A research center in San Francisco has shown that a cannabis compound can stop a number of different forms of cancer from spreading.
The California Pacific Medical Center discovered this when a researcher there named Sean McAllister was studying Cannabidiol. This compound, which is also known as CBD, is found in cannabis and produces no psychoactive effects. McAllister combined his research with that of Pierre Desprez, who two decades earlier had studied a gene called ID-1, which is something that causes cancer to spread. The two men then — when introducing Cannabidiol into cancer cells — found that this stopped the cancer from spreading.
Desprez says that the Cannabidiol in effect turned off the ID-1 by making it incapable of traveling to distant tissues. He also says that trying to stop cancer is like trying to stop an orchestra from playing. If you stop just one performer, the orchestra goes on. If you stop the conductor, the orchestra stops, and this is exactly what Cannabidiol does. He further added that without McAllister's contribution he likely would have never discovered that Cannabidiol could do this.
The two researchers published their findings at the National Institutes of Health and continued studying Cannabidiol and its effects on cancer. They subsequently found that Cannabidiol stops a number of forms of aggressive cancer. This includes breast, brain and prostate cancer. They further believe that Cannabidiol will stop any cancer where there are high levels of ID-1 present, which means that it could also stop cancers such as cervical, endometrial, ovarian and liver cancer.
Cannabidiol, other researchers believe, can help stop cancer in ways unrelated to ID-1. They believe that it can aid in the production of what are called reactive oxygen species. These in turn can cause cancer cells to effectively self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.
Cannabidiol is not the only compound in cannabis that has been shown to treat cancer. Cristina Sanchez, who is a scientist at Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, has shown that THC — which is the psychoactive compound in the plant — can also be effective against cancer. Scientists at Harvard have further shown that THC can slow the growth of lung cancer.
However, what sets Desprez and McAllister's research apart is that they were able to stop cancer from spreading without subjecting patients to the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Desprez says that while it took them 20 years to figure this all out, they are very excited about the possibilities this research opens. He also mentions how Cannabidiol has been used to successfully treat a wide range of ailments outside of cancer, and that in testing on animals they have found no toxicity from Cannabidiol whatsoever.