Can cannabis oil treat cancer?

There are numerous claims that people have recovered from cancer thanks to taking cannabis oil. Even with these claims, the plants used remains within the domain of palliative care. The THC in particular is proving effective for decreasing the sensation of nausea, in association with chemotherapy, and helping to ease the pain often encountered by cancer patients.

There have been countless published papers suggesting that cannabinoids, active compounds within cannabis, may have an anticancer reaction — but cannabis oil as an alternative and natural cancer treatments, doesn’t have everyone convinced.

But first, let’s talk about the main components of medical cannabis: THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

What is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

THC was first synthesized in 1964 in Israel by Raphael Mechoulam and is the most commonly cited cannabinoid.

It has a psychoactive effect when exposed to heat and is often the compound associated with the feeling of getting high. But when used therapeutically it is more than that sensation.  THC activates the CB1 receptor found in the central nervous system that creates the feeling of relaxation and also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

The effect that THC has on a cancer cell, especially apoptosis or planned cell death, has the potential to move the use of medical cannabis as cancer treatments to the next level.

The process of cell death is part of life. It can be programmed; such as a planned cell death, which is a process that is encoded into the human genome; and unplanned through poisoning, overheating, infection, or lack of oxygen.

But when it comes to cancer, this planned cell death no longer functions as it is supposed to and an uncontrolled growth of cells starts to occur in the body.

This is where THC comes in.

When THC connects to either CB1 or CB2 receptor sites on the cancer cell, it starts to increase the manufacturing of ceramide, which increases the chance of cell death. During this process, non-cancerous cells are not affected as they will not produce ceramide.  The high levels of ceramide, created by the THC, kill the cancer cell’s energy source. It also disrupts the cells’ digestive system that supplies nutrients for all cell functions. The killing of the energy source and disruption of the digestive system triggers the cancer cell’s suicide, while the healthy cells remain intact.

So, what does the CBD do?

CBD is more challenging to understand because much less is known about it, compared to THC. The action of the CBD is not a single molecule binding with a single receptor resulting in a single effect that can easily be measured. It is believed that CBD acts subtly on numerous different levels.

Scientists have found that when CBD pairs with the CB2 receptor of a cancer cell, it triggers a process, known as Caspase Cascade, which is involved in killing cancer cells and to treat cancer. In another study, this same pairing was found to shut down the Id-1 gene, which allows metastatic lesions to form. Based on these results, researchers suggest that CBD represents the first non-toxic exogenous agent that can significantly decrease Id-1 that will lead to the down-regulation of tumour aggressiveness.

Yet another anti-cancer mechanism of CBD is the ability it has to prevent new blood cells from growing into tumours, which is a process called angiogenesis.

Cannabis Clinical Trials

Dr. Manuel Guzmán is a molecular biologist and is the only person to conduct a published clinical trial with cannabis as cancer treatments. The clinical trial consisted of nine patients who were suffering from an aggressive brain tumour called gliobastoma. They were administered THC through a catheter directly into the tumour. It was noted in the study that the THC was safe and did not encourage tumour growth nor decrease patient.

Clinical trials for the use of cannabis as cancer treatments are sparse. With the proximity to death of many cancer patients, the traditional testing methods become more difficult. Companies are also less inclined to invest in trials that use compounds that can’t be patented.

The use of cannabis at this point in time is entirely up each patient. Whether cannabis oil is used as the lone treatment or combined with chemotherapy, it is proven to help alleviate pain and can help to treat cancer.

If you or someone you love is suffering from cancer, please fill out an application form to see which treatment you qualify for.

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