The Endocannabinoid System

How Cannabis Oil Works.

Since 1974 studies have shown that cannabis has anti-tumor effects. The results of the 1974 study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that cannabis’s component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.” In 1975 an article in the Journal of the National cancer institute titled “Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids,” they reported that “Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD). Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and CBD had reduced primary tumor size.”

In 1998, a research team at Madrid’s Complutense University Led by Dr. Manuel Guzman discovered that THC can selectively induce programmed cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting surrounding healthy cells. They reported in the March 2002 issue of “Nature Medicine” they had destroyed incurable brain cancer tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. And in 2007 even Harvard Researchers found that compounds in cannabis cut the growth of lung cancer. There is also an organization called The SETH Group that showed compounds in cannabis can stop the growth of human glioblastoma multiforma (GBM) brain cancer cells. The SETH Group says “No chemotherapy can match this nontoxic anti-cancer action.” Even last year in 2012 a pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found THC stops metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer.

General Information

Cannabis , also known as marijuana, originated in Central Asia but is grown worldwide today. In the United States, it is a controlled substance and is classified as a Schedule I agent (a drug with a high potential for abuse, and no currently accepted medical use). TheCannabis plant produces a resin containing psychoactive compoundscalled cannabinoids, in addition to other compounds found in plants, such as terpenes and flavonoids. The highest concentration of cannabinoids is found in the female flowers of the plant.[1] Clinical trials conducted on medicinal Cannabis are limited. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Cannabis as a treatment for any medical condition. To conduct clinical drug research with Cannabis in the United States, researchers must file anInvestigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA, obtain a Schedule I license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and obtain approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer includeantiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Although few relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients in the United States who recommend medicinal Cannabis do so predominantly forsymptom management.[2] A growing number of pediatric patients are seeking symptom relief with Cannabis or cannabinoid treatment, although studies are limited.[3] TheAmerican Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed Cannabis and cannabinoid use because of concerns about brain development.

Cannabinoids are a group of terpenophenolic compounds found in Cannabis species (e.g.,Cannabis sativa L.). This summary will review the role of Cannabis and the cannabinoids in the treatment of people with cancer and disease-related or treatment-related side effects.

References
  1. Adams IB, Martin BR: Cannabis: pharmacology and toxicology in animals and humans. Addiction 91 (11): 1585-614, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Doblin RE, Kleiman MA: Marijuana as antiemetic medicine: a survey of oncologists’ experiences and attitudes. J Clin Oncol 9 (7): 1314-9, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Sallan SE, Cronin C, Zelen M, et al.: Antiemetics in patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer: a randomized comparison of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and prochlorperazine. N Engl J Med 302 (3): 135-8, 1980. [PUBMED Abstract]

History

Cannabis use for medicinal purposes dates back at least 3,000 years.[15] It was introduced into Western medicine in 1839 by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, a surgeon who learned of its medicinal properties while working in India for the British East India Company. Its use was promoted for reported analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsant effects.

In 1937, the U.S. Treasury Department introduced the Marihuana Tax Act. This Act imposed a levy of $1 per ounce for medicinal use ofCannabis and $100 per ounce for nonmedical use. Physicians in the United States were the principal opponents of the Act. The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the Act because physicians were required to pay a special tax for prescribing Cannabis, use special order forms to procure it, and keep special records concerning its professional use. In addition, the AMA believed that objective evidence that Cannabis was harmful was lacking and that passage of the Act would impede further research into its medicinal worth.[6] In 1942, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because of persistent concerns about its potential to cause harm.[2,3]

In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which for the first time included Cannabis withnarcotic drugs. In 1970, with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana was classified by Congress as a Schedule I drug. Drugs in Schedule I are distinguished as having no currently accepted medicinal use in the United States. Other Schedule I substances include heroin, LSD, mescaline, and methaqualone.

Despite its designation as having no medicinal use, Cannabis was distributed by the U.S. government to patients on a case-by-case basis under the Compassionate UseInvestigational New Drug program established in 1978. Distribution of Cannabis through this program was closed to new patients in 1992.[14] Although federal law prohibits the use of Cannabis, figure 1 below shows the states and territories that have legalizedCannabis use for medical purposes. Additional states have legalized only one ingredient inCannabis, such as cannabidiol (CBD), and are not included in the map. Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, and there is state-to-state variation as to the types of medical conditions for which treatment is allowed.