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Apoptosis: How Cannabis Causes Cancer Cell Death

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If you’ve ever been to a dispensary or spoken to someone about medical marijuana, chances are you’ve heard plenty of stories about cannabis treating or curing cancers. Despite a profusion of anecdotal successes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not found that marijuana is safe or effective at treating health issues at this time. Yet there have been many studies that found cannabis aids in the battle against many ailments and diseases such as cancers. In this article, we’ll take a look at how cannabis naturally causes cancer to “kill itself” on a cellular level.

 

What is Apoptosis?

Like all living things, cells have an intended life cycle. They are born, live, and then die in one of two ways. When the cell is damaged by extrinsic causes such an injury or infection that results in cell death, it is called necrosis. The other way in which cells die is the ‘healthy’ or ‘engineered’ way called apoptosis. Apoptosis is the programmed death of the cell and is necessary in the life cycle of all cells. In fact, every day the average person loses 50 to 70 billion cells due to apoptosis; this is necessary for the production of new cells and maintaining homeostasis.

 

Cancer and Cannabinoids

Cancer itself is a disease in which infected cells reproduce rapidly without dying. This causes a lot of problems including damaging surrounding tissue and tumor growth. As malignant cells do not die a ‘scheduled’ death like healthy cells, they continue to multiply and spread. Several cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have been shown to induce apoptosis in malignant cells by acting on the cannabinoid receptors. CB2 receptors are cannabinoid receptors expressed predominantly in immune cells.

In a study published by the National Institute of Health, it was found that cannabinoids acted as an immunosuppressant in several capacities. One major way in which cannabis acts as an immunosuppressant is by its anti-inflammatory properties, such as relieving the pain brought on by arthritis. Another immunosuppressant property of cannabis is apoptosis, allowing malignant cells to ‘die’ naturally. In fact, the National Cancer Institute acknowledges that cannabis has been known to kill cancer cells in the laboratory. Yet they, along with the NIH, specify that there is not enough evidence to recommend cannabis as a cancer treatment.

Cannabis has shown to be a valuable tool in maintaining health and fighting diseases; but without further research, no one can definitively claim that cannabis can “cure” anything. For now cannabis remains an invaluable tool to achieving the best health possible through better mental health and pain management.

Interested in learning more about using medical cannabis treatments? Schedule a consultation with an expert. If you’re in the Ann Arbor area, contact the team at Arbors Wellness for a free consultation.

 

Article by Derick DeLaRosa