Medical Cannabis and Cancer

My notes from The Plant Medicine Summit – An Interview with Dr. Jenkins

Dr. Lakisha Jenkins – Naturopath, Registered Herbalist
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Appropriate Dosing for Medical Cannabis and Cancer

The community is my biggest support, we have a number of people who have come to rely on the education we provide here on ways that you can use medical cannabis. Along with other life sustaining herbs to really induce homeostasis in the body. I think one of the reasons we are mildly tolerated is because we come from the educational and medical standpoint. It’s a little difficult at times when it comes to the political landscape of medical cannabis but there is an acceptance that’s happening, a cultural shift. People are understanding that this is definitely a viable option to help increase their chances of having optimal health.

One of the things that I would like to really relay to everyone is the fact that we are generally hardwired to interact with the cannabis plant as we are with many botanicals. We are armed with an endocannabinoid system in our bodies, the active constituents of cannabis are cannabinoids, our brain produces cannabinoids naturally. The cannabinoids that our brain produce are very similar in chemical composition if not identical to the cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. We subsequently have CB1 and CB2 receptors all over our body that interact with the cannabinoid. One thing I found during my research and working with a number of patients is most of us are suffering from an endocannabinoid system deficiency. Because our bodies are not receiving the amount of cannabinoids that are necessary just like with the other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are required to sustain life. We are suffering from an endocannabinoid system deficiency, this is one of the reasons why people feel an overall sense of wellbeing when using medical cannabis. If you use those very basic concepts, and how they relate to cancer specifically, you can research the fact that cannabinoids effect different systems of the human body.

There are several hundred cannabinoids, we have identified about thirty active cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. THC is the cannabinoid that most people are familiar with but research is coming out with other cannabinoids that they highlight such as CBD or CBN. Research has been happening around CBD mostly in the last five years learning how CBD is effective in inhibiting tumor growth when it comes to cancer specifically. Also the anti-inflammatory property the way that it can help with regulating hormones and the way it can regulate blood sugar. But when it comes to cancer specifically, and actually using CBD as a therapy, to help to combat the symptoms of a cancer diagnosis we have to have a bit of THC to make the CBD bioavailable and active. One thing that people may not be aware of is the fact that raw cannabis itself has THCA but the THC in raw cannabis has an acid chain attached to it, the acid chain works with our receptors to block psychoactivity.

One of the wonderful methods of getting your endocannabinoids system deficiency addressed, or using cannabis as a treatment for cancer, is juicing the raw cannabis leaves or the raw cannabis flowers themselves. By doing this you’re getting the full cannabinoid profile with the THCA that’s necessary to activate the CBD  without the psychoactivity. When it comes to strains that are specific for cancer and the ones that are most beneficial you would want to identify strains that are high in CBD if your goal is to inhibit tumor growth. If your goal is to help with pain or pain management you would like to look for strains that are high in CBD but also high in the THC component. If you are looking for increasing appetite and helping in that way to combat the symptoms of conventional cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, you would want to utilize a THC variety that is activated. What that means is you’re actually adding heat to the raw cannabis to activate it and that’s when the THC drops the acid chain and transforms the THC from THCA to regular THC. Now there is psychoactivity that is associated with that but that’s where proper dosaging comes into play.

If you obtain the proper dosage and delivery method for any cannabis variety, even if it contains THC activated. You can build up a tolerance and mitigate the risks of having any negative issues without introducing THC into your system. When I say negative I’m not talking about side effects that really effect your health, in general I’m saying negative because your body is not used to the psychoactivity or the lethargy that’s associated with ingesting THC. If you use the right delivery method you can slowly build up a tolerance to that cannabinoid and mitigate the risk of having an over-effect of the psychoactivity.

Delivery methods vary greatly when it comes to the utilization of medical cannabis when it comes to therapeutic benefits in a cancer diagnoses. One of the best ways you can utilize medical cannabis is in a concentrated version. Generally you need high doses of cannabinoids to have a positive effect on cancer treatment, that would entail ingesting a great amount of raw cannabis material. The way that you reduce the amount that you need to ingest is by adding concentrated versions to your treatment regimen, that’s usually in the form of oils, tinctures or possibly capsules. Tinctures are one of my favorite delivery methods especially starting with a new patient who may have never used medical cannabis in the past. With a tincture you’re able to dial in a dosage very specifically down to the drop. Being that a tincture is also a sublingual it has almost an instantaneous effect. Tinctures are very beneficial for appetite stimulation, pain management, and also in a regimen depending on dosage for inhibiting tumor growth.

One of the best mediums for extracting the active constituents of cannabis when it comes to cancer treatment specifically is coconut oil. As we all know coconut oil itself has a lot of medicinal, therapeutic and nutritional benefits. When you add that in combination with the therapeutic benefits of the medical cannabis itself you will find that you have a very comprehensive solution and a very easy delivery method. Depending on if you are using a refined version of coconut oil, which a lot of coconut oils will remain liquid even in cold temperatures. Or whether you’re using an unrefined that solidifies in temperatures of less than seventy degrees, would depend on the way that you actually ingest the cannabis. The refined version would be used for tinctures and also for sublingual oils. The unrefined versions are used for capsules but also can be used for topical treatments. I think that for cancer treatments specifically delivery methods are probably the most important component, especially for a patient that’s undergoing conventional treatment. When you have the side effects associated with conventional treatment adding medical cannabis can be of great benefit. It can also be to detriment if you don’t get the proper dosaging down.

