60 Percent of Cancer Patients Reduce Symptoms Using Pot, Study Finds

While cannabis has been recognized by some as a complementary treatment to manage the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, experts have hotly debated its efficacy on cancer symptoms for years.

Now, for the first time, a significant scientific study has confirmed what many medical marijuana advocates have claimed for decades – that cannabis, does, in fact, work as a safe and effective palliative treatment in patients suffering from the effects of cancer.

Study Finds Cannabis Reduces Cancer Symptoms

New research, conducted by Tikun Olam’s Pharmaceuticals division (TOP) and published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine analyzed over 1,200 Israeli cancer patients with a variety of cancers including breast, colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancer – half of those at a stage 4 diagnosis.

The patients were prescribed cannabis for their “malignancy-related symptoms,” mainly sleep problems, pain, nausea, and decreased appetite. The investigators prescribed each patient one or more of Tikun Olam’s proprietary cannabis strains, which were developed to address specific cancer-related symptoms.

After six months of cannabis treatment, over 60 percent of respondents reported an improvement in their condition through the use of medical cannabis, leading the study’s authors to write in the study that “Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients is a well-tolerated, effective and safe option.”

Medical Marijuana for Cancer Treatment

While the new findings suggest that idea that medical marijuana can be useful in combating common cancer symptoms, like nausea and pain – there’s also a growing body of research that points to cannabis as a valuable tool in fighting cancer, such as leukemia.

Last year, a study found that combining existing chemotherapy treatments with cannabinoids – the active chemicals in cannabis – had better results than chemotherapy alone. In their report, published in the International Journal of Oncology, the researchers found phytocannabinoids possess ‘anticancer activity’ when used alone in treatment, and have been shown to combine favorably with each other to kill off leukemia cells in laboratory tests.

The researchers paired different types of cannabinoids and used them in combination with conventional leukemia chemotherapy drugs cytarabine and vincristine. They discovered using cannabinoids after chemotherapy resulted in a higher rate of apoptosis – or death of the cancer cells. The opposite worked when reversed, and the authors administered cannabinoids before chemotherapy.

Cannabis May be Effective Opioid Replacement

For those suffering from the painful and debilitating effects of cancer, pain management is crucial in managing the disease which often leads to opioid use, and in some cases, opioid misuse and dependency. But what if cannabis could also aid in replacing these dangerous pain relievers for cancer patients?

The impressive results of the study back up previous research that cannabis for cancer patients may be instrumental in the fight against the alarming opioid epidemic infecting the country.

While opioids were the most consumed drug by patients at intake, at six months, over 30 percent had stopped taking opioids entirely, and an additional 10 percent decreased their dosage.

“The data establishes that cannabis is effective treatment for the most acute symptoms of cancer, such as pain, which often requires the use of opioids,” said Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of Tikun Olam and lead author of the article in the paper.

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