After receiving a diagnosis or suffering frustration about an ongoing health issue, we know how difficult it is to navigate the constantly changing and sometimes conflicting terrain of cannabis medicine. We hope to make this process less overwhelming by offering some of the latest research of this remarkable plant medicine.
Many people are familiar with marijuana (Cannabis sativa) which has been legalized in many states as “medical marijuana” and are aware of its traditional uses to relieve pain and nausea by people undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy. However, there are hundreds of PubMed studies, including over 100 studies on cancer alone, which demonstrate that the cannabis plant is actually one of the most potent healing plants ever discovered. Here is a good summary of the research since 2000.
Contrary to public opinion, the efficacy of cannabis to promote health has been extensively studied. According to Americans for Safe Access: To date, more than 15,000 modern peer-reviewed scientific articles on the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabis and cannabinoids have been published, as well as more than 2,000 articles on the body’s natural endocannabinoids. In recent years, more placebo-controlled human trials have also been conducted.
Ancient cultures cultivated cannabis for all of its many uses – food, fuel, medicine, textiles, rope. It was declared to be a “Supreme Elixir of Immortality” around 2300 BC by the Chinese emperor-physician Shen Nung, and its medical properties were also celebrated in India. It was brought into Europe by Napoleon’s troops from Egypt in the 1800’s and its first medicinal use in the U.S. started in the late 1800’s – until it was finally made illegal in 1937.
As far back as 1974, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University discovered how certain cannabinoids (cannabis chemical compounds) inhibited the growth of a certain type of lung cancer in mice, among other benefits. This was five years after the War on Drugs had been declared and the classification of marijuana along with heroin as a Schedule I controlled substance – the most restricted and dangerous classification. Shortly after this study was released and reported in The Washington Post, Congress established the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which was given a strict mandate to research only the harm caused by such drugs.
In 1996, it was discovered that an earlier government-funded study by the National Toxicology Project to determine the possible cancerous effects of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) in rats and mice had been suppressed when it was found that THC actually reduced cancer instead.
Another NIDA-funded study at UCLA conducted in 2006 on over 1200 cases showed that not only did smoking marijuana not cause lung cancer – it actually prevented and reduced tumors! According to the study, even chronic, long term marijuana smokers reduced their likelihood of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers. This was a major, carefully-designed epidemiological study overseen by one of the world’s top experts on case-controlled methodology. The study’s director, Donald Tashkin, MD, was convinced of a link to cancer prior to the research. He now supports legalization.
Other studies conducted at Harvard and in other countries have similarly supported these conclusions – that cannabis not only targets and induces cancer cells to die off (apotosis) it also inhibits angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels to feed cancerous tumors. Cannabis has shown some effectiveness with all cancers studied, particularly lung cancer.
Furthermore, other studies have shown that cannabis is especially suited to help protect against and halt the progression of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Epilepsy, seizures, CTE (head trauma), dementia, and others. In all of these diseases, symptoms are alleviated allowing patients to function much more normally. There are indications from studies and observational case studies that the progression of these conditions can be halted and even reversed. A study conducted at the University of Saskatoon in Canada revealed that chronic use of cannabis could actually improve learning and memory by promoting the growth of neurons in the hippocampus area of the brain. It helps the brain create new brain cells and protects the old ones.
There are more than 75 phytocannabinoids in cannabis. The most well known is THC, which has the psychoactive properties that get you “high.” The other most studied cannabinoid is CBD, which has no psychoactive properties, but can produce a feeling of overall wellness or euphoria while not impairing cognitive ability. Both cannabinoids have shown amazing capabilities to benefit health in these studies.
This research has even discovered a part of the immune system that science didn’t know previously existed – the Endocannabinoid System. Cannabinoids are produced by our bodies (endocannabinoids) which plug into receptor sites on cells all throughout our bodies – and then regulate all kinds of biological functions. As we age we tend to generate fewer endocannabinoids – however, the cannabinoids in cannabis can also function in this system – which is why it helps to supercharge our immune system, generating healing benefits and feelings of wellbeing and euphoria.
Smoking cannabis is actually considered the least effective way to ingest its health properties – the high heat destroys some of the cannabinoids and terpenoids. Vaping is better due to the lower temperatures required. Edibles and juicing both work OK. But by far, the most effective way to take cannabis is by consuming concentrated full extract cannabis oil (FECO). While thousands have been reported to have been healed from even Stage 4 cancers with various oils, it is not an easy process and some producers of oil have been known to use toxic solvents which can be dangerous. The FDA has recently prosecuted some of these firms for falsely advertising cannabis oil and hemp oil (a much less potent source) with little or no amounts of THC or CBD.
– Reprinted with permission from Kelly Brown’s https://happyholistic.wordpress.com/cannabis-3/