CANCER AFFECTS EVERYONE. WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
Whether you have gone through it yourself or supported a family member or friend through their treatment, pretty much everybody on the planet has been touched by cancer. With each new treatment or precaution that is developed, it feels like we discover ten new potential causes, so it can definitely feel overwhelming to think about at times.
I know that I usually try to keep things light and to see the humor wherever I can find it, but the fact is that cancer sucks. There is no way to tip-toe around it and no song and dance that I perform is going to change that fact. The disease is more awful than words can express and the treatments can feel like they’re kicking you while you’re down.
Before I delve further into our topic today I just wanted to say that while I am excited about the findings in some of the research (which I’ll get to in a minute) and the potential it possesses, we are far from finding a magical cure for cancer. I am not a doctor or a cancer researcher myself, so I am definitely not advocating that you ignore professional advice, but if this feels like something you might benefit from then perhaps it can open up a dialogue in your camp and offer the potential to help ease some of your symptoms.
It also incredibly important to note that everybody and every cancer is as unique as a snowflake. The treatments that work for one person might do nothing for another; the symptoms that are kicking your ass might be a cakewalk for someone else. What I’m trying to say is that I am not a snake oil salesman and I am unable to offer you a magic cure. I simply want to share some exciting research I have discovered about one of my new favorite products - Hemp Oil.
HOW ARE TUMORS FORMED?
Before we can get into the research around the potential to use hemp as a treatment for some types of cancer, it’s important to understand how these tumors are formed. Firstly, a tumor is a very non-specific term for a neoplasm or an abnormal new growth of cells. They can be benign (generally harmless) or malignant (cancerous), but basically the word ‘tumor’ just refers to a mass.
While some tumors are associated with viruses, such as the human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer, others are directly related to environmental factors, such as smoking causing lung cancer. (About 79 million people — men and women — are thought to have an active HPV infection at any given time!). Unfortunately, in some cases it may just be that certain cells started to divide at an abnormal rate for no obvious reason.
Generally speaking, a large amount of inflammation within the body that doesn’t have an obvious cause (such as an injury or infection) is seen as a precursor to tumorous growth. A healthy human body will see its cells regularly die and be replaced, with the protein complex known as NF-κB helping to regulate cell proliferation and cell survival. Heck here is one more reason to be more plant based with your food choices... reduce and eliminate the bodies inflammation.
Many types of different tumors in humans are formed when NF-κB is constitutively expressed - or is expressed all the time - but NF-κB is only meant to be expressed occasionally when your body needs inflammation. When it is chronically expressed it blocks apoptosis which is what kills developing cancer cells. If your body isn’t able to go through apoptosis those cells continue to grow until you have a tumor.
If we’re able to get control over NF-κB and regulate inflammation within our body then we should be able to get control over these developing cells.
WHAT IS THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM?
The endocannabinoid system is a system of cannabinoid receptors naturally occurring within the body and is comprised of CB1 receptors, which relate to the brain, and CB2 receptors which are related to the immune system and the associated organs.
Our body creates its own endocannabinoids to nourish the endocannabinoid system that are structurally similar to the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants, so by consuming the cannabinoids we’re able to restore and nourish our ECS.
When the endocannabinoid system breaks down - due to poor diet, stress or inflammation and disease - it can further negatively affect our health and wellbeing. The endocannabinoid system regulates sleep, memory, mood, appetite, temperature regular, pain sensations, and the pleasure and reward centers of the brain -- which you might recognize as being related to a lot of the typical side effects of cannabis use, such as an intense craving for snack food.
Whether you’re going through cancer treatment or not, these functions are all crucial for your health, so it is vital that your endocannabinoid system is constantly nourished, which may mean that if you’re deficient and your body isn’t producing enough of its own cannabinoids you may need to supplement your system with phytocannabinoids.
CANNABINOIDS AND CANCER
There are two main uses for cannabinoids in cancer treatment. The most common is centred on using THC - the cannabinoid in marijuana that has a psychoactive effect - to assist those who are going through chemotherapy to relieve their nausea and increase their appetite.
THC directly stimulates the CB1 receptors and leads to the heady “high” that pot smokers experience as well as the famous need to consume all the snack food in existence. Much like Queen Victoria relieving her menstrual cramps with the herb back in 1890, THC can also offer some pain relief and can ease the amount of painkillers needed by a patient during treatment. As such, treatment for patients in chemotherapy is one of the main uses for medical marijuana.
The second, less publicized cannabinoid that we’d like to focus on today is hemp. Unlike THC, hemp does not have a psychoactive effect so you won’t experience that foggy high feeling. In fact, hemp actually works to regulate the cannabinoids that interact with the receptors and is able to minimize the effects of THC on the CB1 receptors, effectively pushing the interaction to the CB2 receptors to avoid the psychoactive effects.
Cannabidiol can be found in Hemp Oil, which is legally available in the United States with THC content of less than 0.3%, so you definitely won’t be turning into a hippy dippy flower child after one dose. I have recently been using hemp oil as an effective treatment for my own chronic pain after exhausting all other avenues, but it is also considered a treatment for diabetes, fibromyalgia and seizures.
Research has shown that cannabidiol was able to induce programmed cell death (PCD) in breast cancer cells without negatively affecting the healthy cells surrounding it. The research group found that the treated cancer showed evidence of autophagy - meaning the cells literally ate themselves. Just imagine Pac Man eating the dots on the screen, except the dots are FOOD FOR OUR LITTLE Pac Man.
he high levels of antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties in hemp may help to prevent cancerous growths from forming, while its ability to regulate the interaction between the CB1 and CB2 receptors and local cannabinoids to offer pain relief and immune support may make it a helpful assistant to traditional cancer treatments. BOOM! I AM LOVING THIS PEOPLE.
YET, unfortunately, research on the full effects of hemp to treat cancer is limited to test tubes and mice instead of human trials, but the research is hopeful. At the very least doctors have suggested that taking hemp oil can be a useful supplementary solution to traditional cancer treatments.
Grab a bottle and see what happens with you!
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