By Dana M. Nichols
Two of the major compounds in marijuana - THC and CBD - have cancer-fighting properties, according to scientists researching them.
While THC and the biological mechanisms it uses are well documented, there are still mysteries surrounding the lesser-known chemical CBD.
Clinical trials prove that it eases pain and inflammation. Sean McAllister, a scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, and his research associates have used the compound to shrink tumors.
But it does not fit well in the already discovered human receptors that fit THC, and scientists have not yet traced the mechanisms that allow it to modulate some of the same systems, McAllister said.
"There is not a lot of data on it," McAllister said.
Right now, McAllister is looking at how CBD attacks a gene called Id-1 that is key to the functioning of cancerous cells.
"If cancer cells adopt this protein, it allows them to metastasize," McAllister said. "The hypothesis would be that if you can knock this gene down or inhibit it, then the cancer won't metastasize."
One big advantage to both chemicals is that they are virtually non-toxic, unlike many cancer drugs.
"There is no way to actually kill yourself with the natural compounds," McAllister said. Overdoses of the kind that kill opiate users are impossible with cannabis because they interact with different receptors.
"There are no cannabinoid receptors on the brain stem which controls breathing," McAllister said. "It is quite a safe compound actually."
Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/calaverasblog.