Cannabis and Cancer: What does the research show?

Cannabis and Cancer: What does the research show?

Few cancer topics spark as much online debate as cannabis. While many people attest to how cannabis and CBD oil have helped them with the side effects of cancer treatment, there are others who claim that cannabis cured their cancer. Cannabis is accepted for use to help with the side effects of cancer treatments. However, can cannabis kill cancer cells? Let’s review what we know so far about cannabis and cancer research.

Cannabis and cancer research: what we know so far

One of the largest reports on the therapeutic effects and health risks associated with cannabis and cannabinoid use by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) reviewed 24,000 primary studies from 1999-2016.

Regarding cannabis and cancer, the report states that there is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective:

For the treatment for chronic pain in adults (cannabis)
Antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (oral cannabinoids)

Cannabis for palliative cancer care

Based on the above, it means that cannabis is accepted for palliative care as it helps with pain and nausea. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, there are two approved cannabinoid drugs that have been approved for use in the US for medical use.

Helping with the side effects of cancer is what many people talk about when discussing how cannabis helped their cancer. They take cannabidiol alongside their conventional cancer treatment such as chemo or radiation therapy. Yet there are claims that cannabis compounds, such as phytocannabinoids, terpenes and more, can act as anticancer agents. Weed the People is a recent documentary that reveals the brave stories of ordinary families who are exploring the benefits of medical marijuana to save the lives of their most precious loved ones – their children.

Can cannabis kill cancer cells?

While there are many anecdotal stories, the problem for cancer patients is the lack of scientific knowledge that is definitive. Scientific research is moving along at a fast pace as more and more US states legalize medical marijuana. However, it’s not just the legalization factor that makes cannabis research into cancer complicated.

Professor Dedi Meir, biologist and director of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research, one of the largest cannabis labs in the world, says that one of the issues with cannabis research is that there are so many different strains of the cannabis plant. For example, in Israel, where medical marijuana has been legal for many years, patients receive 98 strains for many different symptoms. What Professor Meir set out to do is to carry out extensive follow-up of every patient who receives medical cannabis to track which strain is working for which condition. In this way, he is creating a massive database tracking all of this information about individual strains to help guide future research. This can also help standardize treatments for patients.

Not all CBD oils are the same

As legalization has widened, CBD oil has become widely available now in retail stores. Many cancer patients may look to CBD to help them. However, many retail products advertised as “CBD oil” are really just broad spectrum Hemp Oil. They contain all the different phytocannabinoids (except for THC), and actually, have only a small amount of true CBD. This is an important distinction. CBD is the most important of these compounds, as it has the highest affinity for the cannabinoid receptors in the body.

Check the label of the products sold in many stores and on the internet. They will list the amount of hemp oil present, or the total amount of cannabinoids, or some number that is meant to hide the fact that the actual CBD content is either low or unknown.

If you are a cancer patient, what can you do?

Perhaps one of the best ways to get the most consistent quality of cannabis is to get a medical marijuana card. How do you go about that? Here is a breakdown state by state of how you can qualify for a medical marijuana card.

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and research data more available, there will be more regulation of products to ensure that what it says on the label is actually what is in the product.

Do you or someone you know have cancer? How are you using medical cannabis to treat the symptoms? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


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