I’ve got a ways to go to catch up since my last post in August (Life and Death Decisions). Before that, I had a rude awakening to pain that can come with cancer (Pain is a Game Changer) – something I hadn’t experienced before since my terminal diagnosis in May. My first instinct when I was in pain was to get a prescription from my oncologist, which unfortunately took longer than it should have. When I finally got the pain pills (Percocet), I was relieved and they did work. And even though getting addicted to opioids is not the worse thing that could happen to me at this point, I wanted to go a more natural route if possible. For some reason, I hadn’t even thought of using medicinal marijuana for pain at that point, even though I’m in a state where even recreational use is legal. Duh!
From the time I started posting about even the possibility that I had lung cancer, I heard from friends mentioning all kinds of things to try. While I always appreciate the intent coming from love and concern, ultimately I’m going to do my own research and do what feels right and what makes sense to me in both my own mind and heart. And cannabis made sense enough to me. Yeah, it might have something to do with me being a pot-head hippie from the 60s, but whatever…
I certainly can’t say definitively that any kind of cancer can be cured by cannabis in any form. I got dizzily confused just looking at all the online material that looked even halfway legit (shared below).
Coming to Oregon was dictated primarily by their affording me the Right to Die with Dignity, but the next largest consideration was legal marijuana.
I promised I’d be doing research and posts to share what I learned about this kind of treatment. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten as far as I wanted, nor found any definite answers. I guess it’s like anything else in the early stages of research: you’re gonna find people with polar opposite views, recommendations and conclusions.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) – Phoenix Tears:
I started with researching Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), which seems to be the gold standard most people talk about for treating cancer with cannabis oil. His oil is called Phoenix Tears and he doesn’t sell anything directly. He says it’s better and easy to make your own. But once I saw that process, making my own was a no-go. FAQs about RSO.
So I visited a few of the dispensaries around me to see what they had that was at least similar to RSO. And there are quite a few products from different growers and oil producers that label themselves RSO, but don’t necessarily follow his recipe precisely. He recommends starting out using a drop about the size of a half grain of rice. Take a dose every 4 hours (while awake) to keep it active in your system. The goal is to work up to a gram a day and take that for 60 days.
But I’m also hearing that Rick Simpson is “old school” and the best is now Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO), a full plant broad spectrum that uses a slightly different process and solvent. The dispensaries here call this an RSO type process, but again, who knows what matters?
I know this is long and a lot of info, and I understand not everyone is interested in the subject. But for those who are, this will give you a good start with what I thought was reliable information. I’ll include more details and research below, but first:
My Personal Experience and Conclusions:
(for now anyway, as confused as I still am)
Yes, I do believe cannabis can have a very definite positive effect on cancer. Do I know that with absolute certainly and which kind to use and how much? Nope, haven’t figured that out to my satisfaction yet.
I know for sure it helps with pain. I’m not sure which component is best since I used oil with both THC and CBD, but it seems the consensus about that is CBD, which is good news for those in states where marijuana is illegal.
One thing I have learned is that not all cancers respond the same to treatment and what works for one person may not necessary work for another. There are many variables that just can’t be predicted.
I also tried all sorts of edibles (chews, brownies, etc.) – some just CBD, some just THC. None really have an effect on me, even when I took double doses. And they’re definitely too expensive!
What I did for the hopeful effects on cancer:
When I got to Oregon in July, I started off trying Rick Simpson’s Dosage Instructions: a dose the size of a 1/2 grain of rice, every eight hours. I tried to do as recommended and started off with small doses with the goal of taking 60 full grams (60 ml) of oil within 90 days, increasing the dosage slowly during this time.
Since the oil is definitely no fun to deal with (it’s a dark tar-like consistency that tastes pretty nasty – don’t let them tell you it’s “earthy” taste – it’s gross!) Plus, it comes with a little dispenser that contains a gram, but it’s almost impossible to gauge how much is gonna come out when you press the plunger.
