Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist from Compultense University in Madrid, first reported in 1998 that TetraHydroCannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, induces tumor cell suicide while leaving healthy non-tumor cells alone. She discovered that when exposed to THC, tumor cells not only ceased to multiply and proliferate but also destroyed themselves, both in lab tests and animal trials.
A Harvard study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, also found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.
Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system. Commercially available cannabinoids, dronabinol and nabilone, are FDA approved drugs for the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
When inhaled or consumed, cannabis cannabinoids are incorporated into the body’s natural endocannabinoid system that regulates a lot of biological functions such as appetite, food intake, motor behavior, and reproduction among others. Because of this, tumor cells are thrust into a state of apoptosis, meaning they self-destruct.
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