Many people are becoming aware of the stories and studies emerging regarding the successful use of cannabis in treating children with ADD/ADHD, autism, and certain types of epilepsy. But children with these conditions are not the only ones to have benefitted from cannabis.
Cannabis has been used with great success in children with cancer.
The fact that cannabis is helpful for reducing nausea, vomiting and intense pain, and promoting better sleep for cancer patients, is becoming fairly well known. But cannabis has also been used to treat the cancers themselves. And other times when parents gave their children cannabis only to lessen the horrific effects of chemotherapy, to their surprise (and that of the doctors), the cancers disappeared.
Diagnosed as a toddler in 2012 with an aggressive form of leukemia, Landon Riddle underwent one year of chemo and radiation. He was also given a plethora of opiates and benzodiazepines. The chemo caused severe vomiting – up to 50 times a day, which caused his esophagus to burn and partially close. He could no longer walk due to neuropathy in his feet and legs, and his immune system became so compromised that he caught every cold, flu, and stomach virus that was circulating. He was near death by the time the first stage of his treatment was done.
Sierra Riddle, Landon’s mom, heard about CBD oil and started her son on it, eventually adding THC. In 2013 they traveled from their home state of Utah – where all cannabis was illegal at that time – to Colorado for treatment. Landon was given a medical marijuana card, becoming the youngest patient in the U.S. to have one. Slowly, his mother was able to wean her son off all the drugs.
Landon’s mother initially gave him medical cannabis to alleviate his intense suffering caused by the cancer treatments. But later results of a bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap, and a battery of blood tests showed that the leukemia was gone.
And after six and a half years, Landon is still cancer-free.
In June of 2013, eight-month-old Sophie Ryan was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma tumor. A friend on Facebook connected her parents, Josh and Tracy Ryan (who would later found cannakids.org), with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Ricki and Abby were creating a documentary about cannabis oil killing cancer cells in children.
Ricki and Abby, in turn, connected the Ryans with some of the leading experts and oil producers in California. Tracy Ryan says that after 13 months of high doses of cannabis oil coupled with chemo, Sophie’s tumor was 85 to 90 percent gone. An enormous cyst that had also formed had shrunk about 90 percent. They were also told that Sophie would lose her vision in her left eye and likely some vision in her right eye.
While it may seem to some that it was the chemo that shrunk the tumor and cyst, according to Sophie’s doctors, the chemo would not shrink the cyst and at best, would only minimally shrink the tumor. Because it was a slow-growing tumor, doctors said the chemo was never meant to get rid of it. Their hope was that the chemo would arrest its growth. And according to Tracy, the doctors at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles agree that it was the cannabis oil that destroyed Sophie’s tumor. Because of this, Sophie’s vision has been saved.
Due to the vilification of cannabis, good old-fashioned politics, and the fact that it remains illegal under federal law, there remains a dearth of studies in the U.S. on its potential to kill cancer cells. And as the U.S. largely continues to fight tooth-and-nail to remain rooted in its modern-day Prohibition, other countries are embracing cannabis research – even in the plant’s potential to fight cancer.
At the forefront of medical cannabis research is Israel. For over a half century, cannabis has been researched in Israel, beginning with Raphael Mechoulam. A biochemist and professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Professor Mechoulam began studying cannabis in the 1960s and was a major player in discovering marijuana’s basic chemical constituents. This led to more research and by the 1990s, the Israel government was backing cannabis research.
Dr. David Meiri, of Technion Israel Institute of Technology, is the head of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research, where along with other research, his focus revolves around the antitumor effects of cannabinoids. His lab is involved in eight clinical trials to study the use of cannabis for treating colon disease, pain prevention, epilepsy and, of course, cancer.
Not content to contain all his work to a lab, Dr. Meiri also partners with clinicians, growers, distributors and major manufacturers of medical marijuana as they attempt to revolutionize its use in cancer treatment.
Perhaps one day, the cannabis prohibition in the U.S. will be lifted, paving the way for similar groundbreaking research. Until then, we’ll have to keep our eyes on the research being done on the world’s behalf in Israel and a few other countries.