By Sayer Ji
Cannabis contains a compound that may kill brain cancers that chemotherapy and radiation can’t touch, so why isn’t it being used today?
In recent years, we’ve focused heavily on educating our readers about the still relatively unknown role that cancer stem cells play in cancer, both in terms of conventional cancer treatment failure and the exceptionally promising role that natural interventions play in targeting these highly malignant cells.
It is encouraging to witness a growing awareness that cancer has been completely misunderstood, and that in order to make progress against the global epidemic we will have to go back to the wisdom of the ancients by using foods and spices instead of toxic chemicals and radiation to fight a disease that should be classified more as a survival mechanism unmasked than an inexorably lethal, genetically-driven condition. Even the National Cancer Institute now admits that it had been wrong for decades about “early stage” breast (DCIS) and prostate (HGPIN) “cancers,” and that they should be reclassified as indolent or benign lesions of epithelial origin, i.e. not “cancer” at all! Essentially, therefore, millions were overdiagnosed and overtreated for cancers they never had. Even now, despite this admission, the vast majority of conventional doctors have yet to account for, acknowledge, or integrate this radically different definition of cancer and its implications for treatment into their “standard of care.”
We previously featured a recent review on natural therapies that target cancer stem cells, many of which included common foods and spices. You can view it here. But one substance conspicuously absent from the list was cannabis, which is the herb we now turn to to give it a fair representation in the context of this topic.
A recent article published in the Journal Neuroimmune Pharmacology titled, “The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids,” reviewed the therapeutic potential of a non-psychoactive class of phytochemicals found in cannabis known as cannabinoids. Unlike THC, cannabinoids do not activate the cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors in the central nervous system in any significant way, making their activity less controversial as they do not produce changes in perception and sensation associated with “recreational” and/or “psychedelic” drugs. There are actually over 60 cannabinoids in cannabis, but the second most abundant one, cannabidiol (CBD), has been found to inhibit and/or kill a wide range of cancers in the animal model, including gliobastoma (a difficult-to-treat type of brain cancer), breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer. There have been a wide range of mechanisms identified behind these observed anti-tumor activities, including anti-angiogenic (preventing new blood vessel formation), anti-metastatic, anti-cell viability, but the one we wish to focus on in this report is its ability to to inhibit the stem-like potential of cancer cells.
Stem cells are unique within the body as they are capable of continual self-renewal, theoretically making them immortal relative to regular body cells (somatic cells), which die after a fixed number or replication cycles. In their normal state of function they are essential for healing and bodily regeneration, as they are capable of differentiating into the wide range of cells that make up the body and need to be regularly replaced when damaged.
This so-called pluripotent property of stem cells is also observed in tumor formation and maintenance, as cancer stem cells are capable of producing the entire range of different cells that make up a tumor colony. Unlike regular tumor cells, cancer stem cells are uniquely tumorigenic because they are capable of breaking off from an existing lesion or tumor and forming a new tumor colony of cells. In this sense, they are “mother cells” at the heart of cancer malignancy, whose ability to colonize other tissues by producing all the “daughter cells” necessary to form a new tumor make their existence highly concerning from the perspective of cancer prevention and treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy, while capable of reducing the size of a tumor, actually enrich the post-treatment residual lesion or tumor with higher levels of cancer stem cells, and in some cases transform non-cancer stem cells into cancer stem cells, ultimately making the post-treatment state of the treated tissue far worse than its pre-treatment condition. This is why identifying and using natural, safe, effective and affordable ways to target cancer stem cells versus the non-tumorigenic tumor cells in a lesion or tumor is the only rational way to treat cancer, and should be the primary focus of present day cancer treatment approaches.