When most people think about medical cannabis for cancer patients, they usually think of patients who smoke or vape it to alleviate the side effects caused by other treatments. Nausea, pain, lack of appetite, and death are just a few of the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In the latter strategy, patients are literally filled with poisons in the hope that the cancer cells will die without killing the rest of the patient’s cells.
Most people know that. What they don’t know is that it’s successful in about 2 percent of cases. They also don’t realize most cancer patients die of chemotherapy. If they did, they’d probably look for a viable alternative.
What if there were one? What if those treatments were becoming obsolete for some types of cancers, and cannabis might be the cure we’ve been searching for?
Cannabis has been considered medicine for thousands of years; it’s only in the last century that the non-toxic herb has been prohibited and treated as an illicit narcotic with no medical utility. In fact, many Americans are surprised to learn that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, cannabis tinctures were readily available at almost every pharmacy in the country.
It turns out that, even though the ancients didn’t understand how it worked, in many ways they were smarter than we are today. Luckily, though, the tides are shifting. Scientific studies are being conducted that show cannabis has a great chance in leading the charge against certain cancers, breast cancer being among them.
Of course, cannabis IS effective in dealing with nausea, pain relief, stimulating appetite, and improving the mood of cancer patients. It’s a no-brainer. Research from the California Pacific Medical Research Center found that cannabis can help to inhibit metastasis in breast cancer cells.
What does that last sentence mean?
Let’s first define the terms. Cannabidiol (CBD) is second in prevalence among the 110+ known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Because it is non-psychoactive, it’s highly valued in treating health conditions, especially in children. Anecdotal evidence of deadly epileptic seizures and Stage IV tumors disappearing entirely during CBD therapy also exists. Clinical trials are needed to substantiate this exciting possibility.
Metastasis is the spreading of a tumor throughout the body into multiple organ systems. Killing cancer cells and inhibiting tumor growth are intermediate goals on the path to the main goal—keeping the cancer from metastasizing, infesting other parts of the body, and killing the patient.
So, what’s the bottom line? CBD can actually keep cancer from spreading to other parts of the body while stifling tumor growth. Let’s let that sink in again. A plant, one that could be cultivated in virtually every corner of the world, can help stop cancer in its tracks.
How does it work?
Sean McAllister, one of the California Pacific lead researchers, revealed that CBD appears to inhibit Id-1 and Akt genes, which are known to allow a tumor to grow. Blocking those genes prevents growth and the cancer’s ability to spread. In fact, in the presence of CBD, those cells actually can return to a healthy, normal functioning state. “We have found [CBD] inhibits key genes involved in tumor progression and metastasis. [CBD] has a very low toxicity profile, whereas standard cancer treatments are highly toxic,” McAllister explained.
There are other cancers that have high levels of Id-1 as well: leukemia, lung, ovarian, prostate, and brain cancers. Similar studies blocking this gene in those cancers are showing similar results.
High on life
Another very promising medical cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, the most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, is the substance that causes the “high” or euphoric feeling. Continued research points to THC also being able to kill certain types of cancer cells and shrink tumors. This fact has been known since 1974.
It’s not completely understood how THC works, but it’s obvious to researchers that more studies are needed. And with influence from concerned lawmakers, former attorney general Eric Holder, renowned doctors like Sanjay Gupta, and the millions of people who need medical cannabis, it looks like the DEA could decide to make more studies possible very soon.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for CombatPress.com and opines on MMA at FightItOut.com. She’s passionate about helping folks tell their stories and making the world a better place, which includes working to win the freedom of Americans to partake of the herb. When not writing or playing beach volleyball, she can be found at her day job—for now. Follow Amber on Twitter @thruthetrees11.