Lift ban on cannabis for medical research: Oncologists
Pointing out how India is lagging behind other countries in cannabis research, Dr B S Ajai Kumar, chairman of HCG Enterprises, asked for research on medicinal benefits of cannabis derivatives to prevent blood supply to the cancer tumour.3 Jan 2015
Marijuana or ganja may be frowned upon as a banned recreational drug, but could offer an effective cure for cancer, say top oncologists of Bengaluru. They have now decided to lobby with the Centre to lift the ban on cannabis to allow them to explore the medicinal uses of the plant.
They point out that the US allows its use for medicinal purposes, following several validations of the plant's derivatives giving a healing touch to cancer patients.
Their interest in cannabis research was stirred up during recent debates on tobacco farming. "We are encouraging cultivation of tobacco that causes various types of cancer. At the other end, we are ignoring the medicinal properties of a plant that can help cancer patients. We are not even able to take up research as procurement of the plant is illegal in India, whereas oncologists in 21 states of the US are prescribing derivatives of cannabis for cancer treatment," Dr Vishal Rao, surgical oncologist, HCG, told TOI.
Cannabis derivatives prevent blood supply to the cancer tumour. "Cancer cells are hungry cells, once there is break in the blood supply, they shrink due to lack of glucose. It is also helpful in reducing nausea and vomiting sensation for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy," he said.
Pointing out how India is lagging behind other countries in cannabis research, Dr B S Ajai Kumar, chairman of HCG Enterprises, said, "We want to take up research on medicinal benefits of cannabis derivatives. But to take it up we need the plants, which is not available in India. We are approaching the government with a proposal to legalize medicinal use of cannabis."
But oncologists make it clear that they are not for encouraging recreational use of marijuana. "Isolated compounds in cannabis have medicinal properties. In the US, it is also used for treating Alzheimer's, Glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. Currently, there is a lack of understanding of the topic even among the medical fraternity, and even speaking about it is avoided. We have to overcome that," Dr Rao said.
Dronabinol: Is a drug made of cannabis and used to treat loss of appetite among HIV positive and AIDS patients who have suffered drastic weight loss. It is also used to treat cancer patients to avoid severe nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.
Nabilone: The drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and marketed since 2006 is used for treating cancer patients and vomiting sensation and nausea induced by chemotherapy. It is also used for chronic pain management.
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