Yes, I was shocked when the urologist gave me the pathology report from my prostate biopsy: aggressive prostate adenocarcinoma. The good news was that it had not yet spread to bone or other tissues, apparently. But unfortunately later found that the cancer did get loose and invaded the seminal vesicles and maybe to the bladder, making it a stage three adenocarcinoma.
My profound disappointment arose from the feeling of betrayal. I had always taken the best care of this body; conscientious diet, daily exercise, yoga, meditation. What went wrong; where did I miss something?
In high school I opted to take a Physiology elective to learn the science of the human body. Every class was the thrill of discovery, and it set the course for my career in health sciences. Following a degree in Biochemistry, I spent ten years in cancer research at a world famous university hospital. I watched so many people die from cancer and its treatment, which deepened my resolve to do whatever it took to avoid this devastating demise.
It is common knowledge in the scientific community that some cancers can be heritable, in that our genetically programmed physiology has some factors to predispose neoplastic formations. The men closest to me in my family line have all developed prostate cancer. Perhaps it’s not my fault, it’s in the genes. That’s convenient, but I’m still not happy about it. So now, what to do?
The customary treatment options for this disorder are all inhumane, radical, aggressive, and insufferable. The life expectancy of traditionally treated prostate cancer is only three percent greater than no treatment at all; and incurs great expense and great suffering for the patient as well as the family.
Does the picture look any better for alternative treatments? There is really no way to know, statistically; as there is no reliable tracking of these data and comparison with traditional interventions. However, alternative modalities do offer hope even though science is lacking, and testimonials are often inflated or misleading.
One approach to this conundrum might be to take a measure of each and perhaps the outcome might turn in your favor. At this point I have chosen the least invasive and most effective options in traditional treatment: hormone therapy plus radiation. The hormone therapy consists of Lupron injections that inhibit androgen production that drives cancer cell growth and replication. That seems reasonable; it’s not cytotoxic and does not interfere with life in general. Radiation is not as traumatic and invasive as surgery, but the downside is that healthy tissue proximal to the prostate can get burned and cause life-altering damage. And we all know that radiation does cause cancer, which is disturbing.
What is the promise of alternative therapies that live on the fringes of traditional modalities? We don’t really know until we try them, but there are uncountable possibilities. It’s best to just start with what we know. I know something about nutrition, and there are numerous nutritional supplements that are known to be therapeutic in cancer. So I take them. There are herbal remedies also, and I take some of that too. Now I see there is cannabis extract, with many saying they are cured. Well, why not? I want to be cured as well. I understand that the cannabinoids have a modulating influence on perhaps all physiological systems. Modulation, here, means regulation, or optimization. There are more than 65 different cannabinoids in cannabis, each with it’s specific job at cellular regulation sites, where biological processes are optimized to bring metabolic balance to maintain healthy tissues. This is a very good thing.
As the body, its organs and tissues, fall out of balance or become diseased, cannabinoids have a restorative effect wherever the tissues are damaged, bringing optimal health in all structures and functions in the body. To illustrate this, one particular cannabinoid detects proliferation of tumor cells, binds to the appropriate receptor site (CB2), and causes cancer cell death, leaving normal cells untouched.1 This effect is shown easily in the lab, but is this scalable to the human condition? We shall see.
In my high school physiology course, the first important concept I learned was homeostasis, the persistent tendency of the body to maintain metabolic balance. It does this through several related systems; so we see that the body likes to be healthy and happy. That is its nature.
Why does the body allow these foreign cannabinoids to come in and take control of such essential physiological processes, without some kind of reaction? It is simply because this modulation system is already set up, and has been functional for millions of years; it’s in the DNA of all living creatures. Only it’s called the endocannabinoid system. Let’s look and see what this system is all about. In the Journal of Neuroimmunology we find a succinct summary:
The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors, their endogenous ligands and enzymes for synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids and represents a local messenger system within and between the nervous and immune system. Apparently, the endocannabinoid system is involved in immune control and neuroprotection.2
This is amazing. Our own endocannabinoid system covers all cells and nerves; it is the messenger of information flowing between our immune system and the central nervous system (CNS). It is responsible for neuroprotection, and micro-manages the immune system. This is the primary control system that maintains homeostasis; our well being.
