We set out to check about the role of cannabis in cancer treatment. And here are the findings in the next article!


In an interview on May 3, 2019, Abrams stated, “I’ve been an oncologist in San Francisco for thirty-six years, and I’d wager that the majority of the cancer patients I’ve treated have used cannabis.” “But I encounter a cancer patient with lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness, pain, depression, or anxiety every single day, and if I have a medication that may reduce nausea and vomiting, increase appetite, decrease pain, and improve sleep and mood, I consider that a valuable intervention. Instead than prescribing five or six medicines that may interact with one another or the chemotherapy I administer, I can propose a single extremely safe botanical.”

When Abrams was a medical intern and resident in San Francisco in the 1970s, many people, including young cancer patients, utilized cannabis. In 1980, when he began his oncology residency at UCSF, marijuana was popular and there were few good anti-emetics (drugs that help nausea and vomiting).

We had prochlorperazine, often known as Compazine, and Tigan [trimethobenzamine hydrochloride]… “but they weren’t very good,” Abrams said. “Young people with malignancies affecting young people, such as Hodgkin’s disease or testicular cancer, told us, ‘You know what? Cannabis is a superior anti-nausea treatment than prescription drugs.'” Abrams believes this is what prompted the National Cancer Institute and numerous pharmaceutical companies to study synthetic delta-9 THC as a viable anti-nausea drug.

“Numerous investigations undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s led to the 1985 approval of dronabinol [capsule-form synthetic THC] and nabilone [oral THC analogue] for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In 1992, the FDA expanded the indication for the use of dronabinol to include the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in HIV-positive patients.

Abrams claimed that he began prescribing a significant amount of dronabinol when he became an AIDS doctor following his training as a cancer specialist. Patients responded, “You can keep it.” It takes too long for dronabinol to take effect, and by the time it does, I’m already too stoned.'” Abrams stated that delta-9 THC in sesame oil dronabinol marketed as Marinol is a very different drug than cannabis in its natural state. This is what I discovered during my first clinical trial.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse has been the sole official source of cannabis for research trials since the mid-1990s. Abrams stated that the NIDA is mandated by Congress to support only studies investigating substances of abuse as substances of abuse and not as therapeutic agents.

“Therefore, they could not pay the study I was attempting to conduct — to demonstrate that cannabis benefited AIDS wasting patients — but they could fund a study to determine whether it was safe for HIV patients using protease inhibitors to inhale cannabis. Thus, the project was ultimately funded.” It was his first cannabis study sponsored by the NIH. A third of the patients received dronabinol 2.5 mg three times per day, a third smoked NIDA cigarettes containing the entire plant, and a third received a dronabinol placebo.

“The patients stayed in our General Clinical Research Center for a total of twenty-five days, of which twenty-one were spent taking dronabinol or smoking cannabis. And it was extremely evident to me which patients were on dronabinol because they spent the majority of the day in bed, very exhausted. In contrast, the cannabis patients were dancing, cleaning their rooms, and far more active. So, yes,” replied Abrams, “I believe it is a different medicine.”

Abrams said that “many cancer patients at the end of their lives are prescribed opiates by well-intentioned physicians attempting to alleviate their physical and mental agony and suffering.” And the patients respond, ‘This prevents me from communicating with my family because I’m so high.’ So they wean themselves off opioids and go to cannabis, which they like significantly more.”

Abrams stated that medicinal cannabis has been legal in California for twenty-three years and recreational cannabis for two years. However, when a medical referral was required, Abrams would write a letter that patients could take to a dispensary to receive cannabis for one year.

“But I didn’t say to strain yourself this much, this frequently,” he remarked. “I do not believe cannabis to be a pharmaceutical requiring a package insert. Probably, the majority of individuals can find out how to use it. Every patient and every strain is unique, therefore I believe the best advice is to “start low and go slow.” This has become a mantra.” And Abrams disagrees with the pharmaceuticalization of cannabis.

The oncologist stated, “I believe we should consider it a 5,000-year-old botanical treatment with substantial benefits.” “However, it may not be accurate to refer to it as a medicine using a paradigm controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. I believe it should be regarded similarly to saw palmetto and echinacea, but controlled similarly to tobacco and alcohol, and responsible adults should be permitted to take it as they see fit.”


