Research into the dynamic relationship between cannabis and cancer has increased significantly in recent years, containing promising evidence to support alternative treatment methods, albeit cautiously.
For most, there are few words out there in the world scarier than the word cancer. It’s heartbreaking and often shocking news to hear. So much so that even inquiring about a prognosis is a daunting and intimidating task.
People worldwide have turned to cannabis to help them treat side effects when suffering from cancer. So, it begs the question, what are the potential benefits between cannabis and cancer?
In the following article, we’ll explore the applications of cannabis and cancer as well as how one product, in particular, Phoenix Tears, came to be used for cancer management.
By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of what we know and don’t know about the evidence surrounding the relationship between cannabis and cancer treatment.
Before delving into greater detail, it is essential to preface that testing and research surrounding the cannabis and cancer relationship remains in its infancy. While there is some scientific and anecdotal evidence to support its efficacy, this article should not be taken as a diagnostic or treatment tool. We are not medical professionals.
Consult your physician or specialist when considering new alternative treatment options as cannabis may impede on other medications.
Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Cannabis can help regulate many of the most common cancer symptoms and its treatment, including management of nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain. There is reasonable evidence to support the use of cannabis as a first-line treatment for these debilitating symptoms.
When discussing the utility of cannabis, we ought to be more specific. Cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoids, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Delta-9-THC and CBD are the most well studied of these cannabinoids for medical purposes.
Clinical trials have demonstrated how each of these compounds can benefit people with cancer. While other cannabinoids may also potentially help those who have cancer, more research is needed to substantiate these claims.
Humans have used cannabinoids as a herbal remedy for centuries. More recently, research has helped us discover their true potential. In various types of cancers, laboratories have found that cannabinoids demonstrate anti-tumor effects. Studies completed in a petri dish and small animals have shown that cannabinoids can effectively modulate tumor growth.
However, it should be noted that the type of cancer and the cannabinoid dosage are both critical variables to consider.
Cannabinoid agonists, including phytocannabinoids like THC, have shown the potential to inhibit tumor growth and disease progression. The mechanisms of this effect appear to be related to the promotion of apoptosis (cell death), prevention of metastasis (spreading around the body), and inhibition of neo-angiogenesis (cancer cells stimulating blood-vessel growth to supply the growing tumor).
THC, the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, has significant potential as a pain-reliever.
Those who have cancer often experience intense pain alongside their other symptoms as well as the side-effects of various treatment methods. Cannabis-derived THC has modest, but mixed, support in the research literature for helping to reduce cancer-related pain.
While the effect may be modest, any improvement in pain symptoms can change one’s life. Compared to many other pain-relieving medications, THC also has a better side-effect profile. There is also the potential for THC to help reduce pain in cases where opioids and other pharmaceuticals cannot produce benefits.
One effect of THC that many of us know well is an increase in appetite, colloquially known as ‘the munchies.’ While many of us try to fend off the hunger, this benefit can be huge for others.
For example, those undergoing chemotherapy often have trouble eating and maintaining body weight, which could lead to cachexia, a condition that prompts extreme weight-loss, including muscle and fat loss.
With nausea being another common side-effect of chemotherapy, it makes sense why appetite would be impacted so severely. THC has certainly demonstrated its ability to enhance appetite, including in this patient population and those at risk of cachexia.
That said, we should also not overlook the benefits of enhancing mood and creating euphoria for people undergoing severe distress. While there remains a stigma surrounding people getting ‘high’ off of cannabis, who are we to deny people even the tiniest sliver of joy in their time of need?
Research has shown CBD to possess pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anxiety-reducing, and anti-tumor properties. While there is little research on the use of CBD for cancer, these known effects provide the potential for beneficial use.
We do not know what dosing is appropriate for various cancers and cancer-related symptoms at this time. That said, many people have turned to CBD to provide therapeutic benefits while suffering from cancer, with a decent collection of anecdotal evidence from cancer patients vouching for its efficacy in alleviating various symptoms.
One research study published in 2012 also indicated that CBD possessed chemopreventive properties in regards to colon cancer in mice by protecting DNA from oxidative damage in colorectal carcinoma cell lines, increasing endocannabinoid levels and reducing cell proliferation.
