Can cannabis cure cancer?
Of course, it does! Haven’t you heard the rantings of the cannabis quacks! It is not only the cure for cancer, but THE panacea of all ills!
Well, there is no doubt that there is some therapeutic capacity in this complex 400 plus compound and 100 plus cannabinoid containing plant, but decades of trial and research have yielded only a very few symptoms managing potentials — and they too not without potential negative effects! But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good ‘hope’ generating story… Now that’s not all bad. Hope, not cannabis use maybe the reason why a few people have experienced some relief from use of this plant. It’s interesting to note that perceived benefits on some conditions in some settings, were statistically not better than placebo’s in double blind trials — so hope or ‘faith’ can influence the body as much as a plant compound! Hmmm, but that’s an existential question for another day, not a medical one now.
Just a couple of recent articles…
Eight people’s cancers showed some kind of response to the treatment, and one didn’t respond at all. All the patients died within a year, as might be expected for people with cancer this advanced.
The results from this study show that THC given in this way is safe and doesn’t seem to cause significant side effects. But because this was an early stage trial, without a control group, it’s impossible to say whether THC helped to extend their lives. And while it’s certainly not a cure, the trial results suggest that cannabinoids are worth pursuing in clinical trials.
There is also a published case report of a 14-year old girl from Canada who was treated with cannabis extracts (also referred to as “hemp oil”), but there is limited information that can be obtained from a single case treated with a varied mixture of cannabinoids. More published examples with detailed data are needed in order to draw a fuller picture of what’s going on. [Updated 26/03/14, KA]
Unverified anecdotes about ‘cures’ do little to help progress towards more effective treatments for patients on a wider scale — even if they do get published in newspapers, they aren’t strong scientific evidence. In order to build a solid evidence base that might support future applications for funding or clinical trials it’s important to gather together detailed information about individual cases. Cannabis Cancer Cure?
Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)—Health Professional Version (NIH — Cancer Institute)
Overview: This cancer information summary provides an overview of the use of Cannabis and its components as a treatment for people with cancer-related symptoms caused by the disease itself or its treatment.
This summary contains the following key information:
- Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
- By federal law, the possession of Cannabis is illegal in the United States, except within approved research settings; however, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize its medical use.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Cannabisas a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
- Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.
- Commercially available cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone, are approved drugs for the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
- Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
Many of the medical and scientific terms used in this summary are hypertext linked (at first use in each section) to the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms, which is oriented toward nonexperts. When a linked term is clicked, a definition will appear in a separate window.
Reference citations in some PDQ cancer information summaries may include links to external websites that are operated by individuals or organizations for the purpose of marketing or advocating the use of specific treatments or products. These reference citations are included for informational purposes only. Their inclusion should not be viewed as an endorsement of the content of the websites, or of any treatment or product, by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board or the National Cancer Institute. Cannabis Cancer Cure?
Let’s start by asking what the medical efficacy might be. Contrary to what most people believe, medical uses of cannabis have been widely studied. A 2017 review by the National Academy of Science looked at over 10,000 studies. They found evidence for some applications of cannabis, including managing chronic pain and spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. There was also good evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, can reduce the nausea caused by chemotherapy. Indeed, a synthetic form of THC, called dronabinol, has been prescribed for just this use for decades.
Medicinal cannabis should not be used ahead of approved drugs — German review:
The increasing number of German doctors prescribing cannabis is being fuelled in part by “hype,” concludes a review that contends that in most cases “tried and tested” drugs are better options.
The review says that research into the use of cannabis for medical treatment has been limited, in comparison with the intensive research process before traditional drugs receive regulatory approval. What limited research there is does not support the claims made by proponents medicinal cannabis, it says.
“Cannabis is not a miracle drug,” said the study coauthor Gerd Glaeske, an expert in healthcare economics and policy at the University of Bremen.
The 90 page cannabis report was commissioned by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK),1 one of Germany’s largest public sector health insurers Cannabis Cure Cancer?