I tried putting the drop onto a piece of bread and rolled it up like a little pill to chug down, but that didn’t work too great. It was recommended that MCT oil (a coconut oil) is a good conductor, so I would put that in a teaspoon, drop the oil in there and swallow it all down. Only problem is that sometimes the oil sticks to the spoon instead of suspending in the oil.
How It Affected Me:
When I first thought of doing this, I thought, “Well, it sounds like I’ll just be a bit high on pot all the time and can just use this as an excuse to do nothing but rest and stay in bed a lot. I can handle that for a few months while my cancer is getting shrunk up.” Didn’t sound like a bad deal to me at the time!
In talking with people at the dispensary (who can’t tell you much due to the laws and regulations), they said that some people are more sensitive to the oil, especially if they’ve never had marijuana before. Again, since I’d smoked pot at least off and on most of my adult life, I figured I had more of a tolerance for it.
I didn’t like that it takes 3-4 hours for full effect, sometimes longer. So I had to plan for when I wanted to get out, drive, etc. If I took a small dose with mixture of 1:1 or one higher in CBD, it didn’t affect me so much that wasn’t able to function. But no matter what, I was still pretty much pooped out by three in the afternoon.
But even though I thought I was doing everything right, by October 3, I was feeling completely knocked out all the time.
I got to a point where I was feeling so “dulled out” and out of it, I wondered what it was that was making me feel that way. Was it the cannabis or the cancer? I finally figured that the only way to tell was to quit the cannabis for a while, since it didn’t seem like the cancer was going anywhere voluntarily. I read that it takes at least 6 days for it to vacate your system totally.
It was around that time that I had my first visit with Asante Hospice (Oct. 3) and started becoming familiar with the wonderful services they offer. This group surely is filled with earth angels for the wonderful things they do that I had no idea about before. The hospice nurse told me they have no problem with patients using cannabis products for pain or whatever, since they’re all about making the patient more comfortable however they can.
I also remember reporting to her then that I had been feeling a little nauseated and not as hungry as usual. I said I was surprised because I knew one of the effects of the cannabis is usually good for nausea and increases your appetite. I didn’t know if my problem stemmed from trying to get up to the recommended dose of a gram a day too quickly, or that was just too much for me personally.
What happened right after that was that I was hit with what they called “intractable nausea” – and it plagued me for almost two full weeks! It’s the kind they could tell wasn’t from a stomach bug or food poisoning because unlike those, the nausea never went away even for a minute, no matter how many times I retched. I’m not going to expand upon how gross those two weeks were, but suffice to say, I was thinking I wasn’t long for this world at that point.
They finally came up with meds that worked for me (the first go-to drug usually given for nausea, Zofran, actually made me worse). In trying to figure it out, one nurse suggested it was because I had mentioned seeing in the materials they left me that had the symptoms “nausea and lack of appetite” under a heading entitled “Weeks to Live.” Whaaaat???!!! I do admit that freaked me out. Of course they explained no way they thought I was in that category since I still had so much vitality as I started recovering from the nausea. My oxygen level was great, lungs sounded clear, and heart was beating exactly like it should. Cancer just decides to do some weird crap sometimes, and I guess there’s not much to do but try to handle the symptoms as they come up.
Since I got off the cannabis on October 3 and been on meds for nausea and sleep, I’ve actually been feeling pretty good. Still sucky energy in the afternoon, but I can deal with that since I get up earlier in the morning now.
I may get back on the cannabis regimen at some point at a reduced rate than what I was using, but I’m going to wait until after my trip to Texas next month. Since it’s illegal there, I’d be forced to forego during that 10 days anyway.
So I’d hoped to provide a definitive post on what you need to use, where to get it, etc., but I have come to believe those answers just don’t exist in a one-size-fits-all deal for anything, especially something as ornery as cancer.
