Knowledge of the medical benefits of marijuana as an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and general pain reliever has been spreading across the country and the world as more research continues to surface. However, its medicinal ability to reduce tumors has many excited and for good reason. There is an abundant amount of research that has been conducted in recent times that has shown that marijuana has a multitude of ways it can save lives. Its ability to reduce the size of tumors is definitely one of those ways. In fact, marijuana has been found to reduce the size of the most aggressive brain tumors.
Testing Specific Cannabinoids
In 2014, a study conducted by Katherine A. Scott, Angus G. Dalgleish and Wai Liu at St. George’s University of London investigated the effects of 2 of the cannabinoids found in marijuana: THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling of euphoria whereas CBD does not produce a high but is known to be a relaxant that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. When doses of these 2 cannabinoids were given to mice infected with glioma, the tumors were halved in size. When the cannabinoid treatment was administered alongside radiotherapy, the tumors stopped growing. Some of them were reduced to 1/10 of their size.
A Significant Breakthrough for Glioma
This is not the first time marijuana has been found to be effective in reducing the size of tumors. This is, however, the first time the cannabis treatment was used in conjunction with radiotherapy and the results were both enlightening and encouraging. While much more research is needed and human tests are necessary, the ability to make a dent towards a treatment for such an aggressive and lethal cancer is a big deal. Glioma is a very aggressive form of cancer and survival rates are approximately 5 percent over a 3 year period. The symptoms include nausea, headaches, vision changes, altered behavior and personality changes.
How THC and CBD Are Affecting Glioma
One of the main questions being contemplated is how THC and CBD are able to garner these results. The researchers hypothesize that the compounds may be preparing the neural pathways for radiotherapy treatment. “We think that the cannabinoids are hitting a number of cell signaling pathways which primes them to the effects of irradiation,” says Liu. The study says; “Taken together, our data highlight the possibility that these cannabinoids can prime glioma cells to respond better to ionizing radiation, and suggest a potential clinical benefit for glioma patients by using these 2 treatment modalities.” Much more research is needed in order to truly understand the full scope of how these cannabinoids impact glioma.
THC Appears to Have a Great Effect on Cancer Than CBD
Marijuana’s ability to treat cancer and stop the spread of HIV is one that is embraced in all 29 states and Washington D.C. where the plant has been legalized for medical purposes. There seems to be multiple ways that the plant helps. Both THC and CBD have been found to be very effective in treating cancer although THC seems to have the strongest cancer fighting properties with its ability to reduce tumors. However, the effects of the THC are strengthened by adding CBD to the treatment and low doses are considered just as effective as a higher dose.
How Cannabis Promotes Apoptosis
Marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment for cancer due to its ability to encourage cell death. In a normal healthy person, when a cell becomes aged or damaged, it goes through a kind of programmed cell death. Unfortunately however, cancer cells do not undergo this process which is known as apoptosis. Rather, the cancer cells will just continue to grow and spread. Studies have found that marijuana supports apoptosis by cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct on their own. On top of this, it has been found to protect the other cells from developing cancer. Marijuana stops the growth of malignant cells, called proliferation, and encourages those cells to die. This has been documented to be particularly helpful in treating cancer in the lungs, pancreas, uterus, testes and breast tissue.
Preventing the Spread of Cancer
It also stops cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Metastasis is what happens when a person starts with breast cancer and ends up with cancer in the lungs or other parts of the body due to it spreading to other locations. Marijuana research conducted at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville found that marijuana was able to prevent cancer from spreading in the body to healthy tissue. It is also able to cut off the supply of nutrients to existing cancer cells which ultimately kills them. Tumors need to feed and this process is known as angiogenesis. They generally steal oxygens and nutrients from healthy parts of the body and this is how they grow. Marijuana is known to cut off the supply of food to tumors by stopping the development of new blood cells to tumor cells.
Activating the Healing Properties of the Endocannabinoid System
All in all, this research shows that marijuana has a powerful effect on cancer. An aspect of this may be caused by marijuana’s effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors found all through the body and its organs. The ECS moderates homeostasis in the body, affecting cognitive thought, metabolism, mood, appetite, sleep and maintaining the overall health of our cells. The cannabinoids in marijuana trigger the CB1 and CB2 receptors to restore health. Israeli researchers found that “changes in endocannabinoid levels and/or CB2receptor expressions have been reported in almost all diseases affecting humans, ranging from cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, neurodegenerative, psychiatric, bone, skin, auto-immune, lung disorders to pain and cancer, and modulating CB2 receptor activity holds tremendous therapeutic potential in these pathologies.”
Marijuana’s ability to restore balance to these receptors is intricately linked to its ability to treat many conditions. Much more research is needed if we are to have a proper understanding of exactly how the effects of marijuana can help to reduce tumors but for now we are moving in the right direction.