A Tale of Two Studies
For 35 years scientists have known that naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant possess potent and selective anti-cancer properties, a fact that I have documented extensively in previous writings here, here, and here.
Yet for more than three decades the scientific study of these anti-cancer effects has remained almost exclusively limited to preclinical in vitro (in a petri dish) and in vivo (in lab animals) analysis, rather than clinical (human) study. Why? A just published review in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology provides an answer.
Cannabinoid receptor ligands as potential anticancer agents – high hopes for new therapies?
abstract excerpt via PubMed
In recent years, CB receptor ligands, including Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, have been proposed as potential anticancer agents. This review critically discusses the pharmacology of CB receptor activation as a novel therapeutic anticancer strategy in terms of ligand selectivity, tissue specificity and potency. Intriguingly, antitumour effects mediated by cannabinoids are not confined to inhibition of cancer cell proliferation; cannabinoids also reduce angiogenesis, cell migration and metastasis, inhibit carcinogenesis and attenuate inflammatory processes.
Sounds promising, huh? Well it is — that is, until you get to this:
The development of CB(2)-selective anticancer agents could be advantageous in light of the unwanted central effects exerted by CB(1) receptor ligands.
And just what are these terrible “unwanted effects” — effects so “problematic” that we must continue to forbid scientists from clinically studying the drug’s effects in cancer patients? I’ll let the authors explain.
“In terms of a potential therapeutic application the unwanted psychotropic effects mediated via CB1 could be a problem.”
You read that right. The ‘problem’ with cannabinoids anti-cancer abilities is that patients might temporarily feel better after they take them!
Now contrast mainstream science’s feigned concern with the so-called ‘unwanted effects’ of the natural cannabis ‘high’ with the actual side-effects of the pharmaceutical cannabinoid antagonist drug rimonabant (aka Acomplia), which was recently withdrawn from the European market because of the the drug’s link to depression and suicide.
Experimental evidence has suggested that drugs that enhance cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptor activity may induce anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, whilst the opposite has been reported with antagonists. Thus, the objective of the present review is to discuss the potential psychiatric side-effects of CB1 receptor antagonists, such as rimonabant, which has been recently marketed in several countries for the treatment of smoking cessation, obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
… Patients taking CB1 receptor antagonists should be carefully investigated for psychiatric side-effects. These drugs should not be prescribed for those already suffering from mental disorders. Nevertheless, the development of new compounds targeting the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of several conditions would be necessary and opportune.
Let’s review shall we? Natural plant selectively kills cancer, but it may also get you high = “problematic.” Synthetic pharmaceutical drug short circuits the body’s natural endocannabinoid system and will likely make you depressed and suicidal = “opportune.”
July 17, 2009