The Potential of Cannabis Oil for Cancer Treatments
The Potential of Cannabis Oil for Cancer Treatments
Using cannabis oil for cancer treatments has massive promise for the future.
Segments of the pharmaceutical industry are experimenting with the use of drugs based on cannabinoids to treat all sorts of types of cancer and other conditions.
Cannabis oil in medicine remains controversial, due to its legal status around the world. While laws in the USA are relaxing, not all countries are making the same movements.
And while cannabis oil for cancer might well be what we've been waiting for, the exact best practices for treatment haven't been figured out quite yet.
Here's everything you need to know about this exciting new area of medicine, and all about its potential applications for the future.
Early Days of Using Cannabis Oil for Cancer
So while it's still relatively early days, the use of cannabis oil for treatments of various conditions is being trialed - and not just in the USA.
The UK's National Health Service has given its first medical cannabis prescription to an eleven-year-old boy suffering from severe epilepsy. This appears to have had very positive results - though it's worth noting this wasn't a controlled trial.
So while there are some interesting results being turned up by researchers, the true potential of cannabis oil for cancer as a medical drug is yet to be explored.
In fact, the world of illegal drugs is opening up and slowly becoming legitimized by the research work of medical professionals.
The extracted, active ingredient of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, is being trialed for use as a treatment for depression. And Schedule 1 drug MDMA, or 'ecstasy' is being used in trials for PTSD sufferers.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already hailed ecstasy treatment as a 'breakthrough therapy'. This could change the lives of thousands of people for the better.
So we're hopeful that cannabis oil for cancer will achieve the same recognition soon.
How Does Cannabis Oil Work as a Treatment?
Researchers first looked at cannabis oil for cancer in the 1970s. Since then, much of this research has turned up promising results in pre-clinical trials.
Cannabis oil for cancer treatment actually works in several different ways.
Cancer is a disease which is characterized by out-of-control cell growth within the body. These form 'lumps' or 'tumors' - or disrupt the bloodstream in the case of blood cancers.
As tumors grow they stop organs from working as they should, and can affect many of the body's central systems. So how could a treatment involving cannabis oil for cancer combat this?
Battling Cancer Cells in Four Ways
There is some evidence to suggest that cannabis oil could be used to slow the growth of several types of cancer.
This may help to keep tumors in check, while surgery or other treatments are arranged to battle the tumor itself.
Cancer 'Steals' from Its Surroundings
As a tumor grows, cancer cells steal resources from neighboring healthy cells to fuel growth.
This means that healthy cells get less oxygen and nutrients, causing fatigue and exhaustion. Cannabinoids can help to stop this from happening - which may help to ultimately kill off the cancer, by starving it of resources.
Stops Cancer 'Migrating'
Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells move through the body. This happens while cancers develop, and metastasis is a common occurrence in late-stage cancers.
This means that a person whose cancer developed in the stomach might also suffer from kidney or brain cancer if the disease is left unchecked.
Cannabis oil for cancer can prevent metastasis from occurring. If healthy organs remain unaffected by cancer, the patient will likely feel better. They'll also be better able to cope with treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Kills Cells Outright
There are various reports that cannabinoids can reduce tumor growth - by killing cells outright. This process is called 'apoptosis' - a self-destruct sequence which a cell would normally initiate automatically if it became damaged or too old.
The failing of this sequence is what leads to cancers forming,
Cannabis compounds can actually trigger this reaction in human and animal cells. Doctors have even shown the reaction working properly in mice, but we're way off a human trial just now.
Different Types of Cancer and Cannabis Oil
Using cannabis oil for cancer treatment is showing promise in a number of areas, across a range of different forms of cancer.
Again - it's still early days. But there are promising studies out there to give us hope.
Cannabis oil has been shown to have some effectiveness when used to treat a particularly aggressive type of brain cancer. One researcher said that the combination of THC and CBD used in the study "produced relevant improvements in survival compared with placebo and this is a good signal of potential efficacy."
Another study, on prostate cancer, demonstrated a stimulation of prostate cancer cells' cannabinoid receptors during the course of treatment. This would mean the cancer cells could experience increased apoptosis, meaning that the tumor could potentially be killed faster.
Meanwhile, a 2014 study on skin cancer in mice found that a treatment based on cannabis products was effective at reducing the number of skin cancer cells in mice with melanoma.
These are just a few examples from the range of studies conducted since the 1970s into using cannabis oil for cancer treatments. Research continues in this area.
