By Dr. Craig Hauser, Kannavis Medical Director
The short answer is we’re not really sure yet. However, it looks like marijuana holds a lot of promise in treating cancer. Read on to learn why! Humans have been smoking pot since the ancient times, not only for recreational purposes, but also as a much-needed cure for a host of physical and psychological ailments. From relieving childbirth pain in India to reducing epileptic episodes in the Arab world, medical marijuana has been around for centuries. In fact, archaeologists discovered the remains of a young woman buried with a container filled with cannabis. Through MRI scans, the researchers discovered that she’s probably around 25 y.o. with breast cancer, and probably regarded as someone important amongst her people back then. They further suggested that she was using cannabis to manage the pain associated with breast cancer. Neat, right?
Cannabis as Cancer Cure: Myth or Fact?
In the United States, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance, reserved for substances like heroin. The good news is we are now beginning to understand how we can use cannabis to treat modern-day health issues like cancer. In fact, a growing number of doctors are starting to take medical cannabis seriously. Take, palliative care specialist Dr. David Casarett, for example. In an interview with NPRNPR , Dr. Casarrett narrates:
"When I first started this project (writing the book Stoned: A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana), I really thought of medical marijuana as a joke. However, I've come to realize there really are medical benefits to medical marijuana. For many of the patients I spoke with, medical marijuana is not a joke. It's not funny. It's a treatment that they've come to rely on.”
With the medical cannabis industry expected to grow a whopping 700 percent from 2016 by 2020 , and with more folks in the healthcare industry supporting its medical use, can marijuana help with mankind’s perplexing mission towards finding a cancer cure?
As we stated earlier, nothing’s etched in stone yet.
While recent research and insights reveal that marijuana does help relieve pain among patients with multiple sclerosis, arthritic pain, and neuropathic pain, there is no conclusive evidence for now that cannabis can cure cancer.
But what looks very promising is marijuana’s superpower to kill cancer cells and inhibit metastasis.
A review of studies on the subject uncovered that cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) kill cancer cells by stopping them from proliferating and promoting apoptosis (programmed cell death) in various types of cancer.
Marijuana as Part of Your Cancer Treatment
If there’s one thing we’re sure about marijuana and how it can help people with cancer, it would have to be its ability to help patients ease the side effects associated with chemotherapy (and similar anti-cancer treatments) such as nausea and vomiting. It’s no surprise then that a huge chunk of cancer patients surveyed at the National Cancer Institute in Washington are curious about cannabis but are not receiving information about cannabis use during their treatment.
Finally, the American Cancer Society described that several studies have shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine. They further noted that 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.