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Scientists are Still Not Sure of the Full Benefits of Marijuana in Cure of Cancer

Cannabis has been used extensively in the treatment of many diseases and in relieving pain in patients who suffer from terminal illnesses. While there is cannabis news all over the Internet that Cannabis and especially cannabinoids can be used in the management and perhaps the cure of cancer, scientists still feel that there is the need for more research to ascertain the full benefits of the plant in the management of cancer.

Cannabidiol, simply referred to as CBD, is among the most prevalent cannabinoid thanks to its many benefits on the body. There is a lot of debate around the use of CBD in the treatment of cancer. While it is not clear whether cannabinoids are useful in the treatment of cancer, cannabinoids are used in the management of symptoms associated with cancer.

CBD should not be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance that causes a cannabis user to feel ‘high’ after smoking. Whether smoked or ingested, THC has not shown any medical benefits to the user. Scientists are also researching the effects of CBD on anxiety and chronic pain, two conditions that are associated with cancer.

While some studies on CBD and cancer are promising, there is no single research that is conclusive. Nevertheless, CBD has proven essential in the management of cancer.

The Use of CBD in Complementary Therapy

CBD and Cannabis are used in cancer therapy. They are used to complement cancer therapy and relieve cancer patients of pain. Some of the ways in which CBD is used in the management of cancer include:


CBD oil is commonly given to cancer patients to relieve chronic pain and stimulate their appetites. When undergoing cancer treatment, patients feel nausea and lose their appetite. This makes it a challenge for cancer patients to maintain their weight.

When Cannabis is ingested, it provides the body with THC and a range of other cannabinoids. When these cannabinoids get to the bloodstream, they can stimulate appetite (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq). However, no evidence shows CBD alone can boost one’s appetite.


The treatment of cancer, especially chemotherapy, can lead to pain. Cancer cells lead to inflammation, and cause pressure on internal organs and can even cause nerve injury. While pain relievers such as opioids can be used to relieve patients of pain, they sometimes become ineffective, especially when the pain is too much.

When used, CBD indirectly interferes with CB2 receptors, thereby reducing inflammation. THC, on the other hand, interferes with CB1 receptors which relieve the pain that results from nerve damage.


Patients who experience nausea and vomiting can take Cannabis and cannabinoids to reduce the feeling. After chemotherapy, most patients tend to experience nausea.

However, THC, and not CBD, gives the antinausea effect. Anyone taking Cannabis for nausea should be prepared for the side effects of THC. However, to take THC for nausea, you need to discuss it with a doctor. The good thing is that many patients will find relief in low doses of THC. When prescribed by a doctor, synthetic THC has fewer side effects.

Can CBD Prevent Cancer?

There is a debate on the use of Cannabis and CBD in the prevention of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq), most studies that they have reviewed show mixed results; some show there is a link between Cannabis and cancer, and others show Cannabis does not affect cancer prevention.

Another study conducted in the US (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9328194?dopt=Abstract) on 64,855 men found that when taken, Cannabis does not affect tobacco-related cancers. The same study found out that men who did not smoke tobacco were at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer.

Some studies have shown promising results. A survey conducted in 2015 found out that cannabis users had a 45 percent lower chance of getting bladder cancer. The participants of the study were adjusted to several different factors to ensure the results obtained were accurate.

The benefits of marijuana in the prevention and management of cancer might sound counter-intuitive, seeing that marijuana smoke produces carcinogens. This is, however, just for inhaled marijuana. However, when CBD extracts are ingested, they do not expose a user’s body to carcinogens like those seen in smoked marijuana. Nonetheless, scientists feel that there is need for more research to determine the role CBD plays in the prevention of cancer.

The Use of CBD to Treat Cancer

Studies on the benefits of Cannabis in the treatment of cancer are still inconclusive. Again, there are no major trials and studies that are researching the treatment of cancer using Cannabis. There are small studies but no major research even in government institutions.

A study in 2016 (http://www.phmd.pl/api/files/view/117062.pdf) found that cannabinoids are promising in the treatment of cancer. The researchers found that when used cannabinoids seem to inhibit the growth of different types of tumor cells in animal models and test-tube studies.

However, the same study found out that some cannabinoids can suppress the immune system making the cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. On the use of Cannabis and cannabinoids, more research is needed.

Do Cannabinoids have Side Effects?

CBD is an extract of Cannabis. While it has many benefits on the body, it also comes with a few side effects. If you were taking CBD, and then you stop, you might experience insomnia.

Cannabinoid receptors in the brain are not the same as any other drug receptors, and as such, there might be a lower risk of side effects. Cannabinoids are not like any other pain medications as such; there are no lethal doses of CBD. CBD does not interfere with the central nervous system the way opiates, and other pain medications do.

Cannabinoid receptors spread throughout the body; not only affecting the central nervous system but also other tissues and organs in the body. Studies have found that most people can tolerate low doses of CBD, while a few people might experience side effects.

Some side effects include:

 Diarrhea

 Fatigue

 Appetite loss

 Changes in weight

When taking cannabinoids, it is advisable to discuss it with your doctor. This is especially so if you are taking other medications that cannabinoids might interact with. Medications such as antibiotics, antidepressants, blood thinners, sedatives, chemotherapy drugs, muscle relaxers, and anti-seizure medicines can interact with cannabinoids to the point of causing liver damage.

Before taking cannabinoids, speak to a doctor because cannabinoids might interact with over-the-counter drugs and even supplements. Anyone taking prescription medications that warn about interactions with grapefruit (https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix) should be cautious when taking CBD.

CBD has also been linked with increased liver toxicity. A 2019 study (https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/24/9/1694) found that CBD can cause liver damage when injected to mice.

Other studies with Epidiolex, which is a brand name for CBD medication (which is used to treat epilepsy), did not find any relation between CBD and cannabis dependence. The manufacturers Epidiolex warns that the drug might cause liver damage (https://www.epidiolex.com/). National Cancer Institute warns that CBD can inhibit some enzymes in the body that might be beneficial in cancer therapies (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq). This way, taking CBDs can interfere with cancer therapies that rely on these enzymes.


CBD is beneficial to the body and has been used extensively in the management of cancer. However, more research needs to be conducted on the prevention and treatment of cancer. While marijuana and cannabinoids are beneficial, one needs to talk to a doctor before taking the drugs.

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