With tears in my eyes that make it difficult to read what I type, I'm infuriated. My sister, who died of cancer at a young age, used to explain to me in confidence that she smoked marijuana because it relieved her pain and nausea. She said it was the only thing that helped, but she hid it from our parents for fear of retribution. Then I watch a video like this and want to scream at the world: "why do you choose to be so blind to reality?!"
If you know anyone who has cancer, you must watch this 5-minute video. I thought it so important that I've transcribed it for people who prefer to skim.
Molecular biologist Christina Sanchez from Madrid Complutense University, Spain explains how cannabinoids (chemical compounds, which includes THC - the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis) are very effective at reducing tumor growth and outright killing cancerous cells. "Cells can die in different ways and, after cannabinoid treatment, they were dying in the 'clean' way. They were committing suicide, which is something you really want."
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments kill healthy as well as cancerous cells, which is why the treatment is sometimes considered as bad as the disease. If you've ever watched a child getting an IV full of chemo and then puking her guts out constantly for the next day, you'll know what I mean. The vivid, awful memories I have of my sister vomiting out the window of a speeding car as my father pulled to the shoulder of the highway, with vomit plastered across the side of the car, brings tears to my eyes even as I write this. Cannabinoids ignore non-cancerous cells, thus reducing this effect.
Dr. Sanchez says "I cannot understand why, in the States, cannabis is under Schedule I, because it is pretty obvious, not only from our work but from work from many other researchers that the plant has a very wide therapeutic potential." Really? Such a smart person as her can't understand? After all, there was so much debate and factual evidence presented as to why marijuana is bad before the US government outlawed it in 1937. Fucking idiot politicians.
I hope you will share this with anyone who has negative opinions of marijuana and especially anyone who has cancer. The drug laws in the US are complete and utter madness, as only politicians can create. But to withhold such life-saving and pain-reducing treatments from cancer patients is pure, unadulterated evil. Any politician that prevents cancer patients and their doctors from taking advantage of such treatments deserves to suffer from the disease. Let them suffer as my sister did before she found a way to use marijuana.
Yeah, I went there.
Please welcome Dr. Christina Sanchez, the molecular biologist who discovered the anti-cancer properties of THC.
My name is Christina Sanchez and I work at Complutense University in Madrid, Spain and I have been working for the last decade on the anti-tumor effects of cannabinoids.
In the early 1960s, Raphael Mechulam from the Hebrew university in Israel characterized the main compound in marijuana producing the psychoactive effects that we all know. The cannabis plant has been known for millennia. After the discover of this compound that is called THC, it was pretty obvious that this compound had to be acting on the cells, on our organism through a mechanism, through a molecular mechanism. And in the 1980s, two specific targets for THC were discovered, something that we called cannabinoid receptors. And after the discovery of the receptor, it was obvious that our body has to synthesize something that binds to these receptors.
It was pretty obvious that it was something endogenously produced by our own bodies that was acting through these receptors. And these compounds - these endogenously-produced cannabinoids were found few years later and it's what we call the endocannabinoids, because they are produced endogenously - inside our bodies.
These compounds, the endocannabinoids, together with the receptors and the enzymes that synthesize - that produce - the endocannabinoids and that degrade the endocannabinoids are what we call the endocannabinoid system. And we now know that the endocannabinoid system regulates a lot of biological function: appetite, food intake, comotor behavior, reproduction, and many, many other functions. And that's why the plant has such a wide therapeutic potential.
We started working in this project 12-15 years ago and it was basically by chance. We were working with astrocytes at the time and we decided to change the model and work with astrocyte toma cells, the tumoral cells. And we observed that, when we treated these cells with cannabinoids - THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis - it was killing the cells in our Petri dishes. We were killing the cells. So we said that we were facing some potential anti-tumoral responses.
And then we decided to analyze these compounds in animal models of breast and brain tumors. The results we have obtained are telling us that cannabinoids may be useful for the treatment of breast cancer.
We started to do experiments in animal models of glioblastoma - brain tumors. And we observed that they were, cannabinoids were, very potent in reducing tumor growth. Cells can die in different ways and, after cannabinoid treatment, they were dying in the 'clean' way. They were committing suicide, which is something you really want when you have an anti-tumoral tract. One of the advantages of cannabinoids, or cannabinoid-based medicines, would be that they target a specifically tumor cells. They don't have any toxic effect or normal, non-tumoral cells. And this is an advantage with respect of standard chemotherapy that target basically everything.
When we started to see these anti-tumor and cell-killing effects on cancer cells, we decided to set aside our metabolic studies and to focus on cancer.
I cannot understand why, in the States, cannabis is under Schedule I, because it is pretty obvious, not only from our work but from work from many other researchers that the plant has a very wide therapeutic potential. We are in contact with doctors in Spain, oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and breast specialists that are willing to test these compounds in human patients.
The plant besides THC produces cannabidiol and this component is very special because it is not psychoactive. It has been demonstrated that it has very, very potent antioxidant. It protects the brain from stress and from damage, kills cancer cells, and when you combine it with THC, it produce synergistic effects which means that the effect of THC is potentiated.
At this point, we have enough pre-clinical evidence supporting the idea that cannabinoids may have anti-tumoral properties. We, as researchers, should explore in more depth and be willing to try in many different pathologies.
Cannabis has an enormous therapeutic potential.