Studies show medical cannabis can not only be a useful tool in managing the side effects associated with cancer treatment, but also medical cannabis can be an effective treatment for battling cancer itself. For years patients and care givers have enlisted cannabis as an essential tool used to negate the terrible side effects associated with cancer therapy like nausea, lack of appetite, depression and anxiety. As laws loosened around the country and more and more patients began using medical cannabis, reports began to emerge that medical cannabis was an effective treatment for cancer. Now the evidence is beginning to move beyond anecdotal, and emerging research suggests that the terrible “devil weed” may actually be a powerful cancer fighting drug.
There are two major cannabinoids found on the cannabis plant that help fight cancer. They are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Both were discovered in Israel in the 1960’s and have been shown to have a wide variety of medicinal effects. THC is the famous cannabinoid that gives weed its high, while CBD is a bit lesser known and doesn’t produce a high. Numerous studies have shown both CBD and THC are effective in treating cancer by attacking the disease and by acting with traditional cancer treatments.
Due to its more lenient cannabis laws, researchers in Spain have been at the forefront of cannabis research. Dr. Christina Sanchez of Compultense University and her team of researchers discovered that THC kills cancer by inducing apoptosis. Probably one of the funniest words in medicine, apoptosis is the process by which a cell dies, essentially committing suicide. When cells do not go through apoptosis they divide out of control, and voila a tumor is born. Dr. Sanchez told Cannabis Planet in 2014, “Cells can die in different ways, and after cannabanoid treatment, (cancer cells) were dying in the clean way. They were committing suicide which is something that you really want.” She goes on to say. “One of the advantages of cannabanoid based medicines would be that they target specific tumor cells. They don’t have any toxic effect on normal non-tumoral cells. This is an advantage with respect to standard chemotherapy which targets basically everything.”
In an Israeli study, CBD also has been shown to increase apoptosis by reducing inflammation in cancerous cells. An Italian study also proved that CBD promoted apoptosis by increasing the presence of a special category of molecules called reactive oxygen species. Other studies show cannabinoids aid pharmaceutical cancer fighting drugs in brain and prostate cancers to reduce the size of tumors. CBD and THC therapy, coupled with chemotherapy drugs, is a promising new avenue in cancer research, but researchers agree more studies are needed before we can say for sure medical cannabis is a treatment for cancer.