Is Cannabis (Marijuana) the cure for Cancer we’ve all been Waiting for?

Will they be included in our must-drinks in the future ?(photo credit from http://thinkprogress.org/)

After years of extensive study and collaboration, a pair of scientists from California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana (cannabis) could stop the metastasis of many types of aggressive cancer.

Looks like the clamor  to legalize the use of marijuana for medical practice  has a valid basis after all. Currently, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 14 states only Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Medical marijuana is recommended for many conditions and diseases, frequently those that are chronic. It is also used to ease pain and improve quality of life for people who are terminally ill.

Marijuana contains cannabinoids, the most famous of them is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what causes people to feel “high” is also the same substance that gives cannabis some of its medicinal properties. THC has mild to moderate analgesic effects, and cannabis can be used to treat pain by altering transmitter release on dorsal root ganglion of the spinal cord and in the periaqueductal gray.  Other positive effects of THC include relaxation, appetite stimulation, alteration of visual, auditory, and olfactory senses.

A number of studies show that THC provides medical benefits for cancer and AIDS patients by increasing appetite because  drugs that are supposed to boost appetite simply don’t work anymore. For glaucoma sufferers, marijuana helps reduce pressure within the eyes. Patients with multiple sclerosis patients are prescribed (and with doctor’s assistance) to use cannabis to alleviate  common manifestations of neuropathic pain such as burning or coldness, “pins and needles” sensations, numbness and itching; and spasticity which is the unusual “tightness”, stiffness, and/or “pull” of muscles. THC is also proven to reduce nausea and vomiting (especially as a result of chemotherapy). Some patients with peripheral neuropathy, respond better to cannabis than conventional pain relievers. Recent studies with synthetic cannabinoids show that activation of cannabinoids  receptors can facilitate neurogenesis and neuroprotection, which can help prevent natural neural degradation from neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

If  recent studies falls to place, cannabis may also soon be used, not just to treat but to stop many types of cancer. Research done by  Pierre Desprez, a molecular biologist  and Sean McAllister, phD, show that Cannabidiol or CBD, a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant could stop ID-1, the gene that causes cancer to spread.

The pair combined CBD and cells containing high levels of ID-1 in a petri dish and the results are remarkable.

“What we found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially ‘turn off’ the ID-1,” Desprez told HuffPost,  an American news website, blog and video community. “The cells stopped spreading and returned to normal.”

Desprez and McAllister first published a paper about the finding, having studied breast cancer cells first  in 2007. Since then, their team has found that CBD works both in the lab and in animals. But they found even more good news.“We’ve found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers–brain, prostate–any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.” 

Will they be included in our must-drinks in the future ?(photo credit from http://thinkprogress.org/)

If human testing pushes through and proves to be successful, the  use of CBD will be a breakthrough, not only because i could t  significantly change the fatality of the disease in the future, but also because CBD, unlike the THC,  is a non-toxic and non-psychoactive compound. It will not have the same reported addictive and psychotic side effects of THC.

Cannabidiol is already used in humans for a variety of other ailments and  scientists have started synthesizing the compound in the lab instead of using the plant in an effort to make it more potent.

Currently, the use of cannabis as medicine is a doctor-prescribed treatment and should only be used according to the  instruction. Smoking cannabis is not always recommended as whole marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which can be harmful to health.

The manufacturing of THC  into a pill  has also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Taken orally and not smoked,  is the more common recommendation of medical practitioners.

Web References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/THC

http://science.howstuffworks.com/medical-marijuana1.htm

http://medicalmarijuana.ca/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703626604575011223512854284.html

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/26/opinion/la-oe-0726-sack-medical-marijuana-20120726

http://dying.about.com/od/paincontrol/a/Alternatives-To-Smoking-Medicinal-Marijuana.htm

http://www.cpmc.org/professionals/research/programs/science/cannabidiolarticles.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html