Other delivery methods for medical cannabis would include the combustibles, or smoking. I don’t generally advocate for this delivery method when it comes to cancer treatment because it isn’t the most efficacious. Ingesting cannabis internally gives the greatest cannabinoid profile and full spectrum that is allowed to interact with our endocannabinoid system and our endocannabinoid receptors. One of the reasons that I love herbal healing as a whole, not with just medical cannabis but with all medicinal herbs. Is because it allows herbs to act using the basis of nutrition to gently encourage your body to sustain life and to repair itself. The same definitely goes with medical cannabis. I like to think of medical cannabis as a nutritional supplement as well as a therapeutic benefit. Medical cannabis sister plant hemp, is actually a superfood you can find all of the vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are required to sustain life within the hemp plant, or in the hemp seeds more specifically. Not only are you getting these medicinal benefits when you’re using medical cannabis on a nutritional level, but you’re also getting the therapeutic benefits.

There has been a lot of research when it comes to specific cannabis strains. The one thing that you want to look at when you’re choosing a medical cannabis strain for cancer is the specific cannabinoid profile. Specifically the percentage of CBD, THC and CBN that’s found in your specific cannabis variety. Unfortunately, the level of research that needs to be to dial in specifically which strains and specifically which dosages are required for each type of cancer individually have yet to be done. The wonderful benefit of utilizing medical cannabis is again, it’s like a nutritional supplement. In general you can use it to great benefit with little to no side effects which leaves room for individuality. One of the things I like to educate my patients on is using the various delivery methods in varying dosages to find what works best for them as an individual. That’s what I advocate for when it comes to natural health, individuality. The way that a cannabinoid profile is going to effect me is going to be a lot different from the way a cannabinoid profile is going to effect any other person on the planet. By using a full spectrum cannabinoid profile and not isolating constituents, the way that they do when composing pharmaceuticals, allows your body to utilize the specific constituents or cannabinoids that work best. And discard the rest the way we do any other nutritional things that we inundate our body with without detriment.

I think that when it comes to inhibiting tumor growth CBD is the cannabinoid profile, it’s what you would want to have in high percentages in any particular strain. CBD also lessens the effect of psychoactivity, CBD needs to be given in concentrated versions to have the maximum tumor inhibiting benefit. In general you’re looking to ingest about a gram of cannabis oil a day that’s high in CBD for a therapeutic dose for cancer treatment. It takes time to get to using a gram of oil a day, usually those oils are activated so there is THC present, low and slow. I usually recommend my patients start with 1/10 – 3/10ths of a milliliter of any concentrated cannabis oil to help to build their tolerance, microdosing is what that’s called. Research is starting to be done now on the therapeutic benefits of microdosing. In my reading it is my understanding that microdosing of medicinal cannabis is helping to not only provide therapeutic benefit but the constant inundating of a microdose of cannabis on a daily basis is what is actually addressing the endocannabinoid system deficiencies. This allows our body’s to induce homeostasis to regain optimal health. I have cancer patients who find great benefit being on just a microdose of cannabis oil daily. Breast cancer specifically responds very well to a microdose of cannabis oil, other cancer varieties that require larger quantities of cannabis dosing would include colon and lung cancer. They are two of the cancer varieties that I have found with my patient base that requires a larger dose of concentrated cannabis oil. Those clients start out with one half to one ml a day to work up their tolerance.

In general cannabis is a viable option for not only complimentary cancer treatment but also as an alternative to conventional cancer treatment. The results are very promising, we receive referrals on a daily basis from the local cancer centers here. One in particular comes to mind, I had a patient that came to us an 82 year old woman, second bout with breast cancer. Referred by the local cancer center because she was unable to partake in conventional treatment due to her weakened state. We were successfully able to recommend a therapeutic dose, microdose, of concentrated cannabis oil of 1/10th ml twice daily. After one month of that particular regimen she was able to regain her strength enough to be able to participate in conventional cancer treatment, oral chemotherapy. She is now doing both as a compliment to each other with great success. We have had a number of oncologists reach out to us to create strategic partnerships where the lines of communication is open. Where I can inform them on what we are doing on a natural level and they can inform us on what they are doing on a conventional level. We can work together to find a comprehensive solution for our joint patients. I would say the response, so far, is overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive.

My final comments would be to educate yourself, everyone should be educated on the endocannabinoid system. The way cannabinoids work within our body, and the cannabinoid profiles that are available in other fruits and vegetables if you don’t have access to cannabis legally in your state. The other thing I’d like to leave you with is a message of hope, natural health is definitely a viable option for regaining or maintaining optimal health. If you give your body the constituents that are required to sustain life in the appropriate levels, the vitamins, minerals and amino acids it can and will repair itself in most instances.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems you may be experiencing.