5 Ways Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells
Cannabis is a controversial plant. Also known as marijuana, it is used both recreationally and medically. Recent studies are discovering the undeniable therapeutic effects of cannabis on the human body. This is because we have an endocannabinoid system with receptors for cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis. Cannabis is increasingly gaining ground when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. Here are 5 ways cannabis kills cancer cells.
CBD And Cancer
Along with THC, CBD or cannabidiol, is a key constituent of the cannabis plant, and one that has been extensively researched. It is now widely available, is non psychoactive, and is beneficial for anxiety, inflammation, pain, and nausea. Cannabinoids are so effective because they imitate compounds that are endogenously made; including anandamide and 2AG. Anandamide is responsible for the “runner’s high” many of us have experienced.
These compounds promote homeostasis or balance in the body, and promote cell-to-cell communication. Symptoms arise when the endocannabinoid system is not functioning efficiently. This is where cannabis is showing so much promise because the cannabinoids contained within the plant mimic the compounds that are naturally made in the body.
In fact, there is a name for inadequate cannabinoid production. It’s called endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome. This syndrome presents when the body doesn’t make enough endocannabinoids or enough receptors for them to attach to. Immune dysfunction, inflammation, IBS, migraines, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia are all red flags that the endocannabinoid system may not be functioning properly.
THC And Cancer
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid with psychoactive properties that has prevented cannabis from being legalized in some states. It binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system, producing feelings of euphoria. Many cannabis users abuse the intoxicating properties in THC, making it difficult to obtain for people who want to use cannabis medically.
This is particularly unfortunate in children with epilepsy and other neurological conditions who so desperately need the therapeutic properties of cannabis. These patients respond favorably to strains of cannabis high in CBD, yet low in THC. These kids are not getting high from using cannabis.
There is a phenomenon called the “entourage effect” that is the result of over a hundred natural compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes, working synergistically together to produce a positive effect. That’s why CBD works better when combined with THC. Significantly, the entourage effect enhances the therapeutic properties of each of these compounds, while minimizing the psychoactive effects.
Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, isolated THC in 1964. This event heralded the beginning of cannabis research, and the discovery of over 100 other cannabinoids.
CB1 And CB2 Receptors
The compounds in cannabis exert their effects by attaching to receptors. Kind of how a key fits in a lock. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. There will likely be more receptors discovered in the future. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain, white blood cells, the reproductive system, endocrine glands, and gastrointestinal tract.
CB1 receptors influence processes such as motor control, memory, and pain regulation. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system, white blood cells, and the peripheral nervous system. These receptors are likely responsible for the notable anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis.
Interestingly, both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, with a greater number of receptors in the latter. Cannabinoids regulate cytokine release, an essential function of the immune system. CB1 receptors produce psychoactive effects when stimulated, however, this is not seen in CB2 receptor activation, making these receptors particularly promising for their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory potential.
1. Cannabis And Apoptosis
Apoptosis is programmed cell death, a protective mechanism in the body to destroy rogue cells, including cancer. Cannabinoids accelerate this process without harming normal cells. This is critically important when it comes to brain cancer because of the impermeability of the blood-brain barrier.
The purpose of this barrier is to protect the brain from outside influences. Of particular importance is the ability of cannabinoids to pass through this protective barrier due to their lipotrophic properties.
Because they are lipid compounds, cannabinoids can gain entry into the brain, where they can directly target cancer cells. They can also pass through the cell membranes of cancerous cells, instructing them to commit suicide.
2. Cannabis Is Anti Tumor
Cannabis has shown to have anti-tumor effects by inhibiting tumor growth. Both cannabinoids and costly pharmaceutical drugs impact similar pathways in the body. However, cannabis, unlike prescription drugs, won’t add to the toxic load.
Aside from its apoptotic and anti-tumor properties, cannabis is an amazing anti-inflammatory and analgesic as well. Cannabis is highly beneficial for symptoms associated with chemotherapy, like pain, nausea, vomiting, and refractory cancer pain.
