Marijuana helps beat cancer, but…
Heidi Huseman, in the late 1980s, scientists made an important discovery about how brain chemistry works.
They discovered a whole network of neural receptors that are directly responsible for controlling most of the body’s major functions, from glucose metabolism to immune function.
This discovery ushered in the 1990s as the “decade of the brain…”
What they didn’t know at the time is that this specific neural system is more like a battle sergeant, rallying your body’s cells and natural processes to shut down invading cancer cells…
Fighting cancer naturally…from within…
Rather than poisoning the whole body, as is the case with conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Now it’s been discovered that, when combined with extracts from marijuana, the well-known recreational drug, this neural “highway” provides a powerful way to defeat cancer.
The use of marijuana — Cannabis sativa — as a cancer therapy is gaining acceptance, but remains controversial – for good reason, in my opinion.
But there’s an ever-growing body of research that shows this ancient plant can’t be written off as “dope.” There are specific hemp compounds that are proving to be potent allies against all types of aggressive cancers—and have no mind-altering effects.
It all starts with extracting cannabinoids, plant phenolic compounds found in the cannabis plant that include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is what gives cannabis its characteristic psychotropic or mind-altering effect.
CBD, on the other hand, is a safe, non-toxic, completely non-psychotropic compound that acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammation agent. It’s been shown to affect cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, and without the unwanted mind-altering side effects of THC.
To understand how it works, you need to first know about the endocannabinoid system…the neural network I mentioned above…and how it interacts with CBD.
The ECS: why marijuana-derived treatments work
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is comprised of a group of cannabinoid receptors — the part of the neuron that accepts information sent across synapses — located in the brains and throughout the bodies of all animals except insects.
The ECS is known as the “master modulator,” responsible for balancing most of your body’s major functions, including immune function, glucose metabolism, and neuronal activity.1
The ECS is extensive and extremely important.
It’s quite literally everywhere in your body—and its integrity is critical to your quality of life…much like a fish and the water it swims in.
Researchers have identified two primary receptors in the ECS:
- Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), found mostly in the brain, hippocampus, and cerebral cortex, as well as the central nervous system.
They’re particularly concentrated in the hippocampus (controls memory), cerebral cortex (higher cognition), hypothalamus (appetite) and the amygdala (emotions).
CB1 receptors, when bound with THC, one of the compounds in marijuana, are responsible for the mind-altering effect.
- Cannabinoid receptors type 2 (CB2) are located primarily in immune system cells, the gastrointestinal tract and the peripheral nervous system.
CB2 receptors are mostly absent from the brain and CNS under normal conditions.
These receptors are only stimulated by cannabinoids, whether they’re produced in the body, organically received from ingesting or inhaling the marijuana plant or from synthetically derived cannabinoids.
Researchers have been experimenting with the most effective way to administer CBD extracts.
When CBD is isolated from the cannabis plant it can be taken orally, at high dosages and for an extended period of time without toxic side effects.
Numerous studies have found CBD to be pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative in different kinds of tumors, which means in plain English that CBD is a likely inhibitor of both cancer growth and spreading.2
Here are just a few examples…
Cannabidiol for treating colon cancer
Because the cannabinoid receptors in your body’s ECS or endocannabinoid system modulate both inflammation in the body and gastrointestinal movement, CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and reduce colon cancer cells.
The Journal of Molecular Medicine published a study in 2012 in which researchers discovered CBD protects DNA from oxidative damage by stimulating the CB receptors and increasing endocannabinoid levels.
This in turn reduced colon cancer cell proliferation, prompting researchers to conclude that CBD is both chemopreventive as well as a possible treatment for colon cancer.3
An in vivo study published in Phytomedicine in 2014 found that a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with a high CBD content reduced tumor cell proliferation without affecting healthy cells.
By activating CB1 and CB2 receptors, the cannabidiol not only slowed the spread of colon cancer, but also reduced pre-cancerous lesions and polyps in the colon, discouraging cancer growth before it even started.4
Cannabidiol and breast cancer
A 2006 study in Italy surveyed five different cannabinoids for their efficacy in treating breast cancer cells.
They found that non-psychoactive CBD was by far the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth without harming healthy cells.5
This study speculated the CBD activated CB2 receptors, which then fought the cancer cells.
But a later study, published in 2011, found that CBD itself went to work directly on breast cancer cells, triggering apoptosis and autophagy (programmed cell death and waste management).6
And most recently, CBD has been found to work even on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a particularly aggressive subtype that has limited options for treatment, and is associated with poor prognosis and low survival rates.
This 2015 study, published in Molecular Oncology, shows that CBD significantly affects the microenvironment inside the tumor cells, inhibiting the growth and metastasis (spreading) of TNBC, as well as reducing the cancer’s ability to spread into the lungs.7
This is incredible and very exciting for the future of treating such stubborn cancers…
But TNBC isn’t the only aggressive cancer cannabidiol can impact.
CBD for treating brain cancers
Due to the proliferation and invasive nature of gliomas (cancer in glial cells in the brain), the prognosis for this kind of cancer is often bleak. But research into the use of CBD for treating gliomas has been encouraging.
For example, in 2007 researchers in Spain treated glioma stem-like cells, a possible origin of these cancers, with CBD.
They found that the cannabidiol activated both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS, which inhibited the stem-like cells from forming full-on gliomas by actually altering the signaling expression inside the cancer cells.8
In further news, a study published in Oncology Reports found that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation-dependent brain tumors by activating the CB receptors that suppress the pathway to cancer-cell growth.9
Should you climb on board the
medical marijuana bandwagon?
Considering that the whole “medical marijuana” cause started largely as a front to get marijuana legalized, the results that have emerged are absolutely incredible. It’s exciting how just one compound from just one plant can have such an array of positive, cancer-fighting effects.
There’s no need to self-medicate by smoking pot. And there is no “high” associated with cannabidiol.
From what I can gather (see Issue #596, for example) most people who are self-treating with medical marijuana are using the whole plant including the mind-altering THC compound, and many are still smoking it the old-fashioned way, which I think is dubious from a health standpoint.
I don’t get the impression that many cancer patients are using the non-intoxicating CBD extract – the compound that appears to be the most effective for actually treating cancer.
But when it comes to cancer, the future most likely lies with CBD and not with whole cannabis. I find it hard to believe that being constantly high on a drug is a healthy alternative, even if the drug does help induce sleep, reduce nausea and increase appetite (important for cancer patients who often suffer from life-threatening loss of weight.)
There are multiple ways to get extracted cannabidiol or CBD from hemp. It’s available as an oil, a tincture, a lozenge, in chocolate bars, and even as topical lotion.
It also appears to be useful for anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and pain — though these other benefits are beyond the scope of this article.
A word of caution — as with all natural supplements and herbs. If you’re interested in taking this route, be sure to do extensive homework about the provider and dosage.
The research is clear:
There is tremendous promise in this new plant-derived treatment for cancer that may have fewer side effects than the current conventional therapy options.
Here’s how I can help you:
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