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Know Your Cancer

Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids

Medical Cannabis or medical marijuana is a plant either in a raw or dried form or an extract or preparation made from Cannabis Sativa, or Cannabis Indica for medical use prescribed by physicians for their patients. Cannabinoids are found naturally in Cannabis.

Cannabis is made of three major compounds that include THC, CBD, and CBN. The Cannabis plant has been used for centuries around the world.

How does Medical Cannabis work?

Medical Cannabis helps in relieving pain, reduces nausea, and Vomiting sensation for chemo-induced patients. Medical Cannabis also decreases the number of seizures in rare forms of epilepsy.

Studies in laboratories done on animal models suggest that Cannabinoids can kill cancer cells. The study indicates that patients who consume medicated Cannabis experience lesser Nausea compared to those on antiemetics or placebo. They might face some side effects such as feeling high and a certain amount of dizziness.

Role of Medical Cannabis in treating cancer:

Working against the growth of cancer or preventing its spread improves the chances of survival with the help of treatments and therapies to improve the anticancer action. As per current research, there is no evidence that medical Cannabis is the cure for cancer. Whereas, BCCT prefers to undertake medical Cannabis over other conventional treatments.

Details of the evidence found in labs and from animal research:

Cannabinoids like CBD and others have exhibited anticancer properties. Here are the details:

  • Cannabinoids have reduced breast tumor growth and promoted the death of cancer-producing cells and reduced the levels of metastasis and angiogenesis (blood vessel growth to supply tumors) in animal studies.
  • Animal research on rats has shown that Cannabinoids have inhibited the growth and lead to the death of thyroid cells.
  • The IL-1 _р? secretion and metastasis have drastically reduced in Ovarian Cancer cells.
  • The precursor of CBD, which is CBDA, has inhibited the migration of cancer cells.
  • An anti-evasive action was observed on the Lung Cancer cells (CBD)

Many results show a positive impact of using medical Cannabis whereas there is a contradiction found in other studies. For example, in 2013, breast, prostate, glioma, lymphoma, and Pancreatic Cancer cell studies showed a positive efficacy. Whereas in 2018, studies have shown that there is insufficient evidence to prove that medical Cannabis can cure cancer. Thereby, further research is needed for any such conclusions to be drawn to conclude the anticancer role of Cannabinoids.

Purported uses of medicated cannabis:

  • Pain: Clinical studies show that a patient can relieve the Pain associated with neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis by consuming Cannabis.
  • Glaucoma: According to the current studies, it is not recommended to consume Cannabis for glaucoma as it can be harmful.
  • Spasticity: Cannabinoids have reduced spasticity in patients.
  • Sleep: There is currently no evidence to prove that Cannabis is helpful for sleep disorders.
  • Appetite Stimulant: There is currently no evidence to prove that Cannabis is helpful for an appetite stimulant.
  • Cancer treatment: Studies have shown that Cannabis is not the cure for cancer, but it can certainly reduce the Pain associated with it.
  • Epilepsy: The consumption of CBD reduces the number of seizures a patient faces.
  • Use with children: Only a few studies have been carried out with the use of medical Cannabis and Cannabinoid in adolescents and children.

Side effects:

  • Patients may suffer from certain short term side effects due to cannabinoids, namely dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, sleepiness, euphoria, vomiting, among a few others.
  • Risk of addiction
  • Cases of chronic bronchitis have been recorded in patients who consume Cannabis regularly.
  • Long term use of Cannabis can be harmful to the development of the brain.
  • Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) has been recorded in patients for frequent consumption of Cannabis.
  • Withdrawal syndrome (such as anxiety, craving, cases of irritability), after stopping the consumption of Cannabis can be seen.
  • Inhalation of Cannabis in certain cases may cause heart attack, strokes, disease of heart muscles, sudden cardiac death, and so on.

Clinical evidence:

There is no clear cut evidence, but as per a review in 2018, the consumption of Cannabinoids and Cannabis have reported no significant difference in improving appetite, sleep, nausea/ vomitings in cancer patients. In contrast, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have stated positive outcomes of consuming Cannabis. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, there is not a sufficient amount of evidence to prove that recommending medical Cannabis as a treatment for any psychiatric disorder would be fruitful.


Cannabis can lead to physical or psychological dependence in people; hence caution and medical supervision are advised. There are some cases where cancer-promoting activities have been found in breast, bronchial, hepatoma, and lung cell lines in some studies.

Avoid the consumption of medical Cannabis under these conditions:

  • If the patient is suffering from kidney failures, psychiatric illness, or cardiovascular injuries.
  • If you are taking sedatives or hypnotics as further intake of Cannabis can increase sedation
  • If you are taking warfarin as it can increase the levels of INR and result in excessive bleeding.
  • If you are consuming clobazam as it increases the levels of epilepsy in children

Access to medical cannabis:

Access to medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids are restricted in most locations. Both the patient and the prescribed individual are subjected to legal sanctions in some locations. In the United States, 30 states have legalized the consumption of medicated cannabis, including the District of Columbia.

Dependence and addiction:

According to the research carried out by WHO, CBD does not show any indications for addiction and dependence in humans.

Psychological dependence occurs when a person cannot stop the consumption willingly by himself. Withdrawal symptoms may include signs of irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, migraine, restlessness, and so on.

Take advice from your healthcare provider to understand how to consume cannabis, its side effects, how long it must be taken, and any other queries you may have.