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Cannabis For Cancer - Cure or Hoax?

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Cannabis For Cancer

Sources online and elsewhere often make some pretty outrageous claims about the “miracle plant” known as cannabis. Anyone claiming that cannabis and its compounds are a cure for cancer, is being outrageous. It has not been proven through large-scale clinical trials to be a cure. However, it isn’t a Hoax either. There is some promising early research about how cannabis might can help those battling cancer. Researchers continue to explore all sorts of alternative therapies to complement or enhance existing treatments. One botanical stands out among the rest as having promising early results – that botanical is cannabis. This beautiful plant contains numerous compounds called cannabinoids, with the two most well-known being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Here we will summarize some of the latest research on the use of cannabis in cancer treatment. This includes its potential anti-cancer properties, alleviation of cancer-related symptoms, and some exciting potential synergies with conventional therapies.

Most people are aware that cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. You are likely also aware that the standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy often come with severe side effects. Unfortunately, because cannabis has been federally illegal in the US since 1970, research has been limited. Lack of federal funding and restrictions on the plant itself have meant that big pharma and university research labs where most of the medical research takes place, have been prohibited from conducting studies. State legalization has now made research possible, and some private organizations have entered the arena as well. However, large scale clinical trials are still lacking, so most of what is discussed here is based on laboratory studies (aka petri dish results) and not large-scale human trials. What does this mean? It means that cannabis and its compounds may help in cancer treatment, but anyone claiming that this is already “proven” should be viewed with skepticism. The current reality is that ….

The FDA has not approved cannabis or its compounds for the treatment or cure of any disease. Much less the monster that is cancer. We would never want to give anyone false hope, encourage them to ignore physician advice, or alter treatment regimens based on the current state of research. However, there is mounting evidence that cannabis could an effective edition to the fight against this dreaded disease. There are clear indications that, even if it never proves to be a cure, it may well provide symptom relief, slow disease progression, and contribute to both quality and length of life for those diagnosed with cancer.

What Some Notable Physicians Say

What physicians say about using cannabis for cancer

“I’ve been an oncologist in San Francisco for thirty-six years now, and I venture to say that most of the cancer patients I’ve taken care of have used cannabis,” Abrams (an oncologist at UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine) said in a May 3, 2019, interview. “But there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see a cancer patient with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, pain, depression, or anxiety, and if I have one medicine that can decrease nausea and vomiting, enhance appetite, decrease pain, and improve sleep and mood, I consider that to be a valuable intervention. Instead of writing prescriptions for five or six pharmaceuticals that all could interact with each other or the chemotherapy I prescribe, I can recommend one very safe botanical.” (Pellerin, 2020)

“I work with all kinds of cancers, from children…to adults… the full gamut. I recommend cannabis-based oils, the extract of the plant, for these individuals. I have a few patients that are in remission – they’re cancer-free, their tumors have shrunk, their energy levels have gone up, no nausea, no vomiting, no weight loss, none of the side-effects that occur as a result of having chemo and radiation. They do extremely well.” (Rosado, 2019)

What We Know About the Anti-Cancer Properties of Cannabinoids:

Anti-cancer properties of Cannabinoids

Induction of Apoptosis: There are several studies which have shown that cannabinoids can induce apoptosis. What is that? Simply put – it is the programmed cell death mechanism, in various types of cancer cells. Both THC and CBD have demonstrated the ability to trigger apoptosis in cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Sounds great to us!

Inhibiting Tumor Growth: Preclinical (petri-dish or lab) research suggests that cannabinoids can inhibit tumor growth and angiogenesis, which is the process by which tumors develop a blood supply to sustain themselves. So, in a lab, cannabinoids can prevent tumor cells from growing and keep them from developing their own supply lines.

Anti-Metastatic Effects: There are some studies that indicate cannabinoids might actually suppress cancer cell migration and invasion, potentially reducing metastatic spread. This is another way of saying that cannabinoids may help reduce the growth rate and help keep the invasion localized.

Synergy with Other Anticancer Agents: Emerging evidence suggests that combining cannabinoids with standard or conventional cancer therapies or other natural compounds may enhance treatment efficacy and reduce drug resistance.