Rick Simpson Oil Websites and Other Info:
According to Rick Simpson’s website Phoenix Tears, RSO is made from a particular type of cannabis called Cannabis indica, which produces a sedative effect that helps the body heal. See his FAQs on how he makes it. His oil is made from a particular type of cannabis called Cannabis indica. THC is the Cancer Killer (Rick Simpson YouTube)
How to Make RSO (High Times) – Rick Simpson Oil is a whole plant extract that contains most of the components found in the plant. When THC is combined with other cannabinoids the medical effects can be enhanced according to research.
Can Rick Simpson Oil Treat Cancer? (Healthline) – RSO differs from a lot of other cannabis oils because it contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that gets people “high.” Other therapeutic cannabis oils tend to contain a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) and little or no THC.
Rick Simpson decided to try cannabis oil after reading the results of a 1975 study that tested the use of cannabinoids in mice with lung cancer. The study found that both THC and another CBN slowed the growth of lung cancer in mice. However, another study involving human cells found that THC actually increased the growth rate of certain lung and brain cancer cells. My comment: OK, so basically it’s just another Crap Shoot, especially since I have lung cancer and don’t really want those odds increased!
What’s Best for Cancer Treatment? CBD or THC?
That’s an important question, especially for those who live in states where marijuana is illegal. It’s the component THC that gives the psychoactive effect (the high). CBD is another component produced, but it is legal in all states because it doesn’t have any THC. That’s why you can order products like Charlotte’s Web and HempWorx online and can be delivered legally by mail. You can go crazy with results from Google on which component fights cancer better. And then there are those that say you must have a mixture of both – and then there are arguments about at which percentages!
THC is the Cancer Killer (YouTube) – Rick Simpson believes it’s the high THC that kills cancer, not CBD.
CBD, THC, and Cancer (Project CBD) – Mounting evidence shows cannabinoids in marijuana slow cancer growth, inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and help manage pain, fatigue, nausea, and other side effects.
Cannabinoids increase lung cancer cell lysis. (Library of Medicine) – My comment: More bad news for lung cancer, but how in the hell does a normal person understand all these conditions and types of cancers, and gene markers, etc.?!
Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis. (Library of Medicine) – My comment: This sounds like better news, but is it really? Who can understand all this crap?!
Cancer – Studies on CBD and Cancer (Project CBD) – Altogether, these findings provide a novel mechanism underlying the anti-invasive action of cannabidiol and imply its use as a therapeutic option for the treatment of highly invasive cancers.
A review posted to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology notes that CBD appears to block cancer cells from spreading around the body and invading an area entirely. The review indicates that this compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote the death of these cells. Researchers note that CBD may help in cancer treatment because of its low toxicity levels.
What about Pain? Is it CBD or THC?
That time I was having that lymph node pain I talked about in Pain is a Game Changer, is what convinced me that cannabis oil can treat pain as well as opioids. I used opioids (Percocet) the first day, and then the next day cannabis oil (a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD). The oil worked just as well for the same pain, so I think it’s a no-brainer to use that instead of opioids if at all possible. I was ok with any high that might come with the THC, but unless I took a blob of oil the size of a large grain of rice, I didn’t feel anything in that way. And it certainly wasn’t what I call a “happy head high” like I get when I smoke. But in any case, it definitely took the pain away. No doubt I would have taken more pain pills without the RSO oil, and that in itself is a good thing. Below is info and opinions that CBD only will work on pain, and that’s important to know if you live in a state where you can’t get THC in your oil.
Since it’s the psychoactive THC in cannabis that gives the “high” effect, it’s what makes it illegal in all states except those who have legalized marijuana, whether it be only for medicinal purposes or those who also allow it for recreational use.
And good luck finding a supplier of anything once you decide what you want. There are so many, you could go crazy looking at the claims that only theirs is pure and untainted with undesirable additives and chemicals that you’ll get everywhere else. I’ve seen some people swear by one brand and another right behind saying that brand is a worthless ripoff. It’s obvious this drug has different effects on different people for different conditions. If what you want is a definitive answer on a product that works for everybody for all their needs – forget it with this subject!
