Cancer is considered one of the most terrible diseases in existence, and the treatments against it usually do more harm than good to patients’ bodies. Therefore, researchers have been looking for ways to ease the effects of chemotherapy. One of the possible solutions could be the combination of both cannabis and chemotherapy, which could lead to less chemo in a treatment.
Cannabis can mean a lot to people with cancer. First, the active substances in cannabis- cannabinoids – counteract two side effects of chemotherapy. They reduce nausea and stimulate the appetite. In addition, more and more scientists are discovering that some cannabinoids are able to fight certain types of cancer.
Then, there is also a final, relatively new area of research. This is about cannabinoids in collaboration with chemo. Cannabis seems to be able to increase the effectiveness of conventional chemotherapy. Less chemo means that the body recovers faster and can better fight cancer.
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Cannabis and chemotherapy, a mix that could save lives
Research into the relationship between chemotherapy and cannabinoids in cannabis is still at an early stage. That’s why it’s great news that Israeli researchers are providing fresh evidence. The team of scientists recently published their study on CBD in cancer in Frontiers of Pharmacology.
The study is seen by many as ‘groundbreaking’. Scientists looked at how cannabidiol (CBD, a non-nest-enhancing component in cannabis) interacts with a common chemo-component (doxorubicin). The authors showed that cell death from doxorubicin is significantly more powerful with CBD, which reduces the need for chemo.
Simply put, CBD provided less chemo and better results in this trial. That is good news because chemotherapy has many side effects. In addition to cancer cells, it also kills healthy cells. This makes chemo an enemy of the – already fragile – health and immune system.
Moreover, chemotherapy often makes patients so nauseous that they vomit a lot and lose appetite. As a result, they don’t get enough nutrients, which are very important during the battle.
One of the scientists said to the Israeli media: “We hope that this discovery paves the way for a new, more targeted administration method for chemotherapy. A method that drastically reduces patients’ pain.”
Cancer patients and doctors willing to try new methods
More and more cancer patients are willing to add cannabis to their treatment. Also, more and more doctors are open to cannabis in the case of cancer. In the first place, to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, but there is also more attention to the other possibilities.
Nevertheless, most doctors remain cautious. And that’s not surprising. After all, they are used to rely on clinical studies, pharmaceutical guidelines and other peer-reviewed sources. In the case of medical cannabis and cancer, these convincing sources do not yet exist.
If patients want to add cannabis to their cancer treatment, they should always consult their doctors. It is very important that they are informed.
In the best case, the doctor will come directly on board, as may already have experience with administering cannabinoids to cancer patients. If that is not the case, patients may get a referral to a doctor who knows more about it. If expert oncological advice is available from someone who also has experience with cannabis, it is definitely worth it.
In addition, there are forms of chemotherapy that may not respond well in conjunction with cannabinoids. That’s why it is extremely important to discuss this option with a specialist.
It’s also important for patients to learn more about cannabis in case of cancer. This treatment option is still in the primary stage. Self-study is therefore important in order to understand what medical cannabis can do. In reality, doctors often don’t know much about it. The patient is usually the person who provides doctors with information about it.
Results are promising but the real-world application is still years away
Most medical cannabis studies are non-clinical. Promising research results on cannabis come from a laboratory, obtained through test tubes or with laboratory animals. Real certainty only comes from a randomized clinical trial with control groups. Research with humans, in other words.
Israeli research is also non-clinical. It will, therefore, take several years before oncologists can be sure that CBD results in less chemo and better results. This groundbreaking research still has many new study probes to go through. Only then will CBD find its way to cancer treatments.
However, thanks to the positive results, one thing is known for sure: it is difficult to imagine a future in which cannabis does not play an essential role in treating cancer.
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First published in Mediwietsite, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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