For those of you who don’t know, lymphoma is a kind of cancer which weakens the immune system, making sufferers susceptible to all kinds of other illnesses. The treatment for this kind of cancer – and let’s be honest, most kinds – is incredibly invasive too, and so living with the disease can be incredibly distressing. However, recent research may suggest that cannabis could be used in the treatment of people with lymphoma in order to give them a better quality of life.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a disorder of the lymphatic system. This system is made up of lymph nodes, which are located all over the body in places such as the throat, groin, brain and the spleen. Lymphoma changes the behavior of white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the body, which are vital for defending the body against viruses and bacteria. The disease also infects the cells that are responsible for making antibodies so that the body is unable to identify invading pathogens. Essentially, lymphoma switches off the body’s search and destroy system; cells that would have been found and killed are now able to reproduce and manifest throughout the body and, because of this, ailments as seemingly insignificant as the common cold can be fatal to a lymphoma patient.
It is true to say that there hasn’t really been much research done directly on whether or not cannabis can fight lymphoma, although there are several studies which point towards this inference. In 2013, research was carried out and published in the journal PLOS ONE, which states that the exterior of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells are actually covered in cannabinoid receptors. These receptors suggest the potential for cannabinoids to be able to bind to or affect them in some way.
There has been further promising success in terms research into cannabis being able to fight off cancers. For example, cannabis is an antiproliferative, which means that it reduces the development of tumors. Weed, when consumed, also disturbs metastasis – the process by which cancer cells spread. Furthermore, marijuana is an antiangiogenic too, which means that it can take away tumor’s food, as they feed on blood vessels and cannabis stunts their growth.
It remains to be seen whether or not cannabis can be an effective weapon against Hodgkin’s lymphoma directly, although it has definitely been proven to at least eliminate some of the pains that come with the disease and its treatment, such as nausea and insomnia. Hopefully, with more research, more cannabis-related treatments will be discovered and used to save more lives than ever.