Cannabinoids exert palliative effects in cancer patients by reducing nausea, vomiting and pain, by stimulating appetite, and by improving the quality of sleep. However, laboratory studies in animals and isolated cancer cells have shown cannabinoids to be capable, under some conditions, of inhibiting the development of cancer cells in multiple ways.
As a result of such exciting findings, a growing number of non-scientific accounts have appeared on the internet claiming cannabis to be a cure for cancer. Nevertheless, in spite of on-going research, there is currently no solid evidence from clinical trials to support such claims.
It should be noted, however, that the potential effects of terpenes on cancer, either alone or in combination with cannabinoids, are yet to be addressed in laboratory studies. Indeed, the combined effects of cannabinoids and terpenes are often claimed to be the major difference between ‘holistic’ herbal preparations of cannabis and pharmaceutical products based on single cannabinoids. However, the exact nature of the effects of cannabinoid-terpene combinations has not yet been studied.
Moreover, extraction methods and/or administration forms used by self-medicating patients often differ from those used in laboratory or hospital studies. Because of this gap between real-life experiences and clinical research, the curative potential of herbal cannabis preparations for the treatment of different cancer types remains unclear.