A new study has discovered that cannabinoids can help achieve better results when treating cancer, combined with a chemotherapy treatment.
There have been some studies conducted on cannabis’ ability to treat cancer, and cannabis is often used to alleviate the symptoms of cancer treatment therapies. But this study suggests that adding a cannabinoid treatment may allow doctors to use less chemotherapy drugs during treatment, minimizing the harmful side effects.
The study conducted at St. George’s University in London focused on leukemia, a type of cancer that destroys red blood cells. Dr. Wai Lu, the lead author of the study, said,
“We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment.”
The report, which was published in the International Journal of Oncology, described the “anticancer activity” when cannabinoids are the sole treatment being administered. Researchers were curious about how cannabinoids interact with chemotherapy when administered before and after treatment, as well as different combinations of cannabinoids.
It revealed that taking cannabis before chemotherapy had a completely different effect than when taken afterwards. When paired with cytarabine and vincristine, two widely-used chemotherapy drugs that treat leukemia, cannabinoids helped kill more cancerous red blood cells after chemotherapy was administered. But it had an adverse effect when taken before chemotherapy.
“Studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximize a therapeutic effect,” explained Liu.
Although this was not a clinical trial involving leukemia patients, research on the cellular level is critical before studies can be carried out with human subjects. The authors of the study admit more research is needed to definitively support their results.
The cannabinoids were not administered through smoking whole-plant cannabis, and researchers warn that unregulated cannabis could have an adverse effect on a patient’s health. “These extracts are highly concentrated and purified, so smoking marijuana will not have a similar effect,” said Liu.
This study’s results are in line with previous research that supports a multi-cannabinoid approach to treating cancer. In 1974, researchers began looking into cannabis to treat cancer, and found that it did in fact shrink tumors in the majority of patients. But further research was restricted by the DEA. Liu himself conducted a similar study in 2013 that examined several cannabinoids, aside from THC, and it propelled his work towards the more recent study, “There’s quite a lot of cancers that should respond quite nicely to these cannabis agents,” he said in 2013.
Statistically, about 38.5% of Americans will develop some sort of cancer within their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Health. Newer treatment therapies focus on maximizing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation to target cancer rather than harm the immune system, but these therapies can still be destructive. While cancer organizations still caution patients on using cannabis without strong clinical research, Liu is encouraged by the results of this study. “…cannabinoids are a very exciting prospect in oncology, and studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximise a therapeutic effect,” he said.
Vaporizing, or vaping, one’s herbal flowers or concentrates is all the rage and a great way to practice harm reduction and avoid the carcinogens and toxins produced by burning any herb or extract with a flame. Vapor is superior to smoke and believed by some to produce a more uplifting, “cleaner” high that contains more of what patients and lifestyle users want (cannabinoids and terpenes) and less of what they don’t (toxins and non-trichome plant matter).
While dabbing is commonly associated with youth culture and one doesn’t typically conjure an image of a glaucoma-ridden senior citizen hunched over a dab rig (unless he or she follows @elderlywhodab on Instagram), vaping concentrates is one of the most efficient ways for very sick patients to receive cannabinoid medicine. People suffering from any condition that requires quick relief from pain (think diseases like migraines and arthritis) or nausea (such as that produced by chemotherapy) can gain significant relief from dabbing.
Mobility + Dab Rig Draws
Many patients and cannabis consumers desire the power and efficiency of a desktop dab rig — complete with water bubbler for cool, smooth vapor hits — while also yearning for the convenience and portability of a conventional vape pen or portable vaporizer. Also, many mobile-consumers desire some relief from the frequent cleaning of ash associated with most vape pens. Such a solution now exists in the Aquamizer Bubbler Attachment by WeVape.
WeVape, one of the most unique companies in the cannabis vaporizer industry, develops and sells special vape pens and accessories intended to conveniently vaporize cannabis concentrates at home or on-the-go. The company produces small, efficient devices that vaporize any cannabis extract such as BHO, CO2 oil, live resin, or rosin. Those who are into or curious about popular concentrates like shatter, crumble, or wax are prime candidates for WeVape’s hardware. In essence, the company sells a very small, very sexy, and very efficient mobile dab rig for about one-third to half the cost one would expect.
The most impressive trait of this mobile dabber? Big, dense vapor draws. Said one Whaxy reviewer:
“You get a dab hit, not a vape pen hit.”
