By Chukwuma Muanya

It sounds absurd but it is true. The banned and neglected cannabis or rather marijuana popularly called ‘Igbo’ in Nigeria may be the next best treatment for cancers. New report suggests cannabis can kill cancer cells and shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumours. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.cannabis

Botanically called Cannabis sativa and more commonly known as marijuana, Cannabis is a hemp plant that grows freely throughout the world. The cannabis plant most commonly is known today as a potent psychoactive substance, but for many years it was harvested primarily for its fibre.

However, new advice published in DailyMailOnline reveals cannabis can kill cancer cells and shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumours.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States (US) has admitted, in its revised publication on marijuana, that the drug offers benefits to some cancer patients.

The report states: “Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.

“Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumours.

“Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”

Previous studies indicate that cannabis, Indian Hemp or rather marijuana may provide the novel treatment for prostate cancer by acting as analgesia on bone pain, improving quality of life, while reducing narcotic consumption and preventing opioid dependence.

Besides its use in the treatment of diseases and health problems such as Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), glaucoma, eye problems, cachexia (wasting syndrome), pain, muscle spasticity, convulsion, insomnia, asthma, hypertension, depression, among others; Cannabis sativa has been confirmed to be effective in is managing prostate cancer patients.

Researchers in a study published last year in Indian Journal of Urology concluded: “It is our conclusion that it would be of interest to conduct clinical trials involving medicinal cannabis or other cannabinoid agonists, comparing clinical markers such as Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) with controls, especially in men with bone metastatic prostate cancer, whom would not only benefit from the possible anti-androgenic effects of cannabinoids but also from analgesia of bone pain, improving quality of life, while reducing narcotic consumption and preventing opioid dependence.”

Cannabinoids are present in Cannabis sativa and occur naturally in the nervous and immune systems of animals. They are structurally related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or that bind to cannabinoid receptors.

PSA is screening test for prostate cancer.

An opioid is any psychoactive chemical that resembles morphine in its pharmacological effects.

The study titled “The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications” was published by Juan A. Ramos and Fernando J. Bianco.

The term medicinal marijuana refers to using the whole unprocessed plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom.

Currently the drug is not recognised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medicine.

However, studies of the chemicals in marijuana – cannabinoids – has led the FDA to approve two medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals.

Currently two cannabinoids, of around 100, are of medical interest – THC and CBD.

THC increases appetite and reduces nausea. It may also decrease pain, inflammation and muscle control problems.

It is thought to be useful in minimising pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures and possibly treating mental illness and addictions.

In the United Kingdom (UK), THC is the active ingredient in the prescribed drug Sativex.

It is currently only licensed to treat and relive the pain of muscle spasms in MS patients.

Scientists are also conducting clinical trials and preclinical studies into the effects of marijuana on: Autoimmune diseases, including Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease; inflammation; pain; seizures; substance use disorders; and mental disorders.

The new advice from the National Institute on Drug Abuse comes as a group of senators put pressure on the US federal government to recognise the medicinal value of the drug.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act was introduced in March.

It proposes moving cannabis from a schedule I to a schedule II drug, recognising it has some medicinal value.

The proposed bill does not, however, legalise marijuana in all states, but permits states to set their own policies, The Daily Caller reported.

“It couldn’t be any clearer that marijuana has medical value,’ Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller.

“When even NIDA and the surgeon general are acknowledging that marijuana can help people who are suffering, it is time for the Obama administration to reschedule the drug.

“The attorney general can initiate that process today, and there’s no reason for him not to, especially when polling shows that such a huge majority of Americans supports medical marijuana.”

Twenty-three states in the US currently have laws legalising the use of marijuana in some form.
Four states – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington – have legalised the drug for both medicinal and recreational use.
Meanwhile, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Maine have laws allowing people to use the drug for medicinal purposes.

Also, Nigerian researchers from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba –Akoko, Ondo State, in study published in IOSR Journal of Pharmacy Vol. 2, Issue 3, May-June, 2012, pp.460-463 concluded: “Cannabis sativa (marijuana) is a wonderful and sacred plant that is grown all over the world. It is a plant, which is plagued, ignorantly, with suspicions and controversies that greatly prevented its usefulness to mankind.

“Apart from being used for recreational purposes, Cannabis sativa is useful for the treatment of some chronic diseases which defied medical cure such as HIV/ AIDS, cancer, asthma etc. Marijuana is also a plant that has some commercial and economical value.

“Consequent upon these values, it is recommended that: Cannabis sativa should be legalised so that it can provide employment for the producers, distributors and traders of the commodity. More researches should be carried out on Cannabis Sativa so that mankind could harness the Medical, commercial, agricultural, social, recreational and economic utility inherent in then crop.”

Dr. G.O. Ayenigbara of the Human Kinetics And Health Education Unit, Science And Technical Education Department, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba – Akoko, Ondo State, published the study titled “Medical Utility of Cannabis Sativa”.

Despite the medicinal uses, marijuana has been shrouded in controversy. There are three hypothesized social\environmental consequences of Cannabis use that have received attention, the role of marijuana in enhancing interpersonal skills, the effect of Cannabis on aggression and violence, and the role of marijuana use in what has been called the amotivational syndrome. Many users of marijuana have s aid they use the drug because it enhances their social skills and allows them to be more competent in social situations.

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