New studies show cannabis specifically targets cancer without harming healthy cells

3 May 2016 (Last Updated May 3rd, 2016 18:30)

New studies have revealed that cannabis has a great potential in treating cancer patients as it only targets cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells of the afflicted person.

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Recent studies have revealed that cannabis has a great potential in treating cancer patients as it only targets cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells of the afflicted person.

Cannabis is also named as marijuana and is a preparation of the Cannabis plant, which can either be used for recreation as a psychoactive drug or as a medicinal drug.

All forms of current chemotherapeutics used for cancer therapy cause adverse effects on rapidly growing tissues, thereby leading to several side effects such as nausea, impairment of blood formation, hair loss and many more.

However, cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the most significant compounds of the cannabis plant, only impact the cancer cells and not the healthy cells of the patient.

The charity Medical Cannabis Declaration (MCD) chairman Dr Franjo Grotenhermen said: "What is special about cannabinoids in cancer treatment is their capacity to only induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells, but not in healthy cells.

"This makes cannabinoids unique and fundamentally different from standard chemotherapeutics, which can cause severe side effects by harming healthy cells."

The potential of cannabinoids to prevent cancer prevention has been discovered in recent years and since then been intensely researched across the globe.

A scientific article, 'Anticancer mechanisms of cannabinoids', published by Guillermo Velasco and his colleagues from the University of Madrid stated: "To summarise, cannabinoids induce tumour cell death and inhibit tumour angiogenesis and invasion in animal models of cancer, and there are indications that they act similarly in patients with glioblastoma.

"What is special about cannabinoids in cancer treatment is their capacity to only induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells, but not in healthy cells."

"Given that cannabinoids show an acceptable safety profile, clinical trials testing them as single drugs or, ideally, in combination therapies in glioblastoma and other types of cancer, are both warranted and urgently needed."

Two different mechanisms, apoptosis and angiogenesis, play a significant part in inhibiting tumour growth through cannabinoids.

The two mechanisms are most likely caused by cannabinoids binding with cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabis can be successfully used for the treatment of cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain diseases, multiple sclerosis, loss of appetite and nausea during chemo therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and chronic inflammatory diseases.


Image: A cannabis plant. Photo: courtesy of Cannabis Training University.