Cannabis And Cancer: Can One Cure The Other?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that cancer causes one in every six deaths worldwide. Although the number of cancer survivors generally outweighs the number of cancer deaths by around four to one, the disease still claims millions of lives every year. Conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can ravage the body, and come with extreme side effects. Although they are effective in curing cancer in many cases, there is a now a growing call for formal human trials into the use of a natural potential cure that is already widely used to manage symptoms of the disease: cannabis.

Cancer side effects can be brutal – nausea, pain, anxiety, vomiting, insomnia and lack of appetite, to name just a few. Because of the proven efficacy of cannabis in relieving these symptoms, many cancer patients believe the drug can also be used to cure the disease.

However, large-scale clinical trials into the cannabis/cancer link are yet to take place, so there is no solid evidence to prove the herb cures the disease. For this reason, many doctors and researchers are reluctant to recommend cannabis as a cancer treatment.

Cannabis And Cancer In South Africa

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has the following standpoint: “CANSA cannot currently recommend the use of Cannabidiol for use by cancer patients until such time as successful clinical trials have been concluded indicating that the benefits of Cannabidiol use outweigh any possible associated risks with the use of Cannabidiol in the palliation and/or treatment of cancer. CANSA, however, recognises the right of any patient to request a prescription for the use of Cannabidiol from his/her doctor, and also recognises the right of medical practitioners to prescribe Cannabidiol to their patients.”

Can Cannabis Kill Cancer Cells?

“There is a large body of scientific data which indicates that cannabinoids specifically inhibit cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death,” says Dr David Meiri, lead researcher on an Israeli project looking 50 different types of cannabis, and the effect they have on 200 different cancer cells. So far, they have successfully killed breast and brain cancer cells by exposing them to cannabis, and are optimistic about further success.

There are literally hundreds of articles available online on this somewhat controversial subject, but one of the more interesting ones draws from over 20 years of research to explain how cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) trigger programmed cell death in various types of cancer.

There is no doubt that there is both scientific and anecdotal research showing how cannabinoid therapies can significantly ease the symptoms of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, and help improve patients’ quality of life. We will have to wait for more research before curative claims can officially be made.

In the meantime, if you are a cancer patient, and would like to chat about alternative treatment options, speak to Dr Alain Sanua. As a qualified Medical Doctor currently practising Integrated Medicine, Dr Sanua believes in exploring alternative therapies as a supplement to, or replacement of, conventional medicine. Make an appointment today.


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