Cancer

Home >> Cancer

Cannabinoid medicines have been successfully used to treat nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy. They have also enhanced the effects of prescription opioid pain medication in treating cancer pain.

In studies of cancer cells and some animal models, cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit tumor growth through many different mechanisms, though this anti-tumor activity has yet to be established in human clinical trials.


They can stimulate appetite, encourage sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and lift the spirits of patients undergoing cancer treatment. All of these contribute significantly to the quality of life for those living with cancer. But cancer treatment also attracts dubious and desperate claims of optimism resulting in claims of cancer cures—for which there is only promising anecdotal evidence. These overstated and false claims have recently been extended to cannabis medicines and cancer. 

The effects include suppression of cancer cell signaling mechanisms, inhibition of both blood vessel growths to the tumor and cancer cells, and stimulation of programmed cell death of the cancer cell. 

Epidemiological evidence demonstrates that cannabis use provides protective effects from developing lung, bladder, brain, and breast cancer, but cancer describes more than 500 diseases in which the cells divide uncontrollably, and it is unlikely cannabis can protect against them all. Cancer is not one disease, and different forms require different treatments.

Epidemiological evidence demonstrates that cannabis use provides protective effects from developing lung, bladder, brain, and breast cancer, but cancer describes more than 500 diseases in which the cells divide uncontrollably, and it is unlikely cannabis can protect against them all. Cancer is not one disease, and different forms require different treatments.

Our understanding of cancer has progressed, but examining the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying these diseases is a complex task—especially to the degree required to affect a cure.

Cannabis has been proven to counteract nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, and so it is considered a new class of anti-emetic drugs. Conventional anti-emetics prevent nausea and vomiting but do not increase appetite.  Cannabis medicines do both. 

In addition, cannabis medicines are quite effective at reducing and even eliminating some forms of cancer pain.

Molecules to target cancer

Of course, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is critical, but the cannabinoids CBC, CBD, CBDa, CBG, and THCa are also recommended. THCv should probably be avoided due to its appetite suppressant tendencies. For the terpenes, target strains high in myrcene for their synergistic and anti-mutagenic properties.  Limonene also has anti-mutagenic properties as well. In addition, myrcene, limonene, and linalool are anti-depressants and recommended for obvious reasons. 

Dosing for Cancer

This discussion of dosage uses the amount of THC as its general guideline for calculating cannabis dose. What is potentially significant in cancer cell studies is the notable difference in dose-response. For example, at high doses, cannabinoids such as THC stop some tumors’ growth, while at low doses, they tend to encourage the development of the same tumors. Cannabis of known THC quantity is recommended. This is why laboratory analysis of your cannabis is critical. 

Nausea and vomiting–To reduce nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy requires a relatively high dose of THC. This dose is calculated using Body surface area (BSA) calculation, as is common in many cancer drug treatments. The dose by BSA is typically 5 milligrams per square meter. For example, the recommended dose for a six-foot (1.8 meters) male weighing 175 pounds (79 kilograms) would require a 10-milligram dose of THC three hours before the chemotherapy session. If that dose proves to be ineffective, it can be slowly and incrementally increased to a maximum of 15 milligrams per square meter, which for our male subject converts to a dose of up to 30 milligrams—an amount which most patients find to be extremely psychoactive, perhaps uncomfortably so.

Appetite stimulation–Treatment of weak appetite typically requires a minimal dose of THC (around 2.5 milligrams, which is commonly considered to be below the threshold of psychoactivity).

Pain management–Understanding the “sweet spot” approach to pain management, most cancer patients respond best to doses between 10 and 15 milligrams of THC every three to six hours.  

Sleep—Normally 2.5 to 7.5 milligrams of THC one hour before bedtime. 

Anxiety and depression—The most effective method to reduce anxiety is small doses of THC between (2.5 and 5 milligrams). Care must be exercised not to induce anxiety with high doses of THC. CBD is the most effective cannabinoid to reduce anxiety, especially anxiety brought on by high amounts of THC.

Anti-tumor activity—The dose and choice of cannabinoid treatment of tumors should be made under the supervision of a qualified integrative oncology team.

Methods of ingestion

Sublingual and swallowed forms of Full Extract Cannabis Oils (FECO) are quite effective, but sublingual has a quicker onset and is more predictable. Ingested cannabinoid medicines tend to provide longer-lasting effects and have advantages in reducing nausea and vomiting, provided they are taken three hours before a chemotherapy session.

Vaporization is quite effective, and titration of dose is easily achieved. In Israel, it is not uncommon to see patients vaporizing during chemotherapy sessions.