More than 60 peer-reviewed studies on medical marijuana were conducted between 1990 and 2014 for conditions ranging from breast cancer to Parkinson’s disease. The vast majority of these studies (68.3%) found marijuana had medicinal benefits, 23.3% were inconclusive, and only 8.3% yielded negative results. In the U.S., 44 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, which means 85% of the country should have access to medicinal cannabis for treating a wide range of debilitating conditions. In reality, the laws governing this vary greatly by state and obtaining medical marijuana is difficult, if not impossible, in many of the 44 states due to the way the laws are written. Moreover, marijuana is still illicit on a federal level and legislation dating back to 1937 needs to be rewritten.
Medical marijuana is available in many different forms – from joints smoked like illicit marijuana – to edibles such as tea, cookies, popcorn, crackers, nut mixes, lollipops, ice cream, gummy bears, chocolate bars, chews, and many other kinds of food. It is also available to vape, in sublingual sprays, transdermal patches, and as a topical ointment. Each method has its own pros and cons so it is important to talk to your physician about what form will work best for your specific medical condition.
What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis oil is a thick, sticky, resinous substance extracted from the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica). Cannabis oil is obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers using a solvent extraction process. Cannabis oil is the most concentrated and potent of the three main cannabis products, the other two being the actual cannabis flower (marijuana) and resin (hashish). Like marijuana, cannabis oil contains two primary ingredients: the high-inducing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and cannabidiol (CBD), the second most active ingredient in marijuana. Typically, oils marketed for medicinal uses contain much less THC than an average joint, however, both THC and CBD are touted for their curative powers. High quality cannabis oil can be used medicinally via several methods: orally, vaporized, as a suppository, or applied topically.
Cannabis Treatment: Breast Cancer
Cannabidiol and its related cousin chemicals, all broadly called cannabinoids, show some benefits for reducing chemotherapy-related pain and other symptoms like vomiting and nausea in patients. Other research has shown cannabinoids can uniquely target and kill cancer cells and anecdotal cases speak to supposedly miraculous recoveries from cancer as a result of using cannabis oil. Unfortunately, some people with cancer have been scammed, taking cannabis oil sold illegally through drug dealers. Research does not show any evidence cannabis oil is a cure, and moreover, cannabis oil sold illicitly on the street is often contaminated with dangerous ingredients and may not even contain any THC or CBD. So the question remains, does cannabis oil have any benefits for breast cancer patients? Here is a look at three potential uses of high quality cannabis oil for breast cancer.
1. A research study showed CBD inhibits a gene called Id-1. Researchers believe Id-1 triggers the metastatic process responsible for spreading cells from the original breast tumor to other parts of the body such as the brain and lungs. “This is the first evidence that a cannabinoid can target the expression of an important breast cancer metastasis gene,”; said Manuel Guzman, a Spanish expert on cannabinoids and cancer. He described the California study as giving “preliminary insight into the question of whether CBD could be used clinically to treat metastatic breast cancer.”; The experiments in this study were conducted in cultured cells, therefore animal model research is the next step to determine if cannabis oil has the potential for treating metastatic breast cancer.
Moreover, Id-1 is just one of many genes involved in breast cancer metastasis, so future research also needs to examine the impact of CBD on other metastasis genes.
2. A California woman received a grim diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer called HER2-positive, already in late stages and metastasized to her lungs. She was toldshe only had 18 months to two years to live. She used three different homemade herbal remedies containing high amounts of CBD. She made the concentrate out of marijuana plants using low enough temperatures to retain the medical benefits of the CBD, while minimizing the psychoactive effects of the THC. The end results were a salve applied topically to her breast, a tincture she drank as a tea in the morning, and a high-potency oil kept in a syringe for measurement purposes, administered through a suppository. The latter allowed the medicine to be absorbed more efficiently. Within five weeks of treatment, a scan showed her lymph nodes were clear and the tumors were basically gone. Her homemade CBD treatment resulted in halting the spread of an especially aggressive form of breast cancer. Although this story is anecdotal, it speaks to the potential of CBD for treating breast cancer.
3. Cannabis is useful in combatting multiple cancer-related symptoms including anorexia, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, and depression. The safety of cannabis is acceptable with generally tolerable and short-lived side effects. Preclinical data suggest cannabinoids are effective in treating and preventing chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Preclinical data indicate cannabinoids may directly impart anti-tumor activity, possibly most notably in central nervous system malignancies. While anecdotal evidence is promising regarding the curative effects of CBD for breast cancer, large-scale clinical studies are needed to test this hypothesis.