Just out of curiosity, how does the work get done at the cellular level, and where does the body make the endocannabinoids? Here is a quick look:
In standard neurotransmission, the pre-synaptic neuron releases neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft which binds to cognate receptors expressed on the post-synaptic neuron. Upon binding, the neuron depolarizes. This depolarization facilitates the influx of calcium into the neuron; this increase in calcium activates an enzyme called transacylase which catalyzes the first step of endocannabinoid biosynthesis.3
Here we see that endocannabinoids have their origin in nerve cells right at the synapse. When the body is compromised through illness or injury it calls insistently to the endocannabinoid system to direct the immune system to bring healing. If these homeostatic systems are weakened, it should be no surprise that hemp cannabinoids are therapeutic. It helps the body in the most natural way possible.
To see how this works we visualize the cannabinoid as a three dimensional molecule, where one part of the molecule is configured to fit the nerve or immune cell receptor site just like a key in a lock. There are at least two types of cannabinoid receptor sites, CB1 (CNS) and CB2 (immune). In general CB1 gives us the buzz, and CB2 activates the immune system, but it’s much more complex than this. Both THC and anandamide activate both receptor sites. Other cannabinoids activate one or the other receptor sites.4 Among the strains of Cannabis, C. sativa tends toward the CB1 receptor, and C. indica tends toward CB2. So sativa is better for buzz, and indica is better for healing. Another factor here is that sativa is dominated by THC cannabinoids, and indica is predominately CBD (cannabidiol).
It is known that THC and CBD are biomimetic to anandamide, that is, the body can use both interchangeably. Thus, when stress, injury, or illness demand more from endogenous anandamide than can be produced by the body, its mimetic exocannabinoids can be administered. If the stress is transitory, then the treatment can be transitory. If the demand is sustained, such as in cancer, then treatment needs to provide sustained pressure of the modulating agent on the homeostatic systems. This is why Rick Simpson recommends twice daily doses of hemp oil extract (C. indica), for three months, in the case of cancer.
Typically CBD gravitates to the densely packed CB2 receptors in the spleen, home to the body’s immune system. From there, immune cells seek out and destroy cancer cells. Interestingly, it has been shown that CBD cannabinoids have the ability to kill cancer cells directly without going through immune intermediaries. CBD hijacks the lipoxygenase pathway to directly inhibit tumor growth.5 As a side note, it has been discovered that CBD inhibits anandamide reuptake. This means that cannabidiol helps the body preserve its own natural endocannabinoid by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down anandamide.6
Coincidentally, it is not only CBD that is specifically cytotoxic to cancer cells, THC takes a different approach the task:
THC achieves this wizardry by binding to protein receptors on a cancerous cell’s surface. Once attached, the THC induces the cell to make a fatty substance called ceramide, which prompts the cell to start devouring itself. “We see programmed cell death,” Velasco says. What’s more, noncancerous cells don’t make ceramide when they come into contact with THC. The healthy cells don’t die.7
Just for clarity, endogenous ceramide (a signaling sphingolipid) disrupts the mitochondrial function of making ATP (adenosine triphosphate), thus the cancer cell becomes energy starved. ATP is the energy donor for all essential cell functions. Once the mitochondria shut down, the cell dies.8
Endogenous ceramide’s day job is to speed destruction of already stressed or senescent cells. We seen now that in the presence of THC, ceramide senses cancer cells as stressed or senescent, thus speeding their death. 8
Before leaving this topic it is important that we differentiate between plant based ceramide (phytosphingosine) and mammalian ceramide (endogenous sphignosine). Plant ceramide has a slightly different molecular structure but very different bioactivity. Ingested, it is a moisturizing lipid that supports the skin (stratum corneum) enhancing the moisture barrier that keeps epidermis from drying out. This is good, you should get some. I tried it and liked it.