Conventional dab rigs are designed to fully vaporize small amounts, or dabs, of concentrates, not the flower (buds) of the plant. Because of their unique role, dabbing vape pens feature atomizers and different internals than conventional pens or mobile vapes. The atomizer is the actual surface on which the dab is placed at the time of vaporization; it is where the magic occurs.
Three Dab-Friendly Components
WeVape’s affordable dabbing vape pen is comprised of three components:
- Aquamizer Bubbler Attachment (water filtration): When filled with cold water, this unit helps deliver smooth hits that rarely burn one’s throat or cause excessive coughing. The most impressive characteristic of this device isn’t its attractive curves or powerful, directed air flow, but rather its diminutive size. Partnered with WeVape’s Patriot Heating Element and a 30W battery (eLeaf iStick), this portable vaping dab rig costs only $90, a tremendous value for those seeking high-quality dabbing. Full-size desktop dab rigs simply can’t compete on price, ease-of-use, or safety (no need for a blow torch with WeVape’s devices is a major benefit).
- Patriot Heating Element (atomizer): This slick, solid device features a capable and strong magnetic sealing system. WeVape claims the $25 unit can provide up to 800 percent greater airflow than conventional models. It features a titanium coil and cone-shaped lid that attaches via a magnet (something WeVape dubs “MagneSeal Technology”) and reduces splash by channeling excessive concentrate or oil.
- Eleaf iStick 30W (battery): The iStick is a bleeding edge battery available for only $40 that powers the WeVape vape pen. It charges via USB, making it convenient to give one’s Aquamizer vape pen a boost of energy from a common laptop computer, one’s car, or any device that features one of these ubiquitous power/data connections. This slick, pocketable device features a stainless steel connecting thread and can be adjusted according to temperature or wattage, a nice feature absent on competing models. It is recommended to set the iStick between 10-15 watts.
WeVape sells each of these items separately or as a package. The company’s mix-and-match model selection allows one to easily and cost-effectively purchase replacement parts or spares. For example, one can choose from 30W and 50W eLeaf battery models (the 50W offers additional power for extended dab sessions, but greater bulk).
Because of the Aquamizer’s water filtration, it matches desktop dab rigs in functionality and vapor purity. Due to their high quality and superior engineering, the combination of the iStick battery, WeVape’s Patriot Heating Element atomizer, and Aquamizer water bubbler is a tour-de-force in the world of mobile dabbing that warrants investigation by any self-respecting dabber or those looking for a bit more than simply smoking or vaping flowers.
Strengths of the WeVape product combination outlined above include smooth hits and no need for a blow torch. Explained one Whaxy reviewer who is also an expert dabber,
“It hits even smoother than my tri-level honeycomb percolator bong.”
The WeVape delivers hits as big as a dab rig and is considerably less expensive than an electronic-nail. The portability of this svelte unit makes it perfect for those who want the full power and vapor of a dab rig delivered by a package barely larger than a pack of cigarettes.
The magnetic connection employed by the device ensures a solid and reliable fit, with no unnecessary broken glass due to a sloppy or weak contact point. For the temperature adjustment, users can select watts, not just degrees, helping ensure proper titration (dosing) by maintaining accurate temperatures. Because cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at different temperatures (based on their respective boiling points), dialing in the right temperature when vaporizing concentrates is critical for maximum medical efficacy or psychoactive effect. This also helps users get the most from their expensive concentrates, which typically cost $45-90 per gram.
Also, use of a WeVape concentrate pen is considerably faster and easier than a dab rig — in addition to being vastly more mobile. Most of this time and convenience advantage is gained from the fact that a blow torch isn’t necessary to operate this device. Because of its leading edge high-capacity battery and efficient atomizer, dabbers no longer need to worry about burning down the drapes or catching the dog on fire. And the sound of a blow torch firing up? Decidedly not soothing. It’s often an intimidating buzz kill for average patients and lifestyle consumers.
In addition, because it vaporizes cannabis concentrates and doesn’t burn then, the WeVape unit is odorless, quiet (the bubbler is the only source of sound), and highly efficient. Due to its small size, it is discreet and can be used by those in prohibitionist states or when around people who disapprove of cannabinoid medicine. Vaping overall — whether one pursues dabbing or not — is much safer than smoking, both in terms of health risks and also the fact that it doesn’t alert those in the immediate area, via a pungent odor, that cannabis is being burned and consumed.
Aquamizer: The Bubbler Attachment
The real secret to the success of the WeVape mobile dabbing solution is the Aquamizer. This simple, attractive attachment is what allows the WeVape vape pen to achieve the type of dense, white vapor typically available only from a full-size desktop dab rigs. In many respects, portable devices like the WeVape and its ultra-practical Aquamizer are clearly superior to conventional dab rigs because they do not require a blow torch or the guesswork of estimating the temperature of a nail (set the iStick between 10-15 watts).
