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How Does Medical Marijuana Treat Cancer?

How Does Medical Marijuana Treat Cancer

Most states with a medical marijuana program allow patients to seek cannabis treatments for cancer. It affects millions — not only the patients diagnosed with the condition, but the families and friends fighting side-by-side with their loved ones.

Medical marijuana has been shown to treat many symptoms associated with cancer, including the side effects of cancer treatments. However, recent studies indicate that cannabis could target the actual cancer cells directly. More research is required, but medical marijuana could be significant in finding the cure for cancer.

What Is Cancer?

The tiny human cell is the building block of our entire body. Whenever new cells are needed, old ones die off and new ones are created to take their place. Cancer causes this system to be out of whack. Old cells don’t die, and new cells are formed even when they’re not needed.

These mutated cells contain damaged DNA that continues to get copied. These cancerous cells multiply faster than healthy cells, which causes tumors to form.

There are more than 100 types of cancer, from lung cancer to skin cancer. Usually, a specific type of cancer is named after the part of the body where it began.

Treating the Symptoms of Cancer With Medical Marijuana

Cancer causes patients to experience debilitating symptoms. Even cancer treatment can have unwanted and uncomfortable side effects. Marijuana can either alleviate or eliminate many of these, which improves a patient’s quality of life and allows them to fight the disease with all their strength. The most common symptoms treated by cannabis are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Immunodeficiency

Treating Cancer With Medical Marijuana

Because marijuana is banned by the federal government as an illegal substance, only limited research exists exploring its medical possibilities. However, as more states legalize it for certain conditions, studies indicate that it has potential we never dreamed of: Cannabis may even fight cancer.

How Does Medical Marijuana Fight Cancer?

The human body contains cannabinoid receptors throughout that make up our endocannabinoid system. This system ensures our body maintains a healthy stasis. It also acts as a bridge between our body and our mind. If something is wrong, like the growth of cancerous cells, the endocannabinoid system gets out of whack.

Marijuana helps this system regain balance since the plant is made up of cannabinoids. These compounds — like THC and CBD — mimic our own cannabinoids, which is why our body reacts so strongly to cannabis and why we receive many health benefits from it.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has performed animal studies with surprising results. Cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth without killing healthy cells, an adverse side effect of many conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Medical marijuana works to fight cancer in three main ways:

  1. Causes Cell Death. If a cell is no longer functioning properly in healthy bodies, a signal is sent for the cell to die. In cancer patients, this apoptotic pathway doesn’t work properly. Medical marijuana can stimulate this cellular suicide mechanism. As cancerous cells “commit suicide,” tumor growth is inhibited.
  2. Blocks Blood Vessel Development to Tumors. Tumors need blood vessels to grow. Cannabis inhibits the growth of these blood vessels, which stops the development of cancerous masses.
  3. Improves the Immune System. Marijuana’s cannabinoids react with the endocannabinoid system to spur our body’s chemicals into overdrive. The chemical anandamide is needed by our immune system to help fight cancer. CBC is a cannabinoid found in cannabis that allows more anandamide to remain in the body’s system.

More research is required in this field. However, initial findings are favorable. We could be seeing cancer treatments involving medical marijuana in the not-so-distant future.

Information on Medical Marijuana & Cancer

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