Is It True That Cannabis Cures Cancer?
It goes without saying that cancer is one of the deadliest diseases on our planet. About 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, which leads to 7.6 million annual deaths. Cancer accounts for nearly a quarter of all deaths in the United States. Many have claimed that cannabis cures cancer, or at least has cancer killing properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabis “may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.”
While roughly 290 people die daily from pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis has zero recorded deaths, is federally illegal, and is not approved by the FDA. In this report, you will find a layman’s summary of over 50 medical research studies related to cannabis and cancer.
One reason why cancer is so difficult to treat is that it manifests itself in so many different places throughout the body. The one defining theme in cancer is that it is generally caused by uncontrolled growth and spreading of tumorous cells.
While it is currently possible to overcome cancer with modern methods, many of the treatment options such as chemotherapy are notorious for having terrible side effects. Essentially, the doctors hope to provide enough poison to kill the cancer cells, while allowing enough healthy cells to survive.
Medical marijuana may be a viable option, yet the current legislation does not allow for proper clinical testing of the Schedule 1 drug. Until such a time, it may not be possible to firmly conclude that cannabis cures cancer.
I remember my grandfather as a young child. He had cancer and was given the treatment of chemotherapy, which ultimately left him weak and quiet for most of my childhood.
While the chemotherapy helped him stay alive to quite an old age, I knew that the chemotherapy made it difficult for me to establish a close relationship with my grandfather. He did not have the strength or energy to engage in much conversation.
Parents with young children that are diagnosed with cancer are seriously challenged, as they do not want to put their children through the hell that is chemotherapy treatment.
Furthermore, in some cases, traditional treatment options are not effective. What if there were other treatment options that were not as poisonous to the human body?
Cannabis and Cancer: A Success Story
Take the case of Sophie Ryan — the brave little girl who was the inspiration behind CannaKids.
Sophie Ryan was a child who was diagnosed with a glioma brain tumor after 8.5 months of being born. The doctors informed her parents that she would have to undergo 13 months of chemotherapy, and that they did not expect to get rid of the tumor, but merely stop its growth. Any shrinkage at all would be considered a great success.
After hearing about cannabis oil, Sophie’s parents gave cannabis a shot, alongside the recommended chemotherapy. Not only did the cannabis oil help with many of the negative side effects of chemotherapy, but Sophie’s tumor was decreased by nearly 90% after 13 months! The doctors had to conclude that the cannabis oil did indeed assist with this cure.
Today, CannaKids is dedicated to providing cannabis oil for other patients in need. With WoahStork, you can shop online for different CannaKids products.
Cannabis would seem to be an unlikely treatment option, especially since smoking typically is associated with lung cancer. There has been some evidence that habitual cannabis smoking may cause lung cancer, but the results seem to be a bit inconclusive. (Refs. 1-4)
While smoking cannabis is widely popular, vaporizers, edibles, and tinctures provide patients with an alternative method of intake. Extracts and tinctures are the way to go, as many medical patients do not like the stigma associated with smoking the herb.
Also, many manufacturers offer different cannabinoid ratios, making it easy to get a desired THC-to-CBD ratio. We must also remember that the other cannabinoids and terpenes also may have synergistic medicinal values. This is why natural extracts may be better than synthetically made pharmaceutical products which only contain THC or CBD.
Cannabis oil has been very successful for curing cancer for many medical marijuana patients.
Many have read of the countless number of success stories of Rick Simpson’s oil curing cancer, but it is difficult to know what to trust with what you read on the Internet these days. Let us set the record straight by supplying dozens of research articles, which actually do suggest that cannabis cures cancer.
These studies show consistent evidence that cannabis shrinks tumors and specifically targets cancer cells. What is will become increasingly remarkable as you read is just how effective cannabis can be for so many different forms of cancer.
It has been known for some time that cannabinoids induce tumor regression in rodents. (Ref. 5) THC and CBD are the two most studied cannabinoids throughout the literature.
Work has suggested that CB2 receptors modulate cancer cell signaling. (Ref. 6) Gaining further knowledge of how the endocannabinoid system has suggested that cananbinoid receptors are a good target for antitumor agents. (Refs. 7-8)
Dronabinol and nabilone are synthetic cannabinoids that are approved for cancer-related side effects. However, these synthetically created drugs do not have the full cannabinoid and terpene profile which positively interact with THC and CBD. Yet most cannabis smokers know that synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 and spice are inferior to the naturally grown herb.
