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HOMEMEDICINEGeneral

Natural Chemo and Pain Relief with Medical Marijuana

Published on January 9, 2019

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Since the day that Harvard scientists in 2007 said that the active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half, significantly reducing the ability of the cancer to spread, interest in medical marijuana has soared. This is good news because according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), many cancer patients are being over treated to their detriment with extremely toxic chemicals yet it is estimated that 70 percent of women with early stage breast cancer probably do not need chemotherapy, and fare just as well without it.

An increasing number of cancer patients are now electing not to use chemo. A recent survey published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in May 2018 found the overall use of chemo declined from 34.5 to 21.3 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Others have sustained Harvard researchers conclusions. According to Dr. Robert Ramer and Dr. Burkhard Hinz of the University of Rostock in Germany medical marijuana can be an effective treatment for cancer. Researchers had already concluded, in a 2004, in the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, that marijuana’s constituents inhibited the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies.

Researchers at the University of Milan in Naples, Italy, reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana inhibited the growth of glioma cells in a dose-dependent manner, and selectively targeted and killed malignant cells through apoptosis. “Non-psychoactive CBD produce[s] a significant anti-tumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”

At the same time everyone is aware that the use of opioids is killing thousands of people. More than 700,000 Americans died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, about 10% of them in 2017 alone, according to a new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In total, there were a staggering 70,237 drug overdose deaths last year, which is more deaths than all US military fatal casualties of the Vietnam War. Opioids were involved in 67.8%, or 47,600 of those deaths. Of those opioid-related overdose deaths, 59.8% of them, or 28,466, were due to synthetic opioids.

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The report, which was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), also examined drug overdose deaths from 2013-17. During that time, "drug overdose death rates increased in 35 of 50 states and DC, and significant increases in death rates involving synthetic opioids occurred in 15 of 20 states," the report said adding that the rapid increase was driven by fentanyl.

Medical marijuana is an alternative, not only for pain, but as a form of chemotherapy that is safe and should be tried before one opts for cancer causing forms of chemotherapy and radiation that oncologists reach for without trying something safer first.

Medical marijuana is becoming more available, and in all fifty states Cannabidiol (CBD) is already legal. President Donald J. Trump just legalized industrial hemp nationwide by signing the new Farm Bill into law. The hemp legalization provision was spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), further demonstrating that Republicans support hemp legalization and agricultural freedom. After nearly 50 years of prohibition, industrial hemp will be legal to grow across America beginning January 1, 2019.

Below is information provided about CBD in relation to its use as a substitute for opioids provided by David Haas at mesothelioma.com

Cannabidiol: A Pain Management Solution for Cancer Patients

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the primary goal is for the patient to achieve a healthy remission, however, this is easier said than done. A successful cancer treatment involves the correct plan and treatment options, mental and physical strength to endure the process, and in some cases, life changing surgeries. To help combat the pain associated with certain forms of a cancer treatment, doctors are often left having to prescribe highly addictive prescription opioids. While these drugs certainly aid in relieving the painful symptoms that can occur, they also have the ability to leave the patient at risk of becoming opioid dependent.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), in 2015, 20.5 million Americans were recorded as having a substance use disorder. Two million of those cases directly involve the use of prescription pain relievers. This opioid epidemic seemingly has no end, and researchers are working effortlessly to develop a solution to this growing issue.

One of the most highly debated substances of today’s discourse is medical cannabis. While cannabis has come under scrutiny over the past couple of decades, researchers are beginning to understand its healing properties, and abilities to alleviate pain. As regulations around the globe begin to be lifted on cannabis, more thorough research will be able to be conducted. In time, the conclusive evidence supporting or disavowing cannabis will finally be brought to the forefront.

Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound that is extracted from a certain type of cannabis plant, most commonly known as the hemp plant. The two most familiar compounds of the many that are derived from cannabis are THC and CBD. However, unlike THC, CBD does not produce the same euphoric effects. CBD is a non-psychoactive that provides the same benefits as it’s THC counterpart, which has made it favorable among doctors wishing to explore alternative methods of pain relief.

CBD works by sending certain signals to the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system contains cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), and as opposed to THC, CBD utilizes these receptors indirectly. CBD has the ability to increase the amount of the body’s natural cannabinoids by preventing certain enzymes from breaking them down properly.

CBD interacts with the body’s opioid receptors, which has posed to be very fascinating. Opioid receptors produce dopamine, a natural pain reliever that, when produced in excess, may cause an addiction. While further research needs to be conducted on just what effects CBD has on our opioid receptors, there is hope that CBD can negate the cravings that come with opioids, and perhaps suppress the withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone has stopped using these types of drugs.

CBD for Cancer Patients

For those whose cancer has metastasized, and is classified as terminal, the primary focus shifts towards the patient’s palliative care and comfort. Incurable cancers such as late-stage mesothelioma can cause a serious amount of discomfort due to the aggressive nature of the disease. While prescription opioids would be a fairly easy way of dealing with pain symptoms, the last thing any cancer patient wants to deal with is an addiction. After a terminal diagnosis has been given, it’s important a patient lives out their life, pain free with their family and loved ones.

CBD has become a potential option for patients wishing for relief without the fear of becoming dependent. In a 2012 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a trial group was randomized with a select number of patients being given Nabiximols, a now FDA approved CBD extract. The results of this study showed that Nabiximols in a low dosage was a useful add-on for patients whose pain could not solely be treated with opioids.

With Nabiximols being an FDA approved drug, further trials and research are able to be conducted on Nabiximols, and hopefully more data will prove the efficacy of this drug in treating pain for cancer patients. This drug has also shown to be very effective in treating patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a disease that causes patients to experience seizures multiple times a day. The wide variety of diseases that CBD may have an impact on is exciting and researchers are just beginning to scratch the surface of its benefits.

The Legality of CBD

While cannabis has been an area of concern as far as what’s legal and what isn’t, CBD has been cleared for usage in all 50 states. However, the CBD must be derivative of industrial grown hemp and must have a THC content of less than .03 percent. This narrows the amount of suppliers who are creating CBD products, and benefits those who can grow hemp with serious quality control.

As a consumer, this is important as you do not want to purchase a product that is not industrially grown or sold by an unaccredited supplier. Hemp has the ability to absorb toxins from the soil, and for those who are growing hemp without strict conditions in place, the CBD you consume may contain harmful substances. If you are going to explore using CBD, you should only be purchasing it from a trusted supplier, or you can obtain a CBD prescription from your doctor, which would be considered medical grade.

The Potential of CBD

Although cannabis is beginning to become more widely accepted across the globe, the ability to study its effects in the health community is still somewhat limited due to certain restrictions that vary based on location. As these restrictions are reduced however, researchers will have greater access to cannabis, and will be able to conduct further analysis on both CBD and THC. Hopefully, in the near future, cannabis will prove to be an effective form of pain relief, and even become a component in aiding in healing certain diseases.

Conclusion

Personally I use both CBD and THC based products. I love CBD salves for everything to do with the skin and for cancer patients I recommend Rick Simpson’s oil, which is heavily laden with THC. Eating organic marijuana buds does not get one high no matter how much THC is in it and is an excellent form of intake for broad based healing.

THC is not without its side-effects, especially when used over the long term, which can be measured in decades. However compared to opioids medical marijuana, when used aggressively for pain relief is as safe as apple pie. And compared to the toxicity of regular chemotherapy it is as safe as safe can be.

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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