Marijuana also called weed, ganja, cannabis, hemp, pot among several other names has lived up to its tarnishable reputation as a commonly abused drug substance. Aside from its use as a psychoactive drug, the plant product which is derived from the dried buds or leaves of the plant cannabis Sativa has also been used for centuries as a herbal remedy.
Over the years, Marijuana has evolved from being used as a psychoactive drug and in herbal remedies to being used medically to treat symptoms of diseases like AIDS and Cancer. A few scientific studies and anecdotal reports have shown how the substance can ease the symptoms of cancer. But can this substance contain the cancerous cells? Let’s take a look at the application of Marijuana for Cancer treatment.
Marijuana contains biologically active components called cannabinoids, which scientists have proved might play a role in easing the symptoms of cancer, such as pain, vomiting, nausea, and neuropathy (nerve pain that results from damaged nerves).
The two most active cannabinoids in Marijuana are 9-tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is primarily responsible for the drug-induced “high” experienced by Marijuana users. It has also been found to help alleviate symptoms of pain, nausea, vomiting, and inflammation that are side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
CBD, on the other hand, does not cause a “high” but have been found useful to treat seizures and reduce anxiety-related symptoms. It can also ease the effects of the “high” caused by THC. It is imperative to note that different plants of Marijuana or strains can have different amounts of these active compounds and may work differently in individuals based on the strain or type of cannabis plant used.
Marijuana that is used for medical purposes is referred to as medical Marijuana. It can be used in different forms. It can be baked into candies, cookies, and brownies, it can be used as oils for inhalation or mixed into hot drinks or foods, it can be applied topically on the skin in form of creams, it can be smoked in form of dried buds or leaves, and it can be used as a spray for the mouth.
How Marijuana is taken into the body also affects its function in the body. When ingested through the mouth such as in consuming baked foods, The THC takes longer to be absorbed. Once absorbed, the liver processes it and produces another compound that has psychoactive effects that are different from those produced by THC.
When it is smoked or inhaled, the THC goes to the bloodstream directly and it is transported to the brain within a very short period. The second psychoactive compound is then produced but in very limited amounts which makes it less effective.
Marijuana for Cancer Research Findings
There have been very limited studies to show the relationship between Marijuana and it’s consumption in cancer patients. However, there are several anecdotal accounts and a number of studies that have shown that the cannabinoids containing plants may be effective in managing symptoms of cancer.
It has been found that smoking or inhaling Marijuana can help abate nausea and vomiting that results from chemotherapy treatment. Also, studies have shown that people who take Marijuana for medicinal purposes usually required less pain relief drugs.
Recent scientific research has pointed out how cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can hinder the growth of some types of cancer cells that are growing on lab dishes or eliminate them completely.
A scientific review recently conducted by researchers at Amity University in India gives credit to the use of cannabinoids found in Marijuana and advocate that cannabinoids be used legally for medical purposes.
The researchers based their report on the effect of cannabinoids on various cancer types and also explored Marijuana’s ability to reduce nausea, increase appetite and relief pain. They also indicated it’s potential in slowing the rapid multiplication of cancer cells and even kill them.
However, most of the scientific experiments reviewed by the researchers made use of cancer cells from humans and did not involve them directly, while some of the experiments were carried out using mice.
They noted that some of the studies they reviewed showed how blood and prostate cancer cells were successfully treated using cannabinoids. They also stated that other cannabinoids aside THC showed great potential in treating cancer cells. The researchers call for more research to be carried out in order to fully explore the potential benefits of cannabinoids in alleviating the symptoms of cancer and some other diseases and as a means of treatment.
Although Marijuana itself is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be used for medicinal purposes, a number of states and countries in some parts of the world have endorsed its use for that purpose. The FDA classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance, which means it’s possession, consumption, and sale is considered harmful and illegal. However, it approves its synthetic derivatives such as dronabinol to be used as a drug.
The FDA classifies dronabinol as a schedule III drug which means it is considered as not being harmful and less addicting. The drug contains THC and is approved for the treatment of nausea and vomiting which are side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients, and also for the stimulation of appetite in AIDS patients.
Another approved cannabinoid containing the drug is Nabilone which also has a similar effect like Dronabinol. These drugs may also have side effects induced by the cannabinoids (Marijuana) contained in them. These side effects may include low blood pressure, dizziness, increased heart rate, fainting, drowsiness and mood-altering effects caused by the “high” of THC. They can also exacerbate depression, paranoia, and some other mental illness.
Based on the scientific reports currently available, it can be concluded that Marijuana can potentially stop the growth of cancer cells and even kill them completely, but more research has to be carried out for its benefits to be properly harnessed.