Twelve months ago, doctors told Ruth Ashcraft it was time to look seriously into a palliative care or hospice facility for her husband, Andy, whose health had taken another turn for the worse.
He already had surpassed the typical survival time for a pleural mesothelioma patient, and his experimental, clinical trial drug had stopped working. He was struggling to breathe and deteriorating steadily. They had just drained more than three gallons of fluid from around his lungs and inside his abdomen.
It was time, doctors said.
Ruth listened, but she didn’t listen very well. She had other plans: cannabis oil.
The oil is extracted from the buds of a marijuana plant. It’s a controversial, alternative treatment option she had researched and contemplated for two years. Ruth sought the treatment for Andy utilizing California’s Medical Marijuana Program.
Now, Andy is beaming again.
“The man is healthy today, and there is no other explanation for that,” Ruth told Asbestos.com. “Beyond a shadow of doubt, this cannabis oil has worked wonders for him. I’d recommend it for anyone with cancer. I’m not saying it will work every time on everyone, but it’s working for us.”
Cannabis oil is a highly-concentrated, syrupy liquid extracted from the cannabis plant (marijuana) by separating the resins in the flower buds. It can be orally ingested or vaporized and breathed into the lungs.
Its active ingredients are tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Their combination produces a variety of reactions within the body, including strong anti-tumor, anti-cancer activity.
If extracted correctly, cannabis oil is much more pure, potent and concentrated than other cannabis products, including the marijuana plant itself. Patients must start with small doses, about the size of a grain of rice, before building up to a full gram a day, which is what Andy and Ruth did.
The key to making it work is the accumulation of ceramides, waxy molecules found within cell membranes. It requires steady, therapeutic amounts of both THC and CBD over an extended period of time. The ceramides keep metabolic pressure on cancer cell death pathways while strengthening a patient’s immune system.
Andy also is taking essential oil supplements that contain high levels of nutrients believed to further strengthen a body’s immune system to help fight off disease.
He is no longer taking other drugs, having stopped chemotherapy last summer to undergo bilateral hernia surgery. He also ceased taking his cholesterol, diabetes and blood-pressure medicines. His latest CT scan in October showed no tumor growth. He expects the same at his December checkup.
“I feel great right now,” Andy said. “I don’t know why, or exactly how, this [cannabis oil] works. My wife knows the details, but I’m healthy, moving and grooving again, living my life.”
Ashcraft, 68, was first diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in February 2010. He was not eligible for major surgery because the cancer already had metastasized beyond the lining of his lungs.
After chemotherapy, he opted for an immunotherapy clinical trial at the University of California-San Diego that was testing the drug Amatuximab (MORab-099). It worked unusually well for more than three years. Then it suddenly stopped working, which was not unusual. Tumors started growing again, and the fluid buildup returned quickly.
“There is no 100 percent cure for mesothelioma. We know that, but our goal is to stop it in its tracks, and for Andy to live another 20-30 years with it making no progress in his body,” Ruth said. “I really believe it’s positive thinking, prayer and these two different protocols that are keeping him healthy right now.”
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The issue of cannabis oil, and other medical marijuana uses, still is being hotly debated today throughout the U.S. Only 23 of the 50 states have passed a law making it legal for marijuana to be possessed in any form for medicinal purposes. California was the first to approve it in 1996.
Although marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes around the world for more than a thousand years, there remains skepticism within the nation’s established, medical community.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) to Insys Therapeutics for its pharmaceutical cannabidiol (CBD), an orally ingested oil shown to be effective against a particular type of brain cancer. The FDA had previously approved a synthetic THC product called Marinol to relieve nausea and stimulate appetite.
Varying cultures have used different forms of cannabis for decades to relieve some of the symptoms that come with cancer and accepted cancer treatment, but only recently has the belief emerged among scientists that properly prepared cannabis oil can stop cancers, reduce metastasis and extend survival significantly.
The American Cancer Society (ACA) has doubts about cannabis oil.
“Scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer. … While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease,” according to the American Cancer Society.
ACA officials also note there are current online reports that show cannabis oil can cure cancer and other diseases, including diabetes, ulcers, arthritis, migraines, insomnia and infections.
“These claims are largely unsupportable,” the ACA says on their website. “Relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.”
The Ashcrafts, though, have seen the results up close and are convinced of its effectiveness. The cannabis oil, delivered to their home by a licensed professional once every month, costs an estimated $1,000. Andy takes it three times daily. He takes an additional doTerra supplement twice a day.
His oncologist and his family physician have not encouraged the protocols or discouraged him. However, they are amazed at his recovery, Ruth says.
“I can tell the doctors are interested, but they can’t say much for various reasons. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies hate the thought of this because it cuts into their profits,” Ruth said. “All I know is Andy looks healthier than he ever has.”
Ruth was preparing for the worst 12 months ago after listening to doctors, watching Andy struggle to breathe and seeing more than three gallons of fluid pumped from his body, yet she clung to hope.
She had called their grown children, who are scattered around the country, to tell them they should visit soon if they wanted to say goodbye to their father.
“I thought he was on the way out, that we were losing him, my husband and best friend,” Ruth said. “And today, he’s a picture of health, and we’re living our lives again. Something has worked, and I know what it is.”