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Cannabis oil as an alternative cancer treatment. Is it fact or fiction?
Medical Daily looks into this year's hype around medicinal cannabis oil as an alternative treatment for many ailments and conditions including cancer. Over half a million searches generated by Google users implies cannabis oil for cancer has become a buzz topic lately, specifically as a wonder treatment that many believe will have miraculous effects.
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil is obtained from marijuana plant material extracted using a solvent in a distilling process to form a concentrate. It can be added to other oils for edible treats but is mostly used as medicinal oil.
Cannabis oil, like marijuana, contains two primary ingredients, namely the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and cannabidiol or CBD. CBD is one of the most active ingredients in cannabis. Cannabis oil produced for medicinal use contains far less THC than the average marijuana cigarette when smoked. Both THC and CBD are often recommended for medical use.
CBD and other related compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids, showed substantial evidence of reducing chemotherapy-related pain and nausea in cancer patients. Research also showed cannabinoids could target specific cancer cells and destroy them, although so far, this has only been observed in animal trials.
There is controversy over these promising research results as it is early days for these studies. Perhaps cannabinoids do eliminate cancer cells, but are they effective in humans, and what cancers would respond to which doses?
What has come to light, is that people supplying cannabis oil have taken advantage of desperate people as disclosed by Charity Cancer Research UK in their 2015 report: “Scammers are tricking cancer patients and their families into handing over money for ‘cannabis oil’, yet receiving nothing in return.”
What is the organizations’ verdict on the oil itself? They say there is no doubt both natural and synthetic cannabinoids are valuable biological molecules. That is why scientists all over the world are looking into their potential as a cure for cancer and other diseases. There are also studies conducted to determine whether they could cause harm.
Cannabis oil for cancer: never give false hope
The organization states that this preclinical research is very misleading if it is used to ‘prove' that cannabis or cannabinoids can cure cancer. Patients and those close to them are given false hope, as these findings are not yet conclusive.
This also does not mean cannabis oil have no value as a medical treatment. Currently medical research has not yet explored the full potential of cannabis, and until such time, people should be cautious.
The other end of the scale
Some, such as Rick Simpson, make no bones about their conviction that both chemotherapy and radiation cause cancer. He says it is true that these treatments kill cancer cells, but they often kill the patient at the same time. He claims most oncologists will not expose themselves to the treatments they use on patients.
He has no faith in the current conventional medical treatment of cancer but says reputable hemp oil is the best natural healer on the planet. He says history agrees hemp is a cure all. He does not sell or produce the oil and encourage people to make their own according to guidelines he gives. Regretfully, his recipe is actually dangerous, and depends on getting marijuana, legally or not.
In addition, since chemotherapy seems to save many lives, it would be unwise to discontinue treatment in favor of an unproven, yet promising herbal remedy.
Cannabis oil for cancer may be beneficial, then again, it may not. Research will provide the answers we are looking for. Preliminary evidence is tantalizing, and there’s no doubt that a whole hemp extract packed with antioxidants is as good as any vitamin pill, and possibly better.
A reputable CBD oil product should state on its label how it is produced, and the amounts of active ingredients it contains. Dosage differs from person to person, and should be discussed with health care practitioners. In conjunction with other treatments, it can do no harm.