Of course, further research is necessary to support these claims and expand on its preventative potential in other types of cancer.
CBD has been shown to help reduce anxiety in numerous situations. This beneficial effect of CBD on one’s mood may be of tremendous use for people with cancer. By reducing symptoms of anxiety, CBD may be helpful for cancer patients and cancer-treatment symptoms.
One of the most common ingestion methods for cancer patients to reap CBD’s benefits is through concentrates, such as the Hooti CBD Isolate, which delivers a potent dosage of CBD in its purest form possible through various methods, such as topically or sublingually.
Cancer Treatment Side-Effects
Cancer patients suffer not only from their disease but also often from the treatment itself. While this treatment ultimately serves the critical purpose of killing cancer if possible, they undoubtedly come with intense side-effects.
There is preliminary evidence to suggest that the relationship between cannabis and cancer may reduce cancer and chemotherapy-related side-effects, including cognitive impairment, depression, fatigue, and anxiety.
Chemotherapy is the most prominent example, as it causes nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal (GI) distress, weight-loss, sleep issues, hair loss, and many other effects. One of the additional effects is anticipatory nausea, where patients suffer and vomit in the hours before a chemotherapy appointment, which sometimes occurs.
In particular, this area is one where the connection between cannabis and cancer has shown great potential to help relieve suffering. There is promising but limited evidence to show that cannabis can help with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain), sleep disorders, and GI distress.
Considering the Adverse Effects of Cannabis
The adverse effects of using cannabis are broadly considered to be mild. The multifaceted bioactive benefits of cannabis appear to outweigh the potential risks in many situations.
Further research is needed to determine the appropriate dosing and cannabinoid-ratio to optimize the management of various cancers. As such, it is crucial to note that many of the medications used to manage symptoms of cancer and cancer-treatment come with their own adverse effects.
Many of these medications cause more negative side-effects than cannabis itself.
Quality of Life and Surviving Cancer
Whether suffering from cancer or attempting to return to normal after surviving cancer, cannabis offers real potential to increase patients’ quality of life. Managing symptoms and improving lifespan is critical for cancer survivors, and cannabis is worth a look here.
One study demonstrated that a 6-month cannabis regime increased positive quality of life in 69.5% of participants. Before initiation, only 19% of participants reported such a good quality of life.
One particular type of cannabis concentrate has gained recognition for its potential to benefit those who have cancer. Phoenix Tears, also known as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), are a highly concentrated form of cannabis.
With incredibly high THC potency, Rick Simpson first created this concentrate in his search to treat his own skin cancer. This journey’s motivation was clinical trials like one from 1975, which demonstrated a dose-dependent anti-tumor effect.
Rick Simpson used extraction methods to create a highly concentrated dose of THC to apply to his skin. Further advances were made to use safer methods and enhance the potential of Phoenix Tears. There is much more research needed to determine whether Phoenix Tears provide benefits in various types of cancer.
However, this has not stopped people from turning to Phoenix Tears in an attempt to treat their cancer. This product’s high potency increases the odds of negative side effects but may also enhance THC’s benefits in the fight against cancer.
Cannabis and Cancer – Cautiously Optimistic
Readers are always advised to follow medical advice and not replace other cancer treatments with cannabis. That said, the evidence suggests that cannabis and cannabinoids offer numerous benefits for cancer patients.
The best evidence out there does show benefits in symptom management, especially as it relates to cancer treatment side-effects. However, you should always discuss potential cannabis use with their medical professional before making any changes.
While we may one day find out that cannabis can directly reduce tumor growth in humans, we do not yet know this for sure.
The best use of cannabis in cancer patients is nonetheless related to symptom management. The medical purposes of cannabis and cancer include reducing pain, nausea, and tumor growth while promoting appetite, relaxation, sleep, and euphoria.
This reduction of symptoms may help people with cancer reduce the number of other medications they consume to manage symptoms.
Ultimately, medical marijuana use is a personal choice, but this should occur with full disclosure to your health care team.