Medical Marijuana: is it a useful treatment for cancer?

Medical Marijuana: is it a useful treatment for cancer?

Cancer has touched the lives of almost all families around the globe today. Luckily, there are new treatment ways to manage this illness. Studies spanning for decades show that Medical Marijuana is a useful drug in the treatment of the malignant growth that develops. Other treatment methods include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy which often have severe side effects. The symptoms present and the treatment process usually depend on the cancerous type and how advanced the illness is.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the dried lives and buds of a Cannabis Sativa plant. Commonly used names are ganja, grass, hash, marihuana, hemp, weed and more. The drug has been used as herbal remedies for many centuries. Its components cannabinoids and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have proved to have pharmaceutical properties in cancer treatment. In Canada, Sativex drug, which contains both CBD and THC is approved for pain relieve in difficult cancer conditions.

Medical Marijuana and Cancer

Claiming that Marijuana can heal 'cancer' is an exaggeration, there is some truth in the statement. Recent studies proof that Marijuana’s active ingredient, cannabinoids, such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appear to have cancer-fighting property against specific types of tumours. According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, THC induces human glioma cell death. Giloma is tumours growing from glial or glial cells of the brain. Also, in 2001, the Journal of Molecular Medicine published an article demonstrating that prostate and breast cancer cells are susceptible to cannabinoid-induced anti-proliferation. In other words, Marijuana is not necessarily a heal to the malignant growth, THC and other cannabinoids have cancer-fighting properties.

Ways Medical Marijuana Can Benefit Patients


Chronic pain is among the worst side effects of cancer treatment methods like Surgery and chemotherapy. It is the reason why most patients seek medical marijuana. According to the survey done by Canadian Medical Research, 60% of patients prefer Marijuana to manage therapy effects rather than pharmaceutical drugs. Painkillers are often the prescription for most cancer patients to control the symptoms. However, marijuana, which is less-addictive and non-toxic, it is the best alternative for a potential treatment option.

Allergy and skin irritations

Development of skin rashes and feeling itchy are common for cancer patients undertaking conventional treatments. Cannabinoids, an active marijuana component are potent anti-inflammatory agents. Therefore, cannabinoids are very helpful for minimising inflammation based allergies like allergic dermatitis. Cancer Patients using medical marijuana have high levels of relief from skin irritations side effects. Tropical Marijuana application does not cause psychotropic 'high' therefore recommended for patients experiencing itchy side effects.

Weight and appetite management

Apart from vomiting, nausea and chronic pain, extreme loss of appetite is a significant side effect of chemotherapy drugs. It is because marijuana causes the 'munchies' leading to a sudden increase in appetite. THC taps itself into the cell receptor systems that stimulate the release of a primary hunger hormone, ghrelin. Marijuana also boosts the brain’s pleasure response to food. In other words, it not only makes you feel more hungry but also helps you enjoy your meal.

Anti-cancer properties

The most remarkable thing about medical marijuana is its anti-cancer properties. The ability of cannabis to successfully destroy the malignant growth and tumour cells is still a significant field of study for biopharmaceutical and medical research institutions. A laboratory test on rats proved that THC is capable of triggering cancer cell death and preventing the spread of the malignant growth. Also, THC blocks blood vessels forming in tumour cells hence starving its growth.

Marijuana consumption methods for cancer treatment

The way marijuana affects the patient depends on how it enters their body. No matter how you take the medical herb, too much of strains with high THC content can sometimes make you feel high. However, these symptoms wear off quickly. There are two primary options for consuming medical marijuana;

  • Smoking or vaporising - when inhaled, the drug gets into your bloodstream and brain quickly. Therefore it is the best method to get quick relief.
  • Eating- when you take the herb through the mouth, it will take hours for the digestion to complete so that it is absorbed into the bloodstream. The effects of ingestion are slower compared to smoking.


The view of marijuana as an illegal drug has significantly limited the research on the medical applications. However, studies on Medical Marijuana for a remedy have been in progress over the past few decades. More research is needed to provide a clear understanding of the potential medical benefits of the drug can help improve the symptoms and quality of life for people with cancer.