How Cannabinoids Help Cancer-Related Symptoms:

The big push for legalization of “Medical Marijuana” was driven, in large part, by those seeking help with cancer and cancer treatment symptoms. As mentioned above – even if it never proves to be a cure or to impact disease progression, cannabis has definitely been shown to help with symptom management.

Pain Management: Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these which give it the potential to alleviate cancer-related pain, which is sometimes resistant to standard pain management approaches. I have seen this personally with some of our clients who use both CBD and THC for relief from both the pain of cancer itself as well as the pain from some of the treatments.

Our Best Selling Edibles for Pain Management –

Nausea and Vomiting: Research and personal experience of tens of thousands of people indicates that cannabinoids, particularly THC, may help alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

A favorite option for help with Nausea –

Appetite Stimulation: Cancer and its treatments can lead to reduced appetite and unintended weight loss. Cannabinoids, especially THC, have shown promise in stimulating appetite and improving nutritional intake. And the good news is that you are no longer limited to smoking “street weed,” for relief. There is a huge variety of ingestible options available now.

Anxiety and Depression: Who isn’t anxious and depressed when they receive a diagnosis of cancer? Many studies suggest that cannabinoids, especially CBD, may have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant effects.

Sleeplessness: Tossing and turning with worry over diagnosis, sleeplessness caused by pain, and reactions to medication can all contribute to some bad nights for cancer patients (and their families). CBD and THC have both been demonstrated in many studies and thousands of patient reports to help with getting better rest.

Combining Cannabis and Conventional Cancer Therapies:

Combining Cannabis and Conventional Cancer Therapies

Another promising aspect of cannabis for cancer lies in research associated with combining conventional therapies with cannabis.

Enhancing Chemo- and Radiotherapy: There is preclinical evidence that combining cannabinoids with chemotherapy or radiation therapy may enhance their antitumor effects while reducing side effects.

Reduced Chemotherapy-Induced Neurotoxicity (toxic reaction of brain and nerve cells): Some studies suggest that cannabinoids may protect against chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity, improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

Overcoming Chemoresistance: Research is being conducted into whether cannabinoids could help overcome chemotherapy resistance in certain types of cancers. In other words, scientists are looking into giving a boost to chemotherapy treatments with cannabis.

Limitations and Obstacles to Overcome

Despite promising preclinical data, the clinical evidence on the use of cannabis in cancer treatment remains limited. Several ongoing clinical trials are exploring its safety and efficacy. We are hopeful that as legalization continues to sweep the country that this research will expand.

determining the optimal dosage and formulation of cannabis or cannabinoids for cancer treatment

It is often difficult to determining the optimal dosage and formulation of cannabis or cannabinoids for cancer treatment. The limited research is one of the factors, but other like individual tolerance and sensitivity often make experimentation with different doses a part of treatment. This led to the development of the “start low, go slow” methodology. Proper THC:CBD ratios and different administration routes also need further investigation. In our experience, no two people are the same in what works for any specific conditions.

And, of course, there are still many regulatory Hurdles. The legal and regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis use seems to change daily, is different for every state, and is subject to inconsistent enforcement. This hinders large-scale research and poses many challenges to conducting clinical trials.

The Bottom Line

Cannabis, thus far, is neither a Cure nor a Hoax. At the moment, it is an excellent option for many to control symptoms and may, in the future, prove to be an excellent addition or solo treatment option for cancer. There is definite hope for a cannabis contribution to more effective treatments as the science progresses, and it is likely help with current quality of life for cancer patients. But while preclinical studies have provided strong results, more complete and voluminous clinical research is essential to fully understand the safety, efficacy, and potential interactions with conventional cancer therapies. Researching dosage, formulation, and interactions will require overcoming regulatory hurdles. And all these things are necessary to advance the science and make cannabis-based treatments a reality in mainstream cancer care.

If we can help you in choosing a product for whatever symptoms you are suffering, or can answer questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 407-235-0653 or – or chat right from this page. If you or a loved one is fighting cancer – we wish you all the best for your treatment and hope with you for a full recovery.

Works Cited

Pellerin, C. (2020). Healing with Cannabis: The Evolution of the Endocannabinoid System and How Cannabinoids Help Relieve PTSD, Pain, MS, Anxiety, and More. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

Rosado, J. (2019). Hope & Healing, The Case for Cannabis. Coastal Press.

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