Cancer is a leading cause of death for children ages 5-9 in the United States. Unfortunately, the majority of the available treatments can be incredibly harsh on the body. This puts children with cancer in an extremely delicate position: not only do they have to fight a potentially deadly illness at such a young age, but they must put up with extreme treatment plans that have a wealth of side effects on their own. These reasons have led many parents to seek out cannabis oil as a treatment aid for cancer in their children.
Is cannabis oil a treatment for pediatric cancer?
Cannabis oil, a highly concentrated marijuana extract, is thought to aid in pediatric cancer treatment in two ways. First, it can help children cope with the severe side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Extreme nausea and pain often accompany standard treatments, and these symptoms can become extremely problematic in their own way. Components in marijuana are known to have extremely strong pain-fighting and anti-nausea effects.
At the Marijuana for Medical Professionals 2014 Conference held in Denver, Mara Gordon of Aunt Zelda’s cannabis oil received a standing ovation after she presented on five pediatric cancer patients who use marijuana. Even in patients as young as 8 and a half months old, supplementing traditional cancer treatments with cannabis oil contributed to normal weight gain, low levels of nausea, and better sleep.
Secondly, cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant are currently being studied for their anti-tumor effects. Research completed by a team at the Complutense University of Madrid have found that THC and CBD cause tumor cells to auto-digest themselves in animal models. Though official clinical trials in humans have yet to be completed, the marijuana’s anti-cancer success outside of the human body has been an encouraging sign to parents of sick children and adults alike.
Two cancer stories
Childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer are often included as acceptable reasons for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana to children. Here are a two stories from pediatric cancer patients who have chosen to include cannabis oil in their treatment:
Brave Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. She was seven-years-old. In the time since, she and the Comstock family have made headlines due to their choice to treat pediatric cancer with cannabis oil. Mykayla takes one gram of marijuana oil every day. Half in the morning, and a half at night.
The Comstocks had planned to treat Mykayla’s leukemia with cannabis from the moment she was diagnosed. Not only did they look into marijuana extract, but they also have tried fresh cannabis juice and marijuana edibles. Due to the time it takes to get a pediatric medical marijuana authorization in their home-state of Oregon, Mykayla began chemotherapy a little over a week prior to beginning medical marijuana treatment.
When she first began traditional cancer treatment, she was unable to eat and was in a lot of pain due to the chemotherapy and steroid drugs. While the chemotherapy helped reduce the level of lymphoblasts for a few days after treatment, they would soon spike up again.
After adding cannabis oil? The Comstock’s had this to say about Mykayla’s marijuana treatment:
Instantly she was able to eat again. That was the first benefit that we noticed. She was happier, she smiled and laughed constantly. We loved it! One week after we began the oil treatment Mykayla’s physicians notified us that her leukemia had vanished from her bone marrow and blood! She was in remission. Never again will I fear cancer… We found the answer! Mykayla is currently 6 months into the intense treatment part and has never used any pain relievers (not even Tylenol) and has only had to take anti-nausea medication a few times. [Published in 2013]
The best part of this story? Mykayla is still cancer free nearly four years since her initial diagnosis. She has been off of chemotherapy treatments for the past year and five months. She still continues to take cannabis oil regularly.
When Cash Hyde was 20 months old he was diagnosed with a stage IV brain tumor. This discovery caused the Hyde family to uproot from their native Montana to move to Utah for specialized treatment. Cash underwent emergency brain surgery, chemotherapy, and an experimental stem cell therapy to eliminate the 4.5-centimeter tumor. Though the Hyde’s did everything possible to address the tumor as soon as they found out, they quickly realized that this was only the beginning of the war.
Doctor’s were only able to remove 10% of the brain tumor with surgery. The mass had spread to Cash’s optic nerves, and he quickly lost his vision post surgery. Though, later on in his treatment, his vision returned. Chemotherapy was successful in decreasing the size of the tumor, but the aggressive approach wreaked havoc on such a small body. Cash was unable to eat due to intense nausea and vomiting. The high doses of pain medication Cash received also did little to manage the extreme discomfort associated with chemotherapy. The toddler’s doctors told the Hyde’s that Cash would either die of organ failure or a drug overdose.
Desperate for some relief for their son, the Hyde’s turned to cannabis oil.
Two weeks after beginning cannabis oil treatment, Cash began to eat, smile and laugh again. He was able to replace seven different pain medications for 0.3 milliliters of marijuana oil. As his parents explain best on the Cash Hyde Foundation website:
Cash survived septic shock, stroke, pulmonary hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension, all side effects of the chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants he had received. We were told after his 4th cardiac arrest episode he would have brain damage, organ failure and that he would ultimately die. However, he did not die, and it was because of the cannabinoid therapeutics that he was receiving and their Antioxidant and Neuroprotectant capabilities.
Unfortunately, though Cash was tumor-free for some time thanks to a combination of chemotherapy and cannabis extract, his tumor eventually returned when he was four-years-old. This time, his cancer was fatal.
While marijuana extract did not ultimately save Cash’s life, it did give the Hyde’s some more invaluable time with their son. The plant helped relieve some of the debilitating symptoms of chemotherapy and helped little Cash achieve a better quality of life midst devastating circumstances. To this day, the Hyde’s remain avid ambassadors for medical marijuana as a treatment aid for pediatric cancer.
Whether or not cannabis oil is the solution to treating cancer in children is still up for medical debate. However, we know that cannabinoids like THC and CBD have been shown to have strong anti-cancer properties in animal models. Many parents in legal cannabis states have opted to supplement traditional treatments with marijuana oil, and many have had positive results. In some cases, the illness still managed to push through. In other cases, like Mykayla’s, both parent and patient rejoice in the fact that they are now cancer-free.
Do you have experience with cannabis oil for children with cancer? Share your story with us on social media or in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!