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Why more doctors recommend cannabis for cancer, pain, others


Cannabis sativa

It is illegal in most parts of the world including Nigeria. Yet the country is a major source of West African-grown cannabis, and ranked world’s eight highest consumer of cannabis.

But the weed, marijuana, hemp, igbo, gbana, kaya, wee-wee, abana or Cannabis sativa has become a novel adjunct treatment for cancer, pain, poor appetite, nausea, epilepsy to mention but a few.

Little wonder some doctors especially oncologists in Nigeria, United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.), Canada among other countries recommend it for their patients.


Even Coca-Cola is considering developing a drink containing Cannabis. Coca-Cola Cola, last week, said it is eyeing the cannabis drinks market.

Coca-Cola said it is monitoring the nascent industry and is interested in drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD- the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain but does not get one high.

Some doctors in Lagos who preferred anonymity told The Guardian they prescribe decoction of Cannabis for cancer patients.

Meanwhile, researchers who surveyed a population-based sample of medical oncologists said while a wide majority of oncologists do not feel informed enough about medical marijuana’s utility to make clinical recommendations, most do in fact conduct discussions on medical marijuana in the clinic and nearly half recommend it to their patients.

The study, published last week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first nationally representative survey of medical oncologists to examine attitudes, knowledge and practices regarding the agent since medical marijuana became legal on the state level in the US.


Of note, additional findings of the current study suggest that nearly two-thirds of oncologists believe medical marijuana to be an effective adjunct to standard pain treatment, and equally or more effective than the standard therapies for symptoms like nausea or lack of appetite, common side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Medical marijuana refers to the non-pharmaceutical cannabis products that healthcare providers recommend for therapeutic purposes.

A significant proportion of medical marijuana products are whole-plant marijuana, which contains hundreds of active ingredients with complicated synergistic and inhibitory interactions.

By contrast, cannabinoid pharmaceuticals, which are available with a prescription through a pharmacy, contain no more than a couple of active ingredients.

Cannabis oil for pains

One of the big health stories of 2018, cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is increasingly being studied for its pain-relieving abilities, among other medical uses.


Extracted from non-marijuana strains of industrial hemp plants, CBD oil is highly effective for treating many types of pain, including headache, joint pain, endometriosis pain and neuropathic pain (due to nerve damage).

CBD creams, salves and ointments are equally effective for pain relief when applied directly to painful muscles and joints.

CBD not only reduces the level of pain signals reaching the brain but also alters the way you respond to them, changing your reaction to pain and helping you feel and cope much better.

In addition, CBD reduces anxiety and stress, improves sleep and lifts mood.

However, because it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana, it does not give one the high associated with the plant and is therefore legal to take.

A 2012 review in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded Cannabidiol oil (a non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant) is an effective treatment for adults suffering with chronic pain and, significantly, there are no reported side effects.


Pancreatic cancer: Cannabis compound may boost survival

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that unfortunately has some of the lowest survival rates.

A new study in mice suggests that one substance could help address this problem: cannabidiol, a naturally occurring cannabis compound.

CBD oil and cannabis plant

Researchers look to cannabidiol in the hope of improving survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer.

According to data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in the United States, there will be an estimated 55,440 new cases of pancreatic cancer by the end of this year.

Treatments for this type of cancer include surgical resection (the removal of tissue affected by the cancer), as well as chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the prognosis tends to be poor, with only an 8.5 percent survival rate within 5 years from diagnosis, as per the NCI.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the United Kingdom, and from Curtin University in Bentley and Perth, Australia, have been making efforts to find a way of increasing survival rates for people diagnosed with this type of cancer.

Recently, Prof. Marco Falasca of QMUL and colleagues have conducted a study on a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, investigating an intriguing lead. They wanted to see if administering cannabidiol (CBD) — a naturally occurring component of medical cannabis — alongside chemotherapy medication would improve prognosis following treatment.

The researchers focused on the potential of CBD rather than another cannabis compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), because the former does not cause psychoactive effects. This has led to CBD already gaining approval for use in a healthcare context.

If further studies show that CBD is effective in improving cancer treatment, this could mean that doctors will be able to use it in cancer clinics immediately.

In the current study, Falasca and team worked with a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, which they treated with CBD alongside a typical chemotherapy drug, called “Gemcitabine.”

The team found that, following this combination treatment, the rodents survived almost three times as long as mice from a control group, which had only been treated with Gemcitabine.

Could cannabis compounds be used to treat colon cancer?
A newly released study in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research shows promise for using the compounds in Cannabis to fight colorectal cancer and polyps. In the study they used Cannabis sativa ethanol extracts on cancer and normal colon cell lines and on dysplastic adenomatous polyp cells.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis. It is also the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide.

The researchers used multiple concentrates with different fractions of cannabinoids to treat the cancer and polyp cells. They used concentrates that had been heated and concentrates that had not been heated. They found that unheated cannabis extract (which they called C2F) and two of the other cannabis concentrates (labeled as F3 and F7) were the most effective in stopping the growth of cancer cells. The F3 fractionate (concentrate) was found to contain 91.20 per cent CBGA. The F7 fractionate was over 90 per cent THCA.

