Hemp Can Fight Cancer, Too, Reveal Scientists in New Cannabis Study
Not all marijuana-derived drugs need to get you high.
With one and a half million new cases diagnosed each year, scientists are on a continuous hunt for more effective means to fight cancer. The urgency of the search has led them to explore more unorthodox substances, like marijuana and viagra, as potential treatments for the disease. Their endeavors have paid off: As researchers reported Monday, it turns out that hemp вЂ” a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant вЂ” might also be effective in treating certain types of cancer.
While the hemp plant has been used medicinally for centuries, modern scientists had to stop exploring its positive properties after the Controlled Substances Act went into effect in 1970. This policy categorized all forms of cannabis as Schedule 1 drugs even though hemp doesnвЂ™t have psychoactive properties or cause addiction. Those laws are slightly more relaxed now, and scientists have found that what hemp likely can do is become a plant-based treatment for ovarian cancer. In a new abstract presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers from Sullivan University showed that hemp has anti-cancer properties that can slow down the spread of the disease.
вЂњOur findings from this research, as well as prior research, show that KY-hemp slows ovarian cancer comparable to or even better than the current ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin,вЂќ co-author and Sullivan University College of Pharmacy graduate student Chase Turner explained in a statement released Monday. вЂњSince Cisplatin exhibits high toxicity, we anticipate that hemp would carry less side effects.вЂќ
KY-hemp is an extract of a strain of hemp grown in Kentucky. It was chosen because, like marijuana, hemp contains the active ingredients cannabidiol (CBD) and very small amounts of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Previous studies have shown these components are therapeutically valuable. According to the American Cancer Society, CBD can treat seizures and reduce anxiety, while THC can relieve pain and nausea вЂ” side effects of the disease that cancer patients need to manage. In line with this research, the new study shows that hemp is useful in mitigating some of the effects of ovarian caner.
In this new study, scientists tested hempвЂ™s interaction with cancer in two parts. In the first experiment, they added various doses of the KY-hemp extract to cultured ovarian cells. Doing so resulted in a significant slowing of cell migration, suggesting to the researchers that the hemp extract could help slow down the spread of cancer to other parts of the body via a process called metastasis.
The second experiment was designed to test KY-hempвЂ™s protective effects, specifically against ovarian cancer. Here they determined that when introduced into cultured ovarian cancer cells, KY-hemp slowed the secretion of a compound called interleukin IL-1 beta. Interleukins are cellular messenger molecules that, when working correctly, can regulate the immune response. But they can also overstimulate inflammation, a process that has been linked previously to cancer progression.
The KY-hemp slowed down the secretion of IL-1 beta, leading the scientists to hypothesize thereвЂ™s a biological mechanism within the extraction that has anti-cancer effects. In future experiments, they plan on testing the extract on mice with ovarian cancer and on other culture cancer cells in order to вЂњlearn more about how it leads to cancer cell death.вЂќ
Hemp contains only 0.3 percent or less of THC compared to the five to 20 percent range found within marijuana plants, so itвЂ™s an attractive alternative for scientists looking for a cure that doesnвЂ™t have addictive and psychoactive properties. As one of the first on hempвЂ™s cancer-fighting properties, the current study research adds to the list of uses for industrial hemp вЂ” which its advocates say bolsters the need to make hemp universally legal.
That process is underway but not complete yet: In 2014, former President Barack Obama included a provision in the Farm Bill that allowed universities and state departments to grow industrial hemp for agricultural and research purposes. Today, thereвЂ™s a bipartisan effort to kick hemp off the controlled substances list entirely and legalize it as an agricultural commodity. ThatвЂ™s good news for farmers, and for cancer researchers, too.
Interested in marijuana research? Check out this video next:
Not all marijuana-derived drugs need to get you high.
6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
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Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.
However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2 ).
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide ( 3 ).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.
The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body ( 4 ).
Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease ( 5 ).
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease ( 6 , 7 ).
The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease ( 8 , 9 ).
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Fatty acids may affect immune responses in your body ( 13 , 14 , 15 ).
Studies suggest that your immune system depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. They have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range.
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids.
The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication ( 16 , 17 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.
About 25% of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high.
In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein (1).
They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids and must obtain them from your diet.
Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source.
Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid (18).
The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes ( 19 ).
Summary About 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. What’s more, they contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) ( 20 ).
These symptoms are very likely caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin ( 21 ).
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin ( 22 , 23 , 24 ).
In a study in women with PMS, taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of GLA — per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms ( 22 ).
Other studies have shown that primrose oil, which is rich in GLA as well, may be highly effective in reducing symptoms for women who have failed other PMS therapies.
It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS ( 25 ).
Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause, too.
The exact process is unknown, but the GLA in hemp seeds may regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause ( 26 , 27 , 28 ).
Summary Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, thanks to its high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
This is a detailed article about hemp seeds and their health benefits. Here are 6 ways that consuming hemp seeds can improve your health.