Cannabis and Cancer: Studies Show…

1. Cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters are upregulated in tumor tissue.[1], [2]

Studies show that cancer cells contain more cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. In other words, tumors are sensitive to (one might even say our bodies are looking for) cannabinoids.

2. Cannabis addresses both cancer causes as well as its symptoms.

  • Cannabis not only hinders the growth and metastasis of tumors, but it has been shown to actually shrink tumors.[1], [3]

Studies show cannabis prevents cancer cells from multiplying and spreading, it prevents the formation of new blood vessels to nourish cancer cells, and it induces cell death in cancer cells.

  • Cannabis helps decrease nausea, increase appetite, and decrease pain in cancer patients.[4], [5]

“Cannabinoids… may exert palliative effects in cancer patients by preventing nausea, vomiting, and pain and by stimulating appetite.”[5]

New Cannabis Derivative Offers ‘Holy Grail’ Outcome in the Treatment of MS

Emerald Health, a Canadian cannabis pharmaceutical company, is developing what could be a “holy grail” treatment for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Myelin is a sheath around nerve cells – a layer of protective insulation – that helps nerves smoothly conduct signals. MS causes this sheath to degrade. This demyelination prevents nerves from smoothly conducting impulses, causing pain and other serious problems for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other demyelinating diseases or injuries.

Current treatments for MS all involve slowing the progression of demylenation. However, no existing treatment actually restores mylenation, which would help reverse symptoms. A treatment that would facilitate remylenation would truly be a revolutionary step forward for sufferers of MS. As a recent article in Multiple Sclerosis Today indicates:

“Restoring the myelin sheath around nerves, or remyelination, would be considered a ‘Holy Grail’ outcome in the treatment of MS,” Jim DeMesa, MD, Emerald’s CEO, said in a press release.

Overview of How the Endocannabinoid System Works

So how does the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in our bodies work? To understand this, we first have to understand some basics about cells and cell-to-cell communications.

Cells

cell is the smallest unit of life. Cells are often called the "building blocks of life." Our bodies are comprised of trillions and trillions of different cells, approximately 32.7 trillion cells in all, of more than 200 different types

Cells Cluster

Each cell has a particular function to perform. At the same time, however, cells cluster to form tissues, organs, and body systems, where they work together with other cells to serve larger functions (see Figure 1)

Figure 1: Cell Clusters

1 cell clusters

Synthetic vs. Isolate vs. Distillate vs. Extract

There are many different methods used to process cannabis and obtain its active ingredients. As far as cannabis users are concerned, the primary difference between the various processes is: which components from the original plant remain in the final extract? Is it a single cannabinoid, a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, or a combination of many different compounds found in the original plant? Cannabis cultivators and manufacturers also care about the yield and purity of the final extract: how many milligrams of cannabinoids are generated from the original plant, and is there any residual plant matter left in the extract?

Traditional healthcare providers view purity as the gold standard for any medication. A purified compound contains no impurities that may generate undesired and/or unexpected outcomes. Whole plant advocates, on the other hand, believe that medications taken in whole plant form, that is, with all the compounds naturally found in the plant, are best, because all the compounds work together in our bodies to generate optimal outcomes. 

mj forms large4

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Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabinoids are made in a lab. Scientists use cannabis plants to understand the molecular structures of cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) found in plants. They then reproduce those plant compounds in a lab using chemicals. When cannabinoids are synthesized, the output is a single compound (an isolate) that is pure (uncontaminated by another compounds). In short, synthetics are purified, isolated, man-made compounds.

Pros: Synthetic cannabinoids are relatively inexpensive to make, they’re pure, and their yield is predictable and consistent from batch to batch.

Cons: Synthetic cannabinoids may not be exactly the same as phytocannabinoids, in which case they might not generate identical user outcomes. When used in synthetic form, isolates also don’t generate entourage effects like whole plant extracts do.

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