July 8, 2010
Might as well just jump in and do what needs to be done. Fortunately, California is more lenient than other states regarding medical cannabis. I went to the local franchise, MediCann, to get certified to use medical cannabis. I’ve acquired a small supply of concentrated resin for daily use. It is so nice to sleep through the night again. This amount of cannabinoid is a shock to the system and it has taken about a week to acclimate to it. Now I’m up to the full strength dose, about one gram per day in two divided doses. I’ve noticed that blood pressure is down 20 - 40 points, that is, back to normal. Perhaps I can quit taking the BP meds. Overall, this daily intake of cannabinoids slows me down some, but I don’t mind. It doesn’t restrict me in the least. For some reason I don’t want to drive as fast on the freeway, but this is a good thing. It’s a nice feeling to be a little more laid back. I’m very aware of the anxiolytic and anti-spasmodic qualities of cannabis; this makes me very happy for lots of reasons. For example...
One of the complications of adenocarcinoma is prostate enlargement that causes compression of the bladder and urethra, creating numerous dangerous urinary tract issues. Anti-spasmodic cannabis brings enough tissue relaxation that urgency, frequency, and urethral stricture is substantially alleviated. Certainly there are pharmaceuticals that will do this, but they are expensive, and have serious or even fatal side effects.
The well known anxiolytic property of cannabis provides an improvement in quality of life in all facets of living in the world. It is so sublime to feel contented well-being going through this process of healing. Sure beats life in a hospital.
August 8, 2010
I’m really surprised that there is so much good information on the internet about medical cannabis. Even though many are taking the curative powers of cannabis quite seriously, there are still no controlled studies on the effectiveness of cannabis treatment of cancer. There are numerous anecdotal cases that are grounds for optimism but I would like to see some good science with controlled variables. Mostly I would like to see strain potency standards for the various cannabinoids used therapeutically for cancer and other health concerns. Fortunately there is a lab in Oakland that specializes in cannabinoid profiling (CW Analytical Labs). They have an analytics library of common strains and also do custom analyses. Good start.
To bring some clarity to my own experimental treatment I’m trying to evaluate the cannabis biology of the supply I have currently in use. The name of the strain is not known, but subjectively it feels like a blend of C.sativa and C.indica. Given that the butter is highly concentrated extract from bud, resin, and leaf, I’m just guessing that the butter is about one percent the concentration of the popular Rick Simpson Hemp Oil, making dosage one tablespoon concentrated cannabis butter per day. This is totally unscientific, but it’s what I have. We’ll see, in the end, how it all works out. Until them, the butter is very tasty spread on rice cakes, brownies, etc.
It may be useful to see the preparation of the extract....
Extraction starts with:
one ounce of highest quality shake,
three ounces of butter, mixed with
three ounces of polyunsaturated oil (olive, canola, etc.)
one crock pot
cheese cloth and containers
Water wash all materials with hot rinse water for 30 minutes; then dry thoroughly. Everything that tastes bad in cannabis is water-soluble. The water wash is to bring good taste to green stuff. Grind shake in a food processor to a fine consistency. Melt butter in a crock pot set on low; stir in the trim powder while stirring constantly to mix. Cook in covered crock pot on the lowest setting for 2 - 4 hours. Add two ounces of high proof alcohol (Everclear, or comparable) to help extract cannabinoids early in the cook. The butter/oil will be a very dark green. Before it cools, pour the mix through a cheese cloth and squeeze into containers. Or, you might use a juicer to separate the roughage from the nectar (I like the Champion Juicer for the horsepower). Seal tight and store in the freezer. The residue from the pressing can be used to bake very potent brownies or cookies.
I also have a small supply of genuine Hemp Oil, created by a master herbalist, exactly from the recipe of Rick Simpson. The strain is Northern Lights. One drop the size of a rice grain has the same effect as a tablespoon of my cannabutter, so I’m confident that the therapeutic effect is the same in the two different concentrations of high quality oil, even though the Hemp Oil is processed from buds, and cannabutter from shake (leaves and bud trim). Buds will generally give more THC, and the shake, more CBD.
