How Cannabis Helps Fighting Cancer: Stories From Real People

How Cannabis Helps Fighting Cancer: Stories From Real People
30.12.2020

Hemp is mentioned in many ancient cultures: ancient, Chinese, Indian. Back in those days it was used, among other things, as a medicine with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Today, this plant is considered a dangerous drug and in many countries it is prohibited to use it even for medical purposes. This limitation is explained by the presence of a psychoactive substance in its composition - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes intoxication and dependence. However, another active ingredient found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), has unique healing properties that help with glaucoma, epilepsy, stomach and intestinal diseases and multiple sclerosis.

In this article, we will analyze the use of cannabis in cancer treatment. How cannabis can help cancer patients and does it have the potential to become a medication? Let’s find out.

Cannabis use in cancer therapy: what scientists say

Cannabis use in cancer therapy

According to the latest research, the cancer-fighting benefits of cannabis have only been scientifically proven as an adjunct to palliative care. Indeed, a number of studies have shown that synthetic or natural cannabinoids in certain doses can reduce the effects of cancer symptoms. So, together with the main therapy, they can be used for:

  •  reducing pain;
  •  normalization of sleep;
  •  relief of nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy;
  • restoring appetite;
  •  fighting depression.

“Cannabis is less likely to interact with other medications I prescribe or chemotherapy than standard pharmaceuticals. I am an avid proponent of the benefits of cannabis in treating symptoms, ”writes Dr. Donald Abrams, a University of California professor of medicine.

But can cannabis completely kill cancer cells? This issue is now being actively studied by scientists.

For example, the Australian biotechnology company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) is actively researching this topic. Dr. Matt Dun, who works at the company, said that according to the results of the experiments, cannabinoids can really influence the degradation of cancer cells.

“ANTG wanted me to test the effect of cannabis on cancer, so we initially used leukemia cells and were really surprised at their sensitivity,” says Dun. “At the same time, it [cannabis] did not kill normal bone marrow cells or normal healthy neutrophils.”

The specialist noted that in the process of influencing the body, cannabis implements a mechanism for selecting cancer cells. The doctor also pointed out that using cannabis varieties with a high CBD content and a low THC content had the best effect.

At the same time, Dr. Dun added that drugs with high CBD content are currently not ready for clinical use. This opinion is shared by other scientists.

And doctors warn that self-treatment with drugs containing high CBD level, even as an adjunct therapy, can cause side effects. So, cannabidiol has the ability to inhibit enzymes that are responsible for the breakdown of medication. This can cause the prescribed drug to build up in the bloodstream and become toxic.

Most modern research is carried out either on artificially derived cancer cells or on animals, so the results cannot be fully extrapolated to humans. What's more, there are thousands of different types of cannabinoids. In this regard, long-term experiments are needed in order to determine the most effective types of substances for each individual case, or at least the category of a tumor.

The fact that certain cannabinoids are beneficial to the body does not mean that hemp, as a plant, cures cancer, according to some scientists.

Stories of real people

From the scientific point of view of, there’s not enough cases of recovery from oncological diseases to talk about cannabis as a remedy for curing cancer. However, people who use cannabis as a complementary therapy say that it has helped them to overcome the disease.

Joy Smith from the UK defeated stage 4 cancer

Joy Smith

In 2018, Daily Mail published an article about how Joy Smith, 52, beat terminal stage cancer with hemp oil.

In August 2016, Joy was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the stomach and intestines. Doctors recognized the tumors as inoperable, chemotherapy did not help, on top of that, the woman developed sepsis, because her body was very weakened.

When the patient started using hemp oil, doctors predicted that she had only six weeks to live.

Joy Smith did not refuse the main treatment, because at the very beginning she did not really believe in the healing effect of cannabis oils, but still decided to try it. It was ordinary hemp oil ordered online, she said. At that time, intake of such medication wasn’t officially allowed in the UK.

The woman's condition stabilized when she began to use it 4-5 times a week, and after two years, studies showed that the number of atypical cells in her stomach had significantly decreased. Three months later, the doctors said the patient no longer had cancer.

Joy stated that hemp oil should be legalized and used in medicine. Therefore, she created and submitted a petition, which collected more than 17,000 signatures. The woman argued that the legalization of medical cannabis might not be considered at the state level because it would destroy a large and very expensive cancer treatment industry.

Nevertheless, medical cannabis has been legalized in the UK since November 1, 2018.

The Cannabis Queen of Beverly Hills

Cheryl Shuman

Cheryl Shuman also strongly supports the idea of ​​legalizing medical cannabis. The woman struggled with cancer for many years, took painkillers, even using morphine, until she switched to cannabinoid-based drugs in her treatment. Cheryl claims that she has experienced significant improvements since then.

After 90 days of such therapy, her illness went into remission, which continues to this day. In 1996, Cheryl Schuman founded the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club to change public opinion about cannabis and help legalize it.

The story of the hemp oil creator

The story of the hemp oil creator

Another story of fighting cancer involves Rick Simpson. Before his illness, he already had experience in using cannabis for medicinal purposes. After a terrible accident, the man suffered from chronic headaches. It was possible to get rid of them only after using hemp.

When Rick was diagnosed with skin cancer after a while, he came back to this remedy again. Chemotherapy and traditional methods did not work for him, so Rick decided to resort to alternative treatment.

According to him, hemp oil turned out to be the most effective remedy, and it helped the man to recover. After defeating oncologic disease, he started producing a medication, calling it Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO for short, for which he was persecuted. A film called Run From The Cure has been directed to tell Rick's story.

Rick Simpson's website states that his product is capable of curing not only cancer, but many other diseases as well. However, there is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of this product to the date. According to doctors, such assurances only distort the real picture of progress in this area.

Most experts agree that active ingredients in cannabis do have the potential in cancer treatment, but more research and confirmed cases are needed to be confident about its potential.


On May 13, join Medical Cannabis Kyiv Conference to hear the real stories of Ukrainian patients who have used medical cannabis in their fight against cancer.

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