior to treatment initiation,” Bar-Lev Schleider said. “Impressively, approximately 70 percent reported good quality of life after six months of treatment.”

Cannabis-associated side effects were reported by 362 patients (30.1 percent of patients who reported at least one side effect), including 96 patients with dizziness (8 percent), 88 with dry mouth (7.3 percent), 43 with increased appetite (3.6 percent), 40 with sleepiness (3.3 percent) and 34 with a psychoactive effect (2.8 percent).

Only 45 patients (3.7 percent) reported no change and four patients (0.3 percent) reported deterioration in their medical condition.

When looking at the big picture, Bar-Lev Schleider and colleagues are hoping these results help to address the opioid epidemic currently going on in the United States.

“In our study, opioids were the most prevalent drug consumed by 344 patients (33.9 percent) at intake, 36 percent of them stopped taking opioids (and) 9.9 percent decreased dose,” she explained.

Most importantly, Bar-Lev Schleider noted, the treatment option appeared to be well-tolerated, safe and effective in helping patients with cancer copy with their associated disease symptoms.

“In an age where a physician often prescribes a different medication for each symptom, cannabis, as a comprehensive treatment that affects several symptoms, should be considered as desirable therapeutic option,” she added.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Side Effect Management CURE discussion group.