By Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, RND, PhD
Disclaimer:This article is for informational purposes!No content in this article, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Oil made from cannabis may be effective at shrinking prostate cancer tumors, making medical marijuana for prostate cancer a possible treatment for the disease and not just the symptoms.
The use of medical marijuana for prostate cancer is causing more men to look into this controversial treatment. One of the most common medical uses of marijuana is for cancer symptoms and the side effects of treatment such as chemotherapy, but studies on people who have used the drug are proving that marijuana may also have some anti-tumor effects. Twenty-eight states plus Washington DC have legalized the medical use of marijuana as people have fought for the right to legally access the medicinal benefits of this plant.
According to Ramos &Bianco (1912), “The plant contains many chemical compounds that have different pharmacological properties, varying in quantity and quality depending on the strain, culture, and storage conditions. In 1964, Mechoulam and colleagues found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was the major psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.
Cannabinoids produce their physical and psychological effects by interacting with specific receptors on cell surfaces that have an affinity for these compounds. There are two types of receptors:
- Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) are mostly found in the brain, and also in the male and female reproductive systems. To a lesser extent, they exist in central and peripheral pain pathways (nerves) which may explain why pain relief is a benefit of cannabinoids, particularly THC.
- Cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) are primarily found in the immune system, and may be associated with anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic effects of cannabis.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana comes from the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are 66 biologically active components in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. This group of compounds can be found in both species of Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis indica Lam. The most well-known and most powerful cannabinoid is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
How Does Medical Marijuna Help Prostate Cancer Patients?
Marijuana is taken by mouth or smoked. The THC in marijuana can help relieve pain and help patients sleep. It stimulates appetite and help control nausea and vomiting for patients undergoing chemotherapy or symptoms of radiotherapy. Research has found that the reduced anxiety, sedation, and euphoria from cannabinoids could help certain cancer patients and situations, but this could also be distressing for others.
Cannabinoids have been found to activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system. The highest concentration of cannabinoid 2 receptors is located on B lymphocytes and natural killer cells, which suggests they play a possible role in immunity and helping fight diseases like cancer.
In an abstract in Pubmed titled” Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents’ by Velasco et al 2012 published in the journal Nat Rev Cancer, it states that, “Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumor growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms.” The studies were based on tumors in mice, but there have not been studies in humans.
Other Health Benefits of Marijuana
Medical marijuana has been used to treat conditions such as glaucoma, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders (including epilepsy), HIV, AIDS, severe nausea, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, arthritis, persistent muscle spasms, cachexia, motion sickness, and debilitating diseases that interfere with basic life functions.
Side Effects of Marijuana
Researchers reviewed many studies and found that smoking marijuana delivers harmful substances that could increase lung diseases and certain types of cancer. Because marijuana contains many active compounds, the drug cannot provide consistent effects unless they isolate individual components. Marijuana may cause rapid heartbeat and short-term high blood pressure. Long-term use is associated with emphysema. Marijuana should not be used within two weeks of a scheduled surgery. Some people do not like mental and emotional side effects such as short-term memory loss, sleepiness, or the inability to concentrate.