However, it is often easier to do studies with these drugs, as they get around the legal issues with natural cannabis. There are many therapeutic advantages of other cannabinoids and terpenes as well. For example, myrcene helps THC bind faster, which may make THC become more effective.
Alpha-humulene and isocaryophyllene are known to have anti-cancerous effects. Beta-caryophyllene also increases the anti-cancer abilities of the aforementioned terpenes. (Ref. 9). Pinene has also been shown great efficacy in shrinking tumors.
While it is typically thought that only the cannabinoids bind to CB receptors, beta-caryophyllene also binds to the CB2 receptor. A study found that the terpenes alpha-humulene and isocaryophyllene have anticancer activity.
Furthermore, beta-caryophyllene increases the efficacy of these other terpenes as well.
While case studies have suggested the efficacy of cannabis cancer treatment options, the research on cannabis helping with the side effects of chemotherapy is very strong!
Chemotherapy Side Effects
While you may have seen that the cartoon character Archer finds the use of cannabis to greatly help with the side effects of chemotherapy, it would be best to consult the results of clinical studies.
Research on using cannabis to help with nausea and vomiting go back to as early as 1999. (Ref. 10) THC and prochlorperazine were found to be equally effective at reducing nausea and vomiting. (Ref. 11)
A meta analysis found that cannabinoids were very effective for treating symptoms of chemotherapy. (Ref. 12)
Below, we aim to highlight the clinical research that has methodically addressed whether or not cannabis cures cancer.
Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors
Brain cancer has a range of symptoms which includes seizures, sleepiness, confusion, and other changes. THC is known to have neuroprotective qualities. (Ref. 13)
What should be addressed is how cannabis affects tumor cells. Glioblastoma is the most common and malignant tumor affecting the brain or spine. THC was found to stop the rapid cancer growth of tumor cells. (Ref. 14)
More research has been done to show that THC induces apoptosis (cell death) in glioma cells, which are a category of tumor cells that start in the brain or spinal cord. (Refs. 15-16) In the case of cannabis causing cell death, it’s as though cannabis cures cancer by killing it.
While THC binds to the CB1 receptor and glioma is expressed in the CB1 receptor, it still remains unclear if THC kills glioma cells due to its binding to CB1 receptors or some other unknown mechanism.
Evidence has also been found to suggest that CB2 receptor activation also inhibits glioma growth. (Refs. 17-20) What is interesting is that CB1 receptors are highly concentrated in the brain, while CB2 receptors are predominantly throughout the body.
Through apoptosis, cannabis cures cancer by selectively killing cancer cells.
Cannabinoids such as CBD bind to the CB2 receptors, so it is quite remarkable that even CBD helps inhibit glioma cell growth. CBD and THC together can help the anticancer effects of radiation as well. (Ref. 21) It seems that both THC and CBD are effective at inhibiting gliomagenesis. (Ref. 22) There are also CB1 and CB2 receptors in astroglial tumors as well. (Ref. 23)
No article assessing whether or not cannabis cures cancer would be complete without a section on breast cancer. Breast cancer affects almost 1 in 10 women at some point in their lives. Much evidence has been found to suggest that cannabis can help treat breast cancer. (Ref. 24) A study has suggested that THC helps with breast cancer. (Ref. 25)
A recent study has looked at a cannabinoid which binds to the CB2 receptor, making it similar to CBD. It was found that this studied compound caused cancer cell death for triple-negative breast cancer. Through activation of the CB2 receptor, which is nonpsychotropic. (Ref. 26) This type of cancer is notoriously difficult to treat, as a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are often suggested.
Other work has been done on studying CBD’s novel anti-tumor properties. (Refs. 27-29) A synthetic cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor was found to help with breast cancer as well. (Ref. 30) Another study suggested that anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. (Ref. 31)
We have already mentioned that smoking cannabis could cause lung cancer, but can taking edibles or tinctures actually help lung cancer? CBD has been found to inhibit lung cancer cell invasion. (Ref. 32)
Another study found that CB1 and CB2 receptor activation is a good target for inhibition of lung cancer cells. (Ref. 33) THC has been found to be effective on its own as well. (Ref. 34) Once again, it appears that both THC and CBD can be effective at treating lung cancer.
