For nearly a century, cannabis has been demonized as a gateway drug. Granted, some of its side effects might include impairing certain cognitive skills, but there are also many positives to the plant. We are noticing this because of the recent legalization of this plant in many U.S. states. In addition, a quiet, but stunning acknowledgment has come from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that cannabis destroys cancer cells without harming normal cells.
If you are unfamiliar with cannabis, MedicineNet defines cannabis as a plant that derives from the family of plants which includes hemp. They add that cannabis can either be smoked or eaten and it can produce a mild sense of euphoria. In regards to how the NIC came to this acknowledgment, they explain on their website that studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids could inhibit tumor growth. One of the best ways to inhibit tumor growth is to destroy the cancer cells, and they are claiming that cannabinoids can do that. They also claim that cannabinoids can block cell growth as well as the development of blood vessels that tumors need to grow.
Now let’s talk about the studies that back up their claims. As I mentioned, they were doing studies on mice and rats; and one of the studies they did on mice was to test how cannabinoids would do against colon cancer. The study showed that cannabinoids could protect against inflammation of the colon, which in essence, could potentially reduce the risk of colon cancer, or even help destroy the cancer cells during treatment.
Another study was conducted of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells. The study showed delta-9-THC actually damaged or killed cancer cells. The same delta-9-THC study on mice suffering from liver cancer showed that it contained antitumor effects. Granted, these are just small studies that have been conducted, but it is something that we should keep a close eye on.
Sticking with the studies, a recently published study in the International Journal of Oncology, set out to explore the association between cannabinoids and fighting leukemia cells. The study also looked at the potential use of cannabinoids in conjunction with existing chemotherapy drugs cytarabine and vincristine. Leading the team of researchers was Dr. Wai Liu at St George’s, University of London in the United Kingdom, the Medical News reported.
To get their results, they tested various combinations of cannabinoids and chemotherapy drugs in order to find the most successful groupings. They also wanted to find out if there was a certain order that each of the drugs needed to be delivered in order to be fully effective. The team found that cannabidiol and THC, when used alone, killed leukemia cells. What they also found out was that an initial dose of chemotherapy, followed by cannabinoids, actually improved cell outcomes against leukemia cells. These findings are published in the International Journal of Oncology. However, researchers emphasized that the increased potency of both drugs was only possible when cannabinoids were given after chemotherapy.
In conclusion to their findings, Dr. Liu says that the results are extremely promising, but they have a long way to go, the Medical News Today reported. He also told them “We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment. Cannabinoids are a very exciting prospect in oncology.” I agree with Dr. Liu, although there is significant evidence from small sample studies, there is still a lot more research to be done before we can confidently say cannabinoids are a viable cancer killing option.