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Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

3 Feb 2017 09:37

Hi, my friend recently told me she is using cannabis oil and some thing tonic/lotion (I can't recall which one) as treatment for her Leukaemia. Her doctor recommended her chemotherapy but she rejected him.

After some browsing online about cannabis oil. I don't feel particulary happy about her choice of treatment. I understand it's her choice and her life, I really do. But I read online that although cannabis may contain some things which have destroyed cancer cells in lab tests, this does not mean it will cure cancer. Also I've read that some people who used it then died soon after. She says she has done thorough research and frankly she might've looked into it. But I'm afraid she may have read a few dodgy links which may be misleading her.

So I'm confused regarding cannabis oil. I don't know whether it's recommended heavily by doctors or not. Can anyone here give me more information about it? I chose to ask here because I think I'm less likely to encounter any pseudoscience or myths. 

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

3 Feb 2017 09:57 in response to Questioner3

Hello Questioner3 and welcome to Cancer Chat,

You are posting in the right place as we often get asked about cannabis oil on the forum and as you rightly say there won't be any pseudoscience here! You are absolutely right in your research and analysis and unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about it and it is certainly not something doctors recommend. It is concerning that despite doctors recommending chemotherapy your friend rejected it. Cannabis oil is also, of course, illegal.

Our nurses commented recently on a similar post from someone who was also asking for more information on cannabis oil and this is what they wrote:

"There has been a lot of interest on the internet and in the press about cannnabis oil.  But at the moment it isn't known how helpful it might turn out to be in treating cancer and it isn't readily available as a cancer treatment.  We have a blog post which sums up the research so far which you might find helpful to look at. You can read more about this here."

I hope the blog post will be useful to you. Do feel free to ring our nurses too on this free number 0808 800 4040 if you have any question on this.

Best wishes,

Lucie, Cancer Chat Moderator


Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

4 Feb 2017 06:40 in response to Questioner3
Hi Questionaire I found these research papers that could be related to your query: If you have some background in organic chemistry and biochemistry or cytology you may appreciate the finer technical details on some of them that discusses the proposed mechanism and chemical kinetics that govern its reactions to cell and/or its cellular components.

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

6 Feb 2017 10:56 in response to Questioner3

Hello Questioner 3,

I am one of the enquiry nurses.  Lucie asked us if we could add anything else to your post. I think the bottom line is that doctors do not recommend cannabis as a cancer treatment.  Even though there are some research papers about cannabis and cancer, they don’t provide enough evidence to say that it is an effective treatment.

Research papers are quite complicated reads to the untrained eye, and may appear to give credence to any new treatment under investigation. So it is important to be a bit cautious about what the internet can come up with. Conventional medical treatment is underpinned by evidence, often gathered in clinical trials, that is thought to be very reliable.

As Lucie mentioned feel free to give us a call and pass our number on. 

Best wishes,


Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

6 Feb 2017 12:04 in response to Questioner3

Hi Questionner3,

At the risk of sounding insensitive, you are right to be concerned about your friend. She has effectively chosen to have no real treatment. There is a lot of pseudo-science out there about cancer treatment and cannabis oil in particular. Fortunes have been made in the USA selling cannabis oil to desperate people, but I have yet to see a single independent, peer-reviewed, paper that unambiguously concluded that cannabis oil cures cancer in humans. People pussy foot around being polite and try to give reasoned arguments but I am fed up of this approach which seems to put these so-called cures on a par with legitimate therapies.

Cannabis has proven effectiveness in pain relief and it obviously gets people high and some of its constituent parts might eventually form the basis of chemo-therapy but that's as far as it goes.

In the U.K. It is illegal and as a result any cannabis oil people buy may not be of high quality - people have been sold all sorts of adulterated oil in the past which sometimes contains NO cannabis oil at all. Rick Simpson who is a well known name in this trade in the US and he uses naphthalene as a solvent - a very dangerous chemical. 

This FB group includes a link to a man who confesses he has been selling oil with no cannabis in it for hundreds of pounds

More info at:-

Having cancer is bad enough, but falling prey to these scammers and con artists gives false hope and often tragically leads to people rejecting therapies which might well have prolonged their lives.






Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

6 Feb 2017 12:10 in response to JoyfulofJourney

All interesting stuff but even if all the potential benefits identified are realised, it seems unlikely that ingesting cannabis oil will provide a mechanism for delivering the active ingredients to the location of the cancer cells. The digestive system will most likely breakdown the active ingredients and render them ineffective.