Oops! What just happened? Did I just gain ten pounds? Hmm. Guess it’s true what they say about the munchies. Must get this turned around immediately. Less calories in; more calories out. Run more!
August 26, 2010
This journal was started to capture the ordinary as well as extraordinary events and experiences along this healing path. One of the unexpected effects of the cannabis is the apparent physical status improvement as shown by chiropractic adjustment. For the last several years I have gone for regular chiropractic spinal adjustments. Generally, I present with spinal misalignment, which then needs to be adjusted. Beginning in the same week I started cannabis treatment, I no longer needed adjustment. For the last eight weeks, without exception, I am suddenly presenting in perfect alignment. Interesting.
We are about nine weeks into this experiment and I’m noticing a couple of other things since starting the cannabis regimen. One, a chronic intestinal distress of two years has suddenly resolved. And the other is an increase in physical vitality. Since a very serious illness ten years ago I have been walking for exercise. Up to now, running was painful and exhausting, due to several orthopedic surgeries that didn’t go well. Just this week, the body has just wanted to run instead of walk. I’m starting slowly, walking some, running some; but in only one week my stride has started to stretch out nicely. This is completely unexpected.
September 1, 2010
Let’s take a side track here to understand how THC kills cancer in humans. First let’s look at what keeps cancer cells alive, then we will come back and examine how the cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) unravels cancer’s aliveness.
In every cell there is a family of interconvertible sphingolipids that specifically manage the life and death of that cell. This profile of factors is called the “Sphingolipid Rheostat.” If ceramide (a signaling metabolite of sphingosine-1-phosphate) is high, then cell death (apoptosis) is imminent. If ceramide is low, the cell is strong in its vitality.
Very simply, when THC connects to the CB1 or CB2 cannabinoid receptor site on the cancer cell, it causes an increase in ceramide synthesis which drives cell death. A normal healthy cell does not produce ceramide in the presence of THC, thus is not affected by the cannabinoid.
The cancer cell dies, not because of cytotoxic chemicals, but because of a tiny little shift in the mitochondria. Within most cells there is a cell nucleus, numerous mitochondria (hundreds to thousands), and various other organelles in the cytoplasm. The purpose of the mitochondria is to produce energy (ATP) for cell use. As ceramide starts to accumulate, turning up the Sphingolipid Rheostat, it increases the mitochondrial membrane pore permeability to cytochrome c, a critical protein in energy synthesis. Cytochrome c is pushed out of the mitochondria, killing the source of energy for the cell.
Ceramide also causes genotoxic stress in the cancer cell nucleus generating a protein called p53, whose job it is to disrupt calcium metabolism in the mitochondria. If this weren’t enough, ceramide disrupts the cellular lysosome, the cell’s digestive system that provides nutrients for all cell functions. Ceramide, and other sphingolipids, actively inhibit pro-survival pathways in the cell leaving no possibility at all of cancer cell survival.
The key to this process is the accumulation of ceramide in the system. This means taking therapeutic amounts of CBD and THC, steadily, over a period of time, keeping metabolic pressure on this cancer cell death pathway. 8
September 6, 2010
One of the first things a prostate patient notices is frequency and urgency. Oh good, there’s a drug for that: Flomax. There are some morbid side effects (for me nearly fatal), but it does reduce symptoms; and it is very expensive. We know that cannabinoids are anti-spasmodic; it seemed reasonable that cannabis might relax the urethral stricture, and take over for Flomax. Last week I stopped taking the Flomax; with no return of symptoms. This, too, was completely unexpected. I am delighted in the extreme to be without the expense and the side-effects.