Since 2009, Dr. Dustin Sulak’s clinical practice has centered on the treatment of refractory illnesses in adults and children as an integrative osteopathic physician and medical cannabis expert. He is the founder of Integr8 Health, a Maine-based organization that monitors over 8,000 patients utilizing medicinal cannabis and other integrative therapy techniques. Sulak has published in peer-reviewed journals and lectured abroad to healthcare professionals on the clinical applications of cannabis. The following information has been modified with permission from Sulak’s educational website,, which offers a variety of medical cannabis programs, as well as training and certification for physicians, other health professionals, and consumers.

Taking cannabis to ease symptoms and enhance treatment acceptability, or using cannabis in normally high amounts to help fight the cancer. According to Sulak, the goals are not mutually exclusive, but each demands a distinct method to dosage.

Cannabis is a safe and effective medication for cancer patients with chronic pain, sleeplessness, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting when administered properly. Cannabinoids help decrease the development of neuropathic pain, a typical adverse effect of chemotherapy that might limit a patient’s chemo dose or duration, according to research on animals. Even after attaining cancer remission, many patients are left with lifelong, painful neuropathy.

A mixture of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in varying ratios can be utilized to optimize the advantages and decrease the adverse effects of cannabinoid treatment.

Medical cannabis can help patients endure conventional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation, and it has a low risk of medication interactions with these treatments. This indicates that there are few reasons to avoid mixing cannabis with standard cancer treatments (with a few exceptions noted in the educational materials).

In terms of palliative treatment near the end of life, cannabis offers numerous benefits to people with terminal cancer. “It’s a tremendously valuable supplement to normal hospice therapy,” says Sulak.


In addition to relieving symptoms and improving the quality of life of cancer patients, cannabinoids have demonstrated anticancer effects in numerous cell and animal models. Sulak notes that an abundance of anecdotal evidence implies that cannabis therapy is also effective against human malignancies. Using cannabis extracts, few patients have reported slowed or stopped tumor growth, while others have achieved complete remission of aggressive malignancies.

To acquire these potent anticancer effects, the majority of patients require a higher dose than that required for symptom relief, often 200 mg to 2,000 mg of cannabinoids per day, or the equivalent of one to two ounces of cannabis herb each week. This quantity of medication may be cost-effective if the cannabis is produced outdoors by the patient or caregiver, but acquiring this amount of medicine from a medical cannabis shop could be costly.

At these levels, according to Sulak, “a skilled medical professional must monitor the therapy to prevent adverse effects and interactions with conventional cancer treatment.” To get these high doses without major side effects, patients must titrate up with care. Surprisingly, daily dosages of up to 2,000 mg are well tolerated.”

High-dose cannabis is nonlethal and far safer than traditional chemotherapy, although the efficacy of high-dose cannabis for cancer has not been evaluated in humans. Some individuals who achieve extremely high doses report a general improvement in their symptoms and an increase in their quality of life. Others discover that at extremely high doses, cannabis ceases to alleviate symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and sleep disturbances – benefits that are easily obtained at lower amounts. Others fail to develop tolerance to the negative effects of high cannabis doses and become stoned, sluggish, and uneasy.


Patients and students should be wary of anyone who claims to have a one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis dosing for cancer, according to Sulak. The internet is rife with ratios, doses, and other cancer treatment regimens, but many of these claims are based on the success of a single patient or on data from the preclinical literature that are only partially relevant (cell and animal studies).

Even if two patients have the same form of cancer, they may respond significantly differently to mainstream or alternative therapy, as Sulak notes. “Because cancer cells are odd, they do unusual things, such as overexpress or fail to express cannabinoid receptors,” he continues. “Each person’s inner physiologic environment, genetics, food, and other elements create a unique situation. Good results from a single example or study cannot be extended broadly; at best, they can serve as pointers. A cancer treatment plan must also take an individual’s goals and preferences into account.

Cannabinoids combat cancer by triggering cell death, stopping cell growth and division, preventing the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors, and preventing the migration of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Sulak observes that the majority of success stories involving the use of cannabis to kill cancer require large dosages, but a number of patient testimonies describe significant reductions in cancer burden when taking low-to-moderate amounts.

“Unlike traditional chemotherapy,” he says, “we know that cannabis are safe for healthy cells.” In conventional chemotherapy, the strategy is typically to employ a medicine that is more toxic to cancer cells than to healthy cells, and to provide as much of this treatment as the patient can bear. Intolerable side effects, such as peripheral neuropathy or malnutrition due to nausea and vomiting, are frequently treatment-limiting issues.

“Cannabis dose may be limited by adverse effects, but not by toxicity, which would lead to long-term constraints,” argues Sulak.

We hope you enjoyed reading our article regarding the role of cannabis in cancer treatment!


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