Photo by Jovan Vitanovski.

Study: Here’s How Cannabis Could Help Your Body Fight Off Cancer

Photo by Jovan Vitanovski.


by Justin Kander

on March 27, 2015

This article was originally published on: #illegallyhealed.

A study in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, published July 2014, elaborates upon a unique mechanism of cannabinoids’ anti-cancer activity. It is notable for demonstrating how cannabinoids work synergistically with the body’s immune system to stop cancer, unlike traditional treatments which destroy the immune system in the process of stopping cancer.

Researchers tested the effects of CBD, THC, and an endocannabinoid analogue called methanandamide on two lung cancer cell lines, A549 and H460, along with cells from a lung cancer patient. It found these compounds increased expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) on the cancer cells, which made them more susceptible to white blood cells called lymphokine-activated killer cells (LAK). However, normal cells were not affected this way, showing yet again that cannabinoids can selectively target abnormal cells while leaving healthy tissue alone.

LAK cells are a very powerful part of the body’s natural anti-cancer defense system. In fact, direct administration of LAK cells has been tested for cancer treatment, along with interleukin-2, a cellular signaling protein that activates LAK cells. This has shown promise, but like most pharmaceutical interventions there are unpleasant side effects. Using cannabinoids is a safer and potentially more effective way to take advantage of the body’s natural LAK cells.

This is not the first study to reach these conclusions. An April 2012 study by many of the same authors yielded similar results, but the newer study is novel in its recognition of the role LAK cells play.

Given the direct and indirect anticancer action of cannabinoids on lung cancer, it makes sense that actual patients have reported success. A well known activist named Michelle Aldrich used cannabis oil in conjunction with chemotherapy to eliminate her lung cancer. Her surgeon, Dr. Peter Anastassiou, remarked that “he had never seen lung cancer totally eradicated by chemo, much less in four months.”

Another patient named Jeff shared his story in a video (below) about the benefits of medicinal cannabis. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and five tumors on his left lung in July 2011. For treatment, he put two drops of cannabis oil on his tongue every morning, and eventually was declared cancer free on December 21st, 2011. In his case, there was apparently no traditional chemotherapy used.

Justin Kander is a cannabis extract activist who has attended and presented at numerous medical conferences throughout the world. His recent book Enhancing Your Endocannabinoid System details the best ways to improve the effectiveness of cannabis medicine.

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  • Peter Reynolds

    This DOES NOT “show how cannabis helps your body fight off cancer”. It shows how human cell lines respond in a petri dish which is a very, very different thing from a living, breathing human being..

    Overclaiming does nothing to advance the cause of medicinal cannabis. In fact, it holds it back:

    There Is No Scientific Evidence That Cannabis Cures Cancer In Humans – Yet.

  • #illegallyhealed

    The fact that the FDA has granted ODD to a CBD product for treating glioma is remarkably important. It means the United States government believes the scientific evidence is strong enough to justify directly treating brain cancer in humans with a cannabinoid. They would have simply denied the application if there were no tangible merits, but such approval expressly implies real therapeutic potential.

    There is even an article in the November 2013 Case Reports in Oncology journal documenting success against leukemia in a HUMAN patient, which formally ruled out spontaneous remission or chemotherapy as causes of remission.

    There are hundreds of verified anecdotical proof on the efficacy of cannabis. Every day more and more people are sharing new Cannabis Success Stories. That is not to say this works in all cases for everyone. Some people and some cancers, as Dr. Hergenrather discussed, seem resistant for some reason. This is to be expected with a completely unregulated and unstandardized medicine. There needs to be immediate research into what strains of cannabis work best for which conditions.

    There may be some conditions that won’t respond no matter what. But the bottom line is that many terminal cancer patients have the potential to recover completely with this medicine. There is no reason to withhold this chance at life from them, and with further research, success will only grow.

  • the wiles

    IIRC the glioma study had ambiguous results at best. However, given the results of numerous studies on cannabis & cigarette smoking populations it does seem that there may well be some anticarcinogenic effect. Unfortunately it is not well understood.

    Apoptotic cell death in tumors is mediated by cannabinoid signaling & this is likely part of the story, however in the wrong concentration or in the wrong patient cannabinoids can actually increase tumor size as well, so best to err on the side of caution IMO. A ton of things besides cannabis cause apoptotic tumor cell death in vitro as well, so while I am optimistic, I’m very cautiously so.

    Definitely in favor of rescheduling & further research, and some NIH funding, but I see so many incredible claims attached to cannabis these days it makes me worried some overly ambitious but well meaning lay researcher may do something ill advised that could potentially undo a significant amount of progress.

  • Peter Reynolds

    I completely agree that people should have access to cannabis and generally, even if it has no therapeutic effect, it causes no harm (although, as ‘the wiles’ writes, I have read of some cancers being accelerated by cannabinoids – any more info on this?)

    Also, as ‘the wiles’ says, overclaiming, almost to the extent of quasi-religious proselytising by some, does no good at all for the cause of medicinal cannabis. There is excellent evidence in humans of its palliative benefits, conclusive evidence in chronic pain and Crohn’s. It does not have to be painted as snake oil.

  • #illegallyhealed

    We have a piece coming out soon where we look at the research from Germany in 2003.

    Also, there’s a difference between over-claiming and reporting the verified successes. If anything it should serve as a reason for the US to advance research. (i.e. Spain, Israel)

    As far as quasi-religious proselytising, I think Anslinger did a pretty good job at that in 1937.

    I concur, the human reports of cannabis vs. Crohn’s are astonishing.

    Coltyn Turner is a teenage patient who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2011. The disease took a huge toll on his life, causing severe pain and stunted growth.

    Traditional medicines were ineffective, and no safe options were available to the Turner family. As a last resort, they moved from Illinois to Colorado in February 2014 to begin cannabis extract treatment. By September, he had gained 20 pounds and his symptoms had essentially disappeared.

    Medical documentation confirms the dramatic effect cannabis extract medicine has had on him. Before the treatment, Coltyn had 22 centimeters of inflammation in his colon along with innumerous ulcers.

    In a little over half a year, all the ulcers were eliminated and the inflammation was nearly entirely gone. Coltyn now loves to climb mountains and now often outpaces his family.

  • Wyatt

    That’s funny, because that’s what used to be in snake oil.

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  • Tomas

    Apart from CBD, CBC or any other of the 80 + phytocannabinoids manufactured by this plant, THC-acid should not be decarboxylated [loss of the acid component; R−C(O)OH] via drying or application of heat. Here’s an excellent resource of just how powerful—without the psychotropic effect—cannabis can be. In fact, 60 times more powerful:

  • Tomas

    Let me offer this compilation of interviews. Perhaps this will be of value to you.

  • Randy Walsh

    Who cares about the science, look at the proof, the people it actually cured.

  • Peter Reynolds

    Really it is absurd to offer YouTube videos as any sort of credible evidence as is amply proved by the fact that you are misreprsenting Lester Grinspoon as supporting the idea that cannabis cures cancer in humans. He doesn’t. He’s a scientist, not a faith healer:

    Professor Lester Grinspoon On Exaggerated Claims About Cannabis And Cancer.

  • Peter Reynolds

    That isn’t proof. Neither you nor they have any idea what actually caused their cancer to go into remission.

  • Mary

    I’m not sure why people such as yourself get very combative against anything that is non pharmaceutical. I find it perplexing. Why would you mind if people can possible get cured by things that are not from the pharmaceutical industry? I’ve had some discussions with others on similar topics. I truly don’t get it.

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