There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence floating online from people claiming they have been cured of cancer by using cannabis. Scientific research performed on animals has shown that CBD can shrink tumors and stop them from spreading.
For example, a research paper from 2011 showed that the stimulation of cannabinoid receptors through a mix of cannabinoids and fatty acids could potentially relieve prostate tumors. Another study published in Plus One highlighted CBD’s anti-cancer properties to trigger a process of apoptosis — the death of cancerous cells — preventing tumor growth by reducing the number of certain proteins that are involved in the spread of malignant cells.
The researchers concluded that they would recommend CBD as an anti-cancer agent due to its safety and lack of life-threatening side effects.
How can marijuana affect symptoms of cancer?
A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.
A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).
Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.
There are no studies in people of the effects of marijuana oil or hemp oil.
Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.
There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.
How can cannabinoid drugs affect symptoms of cancer?
Based on a number of studies, dronabinol can be helpful for reducing nausea and vomiting linked to chemotherapy.
Dronabinol has also been found to help improve food intake and prevent weight loss in patients with HIV. In studies of cancer patients, though, it wasn’t better than placebo or another drug (megestrol acetate).
Nabiximols has shown promise for helping people with cancer pain that’s unrelieved by strong pain medicines, but it hasn’t been found to be helpful in every study done. Research is still being done on this drug.