Cannabis is often associated with cancer patients due to the natural properties that help to alleviate some of the most uncomfortable symptoms associated with the disease. The Israeli researcher Raphel Mechoulam first found the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis in the 1960s. Mechoulam identified that all human cells had receptors that were designed to react with cannabis. The first studies showing the connection between cannabis and the shrinkage of tumors were done in the United States in the 1970s. The Medical College of Virginia set out to test the affects of THC on the immune system and found slowed growth of tumors in mice that experienced three different kinds of cancer. Yet, at the time, no major news outlets reported the findings. These findings, however, did lead to the wave of synthetic THC-like products created by pharmaceutical companies in attempt to achieve the same affects of cannabis on the rats that had been tested in the trials.
In 2000 Manuel Guzman, a Spanish researcher, saw negative cell growth in cancer cells. The cancer cells shrunk and died with no adverse affects towards the patients. When THC connects to receptors on the cancer cell, it causes an increase in ceramide synthesis. Essentially, the THC takes away the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy to power the cancer cell, leading to death of the cell. Though there has been promising research between the links of cancer cell shrinkage, the most common use of cannabis in connection with pain relief is in conjunction with chemotherapy. Most cannabis treatments related to cancer relief are high in THC. Though THC can have physco-active properties, it aids tremendously in relieving the side affects associated with chemotherapy which may include nausea, loss of apetite, general feelings of malaise as well as general inflammation.
THC has been found to be helpful in reducing the inflammation caused by chemotherapy. Swelling and inflammation of areas of the body, such as the gut, are common. Cannabis can help quell some of the symptoms and make them more bearable to cancer patients. The other well known and common symptom of chemotherapy is lack of appetite. Cannabis activates the CB1 receptor on the body’s cells. CB1 activation prompts the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) nerve cell that promotes the appetite. The symptom of recreational marijuana use known as the “munchies” is extremely beneficial in helping fight a common cancer symptom. THC is also helpful in relieving overall pain and nausea caused by chemotherapy.
The anti-emetic (vomiting) properties of cannabis have also proved very beneficial for cancer sufferers. GW pharmaceuticals did a study of 768 cancer patients that found an 88% relief rate of nausea and vomiting while smoking cannabis. There are also new findings that cannabis can help with the treatment of neuropathic, damaged nerve, pain.
Currently, in US states where medical marijuana is not yet legal, there are synthetic drugs based on cannabis that have been approved for medical use. Dronabinol is a synthetic THC capsule that has been approved by the FDA to treat nausea, vomiting, and weight loss/ poor appetite caused by chemotherapy. Nabilone is synthetic cannabinoid much like THC which is taken to cure nausea and vomiting during chemotheraphy when other drugs do not work for patients. In other countries, such as Canada and parts of Europe, Nabiximols is a spray made from whole cannabis extracts (THC and CBD) to treat pain linked to cancer that has proved successful. Medicinal marijuana products, such as Nabiximols, which have been made available in other countries, have proved very successful against cancer symptoms. Due to the success of cannabis, the American Cancer Society greatly supports more scientific research. The American Cancer Society sees a lack of adequate treatments for cancer patients and sees promising studies and results in the use of marijuana.
So, if cannabis is so useful in the treatment of cancer, then how are people using it? There is a misconception that all people who use marijuana are smoking it. While there certainly are a lot of people who may choose to smoke their medicine, there is an ever increasing number of cannabis products available that are not smoked.
When you think of cancer patients ingesting medical marijuana do you think of someone lighting up a joint? If you do, perhaps it is time to rethink how people are using medical marijuana, specifically patients with cancer. Though most studies involving cannabis and cancer have been preformed with people smoking marijuana, many people who use medical marijuana choose alternative methods of ingestion such as tinctures, marijuana infused foods, or cannabis oils. Smoking cannabis, the most well known form of consumption, is incredibly harsh on the already weak immune system of someone who suffers from cancer.
An alternative to smoking your medicine is the use of cannabis oils. Cannabis oils have shown anecdotally to provide cancer patients with the most success because they are not only potent but are also very easy to take. The use of cannabis oil to treat ailments, such as cancer, is attributed to Rick Simpson. Rick Simpson is a Canadian marijuana guru who was known for his “miracle oil”. Across the Internet there are also various homemade recipes available to make your own cannabis oil. Cannabis oil can be made with different blends of cannabis strains for different desired effects. Cannabis oil can be blended for different levels of THC and CBD. All cannabis oils, however, are essential oil distilled from the cannabis plant. Cannabis oils are most often consumed by using an oral syringe to put the desired dosage into pill capsules, the capsules are then taken like a normal pill. Or the cannabis oil can simply be taken as an oral sublingual drop.
A company emerged has in Northern California called Constance Pure Botanical Extracts. Constance Finley, an east bay marijuana grower, created a specialized cannabis oil for medical uses. Her concentrated cannabis oil is a blend of 72% THC and 11% CBD. The cannabis oil from Constance Pure Botanical Extracts is created using only bud flowers from the marijuana plant to produce the oil with no added fillers. Finley became known for her cannabis oils after her extreme success rates with cancer patients. She received 26 referrals of patients with stage 4 cancer. The cannabis oil, used in association with traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, claimed a 96% survival rate. If compared to formal clinical trials, a 96% survival rate is unseen at such an advanced stage of cancer.
Some cannabis distributers create cannabis oils specifically for the alleviation of cancer symptoms, rather than ones which have just had success with it. The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), an organization in Santa Cruz, has created their Milagro Oil which was targeted toward cancer symptoms. The oil from WAMM is made with a blend of organic marijuana varieties utilizing all parts of the marijuana plant, each for a different purpose. Due to the sensitivity of cancer patients, WAMM has documents which outline their whole creation process in order to create transparency for patients.
Most people do not look towards medical marijuana right away when suffering from cancer. Though there are a lot of contrasting opinions on the successfulness of medical marijuana in relation to cancer, people who have used it to treat their symptoms have seen many great results. The use of cannabis oils in the alleviation of pain related to cancer has been increasing with medical marijuana legalization in various states across the United States. People have also begun to recognize the benefit of combining medical marijuana with traditional medications to help cancer patients. As studies continue to find new information about the benefits of cannabis to both the shrinkage of tumors and the decrease of pain. Cancer sufferers can reach find a natural alternative to helping their pain by reaching out to medical marijuana suppliers to find relief with specialized products.