Cannabis Oil Pills Helped Child Go Into Cancer Remission, Mom Says
An Oregon mother credits cannabis oil pills with child's cancer remission.
Nov. 27, 2012— -- When 7-year-old Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with leukemia in July, it was less than three days before her mother filed Oregon medical marijuana paperwork so the child could take lime-flavored capsules filled with cannabis oil.
The decision to give Mykayla the capsules came naturally to Erin Purchase, MyKayla's mother, who believes marijuana has healing power, but doctors aren't so sure it's a good idea.
"The first doctor was not for it at all," Purchase told ABCNews.com. "She was rude and she told us it was inappropriate. "Basically she blew up at us and told us to transfer to another facility."
They found a new doctor, who knows that Mykayla takes about a gram of cannabis oil a day -- half in the morning and half at night -- but he doesn't talk about it with them.
"This is our daughter," Purchase, 25, said. "If they don't agree with our personal choices, we'd rather they not say anything at all."
It's legal for a minor to enroll in the Oregon medical marijuana program as long as the child's parent or legal guardian consents and takes responsibility as a caregiver.
And Mykayla is not alone.
There are currently four other patients enrolled in the Oregon medical marijuana program between the ages of 4 and 9, six between the ages of 10 and 14, and 41 between the ages of 15 and 17, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. Severe pain, nausea, muscle spasms and seizures are among the top conditions cited for medical marijuana use.
Mykayla first started to feel sick in May, when she developed a rash, cough and night sweats. By mid-July, doctors found a mass in her chest and diagnosed her with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few days later. The family relocated from Pendleton, Ore. to Portland to be near Randall Children's Hospital for treatment, which included chemotherapy.
At first, Mykayla wasn't responding well to her treatment, and doctors said she might need a bone marrow transplant. Then she started taking the cannabis oil pills. her mother said. By early August, Mykayla was in remission and the transplant was no longer necessary.
"I don't think it's just a coincidence," Purchase said. "I credit it with helping -- at least helping -- her ridding the cancer from her body."
Before Mykayla was diagnosed, Purchase had read about another young boy with cancer who received cannabis oil for nearly two years because his parents believed it kept him alive so much that they defied doctors' orders and broke Montana law to give it to him. She said she knew it was what she would do for her children if they ever got sick.
Cash "Cashy" Hyde died Nov. 14 at four years old, but his parents say he was never in any pain because of the oil.
Purchase said she, too, uses medical marijuana. She said it has helped with her kidney and liver disease since 2010, adding, "I feel that it saved my life"
However, Dr. Donna Seger, the executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor at Vanderbilt University, said cannabis has no effect on liver or kidney function, and it does not cure cancer.
"If it does anything, it decreases immunity," she said. "It doesn't fight cancer."
Dr. Igor Grant, who directs the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis Research in San Diego, said he's never studied marijuana's effects on children and it's not clear how the pills will affect Mykayla's development if she takes the drugs daily for a period of months or years.