Cancer continues to be one of the deadliest diseases in America. In fact, it affects nearly one-third of the population. Quite frankly, that’s a number you can’t look away from. Not only is cancer a grueling and tiring experience, the side-effects of treatment, like chemotherapy, can leave patients so unbearably weak they lose their quality of life. This reality has led many cancer researchers to consider alternate paths to recovery. And with the rise of medical marijuana, many are wondering, does smoking weed cure cancer?
THC VS. CBD
THC and CBD are the biologically active components derived from marijuana. They are known as cannabinoids. Though they come from the same place, THC and CBD are very different. THC helps with pain and inflammation. It is also the active component in marijuana that gives users the sensation of being high. CBD, on the other hand, does not have a psychoactive property and is mainly used to treat anxiety, paranoia, and seizures.
DOES MARIJUANA PREVENT CANCER?
LIMITATIONS OF RESEARCH
Presently, marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the DEA. This means that the drug is classified as having a “high potential for abuse.” This also means that the drug is not accepted as having and medical value whatsoever. Because of this classification, medical professionals are limited in the amount of research they can conduct. In order to truly know whether or not weed cures or prevents cancer, there would need to be large-scale clinical trials with control groups. And because this is not a possibility, researchers are limited to preclinical studies on animals and lab-controlled cell experiments.
HOW WEED DOES HELP CANCER
WHAT CAN BE PROVEN
There is substantial literature to support that marijuana eases the side-effects of chemotherapy. Though little research has been done to study cures or prevention, there is evidence that marijuana alleviates the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, which are very common during chemo. And in more recent lab studies, weed has successfully demonstrated apoptosis or programmed death of cancer cells. Marijuana has also been shown to halt angiogenesis, which is blood vessel growth to tumors. Generally speaking, the little research that has been conducted shows promise. The next and biggest obstacle would be for the federal government to lift the ban on marijuana in order to expand research capabilities into clinical trials.
THE SIDE EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA
As with any controlled substance, there will be side effects. This is especially true of marijuana, which comes in several forms and can be taken a number of ways. THC and CBD levels vary from strain to strain, and it is nearly impossible to know those levels before taking the drug. When taken by mouth, marijuana takes longer to absorb. When it finally is absorbed, the liver produces a second psychoactive compound that mixes with the THC. Together these reactions cause a longer high, more often associated with anxiety and paranoia. Conversely, when weed is smoked, the second psychoactive compound is much less strong, allowing the high to wear off faster.
SUCCESS STORIES AND HOPE
Spend five minutes on the Web and you’re likely to find a “success story” of someone curing their cancer with weed. While this is a lovely idea, it is highly unlikely. Medical professionals caution against believing that marijuana was the sole cure for anyone’s cancer. Instead, they point to the drug as an aid in the process. It is incredibly important to remember that as long as there is no cure for cancer, conventional therapies, like chemo, are still necessary. Marijuana is a great relief along the way, but it is not the answer just yet.
Check out our blog for more advice and practical knowledge about medical marijuana.