Ongoing research involving the chemical compounds contained within marijuana and their effects on cancer prove promising. Receptor sites found on the cells react with THC in such a way as to cause destruction.
THC Causes Lethal Effects in Cancerous Cells
The compounds contained in marijuana benefit many cancer patients by helping to alleviate pain in addition to reducing the nausea of chemotherapy. Medical marijuana also improves appetite and promotes restful sleep. However, in recent years, studies suggest that principle cannabis chemical components actually demonstrate a lethal effect on malignant cells.
For more than 15 years at the Complutense University of Madrid, biochemist Manuel Guzmán and his team tested the possible effects of CBD and THC on brain tumor malignancies. By extracting the compounds and injecting them directly into affected tissue, the scientists observed that the tumors in one-third of afflicted laboratory animals decreased in size and completely disappeared in another third of the cases. THC stopped the cells from growing or reproducing and caused them to begin a self-destructive process known as autophagy. Oncologists from St. James University Hospital in England viewed similar results in human patients.
Since Dr. Guzman’s findings, researchers became more interested in learning about the molecular means in which marijuana components affect cancer. Complutense University researchers combined efforts with United Kingdom scientists in an effort to further explore the mysterious link between THC and cancer. The researchers used human breast cancer cells in mice to create brain tumors. They then targeted the cells with THC. They discovered that the malignancies had two different cannabinoid receptor sites on the cells that initiated cellular destruction. The sites responsible for the cellular suicide are known as CB2 and GPR55. However, the team is yet unsure if one or the other of these sites plays a more important role.
Self-medicating Is Not the Answer
Though the latest results are impressive, merely acquiring marijuana from cannabis Portland dispensaries and smoking or ingesting the plant will not provide cancer patients with the same effects. The research involved isolating the compound in specific concentrations using complex laboratory techniques and injecting THC directly into the cells. However, the team believes that by identifying the receptor sites, future medications containing similar compounds can more effectively reduce tumor growth.