Medical Cannabis “Safe And Effective” Palliative Treatment For Cancer Patients

Cannabis in cancer treatment
Image: Tikun Olam

A peer-reviewed study has found 95.9% of participants with cancer reported an improvement in their condition through the use of medical cannabis.

The 2,970 cancer patients (average age of 60) treated between 2015 and 2017 who participated in the study were prescribed cannabis for symptoms mainly related to sleep, pain, nausea, and appetite problems. Just 3.7% reported no change in their condition and four patients (0.3%) reported their condition worsened.

The most common types of cancer in participating patients were: breast (20.7%), lung (13.6%), pancreatic (8.1%) and colorectal (7.9%); with more than half (51.2%) being at stage 4 (advanced cancer).

Another interesting outcome of the study was 36% had stopped taking opioids entirely after 6 months, and an additional 10% decreased their dosage.

“The data establishes that cannabis is effective treatment for the most acute symptoms of cancer, such as pain, which often requires the use of opioids,” said Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of Tikun Olam (a cannabis brand) and lead author of study.

Side effects were infrequent and minor; the most common being dizziness (8%), dry mouth (cottonmouth) (7.3%), increased appetite (3.6%), sleepiness (3.3%) and psychoactive effect (2.8%).

The cancer patients in the study were sourced from Tikun Olam clinics in Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Health began providing approvals for medical cannabis for managing cancer symptoms in 2007 and Tikun Olam has been operating under license from the Ministry since that year.

The study was published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

Tikum Olam, which claims to have treated 20,000 patients, has spread its wings recently, partnering with Canada’s Medreleaf and Australia’s Medifarm, which was the first Australian company to be licensed to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis.

The cancer related study isn’t the first the company has published. Others include:

  • Treatment of Crohn’s Disease with Cannabis- An Observational Study – download (PDF)
  • Cannabis Induces a Clinical Response in Patients with Crohn’s Disease – download (PDF)
  • The Anti-Inflammation and Anti-Pain Properties of Cannabis Extracts – view
  • The Effects of Cannabis on Parkinson’s Disorders – view

The company grows 13 strains of cannabis with varying levels of THC, CBD and CBN.