Cannabis, Weed, Marijuana, Hash, Shiva, Cloud, Smoke, Trees… whatever name one wants to call this plant, fact is the banishing of its prohibition is a hot topic. Not only do people want it legalized for recreational reasons; they want to legalize for medical ones as well. If you are one of those people that pays attention to the cannabis culture, then you know the medical culture surrounding the plant is a force within itself. There have been lots of people that have claimed that marijuana has helped them with their illness. The issue is modern medicine is all about the evidence. If there is no evidence then there is not treatment. The lack of studies are because of the illegal status of the plant. However as more people and states fight for change in laws the more studies are being done and evidence is being collected. One of the most popular ailments that cannabis is said to treat is cancer. So let’s explore what the evidence based medicine is for cannabis and its relation to curing cancer.
The healing factors of the cannabis are the cannabinoids. The human body has a Cannabinoid system. This system has only been looked at to resolves some of the issues that happen neurologically. Now that the idea of cannabis being a medicine has come about, it is now being looked at as a way to treat more illnesses with the way that cannabis would affect said illness. Cancer is the over growth of cells. Cells have a process they go through. This means when a cell has reached the end of its life it has a DNA code to self-destruct. When the cell does not get this code or the code malfunctions this is what causes cancer. Cancer is an overgrowth of bad cells. So what does this have to do with weed you may ask? The answer is the cannabinoids in marijuana attach themselves to receptor dependent cannabinoids in the cell and they open pathways the help the cancer to shrink or kill off cells. Cannabinoids are thought to be antiangiogenic meaning they are able to produce blood vessels and they are anti-inflammatory. This can explain why the plants are known to help with pain. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to something going wrong. This is one of the ways the body protects itself from injury.
CBD is a medical family of cannabis that is grown for medical reasons. Marijuana grown with high CBD content is often times lower in THC which means that a person will not get the psychological effects of being high. They only get the cannabinoids that are instrumental in healing. So CBD and CBG are two cannabinoids that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. These are not thought to be receptor depended like the THC cannabinoids. It shows that THC with CBD and CBG work effectively together to reduce cell numbers in a very aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioma (Scott, 2015).
The use of Cannabis in the treatment of cancer spans all types of cancer. There have been many preliminary studies on cancer and cannabis. These studies include breast, brain, lung, mouth and throat, uterine, testicular, pancreatic, prostate, colorectal, ovarian, blood, skin, liver biliary tract, and bladder cancers. They all have pretty much the same results. That being, that the compounds in the cannabis plant show a reduction and a slowing in the growth of cancer. The lack of human studies have not produced any evidence based medicine to prove that use of more concentrated versions of the plant or continual usage of the plant will cure cancer in any form. However, this does not mean that those individual stories that are out from everyday people are wrong. It simply means that the science and the law have yet to catch up with the self-care of the people.
Cannabis also is showed to work well with chemo patients. So many chemo patients also see a CAM (Complementary and Alternative) health practitioner when they want to alleviate the symptoms or simply help the chemo treatments in their progress. There are two drugs that are made from the plant that are used to treat the side effects of cancer treatments they are called dronabinol and nabilone. They are commercial drugs that can be prescribed by a physician.
Cannabis is an herb that has been used for medical reasons for thousands of years. The pharmacologic effects of cannabis seem to be most prevalent in the nervous system and the immune system. There are many people who have testified and believe that cannabis has cured them. While, that may be so we still wait upon government regulation and none prohibitive laws to be lifted so that more research can be done; to produce the evidence based research that is needed to solidify these stories with evidence based medicine.
American Cancer Association. (2015, March 4). Marijuana and Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/marijuana-and-cancer
Cellular Respiration of Human Oral Cancer Cells. Pharmacology 2010;85:328-335
Whyte D, A, Al-Hammadi S, Balhaj G, Brown O, M, Penefsky H, S, Souid A, -K, Cannabinoids Inhibit