Guide to Treating Cancer with Cannabis
Cancer has affected the lives of millions of Canadians. It’s a scary experience to be diagnosed with cancer, whether it’s you or a loved one. The first few days and weeks following diagnoses are overwhelming. In many ways, cannabis can help. Cannabis has been used for its health benefits for centuries but only now is research finally beginning to catch up and provide us with the evidence of its effectiveness. Here we will discuss treating cancer with cannabis. Not only in terms of symptom relief and managing the side effects of treatment – like chemotherapy; but what the research says about cannabis and cancer prevention as well as how CBD can shrink tumour growth.
What is cancer?
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working. Old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue, called a tumour.
Preliminary research suggests that cannabis impacts the process of cell growth and cell death. Therefore, has the potential to prevent or slow down the growth of abnormal cells and potentially influence the death of these cells.
Research on Cannabis and Cancer
New research suggests that not only does cannabis have the potential to prevent and decrease the growth of cancer cells but may encourage cell death which leads to tumours shrinking.
- One study in mice and rats suggested that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumours. During this 2-year study, groups of mice and rats were given various doses of THC. A dose-related decrease in the incidence of tumours was observed in the mice. Decreased incidences of benign tumours in other organs were also noted. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumour cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.
- A study of the effect of CBD on programmed cell death in breast cancer cells found that CBD induced programmed cell death.
- CBD has also demonstrated to reduce the risk of or delay the development or recurrence of, cancer in a mouse model of colon cancer.
- CBD may also enhance the uptake of cytotoxic drugs into malignant cells which could help people overcome resistance to the chemotherapy agent.
According to research by Yale Cancer Center, a majority of pediatric cancer providers now endorse the use of medical cannabis for children with advanced cancer.
Of course, more research is necessary to more thoroughly understand the effects of cannabinoids on cancer cell growth.
Cannabis to Relieve Symptoms and Side Effects
Regardless of whether or not you believe cannabis can directly impact cancerous tumours, despite the continued emerging research support, cannabis is effective in helping people cope with the symptoms and side effects.
Not only can cannabis elevate a person’s mood, which can be critical during tough times but it can help manage many other symptoms.
Cannabis and Chemotherapy: What the research says
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine for the first time demonstrated the efficacy of THC for nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see a cancer patient who has nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain, depression, and insomnia,” Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco, General Hospital told Newsweek for a 2013 article headlined Marijuana Is a Wonder Drug When It Comes to the Horrors of Chemo. “Cannabis is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”
How to Use Cannabis for Cancer
There are many different methods of consumption and each has benefits. When determining which is the best, take into consideration the symptoms as well as how quickly you’d like relief. It can be helpful to incorporate different consumption methods into your daily routine to receive the most benefits.
Cannabis consumption methods
- Premade edibles can be purchased, like chocolates, or you can make your own with Miss Envy’s edible products (THC olive oil as well as CBD and THC coconut oil).
- Edibles have a lasting impact and can have a positive influence on your body, like with pain management. They take longer to take effect as they’re absorbed through the stomach. Typically 45-90 minutes.
- Vaping provides quick relief and with convenient vape pens you don’t have to worry about rolling a joint.
- Oils, like tinctures, are taken sublingually (under the tongue). They take effect faster than edibles and are easy and discrete to dose.
- Miss Envy offers a line of tinctures to suit your needs from high THC and high CBD alone to various concentrations of each.
- Topicals are applied directly to the site of pain or inflammation and are absorbed directly into the skin. Even with a THC topical product, you will not experience the psychoactive effects. Topicals are perfect for muscle or joint pain.
- Capsules are typically CBD only. One advantage is they’re pre-dosed and easy to take, but they do not take effect right away as is with edibles.
Treating Cancer Symptoms: THC or CBD?
For pain, you’re likely to want continued maintenance, particularly if the pain is chronic and ongoing. It’s recommended to use both THC and CBD together to get the benefits of both working together (the entourage effect). Those who are worried about the psychoactive effects of THC often choose to start their day with 3:1 CBD/THC tincture or CBD alone (tincture or capsule) then add THC into their routine later in the day. Adding cannabis into your breakfast routine can also be a great way to start the day as edible provide long-lasting effects.
For nausea, you’re likely to want immediate relief. So we suggest adding a CBD vape into your routine for when nausea increases.
For appetite, a high THC concentration is recommended. If you’re worried about the psychoactive effects we recommend starting with a low dose. You may also want to consider a 1:1 THC/CBD tincture first. This tincture still has a high concentration of THC but the CBD helps to decrease the psychoactive effects.
How to Effectively Dose
When it comes to finding the appropriate dose, we always recommend starting low and increasing slowly to find the best dose for you.
Best Strains for Cancer
Many people who have or had cancer have used cannabis to treat their symptoms. Leafly has a great article on strains recommended directly from cancer survivors.
“The first strain [Ingrid]I tried for chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite. After first use I went from nearly heaving at the thought of any food to craving – and eating – Mexican food (peppers and all).” –gobby
Marijuana Break provides an in-depth look at what they consider to be the Best 5 Strains for Cancer.