• Sara Fotheringham

Is it Really a Miracle Drug?

There is so much talk out there about cannabis being this miracle drug that can help treat or alleviate symptoms of numerous illnesses but what are the facts? There’s a lot of research out there but what illnesses have actually been proven to be treated effectively? Cannabis research has been limited due to the severe restrictions on it making it very difficult for scientists to receive funding. As a result, what research is available is often limited and needs further research. However, these initial researches have been very promising and hopefully with the legalization and destigmatizing cannabis funding will become more available. What the current research shows though, is that cannabis is an effective treatment for multiple conditions. There is a distinction to make here that treating an illness is not the same as pain management. Cannabis has proven time and time again that it is an effective and safe pain management alternative. However, cannabis can also help treat illnesses much the same way that pharmaceuticals do. So let’s take a look at two of the conditions that cannabis has been proven to be effective for:


1. Cancer

2. IBS


Cancer

This is perhaps the most well-known illness that cannabis has been known to help. Mostly due to its use as an effective way to manage the pain and relieve symptoms caused by cancer treatments. What wasn’t fully researched, at least not in Canada, was the effect of cannabis on the actual cancer cells. In this study, cannabis was compared with Compazine, a common medication used in combination with chemotherapy. They found that the cannabinoid THC was just as effective as the Compazine medication to relieve symptoms. Several other studies have shown that cannabis can actually kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells--something the other medications are having a hard time doing. It isn’t just the THC cannabinoid either that’s been beneficial. In this study they found that CBD helped induce cancer cell death, “Our study revealed an intricate interplay between apoptosis and autophagy in CBD-treated breast cancer cells and highlighted the value of continued investigation into the potential use of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”


IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder that affects the large intestine causing swelling, bloating, pain, constipation, diarrhea, and a few other unpleasant symptoms. Reducing inflammation is a major part of treating IBS effectively. Cannabis has been shown to help reduce inflammation. In this study, they found that when “researchers induced intestinal inflammation (colitis) in rodents and then tested the effectiveness of THC and CBD compared to sulphasalazine (one of the longest-used anti-inflammatory medications) on relieving the associated inflammation.”


There are other illnesses that cannabis has shown significant promise to treat besides cancer and IBS. Inflammatory diseases of all kinds like arthritis can all benefit from the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis. Is cannabis a miracle drug? No drug can treat everything and making the assumption that cannabis can cure or treat everything and anything would be as bad as assuming only synthesized chemicals are useful. That being said, there are a lot of things about cannabis and the endocannabinoid system that we don’t yet understand. There is a world of potential in this plant and many others like it that could be effective for a host of conditions. The issue is getting funding for more research. This is often blocked for various reasons and as a result, cannabis research has fallen to the side. However, with the changes in recent legislation and our cultural view of natural medicines, funding might be as difficult to obtain.

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