These side effects are particularly miserable on a ravaged body and damaged immune system. THC and CBD may offer more significant relief to cancer patients than opioids, and without the negative side effects and propensity for addiction.
3. Metastasis And Cannabis
Metastasis is a terrifying word because it means cancer has spread from where it originated. Cannabinoids are anti-metastatic, preventing cancer cells from spreading to other organs and tissues. This is why someone with breast cancer may eventually die of metastatic bone, brain or lung cancer.
The fact that cannabis is anti-metastatic is revolutionary because it could potentially halt the progression of many types of aggressive cancers.
Cannabis prevents metastasis by turning off the ID-1 gene that enables cancer to spread. It would stand to reason that aggressive cancers, such as brain and prostate cancer that present with high levels of ID-1, would respond favorably to treatment with cannabis.
4. Cannabis Has Anti Proliferative Properties
Compounds in cannabis prevent cancer cells from reproducing. Reproduction is what makes cancer so deadly. If cancer cells can no longer reproduce, it’s possible to contain the cancer. Dividing, growing, and spreading is what cancer cells do best. Stopping this process is paramount to halting the disease.
On the other hand, when this process continues unabated, mortality rates skyrocket, with the patient most likely succumbing to the pathology. Ki-67 is a cancer antigen found in dividing cells, but is not present in cells that are in a resting state.
It is therefore useful as an index of cell proliferation, differentiation, and growth, and is used to classify tumors and track disease progression. This marker can be monitored while using cannabis.
5. Angiogenesis and Cannabis
Chemical signals within a tumor stimulate its growth by forming new blood vessels. This formation of new blood vessels is called angiogenesis, and is one mechanism whereby cancer spreads. Cannabis prevents angiogenesis from occurring, stopping tumor growth by cutting off the blood and oxygen supply.
Tumors can’t survive when they no longer receive these vital nutrients that have enabled their growth. Angiogenesis is a normal aspect of human physiology that promotes growth and healing in healthy tissues, but is unfortunately instrumental in the progression of certain diseases, including cancer.
The cannabinoids THC and CBD are both anti-angiogenic, although their mechanisms vary. Since cannabis is considered a low-risk drug, there are no side effects, unlike angiogenesis inhibitors that cause a plethora of side effects.
Pain Relief And Cannabis
Cannabis is widely used for pain management. Each person may react differently in how their body responds to cannabis. It is used to reduce inflammation, alleviate headaches, calm neuropathic pain, and decrease muscle soreness. Cannabinoids act as mild sedatives to promote restful sleep and relax the nervous system, and are becoming increasingly popular to treat post-injury syndrome and following surgery.
Used in conjunction with conventional cancer therapies, cannabinoids are beneficial in mitigating the horrific side effects of chemotherapy. Cannabis improves quality of life, and decreases the anxiety so prevalent in ill people.
In tincture form, cannabis is highly impactful for treating chronic pain, and these effects can last up to eight hours. It can be ingested in a variety of forms, such as capsules, liquids, and edibles or be vaporized or applied topically. These various delivery methods allow treatment with cannabis to be layered throughout the day, resulting in optimal pain management.
Here’s an amazing book called “The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm For Wellness” that is a call to action to radically change our relationship with cannabis, which is both controversial and beneficial.
Obtaining medical marijuana will depend on your state’s laws. CBD, however, is legal in all states and can be purchased online. CBDPure is a reputable company and one that I endorse. You can purchase it here.
If you need topical pain relief, here is a potent, fast-acting hemp balm.
The high potential for benefit juxtaposed against cannabis’ low-risk profile, makes cannabis a popular player in the alternative cancer community. It’s certainly a viable option that can be used alongside conventional cancer treatments.
Cannabis treats cancer by various mechanisms. It is anti-tumor, prevents metastasis and angiogenesis, and induces apoptosis, all processes which allow cancer to thrive. If you or someone you know has cancer, please consider medical cannabis as part of the treatment plan.
How do you feel about using cannabis for cancer prevention and treatment? Please share your insights and experiences below.