Can cannabis cure cancer? What the research says

Photo Credit: Jordan Greentree/Flickr

Photo Credit: Jordan Greentree/Flickr

While human clinical trials are sparse, there are several preclinical and animal trials that suggest cannabis can help combat various types of cancer and manage the symptoms associated with the diseases and their treatments. Rodent studies found cannabinoids inhibit tumor grown by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels, and cannabinoids can kill several types of cancer cells without harming normal cells. A trial on human glioma cells found CBD can enhance the effects of chemotherapy and increase cancer cell death. Additionally, cannabis stimulates appetite, offers pain relief, prevents nerve problems, reduces anxiety and facilitates sleep, and manage the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

The human trials on cannabis and cancer that exist focus on ways to manage the symptoms associated with cannabis and reduce the side effects associated with its treatments. There are two FDA-approved cannabinoid based drugs, Dronabinol and Nabilone, that are used to treat cancer. Trials have found both inhaled cannabis and cannabis oral sprays effectively treat the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Studies have also found cannabis can stimulate appetite, improve mood, reduce anxiety, and offer pain relief. While the use of cannabis for cancer is hopeful, there are some side effects that exist, including rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, muscle relaxation, blood shot eyes, slowed digestion, dizziness, depression, hallucinations, and paranoia. Additionally, smoking cannabis may negatively affect the lungs, and long use of cannabis may negatively affect the endocrine system and the reproductive system. 

Visit Health MJ for a more in depth look at the current state of cannabis research on cancer. This information has been approved by our Chief Medical Officer.