I am quite encouraged by some of the signs along the way to a general awakening to the medical efficacy of cannabinoids. For instance, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent on cannabis to the federal government (Dept. of Health and Human Services) for its health benefits in treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases; stating specifically Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, HIV, and dementia. This is patent #6630507 granted in 2003. In fact, there are numerous prescription pharmaceuticals of synthetic THC. These are Dronabinol (Marinol), Sativex, and Nabilone. There is also HU-210 that is 100 times as potent as THC. These drugs are widely prescribed in the United States, Europe, and Asia. This tells me that certain sectors of our culture are already going full bore to put cannabis to work in the service of improving human health. We wait patiently for the remaining obstacles to fall away. Seems that a major obstacle is that a few still think that if a medicine has the side-effect of contented well-being, it needs to be illegal. Not sure what to think about that.
The primary complaint about the synthetic THC pharmaceuticals is that there are many other therapeutic cannabinoids in cannabis that are not represented in the pharmaceutical, which dilutes the effectiveness of a singular THC analog. To get around this, chemists have created HU-331 which is a synthetic cannabidiol and is used as a potent anti-cancer agent. Want to know how HU-331 kills cancer? It unravels the cancer cell’s DNA. That kills it for sure. If this doesn’t tell us anything, I have another story. Analyze mother’s milk and you will find the endocannabinoid 2-AG. All babies start life with this cannabis cocktail. Really, if this weren't healthy for us, it wouldn’t be in mother’s milk. 2-AG (arachnidonoylglycerol) is similar to anandamide, and is found in high concentrations in brain and spinal cord tissues. As such, it is a CB1 receptor agonist.
September 24th, 2010
It has been two months since beginning this alternative treatment with the herbal cannabinoids, with no adjunct treatment of chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. What has been the effect of this radical excursion into self-treatment? In a routine prostate exam yesterday, the urologist determined that since he checked three months ago, the prostate has “substantially” decreased in size indicating remission of the tumor. Let’s put this news into perspective of how far we have really come. Looking at the details of the prostate biopsy Histology Report indicates that all six needle biopsy samples showed adenocarcinoma involving an average of 90% of tissue, with Gleason Scores of sevens and eights. Gleason scores range from one to eight with the highest score characteristic of highly aggressive cancer with the worst prognosis. This is huge to overcome in two months.
There is another indicator that is in play here. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is useful for judging cancer activity. My PSA, as of last week, was measured as <0.1ng/mL. This means no activity at all. Normal range is 1 - 4. My previous PSA was 8.0, so we see how far we have progressed in two months. Actually, this is remarkable.
There is one other thing to note. In the months of treatment, taking very high doses of cannabinoid extract, what has been the effect on my daily life of this potent psychotropic? Not much, really. I take a large does before bed and a small dose in the morning. It took a week for my system to become accustomed to it, then it was life as usual of work and play.
As for the future; maybe I will decline two months of radiation that is planned to begin next month. This is the best news of my life. And it will be nice to continue to support this good health with nature’s best medicine for many more years.
January 12, 2011
During the prostate exam yesterday, the urologist, surprised at the shrinkage of the prostate and absence of pain on examination, said, “It’s hardly there any more, compared to the enlarged fully involved tumor we saw a few months ago.” We will do another biopsy of the prostate in a couple of weeks in order to get cytological examination of the tissue and to evaluate the presence or absence of adenocarcinoma. At this point I’m feeling optimistic. But we will not know anything until we see the pathology report of the biopsy. Of course we ran a PSA, which was essentially zero. This means that the immune system is not seeing any cancer activity. Same as three months ago.
January 25, 2011
Prostate biopsy today (ouch). The urologist observed that the prostate has shrunk to less than normal. A normal prostate will be about 36cc volume. Today mine measured 13cc’s. The doctor is encouraged by this, but we will wait until February 8th to get the tissue histology report to consider future therapy. The prostate was so small, he could only get four biopsy samples, instead of the 6 or 8 that is normally taken. Glad that’s over.
One nice little surprise during six months of cannabinoid therapy, is that I have not been sick all winter—no colds, flu, sinus. Given that cannabidiol is an immune system modulating agent we might expect that this would provide a quick resolution for diseases that trigger immune response. It’s also nice that I’m not hungry all the time any more.
