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Cannavaping for Cancer, What Do We Know So Far?

A trend called “cannavaping” – the vaping of cannabis products, is being looked at as a possible treatment for cancer patients.

July 22, 2017

There are a lot of opinions out there relating to cannabis and cancer. More scientific research is needed, though most people will agree that cannabis helps with pain, nausea, and other side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Some even say that cannabis, particularly the compound cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major phytocannabinoids in the plant, might even shrink tumors and help prevent cancer from spreading.

A trend called “cannavaping” – the vaping of cannabis products, is being looked at as a possible treatment for cancer patients. Researchers at the University of Lausanne whipped up their own cannabis-laden oils for use in e-cigarettes. They discovered that this may be a more reliable delivery method of the medicine than pills containing the extracts. Using e-pens and vaporizers, patients could get regularly timed microdoses throughout the day, providing them with better relief.

CBD, when used as a treatment or medicine, has been proven to help control and relieve pain. It is also a wonderful treatment for the nausea that can accompany many cancer treatments. Some research has even indicated that CBD may help to shrink tumors or to stop cancer tumors from spreading and invading other body systems.

This treatment actually has been backed up by scientific research. In 2009, a research team at Complutense University in Spain found that THC induced the death of brain cancer cells through autophagy. Similar effects were discovered during a study co-led by Complutense University and the University of Anglia in the UAE. Scientists there induced mice with human breast cancer cells and found that when treated with doses of THC, there was an anti-tumor response. However, researchers do not know which cannabinoid receptors are responsible for the response to THC.

While scientific tests in laboratory settings – test tubes and mice – have shown positive results for shrinking cancer tumors and stopping the spread of cancer, one must also consider that no human trials have been conducted. Because marijuana is still a schedule I drug in the United States, it is difficult to test it for medical uses. Also, it is unlikely that human trials will ever commence. This is because trials are usually run compared to a placebo. It would be unethical to give dangerously ill people – such as those with cancer – a placebo.

However, experts warn against self-medicating with cannabis or discontinuing traditional, doctor recommended therapies.

Why Vaporizing Helps Better than Smoking?

When it comes to vaporizing cannabis – there’s little doubt that vaporization is the healthier alternative to smoking. Smoking and vaporizing help to get the active cannabinoids CBD and THC into a patient’s bloodstream faster than edibles or pill forms of both the compounds. Vaporizing also allows for more of the active compound to be delivered to the patient – smoking carbonizes much of the active phytocannabinoids that are helpful in the treatment of cancer and cancer symptoms, along with the side effects of cancer treatments.

Can you Overdose on Marijuana?

Overdosing on marijuana is a concern among those considering it as a potential therapy for the side effects of cancer treatments and the symptoms of cancer itself as well as the symptoms of other illnesses. However, there have been no known deaths related to the overdose of marijuana ever reported.

Scientists measure a drug’s safety by something called the therapeutic index. This is simply the measure of a drug’s therapeutic dose against its lethal dose. Marijuana’s therapeutic index is approximately 40,000 to 1. In other words, you would have to take 40,000 times the therapeutic dose in order to overdose on marijuana so that it kills you.

However, this does not mean that you cannot take too much. Ingesting too much marijuana can lead to side effects like paranoia and agitation. While such side effects do tend to wear off within 24 hours, it is never a good idea to take too much of any drug.

While the doctor is still out, so to speak, on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and vaping marijuana, it has shown promise as a treatment not only for cancers, but for a large number of other diseases. From seizures to psychological illnesses like anxiety, depression, and even PTSD, cannabis is proving to be a very important drug to consider in the treatment – and the research – of treating and helping to prevent illness and disease.


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David Emerson is a 23 year Multiple Myeloma survivor. He started as a non-profit in 2004 to help cancer survivors and caregivers navigate the vast world of cancer issues by providing evidence-based information on the most pressing cancer issues. Since 2004, David has impacted over 600,000 people through this website. He is in the process of developing cancer-specific coaching program, and also does one-on-one coaching via phone or email. Thank you for visiting!