Everything You Need to Know about CBD Oil (Medical News Today – (12/15/17) – Natural pain relief or anti-inflammatory properties: Some people feel that CBD offers a more natural way to lower pain. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats.
The 17 Most Compelling Studies on CBD from 2017: (HaleighsHope.com) (1/17/18) – The negative ramifications of prescription medications, including the exploding opioid crisis, underscore the sometimes-lethal consequences of our fixation on prescription drugs. Unfortunately, many alternative options for treatment, i.e. homeopathic remedies, do not generally have the research or scientific support to be seen as a viable and effective alternative.
Survivor Claims Lung Cancer Cured by Medical Cannabis (CBD Testers – 1/10/18) – Darren decided to try the holistic route, after the chemo left him feeling dazed and confused. By combining chemo treatments with medical cannabis, Darren was able, within just six months, to get his cancer under control and his blood work showed normal counts for the first time in years. (Note that he also used chemo, not just cannabis.)
Can Cannabis Cure Cancer? (Skeptical Raptor – 10-18-18) – Subjectively, one the wilder claims one can find on social media is that marijuana cures cancer. Or cannabis prevents cancer. It doesn’t matter what form – smoked, eaten, hemp oil (which is manufactured from the seeds of cannabis plants that don’t contain much THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active hallucinogenic agent of cannabis) – some advocates for cannabis will try to make the argument that it is some miracle drug for cancer.
From medical journals and websites:
Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects (British Journal of Pharmacology) – THC has been the primary focus of cannabis research since 1964. More recently, the synergistic contributions of cannabidiol to cannabis pharmacology and analgesia have been scientifically demonstrated. (Malia’s editorial: only a medical journal can make pot sound so boring.)
Questions and Answers About Cannabis (National Cancer Institute)
Cancer Institute Finally Admits Marijuana Kills Cancer (US Health Magazine – 5-4-18) – In August 2015, the National Cancer Institute released a report on their website which stated, “Marijuana kills cancer”. Yes, you read that right – marijuana kills cancer. We know that cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes to relieve symptoms of many chronic illnesses. In fact, marijuana has actually been used for medicinal purposes for over 3000 years. Check out the full report from the NCI that explains their findings.
Marijuana and Cancer (Cancer.org) – More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.
There are Now 100 Scientific Studies that Prove Cannabis Cures Cancer (Higher Perspective)
Towards the use of Cannabinoids as Antitumour Agents (PubMed) – Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumour growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms. This Opinion article discusses our current understanding of cannabinoids as antitumour agents…
Medical Marijuana and Cancer (LungCancer.org) – A number of studies involving individuals undergoing cancer treatment have shown that medical marijuana can help in managing the following, pain, neuropathy, nausea, anorexia:
More Info I Looked At:
Cannabis and Cancer: How “Marijuana” Helps the Body Heal (The Truth About Cancer) – Currently there are 25 states where it is legal for patients to use “marijuana” for medical purposes. Pending federal legislation may open up opportunities for federally-funded medical research, including human clinical trials. This will further prove cannabis’ track-record when it comes to healing a number of disease conditions − including cancer.
Cannabis vs. Opioids – (MJ News Network) – Cannabis has been proven to alleviate chronic pain without the health risks posed by opioids.
The Sacred Plant: Healing Secrets Examined (YouTube series) – You’ll discover what makes the sacred plant…medical cannabis…such a powerful healing agent and learn about the dark history of its unjust prohibition.
Indica vs. Sativa: Understanding the Differences Between the Two Cannabis Plants (PeaceNaturals) – The two major types of cannabis plants are Indica and Sativa. Each strain has it’s own range of effects on the body and mind resulting in a wide range of medicinal benefits. Indica strains generally provide a sense of deep body relaxation. Sativa strains tend to provide a more energizing experience.
Cannabis Research for Lung Cancer – (a bunch of articles linked) – The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung. The types are based on the way the cells look under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common than small cell lung cancer. (Malia’s Note: My formal diagnosis is non-small cell lung cancer – Stage IVB)