Cannabis is quickly receiving recognition for its strong healing benefits across the globe. It has come a long way from being controversial to become one of the front runners of natural medicinal drugs.
The two most powerful cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, namely THC and CBD, is the reason behind the many health benefits. These cannabinoids interact with the body to support homeostasis that helps to eliminate a variety of ailments, including autoimmune diseases.
Many studies try to understand the potency of cannabis to treat ailments, and some interesting ones try to understand the effects of cannabis on cancer. The treatment choices for cancer have evolved significantly in the past years with the advancement of technology.
Several cases of cancer are curable today through means such as surgery, chemotherapy, and other medications. But the search to discover an efficient, safe, and non-surgical treatment for the ailment has always been of interest, and today cannabis-based treatment gives hope to be a promising possibility.
Does this mean cannabis oil can kill cancer cells? Well, let us explore this in detail.
Cell division is a normal process for every healthy cell in our body. Apoptosis or programmed cell destruction is also a natural process in all living beings. It provides a mechanism where cells in the body self-destruct when they are damaged or wear out to eliminate old cells and support the regeneration of new cells.
In the case of cancer, the cells of the body ‘forget’ their original function so they stop responding to instructions from the body and start growing abnormally and multiplying on their own. These cells crowd the normal cells and hinder the normal functioning of the body.
These are known as cancer cells, which are extremely harmful to the body. They can develop in any part of the body or organs such as in the lungs, liver, and stomach. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body, and the condition is called metastasis.
The Endocannabinoid System
The part of our body that regulates and modulates cell growth and death is called the endocannabinoid system. This system has receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, located in the central and peripheral nervous system and the immune system.
These receptors receive a command to regulate cell generation or destruction when they interact with endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These receptors can inhibit the growth and metastasis of cancer cells and are, in fact, the target receptors for CBD.
Can Cannabis Treat Cancer?
Today cannabis is available in many modes of consumption, like Cannabis concentrates, vaping, tinctures, oils, edibles, making it an easy and accessible medication for treatment. So how do the components of cannabis work to destroy cancer cells?
To understand how cannabis aids in treating cancer, we need to develop an understanding of how several drugs interact with our bodies. Most drugs merely strengthen your natural immune system to fight against the disease instead of directly interacting with the microbe and destroying it. Hence the medicine does not save you but merely enhances and supports the body’s natural defense.
The cannabinoids of the cannabis work together to enhance the functioning of the endocannabinoid system that regulates cell division and elimination. THC substitutes the endocannabinoids at the CB receptors located in the brain and other parts of the nervous system, whereas CBD interacts with a spectrum of other receptors, including GPR55, serotonin, and vanilloid.
Working in unison to enhance the natural functioning of the immune system raises the natural defense against foreign bodies and irregularities within the system. By restoring balance to a critical system of the body that is associated with the development of cancer, the cannabinoids of cannabis can aid in treating the disease.
Cannabis Can Make Existing Treatment Better
The endocannabinoid system regulates a variety of body functions like mood, appetite, pain, energy levels, and several more. CBD binds with CB2 receptors in the immune system to provide a boost to appetite, reduce nausea, and regulate energy levels while controlling pain and improving overall mood.
These benefits have been the basis for many studies that revolve around understanding if cannabis can support any existing treatments through its incredible properties.
CBD has shown positive results to treat nausea, vomiting, and anorexia along with other benefits like reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which are common side effects of chemotherapy. These effects have helped users to go through certainly better treatment and recovery periods.
In CBD-legalized countries including Canada and select U.S. States, synthetic CBDs like dronabinol have received conditional approvals for dealing with symptoms from chemotherapy, although there is no proof to support it to be superior to conventional symptom medications.
But of course, CBD carries the advantage of minimal side effects compared to any other medications, which indicate that with more clinical studies cannabis might enter cancer treatment very soon.
What To Remember?
One of the biggest concerns of doctors with cannabis is the quality control regulations for products used for medicinal applications. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never regulated cannabis containing products except for Epidiolex (used for treatment for epilepsy), the entire question of quality control is moot.
Currently, it is difficult to know the actual content of THC and CBD inside products. There are several chances of contamination such as from the growth environment, or during extraction due to human error like mishandling samples.
Better regulations to control the quality of Premium quality sativa strains of 2020 on a large scale can make the plant an accessible and efficient treatment method.
CBD is known for not having side effects, and this is one of the reasons why patients do not report its usage to their doctors.
But CBD can affect the ability of our body to make use of conventionally prescribed drugs, making the situations worse, especially if the patient is actively undergoing chemotherapy. It is important to disclose the usage of CBD, be it in any form, to your doctor.
All research points to the fact that cannabis is a possible candidate for dealing with cancer. There are several studies underway to understand the efficiency of using cannabis for treatment. However, there’s a long way to go before we can receive conclusive evidence to make this plant a mainstream treatment option for the ailment.