Hemp Oil & Cancer: A Question of THC
Hemp oil is growing in popularity possibly because its commercial promoted as, ‘Mother Nature’s perfect food for humanity’ or maybe it’s due to the consistent scientific evidence demonstrating the medicinal properties of the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant.
Archaeological records of hemp imprints found on pottery date human cultivation of Cannabis as far back as the Neolithic Age. Ancient Chinese civilizations used hemp to make textiles, paper and medicinal teas and elixirs.
Throughout WWII the US promoted cannabis as an essential crop in winning the war as many American uniforms and textiles were derived from its resistant fibers.
Today, hemp continues to be utilized for textiles and is showing promise as an effective medicinal ingredient against cancer.
There is little scientific investigation of the affect hemp oil specifically may have on cancer. There is, however, much research on the affect the cannabonoids of the hemp plant may have. Tetrahydrocannabinol – also known as THC – is the most thoroughly investigated hemp cannabonoid and the results have many scientists affirming cannabis as an effective anti-cancer agent.
Commercial hemp oil does not contain THC as producers are legally obliged to reduce the tetrahydrocannabinol levels to zero or little trace. Therefore, it is important to note that the following scientific evidence only supports THC-laden versions of hemp oil.
THC – More than a High
Since the 1970s, studies have shown THC to be much more than a trippy psychoactive substance; it can help prevent and treat cancer.
The first study documenting THC’s anti-cancer properties was a scientific fluke. The project was originally intended to find evidence linking marijuana to immune system damage. Surprisingly, scientists found that THC actually curbed the growth of breast and lung cancers as well as virus-induced leukemia in mice. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seemed equally surprised by the breakthrough leading the organization to shut down the study as well as all other cannabis – tumour investigations.
In 1998, a Spanish-based project discovered THC destroys brain tumour cells without being detrimental to healthy cellular structures. Later, the same team examined further by injecting the brains of cancer-positive rats with a synthetic THC form. The cannabinoid injections destroyed gliomas, the deadliest brain tumour form, in a third of the rats and prolonged life by up to six weeks in another third.
A decade later, scientists again declared cannabinoids successful in treating gliomas as both in vitro and animal models demonstrated cannabinoids eradicated cancerous cells without affecting healthy ones.
Like many anti-cancer agents currently under investigation, further research is needed to determine THC’s precise anti-cancer mechanism but even without a solid explanation the science looks promising for the Cannabis component.
Back to Hemp Oil
Again, there is little research examining the affect hemp oil specifically may have on cancer. Scientists do know that hemp seeds which the oil is derived from, are reputed for having the highest known source of essential fatty acids (EFA) of the plant kingdom and there are few if any known allergies. It is easy to digest and many proponents believe hemp oil is excellent for topical use because its genetic make-up closely resembles human skin lipids.
Many professional organizations declare hemp oil safe to consume as a complimentary or alternative cancer therapy but most also admit that further research is needed. The American College of Physicians openly encourages the use of non-burned forms of tetrahydrocannabinol, like THC-laced hemp oil, for treating vomiting and nausea often associated with aggressive cancer treatments.