February 8, 2011
The histology report of the prostate biopsy says that there is no cancer detectable. I’m very happy to have beat this insidious killer, thanks to so many who have helped me get to this place.
Looking back I find it amazing that this deadly cancer was quickly wiped out using natural enzymes of the cannabis plant. Looking forward, how do I avoid the return of the dreaded adenocarcinoma that we know comes back in 70% of conventional therapy cases? Perhaps the conditions are still present to reignite cancer invasion, considering that genetics might be a player in this little drama. Is there anything that will inhibit the formation of prostate cancer?
It turns out that yes, currently available is an enzyme that kills prostate cancer stem cells. Now that the cancer cells are gone, gamma-tocotrienol will kill the arising stem cells that would potentially bring the cancer back. What is this gamma-tocotrienol, where did it originate and what does it do, exactly?
Gamma-tocotrienol (y-T3) is an isomer of vitamin E that is extracted from palm oil. Taken orally, gamma-tocotrienol is most potent in suppressing prostate cancer cell proliferation, which acts through multiple-signaling pathways. This signaling is through proteins that regulate immune response, such as NFkB and EGF-R. In this way gamma-tocotrienol down-regulates pro-survival signaling pathways inducing apoptosis, cell death. This process is highly specific in that it spares normal prostate tissue. This ability of gamma-tocotrienol to eradicate prostate cancer also acts to suppress cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. Stopping this cancer from spreading or returning is primary in choosing an appropriate therapy.9
Another pathway taken by gamma-tocotrienol to control prostate cancer stem cells is the up-regulation of the p53 protein. This is associated with the ejection of cytchrome c from the mitochondrial nucleus to the liquid matrix (cytosol) of cellular cytoplasm. Is this starting to sound familiar? This is the same pathway that THC and cannabidiol use in stimulating ceramide synthesis in the cancer cell to cause cell apoptosis. Essentially, the cannabinoids and gamma-tocotrienols are performing the same function along similar metabolic pathways to kill cancer and its stem cells.
This strategy appears likely to bring a long lifetime free of any cancer. That’s a good thing. But I’ve never been one to do whatever is just enough. I like beyond just enough, for most things. So what else can I do to eliminate the possibility of cancer recurrence?
As you can probably imagine from the taste of pomegranate it is loaded with a remarkable array of phenylpropanoids and ellagitannins. Since prostate cancer depends completely on testosterone to grow and spread, phenylpropanoids disrupts the communication between testosterone and the cell, thus leaving the cancer to wither. Now, what does ellagitannins bring to the table? We know that rapid growth of cancer cells requires increased blood vessel formation (angiogenesis). Ellagitannins have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis in neoplastic tissue. Cancer growth is inhibited from lack of oxygen so cellular proliferation can not occur; thus again, apoptosis.10
This should do it; but Rick Simpson chimes in here also, he says that once the cancer is cleared, we can keep a maintenance routine of one regular dose every week or two that will kill any cancer before it aggregates into an active neoplasm.
Six months ago when I started taking massive amounts of cannabinoid extract, the burning question in my mind was, “What will happen when I quit taking this stuff? Will I become dependent. What will withdrawal be like?” I was a little afraid. At the end of the six month treatment I abruptly stopped the medication—and waited for withdrawal to happen. There were a couple of days I was a little cranky; but mostly, withdrawal was a non-event. I just didn’t feel any different. Contemplating this I wondered, why wasn’t it more traumatic. The answer is simply this: in our normal physiology there is already the full array of endocannabinoid channels that the additional dosage supports. When the additional extract is withdrawn, the existing anandamide (our natural cannabinoid) metabolic pathways resume their normal function. The adjustment is very slight.
Now that the cancer is gone, continuing metabolic support with pomegranate and tocotrienol, or cannabinoid support, will assure that it will never return. I’ve been given a new life; it’s thrilling to contemplate the possibilities.
a MASSIVE,MASSIVE thankyou to dennis for allowing me to post his story around the forum!!!......may the rest of your life be blessed with good health and happiness dennis!!!....and may your story give hope and inspiration to others following on behind you!!!