Ethan Stewart, who’s seen here with his medicine of choice, can’t be sure that cannabis is what’s helping with his cancer. But his experiments with a high-dosage oil, albeit scary at first, seem to be holding his tumors at bay.
Can Cannabis Cure My Cancer?
A Desperate Man Turns to Marijuana Oil and Finds Survival
Thursday, March 8, 2018
I fear I may be made out of marijuana. I dance with the devil’s lettuce daily, from breakfast through bedtime, consuming enough of this polarizing plant to knock down an elephant. And I’m doing this to save my life — that’s right, marijuana is helping to keep me alive.
I’m on the verge of 40 years old, and the past decade has not been kind: Amid both of my parents dying unexpectedly, my health unraveled into a morass of wicked diagnoses, including multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, and metastatic pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine variety, made famous by Steve Jobs. I’m a regular at Stanford hospital, and if my doctors are to be believed, this cancer will kill me.
But death is not what I’m after. I have a daughter named Sawyer and a wife named Anna, and I plan to grow old with both. So in March 2016, when tests showed my cancer on the rise, I began pursuing cannabis as medicine, far beyond the usual toke of a joint or nibble of a brownie to feel better. Two years later, it’s become a critical tool in the fight of my life.
Once upon a time, I won an award for reporting on medical marijuana and even worked as a grower in the early days of the industry. For years, I heard stories of cannabis as a miracle cure, putting terminal cancer into remission, holding epilepsy in check, relieving chronic pain, and reducing debilitating anxiety. Unfortunately, the crazy tales often disappeared into the smoke of trim-table legends when I tried to verify them.
But I was desperate, so I dove into the most panicked and purposeful research of my career, working the phones and emailing long-lost contacts. Within days, I had my first tube of cannabis oil extract in my hands, and my journey as an accidental astronaut exploring the cosmos of cannabis medicine was about to begin.
Today, more than 20 years since California voters legalized medical marijuana, most cancer patients are aware of its potential benefits. Almost all agree that it’s good for pain management and that it stimulates the appetite — both ideal for battling the effects of chemotherapy and radiation — and that, at the very least, it can improve quality of life.
This is all because of something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), one of the most complex, widespread, understudied biological networks in the human body. Endocannabinoid receptors permeate the entire body, from the muscles, brain, and digestive tract to the nervous and immune systems. Optimal physiological health is not possible without a healthy ECS.
And how do you stimulate the ECS? Either via endocannabinoids, which the body produces and can also be found in breast milk, or via exocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. That’s right — one of the most critical biological systems in your body is hardwired to receive stimulation from marijuana. In fact, your long-term health may even depend on it.
By Paul Wellman
That was what powered my search for full-extract cannabis oil, which is a food-grade essential oil derived from entire marijuana plants. However medically naive it might have been, I hoped to hammer my ECS in order to possibly kill the cancer cells (by turning their apoptosis function back on) or fix some longstanding flaw in my immune system. It was a truly desperate and slightly deranged hope, but with the reluctant blessings of my medical team — including full support from my traditional Chinese medicine doctor and a tacit go-ahead from my oncologist — I dove into the deep end.
In basic, the leading advice on cannabis oil as cure suggests consuming 60 full grams over 60-90 days. Instead of starting slow as both patients and producers urged me to do, I took a full gram on day one. It was a Sunday, and I am fairly certain I saw God.
By Tuesday, I was a mess. I’d faint in the shower with visions of tumors blistering my liver. I’d sleep for 15 hours and hide under the covers when awake. I wrote birthday cards for my daughter for the years I would miss and made a list of people my wife should consider marrying when I was gone. I became convinced that I was killing myself quicker with the oil, yet I kept putting a peppery black drop of it on my left index finger every 90 minutes and licking it clean with hope in my heart.