Mobile dabbers like the WeVape vape pen and Aquamizer bubbler attachment are a revolution in consumer dabbing simply because the vast majority of patients and lifestyle consumers don’t desire to play with a blow torch to get an extra-potent dose of cannabinoids. In fact, many patients with diseases that impact their mobility, such as dystonia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and epilepsy, are unable to safely manipulate a blow torch to hyper-heat a titanium nail and vaporize their concentrates.
WeVape even offers a 50 percent discount to those who break their Aquamizer and order a replacement within 60 days of the purchase of the original unit. Its focus on customer service indicates that the company is intent on cultivating satisfied, return customers.
Check It Out
Consumption options for very sick patients and hard core lifestyle users are good. The ability to evolve beyond the relatively primitive burning of ground cannabis flowers, and all its health risks, via the application of modern mobile technology is an opportunity that should be not ignored. While dabbing is typically considered a youthful activity indulged in only by recreational consumers, patients with a wide range of diseases should seriously consider dabbing and try WeVape’s Aquamizer bubbler powered by the eLeaf battery and Patriot Heating Element. It’s a fully functional mobile dab rig in a sub-$100 package that’s sure to please even the most ardent dabber or pain-ridden patient.
With medical laws sweeping the nation, more and more patients are eligible for legal and safe access to cannabis — or at least the right to legally possess and consume it. As of June 2015, 14 states had passed “CBD-only” laws, programs designed to provide safe access to low-THC, high CBD (cannabidiol) cannabis oil for a limited set of diseases. In many states, including Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma, the only qualifying condition is epilepsy or debilitating seizures.
CBD-Only Laws Relatively Ineffective
Such laws are primarily motivated by childhood epilepsy and intended to curb the occurrence of seizures. Unfortunately, most are relatively ineffective and more a political stunt to gain reelection than an effort to truly help sick adults and children. Many of these patients gain no benefit from conventional pharmaceutical treatments. Many CBD-only states, however, are providing no safe access to an organic medicine that can easily be extracted into a concentrated form and given to children twice a day.
Often, such limited medical cannabis laws are given the name of a child patient who helped inspire them them or was cited as a reason to support the legislation, such as the Harper Grace Durval bill (Mississippi), the Haleigh’s Hope Act (Georgia), and the Alexis Carey bill (Idaho). Unfortunately, such laws serve a minority of childhood epilepsy sufferers. Current research and anecdotal evidence has revealed that CBD-only oils significantly reduce seizure activity in less than one-third of patients. Thus, seven out of 10 children with severe epileptic conditions like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome do not gain effective improvement to their condition and a significant decrease in seizures from CBD only.
CBD-only states that limit the herbal extract to only epilepsy also discount the most common condition for which CBD oil is administered: Cancer. By allowing only patients suffering seizures or childhood epileptics to use CBD oil, politicians most intent on re-election discount a sizeable portion of their citizens and millions of sick people when they so tightly limit the scope of their state’s CBD law.
No Access to Medicine
Some experts have observed that a network of dispensaries that provide trained budtenders and sage advice to desperate patients is typically not available in most states that have implemented CBD-only medical cannabis laws. Laws that merely legalize and remove penalties from the possession or consumption of something like CBD oil, but that do nothing to provide safe access to medicine and consulting for patients are of little real help.
Some have opined that current CBD legislation in many states is merely a political ploy to satisfy medical cannabis and patient advocates and put up a roadblock to future legislation that is more comprehensive and less restrictive. In other words, the governors and legislatures of many conservative states have beaten cannabis activists and legalization groups like NORML and MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) to the punch with their own highly diluted, mostly ineffective laws.
Also, programs that cater to a single disease like epilepsy reach a very small portion of the overall patient population. According to the MPP:
“…only two percent of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions.”
This reveals that CBD-only laws sometimes provide safe access to very few patients. Unfortunately, MPP reported that “The vast majority of [all medical cannabis] patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.”
Critics and Lip Service
Vocal critics of CBD-only legislation include Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML. Armentano has called such laws “largely unworkable” and believes that this is due to the tight restrictions they place on doctors and patients. For example, Tennessee, Utah, and Florida provide access to CBD oil not via dispensaries and retail outlets like those in Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles, but instead limit qualified patients to those participating in a special FDA clinical trial.
