An Overview of Medical Marijuana Usage in the Treatment of Different Cancers: Does Marijuana Cure Cancer?
Cannabis sativa is a popular plant that is known to grow annually, particularly in warm regions with tropical climates across the globe. Even though it is famous for wild growth, cannabis sativa is now also grown commercially due to the fact that its leaves and buds are being used in herbal treatment and remedies. Experts, scientists and researchers have identified more than 70 biologically active constituents, known as cannabinoids, in marijuana. Marijuana is derived from cannabis sativa and is a dried mixture of the shreds, stems, seeds, leaves and flowers of cannabis sativa. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the main components of marijuana and marijuana that is made from THC is known as cannabinoids.
In the rawest form, marijuana is popularly smoked in pipes, cigars and homemade cigarettes. It is used in tea and can even be mixed with certain foods. It is also used to make hash oil, which is generally known as marijuana oil or hemp oil, and is obtained by heating and abstracting oil from the plant. Under the U.S. federal law, it is illegal to possess or sell crude or raw marijuana. This speaks about the danger marijuana that may cause, but it is surprising that something considered to be an illegal dangerous drug can still have positive effects for a disease as deadly as cancer.
In the recent past, there has been extensive medical research carried out on marijuana. Efforts to isolate several compounds of marijuana have been carried out in order to benefit from them. However, its illegal status concerns researchers and experts about the more harmful side effects. Despite such side effects, researchers have continued to study the compounds in marijuana for future medical applications. It is this ongoing research that has resulted in two prescription drugs containing marijuana compounds to be approved in the United States and another one to be approved in Europe and Canada. The American Cancer Society is now proactively encouraging research on medical marijuana uses.
Many speculations are made about the use of marijuana in treating cancer or controlling its symptoms alongside any possible side effects. Scientifically speaking, as of now, there is no precise evidence to support medical marijuana as a cancer treatment. However, it has been noted that medical marijuana is helpful in treating cancer, despite solid scientific evidence, which is precisely why it is used across the globe and is gaining importance in terms of possible areas of further research.
One of the reasons why the medical usage of marijuana cannot be validated with scientific backing is that the plant originally contains different compounds, thus making it difficult to predict the effects. However, medical researchers and experts have isolated certain components of the plant that can be used in medicines to achieve desired effects. These components are often used in combination with other compounds that are known for medical treatments. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved particular cannabinoid drugs to alleviate vomiting and nausea and also increase the appetite of cancer and AIDS patients. It has also been noted that THC helps in reducing the pressure of the eyes, thereby decreasing the effects of glaucoma. Research and testing on marijuana is still being carried out.
Certain experts and supporters of medical marijuana even claim that it is known to have anti-bacterial characteristics and has the potential to inhibit tumor growth. They also claim that marijuana enlarges the airways to help in easing the severity of asthma attacks. Furthermore, investigations are being conducted on epileptics with spinal cord injuries to use marijuana for controlling seizures and muscle spasms.
However, despite the advantages of marijuana in treating and mitigating the effects of various medical conditions, it is particularly popular in treating different kinds of cancers. It can be used to help cancer patients in mitigating the unpleasant consequences of chemotherapy and also as an alternative to cancer treatment. As surprising as it might sound, even lung cancer patients can be helped with marijuana. Research and studies show that smoking marijuana does not actually cause cancer. In fact, research shows that marijuana reduces the speed of the invasion of cervical cancer and even the penetration of lung cancer cells in the human body. Cannabidiol, which is a major component of the five cannabinoids that are found in medical marijuana, also hinders the growth of tumors in breast cancer and leukemia.
Cancer patients who are undergoing treatment often use medical marijuana in an attempt to decrease the incidence of vomiting alongside the side effects of cancer treatment and nausea. A study at the University of Arkansas illustrated that cannabinoids can successfully reduce nausea and vomiting among cancer patients, especially those suffering from breast cancer after surgery. Moreover, since medical marijuana is known to be an appetite stimulant for cancer patients, it can even treat anorexia and weak appetites caused during cancer treatment among patients. Treating anorexia and improving appetite helps in energizing the patients, thus making them stronger and more able to fight this serious illness.
Even though the full potential of medical marijuana as a cancer treatment has yet to be realized, marijuana and cancer have always been linked. Marijuana and cancer have some connection which became prominent in a recent study, and it was suggested that medical marijuana could halt the spread of metastatic breast cancer. It is quite possible and expected for further research to continue identifying new uses of medical marijuana in the successful treatment of cancer. However, research is limited because of the current legal restriction on marijuana’s use. It is these restrictions that are prohibiting researchers from conducting the major clinical trials that are necessary to fully understand the various ways in which medical marijuana may be able to help patients suffering from different kinds of cancer.
However, even then, cancer patients can make use of medical marijuana and use it as a part of their treatment plan. The first step is to speak to the oncologist and inquire about your condition and about how incorporating medical marijuana into the ongoing treatment may be able to lessen the effects of cancer.
A patient can always carry out their own research about the kind of cancer they are suffering from, as well as how medical marijuana has previously helped patients suffering from the same disease. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are more likely to benefit from medical marijuana since it helps in improving the appetite, as mentioned above.
Moreover, medical marijuana helps to reduce nausea, which also helps in making patients feel better. While it may be used to lessen the side effects of chemotherapy, it can also halt the spread of cancer cells in the bodies of patients. This depends on the kind of cancer, the stage of the disease, and the other provided treatments. It is important to remember that no two patients are the same; hence, treatment also varies from patient to patient. What works on one might not be as beneficial for another patient due to individual differences.
It is also recommended to consult a specialized medical marijuana doctor because he/she will know more about how this substance can help a patient, as opposed to the oncologist treating the patient for the specific disease. This is mostly because they have specialized in medical marijuana and are aware of the benefits as well as its possible side effects.
Medical marijuana can be a long-term or a short-term treatment for cancer, but that depends on the individual’s treatment plan and the kind of medications being provided alongside. At times, certain medication may not react well with medical marijuana and could cause a bigger problem. This is precisely why it is important to consult a medical marijuana specialist with the oncologist; only they can study the various treatments being provided and the effects of those treatments if given in combination.
An advocate of medical marijuana, Steve Kubby, who is known to have used medical marijuana for years after being diagnosed with cancer, reveals its positive effects and claims that he has only experienced wellness with its use. It is most likely that cancer patients will improve their quality of life in general with the use of medical marijuana, even if they cannot completely cure their condition. In such a deadly illness, even this is a major blessing.
To say that marijuana cures cancer may be a blunt statement to make so early on, but the American Cancer Society and oncology departments across the globe are gradually realizing the advantages of this substance for all kinds of cancer patients. Thus, there is a possibility that in the next few years, oncology departments and experts are able to confidently claim that marijuana cures cancer.