Using Cannabis Oil to Manage Side Effects
Cannabis and its byproducts are already being used to manage the side effects of cancer. In some places, this is prescribed by doctors. In others, it is used by patients to manage their symptoms without authority.
The drug may still be illegal where it isn't prescribed by a doctor, depending on where you live. But it has been known, for a long time, that many authorities will turn a blind eye to personal use. They would almost certainly do so if they realize the use is for the treatment of a painful disease like cancer.
Cannabinoids are noted for their pain relief properties, and cannabis oil for cancer, when used properly, is a very potent pain relief drug.
Patients can use cannabis oil for cancer symptoms and the symptoms resulting from chemotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, these include nausea, tiredness, mouth and throat sores, vomiting and many more.
Cannabis oil can help to reduce nausea, and increase the appetites of people who may be struggling to eat after chemo treatment.
Plus, given that cannabis' own side effects are relatively harmless, the drug's pain relief properties are also appealing to use in these situations.
From Side Effects to Other Uses
Cannabis oil can also help to stave off the anxiety which often comes while experiencing the stress of being treated for cancer.
But this property may have other applications. If cannabis oil for cancer treatments were greenlit by the government, it would open the doors to these.
New anti-anxiety and anti-nausea drugs would be useful in many cases, and for many people. They may not need to be cancer sufferers to benefit from this type of medicine.
And the National Cancer Institute lists a number of other conditions which cannabis-based drugs could be useful for treating.
There may be other properties and applications which haven't been discovered yet. All this, just from one plant!
Administering Cannabis Oil to Patients
There are several ways to administer doses of cannabis oil for cancer treatment. We have set these out here for you, so that you know the various options, and when they're appropriate.
Sublingual dosing just means that you're putting the cannabis oil under your tongue. You're not supposed to swallow it, as your digestive tract will absorb it slowly.
There are membranes beneath your tongue which can absorb the active ingredients. Be careful and dose cannabis oil slowly until you're used to the procedure.
However, if you do accidentally swallow your dose, don't 'top up' with an additional one. Eating the oil will delay the effects of the drug, but they'll be much stronger when they come on.
Inhaling Your Dosage
Smoking cannabis oil is an ineffective way of ingesting it. You may use a pipe or bong, but we recommend that you look into vaping instead.
Vaping heats the oil without burning it, releasing the active ingredients far more effectively.
Plus, you avoid inhaling the harmful smoke from a pipe or bong. It's definitely better than smoking marijuana mixed with tobacco. This other plant has many negative health implications when smoked.
A suppository is a type of pill which is inserted in the 'other end'.
The rectum is very good at absorbing medicines, and there will be a far less psychoactive effect. This is useful if you need to work or get on with other activities, but would be 'slowed down' by ingesting it another way, because of cannabis' side effects.
This method is particularly good if the patient is suffering from nausea, like recovering chemotherapy patients, for instance. Nausea would make it hard to swallow a pill. But once nausea passes, the patient should then find it easier to eat a meal, aiding their recovery.
Through the Skin
Cannabis oil can be rubbed on the skin to aid the relief of psoriasis and other uncomfortable skin conditions.
It should be made into a balm or lotion with other ingredients before being used for this purpose. A cannabis oil balm can also be used to treat conditions like arthritis and swollen joints.
The Law and Cannabis Treatments
Cannabis was officially outlawed in the USA during 1937, based largely on opinion and flimsy evidence. Now, both laws and views on the subject are changing - and quite rapidly too.
100 years later, 58% of citizens back the legalization of the drug. Younger generations are more supportive than older generations.
At least some states in the USA are taking a less hard line on cannabis use in recent years. This is particularly when it comes to medical, rather than recreational use (which remains very popular).
The federal policy, as it is in most countries around the world, is to treat cannabis and its byproducts as an illegal drug.
This means it is either out of reach for many patients. Or that they would have to resort to black market sources and self-managed treatment. Given that the quality of black market goods may not be as good as that sold legally, it may not be as advisable for these people to try to self-medicate.
Is Using Cannabis Oil for Cancer a Miracle Cure?
Well, the short answer is that we don't know - yet. While lots of research has taken place, cannabis oil for cancer treatments is still a relatively new field. This is mainly because of legal barriers which existed in the past.
These surrounded the use of the drug, which also restricted medical research. Which means we're a long way behind on the level of knowledge we could have had by now.
Cannabis oil for cancer is looking like it could be a really powerful tool in the battle against a terrible disease. But it may need to be used in conjunction with other treatments. Or it may need more refinement before it can be used alone to combat cancer.
We may not know its full potential just yet - but we're very hopeful.
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