This obviously greatly limits participation and access, delivering help to very few actual patients after the hype of national press releases and photo opps has passed. In addition, patients in such states are shown no respect in terms of their desire or right to choose their own variety and brand of cannabis medicine from the retail outlet of their choice. Such limited access results in programs that are more lip service than actual help for millions of patients, their caregivers, and their families. In essence, many such programs are a monumental societal-level taunt, inviting very sick patients and desperate parents to participate in programs with very little actual effectiveness.
Patients are increasingly seeking high-CBD varieties of cannabis for treatment of many diseases and conditions, most notably cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, pain, and anxiety. There is also evidence that adult seizure patients, especially females, have a greater need for THC than other sufferers. Even if most states were actually providing safe, reliable access to high-quality, laboratory tested CBD oil containing no THC, the latest research indicates that such a limited approach that disregards the benefits of whole plant therapy helps few children — and actually increased seizure activity for some.
One study published in 2014 and conducted by Dr. Kevin Chapman involved 58 children, with an average age of seven, with “catastrophic forms of epilepsy.” It found that less than 30 percent of children treated with CBD-only oil containing very little or no THC experienced a reduction in seizures of 50 percent or greater. When THC is added to the mix, the majority of patients begin to experience a reduction in seizure activity. It is also estimated that many patients who gain marginal or even good efficacy from CBD-only oil would experience even greater therapeutic benefits if their medicine also contained some THC, even in small amounts or maybe at a 1:1 ratio with CBD.
A 2015 CBD Patient Survey conducted by Care by Design surveyed 2,495 patients between March and August of 2015. One of the survey’s key findings was the fact that CBD oils lacking THC are not as therapeutic or effective as those containing between 20 and 35 percent THC. Concluded the survey:
“THC matters. A higher ratio of CBD to THC does not result in better therapeutic outcomes. Patients using the 4:1 CBD-to-THC were the most likely to report a reduction in pain or discomfort….”
The survey goes on to note that patients who use an oil featuring a 2:1 CBD-to-THC ratio reported “the greatest improvement in overall wellbeing.” This confirms other research that has discovered that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance the therapeutic effect of the other, an example of the entourage effect.
Anecdotal Patient Testimonies
Many desperate parents of children with epilepsy have experimented with CBD oil. Unfortunately — as research has indicated — for the majority of them, oils high in CBD, but low in THC, do not work best for their children. Jason David has been treating his seven-year-old son, Jayden, an epilepsy sufferer with Dravet syndrome, with medical cannabis in one form or another since 2011. Dravet is one of the worst manifestations of epilepsy and does not respond to conventional treatments. Said David:
“I wish Charlotte’s Web [a CBD-only oil from Colorado] worked for all epileptic kids, but it doesn’t. The worst seizures Jayden ever had on medical cannabis was while we were using Charlotte’s Web.”
Brian Wilson, a former East Coast resident, moved to Colorado in 2014 because of its medical cannabis law. He is another parent of a child suffering from Dravet syndrome. In an interview with Ladybud in 2014, Wilson said:
“CBD is a very important part of the mix, but only part. We saw minor seizure control and developmental progress with CBD alone, but we didn’t see real seizure control until we added measurable levels of THC to the mix.”
Wilson also noted that the acidic precursor to THC, THC-A, provides significant therapeutic value to some patients. “This is highly individualized medicine. There is no magic bullet,” he added.
Some medical cannabis advocates believe that vague CBD-only bills “betray the science behind cannabis medicine.” Patients are finding that CBD, without any THC, is simply not effective or is marginally effect, when clearly superior solutions exist. In fact, several cases like that of Jason David and his son Jayden have been reported in which CBD only increased seizure disorders, often during times of illness, stress, or hormonal change.
More Research Necessary
Unfortunately, until cannabis is removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act of the federal government — which considers it as dangerous and addictive as heroin and bath salts — human trials and detailed research will fail to occur in the United States. Even cocaine and methamphetamine, truly addictive and dangerous drugs, are categorized as Schedule II and can be prescribed by a doctor.
Until Congress commits to comprehensive research into the medical efficacy of cannabis for a wide variety of diseases and ailments, tens of millions of patients throughout the country will needlessly suffer. More must be understood about the delicate and nuanced interplay of cannabinoids and terpenes and how they benefit patients with a variety of conditions. Until this happens, a naturally occurring herb that could be helping a sizable portion of the patient population will continue to be outlawed, denying the sick safe access to a 10,000-year-old organic medicine.