Mouth and Throat Cancer
It was found that THC causes a rapid decline in the rate of respiration in human oral cancer cells. The naturally occurring endocannabinoid anandamide had no effect. (Ref. 35)
They concluded that the cannabinoids are potent inhibitors of these human oral cancer cells, which causes a highly malignant tumor. In this case, cannabis cures cancer by inhibiting growth of cancer cells. Extended use of smoking cannabis may increase the risk of lung or mouth cancer, so edibles or tinctures are recommended. (Refs. 36-37)
Prostate cancer cells have an increased expression of both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Furthermore, activation of these receptors decreases cell viability and increases apoptosis– cell death. (Ref. 38). Another study found that CBD significantly inhibits cell viability. (Ref. 39)
Anandamide also has anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects in human prostatic cancer cell lines. (Ref. 40) The CB1 and CB2 receptors are novel targets for the treatment of prostate cancer. (Ref. 41)
Research has found that cannabinoids also induce apoptosis of pancreatic tumor cells. (Ref. 42) Symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer include appetite loss and weight loss. Cannabis could also help with these side effects.
Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. It was found that CBD reduces cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms. (Ref. 43)
Leukemia or Blood Cancer
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a form of cancer that is typically treated with chemotherapy. A particular study looked at a child with an aggressive form of ALL who also exhibited the Philadelphia chromosome mutation.
After trying all conventional treatment options and failing, the patient was given a Cannabinoid resin extract orally in a clinical observation. (Ref. 44) It was noticed that his condition had a dose-dependent correlation, suggesting that the treatment was a success. Studies such as this reveal how cannabis cures cancer for some individuals that are unresponsive to other treatment methods.
CB1 and CB2 receptor targeting has shown to help mantle cell lymphoma. (Ref. 45) Both have also been used to inhibit growth in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. (Ref. 46) THC has induced apoptosis in Jurkat leukemia T cells. (Ref. 47) Targeting CB2 receptors has also been studied for treatment of lymphoblastic disease. (Ref. 48)
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal growth of skin cells. Common types of skin cancer include basal cell cancer, melanoma, and squamous cell skin caricnoma. Skin tumor growth has been inhibited by both CB1 and CB2 activation. (Ref. 49)
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer. HCC is one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality. A recent study found that cannabinoids are a novel therapeutic target for HCC. (Ref. 50) Not only did the activation of the CB2 receptor cause cell cycle arrest, but it also inhibited the proliferation and migration of these cancer cells.
Another study found that CB1 and CB2 receptor activation was effective for treating HCC. (Ref. 51)
Biliary Tract Cancer
THC was found to inhibit cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in cholangiocarcinoma cells, which is synonymous with bile duct cancer. Furthermore, the THC induced cell apoptosis. (Ref. 52)
After reviewing a wide range of studies which looked at various different types of cancer, it seems clear that there are beneficial effects for treating and curing cancer with THC and CBD. The WoahStork StrainGenie recommends finding high CBD strains, such that a synergistic combination of THC and CBD is found.
Summary On Whether Or Not Cannabis Cures Cancer
In conclusion, there is an incredible amount of scientific research and clinical trials suggesting that cannabis cures cancer. Not only does it help with the side effects of chemotherapy, but it also shrinks a wide variety of cancer cells. The word “cure” should be used with caution, as killing cancer cells is only part of the problem– preventing the development and unwanted growth of those cells is the root of the problem. Perhaps cannabis could serve as an effective preventative treatment for cancer. More research needs to be conducted to validate such theories.
If it is indeed the case that cannabis cures cancer, it is a tricky regimen. There are a near-infinite number of blends of cannabinoids and terpenes that could be concocted to combat the different form of cancer that can develop in an individual. Not to mention, everyone’s endocannabinoid system varies greatly.
However, one of the best first passes would be to not smoke cannabis directly, as the combustion of plant material at high heats could actually help cause cancer. Tinctures, oils, and extracts are widely popular treatment options, as they don’t involve smoking the herb directly. Also, taking oral doses allows for a much longer effect of the medication, as it slowly gets absorbed throughout the body.
Also, it would be prudent to find cannabis that is lab-tested. An unfortunate majority of cannabis products contain trace amounts of the fungicide myclobutanil, which turns into cyanide when heated– a process that would effectively nullify the positive effects of cannabis.
We are huge advocates at WoahStork for trying to maximize CBD intake whenever ingesting THC. However, finding strains that are high in CBD and THC can often be difficult. Check out WoahStork’s Strain Genie, which contains the activity group Medicate. These strains are chosen specifically for their high CBD content, which is great for many medicinal uses. We also help you find dispensaries near you which carry these strains.