Which cannabis is best for cancer

Active ingredients from cannabis in cancer: cannabinoids for pain and nausea

The diagnosis of cancer not only means a painful change in everyday life for patients, chemotherapy is also associated with severe side effects. The quality of life is often significantly restricted. The disease wears out the body and takes away all energy. Then, and if other treatment options do not have the desired effect, medicinal products made from the cannabis plant can help:

  • THC-based cannabinoids (dronabinol, nabilone) relieve tumor pain
  • and help against some side effects of chemotherapy such as vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite.
  • THC helps cancer patients maintain their weight or gain weight.

Compared to CBD (cannabidiol), the data situation for THC in cancer therapy, especially side effect management, is already significantly better.

Cannabinoids for tumor pain and chemo side effects

Certain active ingredients from the hemp plant are suitable for treating tumor pain and alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy. The cannabinoids suitable for this mainly serve as an additional treatment method. For example, dronabinol (THC of natural origin) and nabilone (artificial THC analog) counteract the common loss of appetite in cancer patients.

THC stimulates the appetite

The physical condition in particular plays an important role in cancer patients. Chemotherapy drains the body and psyche and leads, among other things, to a reduced feeling of hunger. Those affected report that they taste better again after taking THC-based medication. The nausea caused by chemotherapy also decreases.

+++ More on the topic: THC against loss of appetite +++

Good experience with active ingredients from cannabis in cancer

Doctors have already had positive experience with the use of cannabinoids. Even if cannabis-based drugs are only considered as an additional therapy option in most cases, the individual experiences of the doctor and patient speak for themselves. In addition, an attempt at therapy can be justified on the basis of the following facts:

  • The proven effects of certain cannabinoids on the body's own cannabinoid system are considered sufficient to prescribe the substances.
  • The tolerance is good even with long-term use.

Further studies on THC are needed

The proof of the effect of cannabinoids on tumor pain has not yet been fully proven. Further, large-scale studies are needed. Nevertheless, the proponents of therapy with THC from hemp argue with individual successes: Since the individual substances from the cannabis plant are almost always prescribed as additional therapy, it is ethically difficult to deny those affected the treatment. Because every patient who can be helped is a success.

CBD could slow down tumor growth

Another cannabinoid (CBD - cannabidiol) could also play a role in cancer therapy in the future. CBD is said to contain an anti-carcinogenic component. This means that it can potentially stunt the growth of malignant cells, as is the case with cancer. This effect has so far been able to be determined in clear individual observations. However, data from large-scale studies are still pending. In contrast to THC, CBD is not suitable for treating loss of appetite, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy.

A new clinical study (October 2018) shows that the use of CBD could be particularly effective in patients with glioblastoma and breast cancer. In the investigation, the effect of synthetic CBD should be tested:

  • 119 cancer patients (many with metastases) were treated with cannabidiol in an oily solution ("CBD oil") for at least six months.
  • 28 subjects took only CBD, the other participants combined CBD with nabiximols (a combination of THC and CBD) or other drugs.
  • In some patients the metastases receded, in others the cancer cells spread more slowly. Some showed no changes. Side effects of the CBD therapy could not be observed in any of the participants.

Even if the potential and use of CBD (cannabidiol) seems very promising, it is only at the beginning in medical application.

+++ More on the topic: Legal situation regarding the use of THC & Co in Austria +++

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Thomas Holzinger, Mag. Julia Wild
Medical review:
Prim. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rudolf Likar
Editorial editing:
Tanja Unterberger, Bakk. phil.

Status of medical information:

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