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

6 Feb 2017 13:03 in response to davek
Hi Davek, Im not expert on cannabinoid chemistry but i read this one on wikipedia (these ones got citations for reference) "All of the active constituents enter the body when cannabis is consumed orally. It has been shown that the primary active component of cannabis, Δ9-THC, is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC by the liver.[11]" Here are some more details with regards to Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolic potentials (again from wikipedia with citations). "Pharmacokinetics THC is metabolized mainly to 11-OH-THC by the body. This metabolite is still psychoactive and is further oxidized to 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH). In humans and animals, more than 100 metabolites could be identified, but 11-OH-THC and THC-COOH are the dominating metabolites.[30] Metabolism occurs mainly in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4.[31] More than 55% of THC is excreted in the feces and ~20% in the urine. The main metabolite in urine is the ester of glucuronic acid and THC-COOH and free THC-COOH. In the feces, mainly 11-OH-THC was detected.[32]" As far as i can tell 11 -OH- THC is pretty much an enhanced version of cannabis active component which is THC (Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be exact). The carboxy metabolite was said to be psychoactively inert (the one which is rendered ineffective as far as psychoactive potential is concern). Im not really in support of cannabinoid use because it conflicted with my home grown personal values (recreational drugs are pretty much taboo in our family) but I find the technical information pretty interesting none-the-less.

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

6 Feb 2017 13:12 in response to JoyfulofJourney

Interesting, I guess at least some of the THC must get into the bloodstream when ingested otherwise hash cookies and cakes wouldn't work at all Happy

Not my bag either - I've never smoked tobacco or weed, ironically because of cancer fears since childhood. 

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

8 Feb 2017 05:19 in response to davek

Hi Davek,


I used to be the same as you. I was pretty conscious with my health when i was young and had thorougly studied carcinogenic agents because my childhood friend and my good uncle died (unpleasantly) from cancer.


However that interest and fascination with chemistry and biology (and that forgotten fear from cancer) leads me to a profession that deals with a lot of hazardous chemicals and radiations. And after witnessing some really bad industrial accidents and industry related diseases, it kinda makes me a bit fatalistic and more accepting of calculated and practical risks and danger behind new pioneering noble ideas, (else i wont get any of my job done). In a way it kinda ironic for me too.






Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

8 Feb 2017 12:41 in response to JoyfulofJourney

I guesa we've both had charmed lives!  In science classes we handled mercury with bare hands, used radioactive isotopes with little supervision and used chemicals which are now classed as hazardous. Then I was in the Merchant Navy for 14 years from 1977 onwards as a Radio Officer and exposed to unshielded High Frequency RF radiation from the powerful transmitters we carried, X radiation from the radars I worked on and we splashed carbontetrachloride round like water cleaning  electrical relays, switches and motors! Add to that and the fact that duty free fags were smoked by about 80% of my colleagues all the time and duty free spirits and beer were cheaper than cans of coke and it's amazing any of us survived past 40! 

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

8 Feb 2017 13:44 in response to davek
I really wanted to become a seaman, a marine mechanic/engineer or a fisherman commanding my own commercial fishing boat. A tug boat/ferry pilot aint bad either. I also like ships a lot and one of my hobby is building model sail boats for my nephews and friends' kids. Sounds like you live a very fulfilling life that i wish I have. By the way, im sorry Questionare for hijacking your thread.

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

9 Jan 2018 08:26 in response to Moderator Lucie
As a scientist I understand risk and dangers of anecdotal evidence. However when science has lost all hope sometimes holistic remedies, (even if just acting as placebo) are better than nothing. So two questions: if you are not on chemo can cannabis oil do any harm? You say it is illegal but Radio 5 Live this morning had lady with breast cancer saying she bought it legally over the counter. Anyway second question is where can you buy it safely without being scammed irrespective of legality issue. Regards Ewen

Friend is using cannabis oil as treatment?

9 Jan 2018 09:21 in response to McCallum

Hello McCallum,

As I noticed this is your first post I'd like to welcome you to our forum.

There is a lot of discussion going on about cannabis oil here so I thought you might find this article on our science blog interesting to read.

Although there’s evidence emerging that molecules found in cannabis may one day be used to help people with cancer, we would advise against using black market or home-made preparations of cannabis oil. Not only is it illegal, but because it’s unregulated these products might be contaminated with harmful substances and vary in strength. Taking cannabis could also potentially interfere with other cancer treatments given to you by a doctor, as well as carry other side effects and risks.

We understand this is a sensitive issue but we would appreciate you keeping in mind our terms and conditions when discussing alternative therapies on the forum.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Renata, Cancer Chat Moderator