They also found that combination of F3 and F7 also induced cell death in polyp cells. This study provides further evidence that the synergistic effect of using multiple cannabinoids is more effective than using isolates alone.

Although these results are promising, it is important to remember that many chemicals have looked promising for killing cancer cells in vitro (in a test tube, in a culture dish, or outside a living organism) or in animal studies, but have not been effective in human studies. This is why it is so important to continue the study of the Cannabis plant. With enough research, the scientists may indeed find a cure.
Cannabis regulates insulin and cancer cell progression in breast cancer patients with diabetes

According to a recent study published in South African Journal of Science, the association of type 2 diabetes mellitus and breast cancer among African women has already been established.

Interestingly, Cannabis sativa has been found to be equally effective in inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation and regulating insulin levels in patients with diabetes.

The researchers noted: “Breast cancer cell progression and migration is directly influenced by insulin levels in patients with diabetes and IL-6/IL-6R mediates its regulatory role in MAO-A-controlled cell metastasis and angiogenesis. Importantly, the IKS Research Group of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) is presently working on this immune-biology and validating this dual role of cannabis in the South African context.

“The CBD-enriched variety of C. sativa found in South Africa may offer new hope for the regulation of insulin action on MAO-A- and IL-6/IL6R- regulated metastasis and angiogenesis in breast cancer of patients with diabetes, as shown in Figure 1. The pharmacological efficiencies of C. sativa in inhibiting breast cancer cell progression and migration will further support its medicinal application and will lead to further industrialisation, thereby contributing to the South African bio-economy in the future.”

Cannabinoids as an anticancer agent for prostate cancer
A new study published in the Journal of Urology and Research by scientists from the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Division of Urology,
Canada, noted: “Over the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has emerged as a novel target for the treatment and prevention of cancer and various diseases.

Cannabinoids consist of the active components of the plant
Cannabis sativa, and can be classified into three groups: phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.

“Although mainly used as an antiemetic and for cancer-related pain, recent findings have revealed antiproliferative and anti-metastatic effects in various cancer models. Overexpression of cannabinoid receptors in malignant prostate tissue suggests an association between the endocannabinoid system and prostate regulation, thus proposing potential therapeutic opportunities for prostate cancer.

“We conducted a systematic review that highlights the potential anticancer effect of cannabinoids in prostate cancer using both in vitro and in vivo models.

“Ahand-search was run on PubMed database from 1997 to January 2017 for relevant studies. Results detail potential apoptotic and anti-metastatic effects through pathways involving endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress and Rho GTPase signalling. These observations have contributed to our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in cancer progression; however further analysis on the pharmacodynamics is warranted, including molecular cross links between cannabinoids and available chemotherapeutic drugs.”

The use of cannabis in supportive care and treatment of brain tumour
A new study published in Neuro-Oncology Practice noted: “Cannabinoids are multi-target substances. Currently available are dronabinol (synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC), synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) the respective substances isolated and purified from cannabis, a refined extract, nabiximols (THC:CBD = 1.08:1.00); and nabilone, which is also synthetic and has properties that are very similar to those of THC.

“Cannabinoids have a role in the treatment of cancer as palliative interventions against nausea, vomiting, pain, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. THC and nabilone are also used for anorexia and weight loss, whereas CBD has no orexigenic effect.

“The psychotropic effects of THC and nabilone, although often undesirable, can improve mood when administered in low doses. CBD has no psychotropic effects; it is anxiolytic and anti-depressive. Of particular interest are glioma studies in animals where relatively high doses of CBD and THC demonstrated significant regression of tumor volumes (approximately 50 per cent to 95 per cent and even complete eradication in rare cases).


“Concomitant treatment with X-rays or temozolomide enhanced activity further. Similarly, a combination of THC with CBD showed synergistic effects. Although many questions, such as on optimized treatment schedules, are still unresolved, today’s scientific results suggest that cannabinoids could play an important role in palliative care of brain tumor patients.”

Cannabinoids can be used in palliative care for a wide range of symptoms
Palliative care is related to symptom management and supportive care for patients facing life-limiting illness. It focuses on the amelioration of the quality and duration of remaining life, particularly on physical, emotional, and psychological suffering. Long-term drug safety is also important. Palliative effects of phytocannabinoids, such as on pain, mood, appetite, and radiation- or chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, have been studied in cancer patients since the early 1970s.

The striking benefit of these substances is their multitarget action and compatibility with many eventually needed co-medications, as well as their impressive safety margin. Although dosages must be adapted to individual needs, multiple therapeutic effects can be achieved simultaneously with only one product, such as reducing pain, spasticity, depression and anxiety; improving mood and sleep; increasing appetite and weight; among others. Many disease-ameliorating effects of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids are receptor-mediated, but many are not, indicating additional involvement of non-cannabinoid receptor signaling pathways.


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