The relationship between cannabis and cancer seems to be getting increasingly stronger as research on the herb proliferates. Perhaps some of the most profound findings in this domain include the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and how compounds within cannabis have a distinct and specific effect upon aspects of the human body. Another would be findings that show the powerful antitumour effects of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. As well as these wonderful effects, cannabis is also being recognized as a herbal medicine that can ease the brutal side effects of a type of conventional cancer treatment: chemotherapy.


Chemotherapy is a conventional means of attempting to treat cancer via the use of certain drugs that work to kill cells within the human body. There are a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs, with some being used in combination. It is sometimes used with other approaches that come with other side effects such as radiation. Chemotherapy drugs act to kill bodily cells that are about to split into two news cells.

The idea is that because cancer cells divide more often than normal cells, they are more likely to be damaged than normal cells. Some of these drugs act to damage the control centre of cells, whereas others disrupt cellular chemical processes.

Problems with chemotherapy are common because these drugs also target and attack healthy, normal cells. Healthy cells under threat include cells in the mouth, blood, digestive system and hair. Serving as an example, chemotherapy fails the majority of time as a cancer treatment within the United States. Perhaps the catalyst as to why many people seem to be seeking alternative and natural solutions to cancer treatment. These include high grade and potent cannabis oil extracts with high concentrations of THC and CBD.

Dr. Leonard Coldwell has stated, “If you have a garden with flowers and bushes and trees and grass, and some weeds, you come with Agent Orange and kill it all off, and now it’s all dead, and you hope only the good stuff is coming back”, adding, “They bombard the entire system and then they say the cancer is in remission”.

Such a harsh treatment can cause side effects such as pain, fatigue, blood disorders, mouth and throat sores, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea, just to name a few. However, this is where cannabis steps into the picture once again. Certain properties possessed by the plant are the perfect counter move to some of the awful side effects produced by the application of chemotherapy.

cells split cancer cannabis countereffect


Cannabis seems so capable of tackling the side effects of chemotherapy that cannabis related pharmaceuticals are currently available to do so. Synthetic cannabinoids such as dronabinol and nabilone are used to reduce nausea and vomiting that is brought on by chemotherapy. These synthetic drugs are modeled on the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana called THC.

A paper titled “Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting[1]: quantitative systematic review”, published in the British Medical Journal aimed at exploring the antiemetic, or nausea and vomiting reducing, effects of cannabinoids. The authors state that the cannabinoids tested were more effective at reducing nausea and vomiting than a number of antiemetic drugs.

The researchers concluded, “...the cannabinoids reviewed here were slightly superior to conventional antiemetics after chemotherapy, and patients preferred them.” The authors note that the side effects of cannabinoids may limit their widespread use, however they also stated: “In selected patients, cannabinoids may be useful as mood enhancing adjuvants for the control of chemotherapy related sickness.”.


Additionally, the National Cancer Institute[2] of the United States explain, “Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite,” adding that, “cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies. There is growing interest in treating children for symptoms such as nausea with cannabis and cannabinoids, although studies are limited.”

Cannabinoid receptors that are located in the brain are believed to have a role in the control of nausea and vomiting. THC may act upon these receptors and act to prevent vomiting that is brought about by certain types of chemotherapy.

cannabinoid receptors nausea vomiting cancer cannabis


Sadly, and hypocritically, the same page of information on this website also mentions that marijuana is federally illegal in the United States, although some states have made independent legal changes.


Cannabis may offer patients undergoing chemotherapy benefits through increasing their appetite. Animal studies have shown that THC and other cannabinoids may stimulate appetite which may encourage patients to consume food, although lacking appetite and experiencing nausea.


Cannabis can also help with pain relief. Cannabinoid receptors exist in the brain, spinal cord and nerve endings. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to the relief of pain. The National Institute of Health also states: “Animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may prevent nerve problems (pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, and muscle weakness) caused by some types of chemotherapy.”.


Although still illegal, the increasingly expanding scientific understanding of cannabis and cannabinoids and their role in cancer treatment and chemotherapy assistance are undeniable. Cannabis is obviously a good, natural choice of herbal medicine for those going through the terrible experience that chemotherapy may induce. However some may argue, and the science does exist that could back it up, that chemotherapy has no place at all, and then cannabis has the potential to treat this disease alone.

External Resources:
  1. Tramer MR, Carroll D, Campbell FA, Reynolds DJ, Moore RA, McQuay HJ. Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting: quantitative systematic review. BMJ 323: 16-21
  2. Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Patient Version - National Cancer Institute
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