Harnessing the Powers of the Body’s Endocannabinoid System to Fight Cancer

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Research surrounding the use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer is scarce, but what has been conducted offers hopes into the potential of this alternative therapy to enhance current treatments, reduce the side effects associated with them, and even slow the progression of cancer cells or kill cancer cells without harming the body’s normal cells. One study from St. George’s University of London found the cannabinoids THC and CBD weakened cancer cells and made them more susceptible to radiation treatment.

Another study conducted at the University of Sheffield has found inhibiting enzymes that breakdown endocannabinoids, like monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) which is found in healthy tissues throughout the body, will reduce the growth of a variety of cancer cells in mice. A paper from 2011 concluded MAGL blocking drugs resulted in the increased production of endocannabinoids in healthy cells and in cancer cells, and slowed the progression of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Lead researcher Aymen Idris explains there may be a risk to using such drugs, however, in that they make produce psychotic symptoms similar to those experienced by cannabis users. To reduce this risk, they hope to develop drugs that will only enter and accumulate in tumor cells. Idris is hopeful of their studies, saying, “Treatment with drugs that stop the body breaking down its own cannabis in peripheral tissues, or drugs that mimic the action of natural cannabis outside the brain may be a fruitful way to develop safer cannabis drugs for treating cancer.”

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.