A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.
A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).
Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.
There are no studies in people of the effects of marijuana oil or hemp oil.
Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.
There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.
Relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
- Cannabishas been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
- By federal law, the possession of Cannabisis illegal in the United States, except within approved research settings; however, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize its medical use.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Cannabisas a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
- Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.
- Commercially available cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone, are approved drugs for the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
- Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
However, while the positive effects of using cannabis to alleviate cancer symptoms have been well documented, the U.S. government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug — high potential for abuse and no known medical use. Consequently, the federal government’s position on cannabis stifles much-needed research on cannabis as a “cure” for cancer.
According to the U.S. government’s National Cancer Institute, other effects of cannabinoids include anti-inflammatory activity, blocking cell growth, preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors, fighting viruses, and relieving muscle spasms.
NCI also acknowledges that inhaled cannabis is attributed to improved mood and sense of well-being. Studies suggest cannabis can be used for symptom management in cancer patients by preventing vomiting, stimulating appetite, providing pain relief, and improving sleep as well as inhibiting the growth of certain types of tumors.
Sources and References: