Prescribing cannabis for cancer patients has become a pretty normal occurrence. This, combined with some ongoing lab research, is making people wonder: can cannabis cure cancer?
The short answer is that we’re not sure. For now, the research isn’t conclusive and doctors are not using cannabis to treat cancer. Instead, they’re prescribing cannabis for cancer patients to relieve some of the worst symptoms of cancer and it’s harsh treatments.
According to the American Cancer Society:
“There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. 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.”
A study by Dr. Manuel Guzmán that was published in 2006 looked at the “antitumoral activity of cannabinoids.” In a test done on rats, cannabinoids were able to stop the growth of glioblastoma tumours in one-third of the subjects, while reversing the tumour growth in another third.
While this sounds exciting and promising, Richard Faulk notes that it’s important to keep in mind that the study was performed on rats. It also involved the direct injection of cannabinoids into the brain through a catheter. So, it’s a little different than just smoking up.
Either way, the research still comes up short of being able to say “cannabis can cure cancer” or “cannabis can’t cure cancer.” We need a lot more data to back up these claims and start testing them on people.
So, what has been proven?
Cannabis can benefit cancer patients by helping manage their symptoms (both from the disease and the treatment side effects). For man cancer patients, cannabis and cannabis oil offers major relief.
Here are a few of the effects of smoked marijuana and CBD oil for cancer patients:
Nausea & Vomiting from Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy and radiation can be life-saving for cancer patients, but they’re also extremely hard on the body. Many patients undergoing lengthy chemotherapy or radiation treatments experience intense nausea and vomiting after each treatment. This makes it difficult for patients to keep their strength up while they’re recovering.
Thankfully, THC has proven to be extremely helpful in reducing nausea and vomiting, and it can be used after chemo treatments. According to this study, both smoked marijuana and orally-administered THC have a similar effect.
We all know cannabis can give us the munchies, but for people who aren’t getting enough nutrition while they’re sick, this otherwise funny side effect is a major lifesaver.
Cannabis helps cancer patients keep food down while they’re being treated, but it can also help increase their overall food intake. In this article by Newsweek, Jeff Moroso talks about his horrible experience with chemotherapy for colon cancer, and how one of the hardest parts about the treatment was the constant weakness from not eating. After using marijuana-infused coffee beans for seven rounds of chemo, he stopped taking his prescription medications designed to make chemo easier.
Helping Kids with Cancer
Doctors are now prescribing cannabis for pediatric cancer patients as well. In fact, many child patients and their families request access to medical marijuana.
A study conducted by Yale School of Medicine found that:
“Overall, 92 percent of the clinicians were willing to help pediatric patients access medical marijuana, Ananth said. Approval was highest for use of medical marijuana near the end of life or in treatment with palliative intent.” However, they also emphasize that there is virtually no research on how cannabis impacts children with compromised immune systems.
Pain Relief & Fatigue
Another serious symptom of cancer and cancer treatments is pain and fatigue. Combined, these two symptoms can make it hard to complete even the basic daily tasks patients face. Both THC and CBD have a role in helping relieve fatigue and pain. Different strains have different effects. Check out one of our recent blog posts to see which strains rank best for pain relief.
Other Medical Uses for Cannabis
Although it’s used regularly by people with cancer, medical marijuana is also prescribed by doctors to treat many other illnesses, diseases, and symptoms.
A few uses for medical marijuana include:
- Treating anxiety and depression
- Reducing seizures and treating epilepsy
- Improving appetite for HIV patients
- Neuropathy and chronic pain treatment
- Treating multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Treating spinal cord injuries and diseases
The Future of Cannabis Cancer Research
Cannabis might not be used to treat cancer – for now – but there’s plenty of research on the way. Worldwide Cancer Research notes that there are many types of cancer and their effects and complexities are so wide-ranging that it’s unlikely cannabis will be able to cure all of them. However, new studies in lab and human settings are underway and could reveal even more healing potential for cancer patients. It’s exciting news for everyone!