Cancer and the standard medical treatments used to combat it often takes a toll on the minds and spirits of patients. The side effects of chemo and radiation therapy can be as bad as the pain caused by cancer. What if it didn’t need to be this way? The idea of using derivates of a natural plant like cannabis to combat cancer and its side effects is an exciting area of science with unlimited potential.
Growing Mainstream Acceptance
There was a time when the use of any cannabis products was seen on the same level as using drugs like heroin or cocaine. Public announcements warned children and teenagers about the dangers of using this illicit substance. They were told that taking anything related to the cannabis plant meant putting themselves on the path to ruin.
Time, knowledge, and research gradually changed the perception of cannabis over the years. Recent polling shows that 62% of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana, thanks in large part to the progress made in getting the word out to the general public about its medicinal benefits.
Marijuana, Cannabinoids, and Medical Treatment
A report released last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sought to provide clarity around what we do and don’t know about the medical benefits of cannabis. What they confirmed was the relief received by patients suffering from chronic pain due to various conditions, including multiple sclerosis and cancer.
The pain relief aspect is what the public at large is most familiar with when they think of medical marijuana and other popular cannabinoids like CBD oil. The FDA has approved three cannabinoid drugs for medical treatment: Epidiolex for treating two rare types of epilepsy conditions, and
Dronabinol and Nabilone to relieve nausea symptoms related to chemotherapy.
Scientists excited about the potential of components derived from the cannabis plant seek to push beyond what’s currently known. They’re looking for definitive links showing that marijuana and cannabinoids can have a direct effect on cancer beyond – just pain relief.
Understanding the Products
A critical difference between Epidiolex and the other two drugs is that it’s derived from marijuana, while the others contain a synthetic form of THC. That’s different than inhaling legalized marijuana in leaf form or even using a cannabidiol product. There is no THC in CBD oils, while it can be present in hemp and other products derived from medical marijuana plants.
That’s one of the things scientists must consider when looking into the promise of cannabis in cancer treatment. The form and makeup of the product can make a big difference in the effects it has on various patient groups and cancer types.
Cannabis for Cancer Treatment
While there is widespread acceptance of the scientific proof of cannabis’ effectiveness when it comes to pain treatment and other palliative applications, scientists continue working to find substantial evidence showing the benefits of marijuana in treating the disease of cancer itself.
One of the challenges researches face when coming up with cures is understanding why people respond differently to various cancer treatments. Those looking to use cannabis products for this purpose must confront and overcome those same issues.
The British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has spent years researching the effects of cannabis on cancer. They’re the ones behind the drug Epidiolex. Research uncovered in the course of bringing that drug to market showed promise in fighting brain and spine tumors. They made waves in 2017 by releasing data showing that an experimental drug they were working on, a combination of THC and cannabidiol, extended the lives of brain cancer patients by six months.
GW Pharmaceuticals found enough encouragement in the data to expand their research. They’re continuing clinical trials on laboratory rats. The hopes are to eventually bring a drug to market capable of extending the life of those stricken with brain and spine tumors, which can prove fatal in 70% of those diagnosed with having them.
Another group of researchers from Kentucky is looking into making similar progress treating ovarian cancer with a new strain of hemp. They’re working out of the Wasana Sumanasekera lab housed at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy in Louisville. Most prior research in cannabis applications for cancer has focused on other components of the plant. The Kentucky researchers feel the potential for hemp has been overlooked and hope to change that.
They designed their hemp to enhance the presence of therapeutic components from cannabis like cannabinol and THC. Results from their initial study showed that introducing the hemp to cultured ovarian cancer cells slowed down their ability to migrate elsewhere in the body. A second study showed encouraging signs of the hemp preventing the development of chemicals causing the type of inflammation that allowed progression of the cancer cells.
The Importance of Sound Research
Having valid scientific analysis performed which confirms the effectiveness of cannabis on these and other types of cancer can go a long way towards validating cannabis research into other areas. Sound research can also pull down the remaining barriers preventing many from receiving the medical benefits of cannabis.
It will also help efforts to get better funding around these efforts. Many facilities lack the resources needed to do more in-depth research into treating cancer and other diseases using cannabis products. The more evidence produced to counter the negative narratives around this type of research, the sooner science may be able to provide real, lasting treatments to patients looking for alternatives to traditional cancer treatments.
Hope Beyond Hype
The encouraging data uncovered around cannabis and its applications for cancer treatments offer real hope of a medical cure. Staying focused on what the evidence shows is essential. Encouragement should be given to researchers providing grounded, factual evidence that can only benefit the industry and medical marijuana growers as they continue their fight for legalization and legitimacy in the face of ongoing misinformation in many quarters.
Why Medical Cannabis Marketing is Blossoming
The benefits cannabis provides to cancer patients can – and will – continue to destigmatize the cannabis industry. This research is only the beginning of a revolutionary approach to the medical cannabis world, and we are excited to learn about what is in store for future findings. These benefits shine a positive light on the marketing aspect of the cannabis industry. With marketing comes more growth of your company, and with your company growth comes growth for the cannabis industry. Contact us today to contribute to the widespread knowledge and gain of the medical cannibus industry.