CBD Oil and Cancer: What You May Not Know
Cannabis has been used as a medicinal therapy for thousands of years in traditions as diverse as traditional Chinese medicine, ancient Greek lore, and ayurvedic practice in India. As modern medicine begins its own deep exploration of cannabis, convincing evidence is accumulating about this plant's potential.
As early as 1975, researchers examined cannabis for use as an anti-cancer drug. Complicated legal restrictions on the plant haven’t stopped medical centers around the world from discovering some genuinely fascinating evidence about cannabinoids and cancer.
One of the cannabinoids showing exciting potential is cannabidiol (CBD). Although found in the same plant as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has some very important differences. Unlike THC, CBD does not trigger psychoactive effects, making it much more applicable for widespread use than its infamous cannabinoid cousin. Because of this critical difference, the interest in CBD as a cancer-fighting agent has significantly increased in recent years.
What Does the Research Say About CBD oil and Cancer?
To develop a deeper understanding of the potential of CBD for cancer treatment, it's a good idea to review the current research environment. What has been discovered so far? What cancers has CBD oil therapy been applied to? Most importantly, does the research show that CBD can kill cancer?
Preliminary research has shown that CBD seems to target cancer on several different levels. This has caused a stir among cancer patients, the CBD oil industry, and cancer research centers around the world. The evidence speaks for itself, showing that CBD could trigger cell death, prevent cancer cell migration, and reduce cancer invasiveness. Plus, CBD may also have angiogenesis properties, meaning it blocks new blood cell formation, slowing the spread of cancer cells.
Leukemia and Lymphoma
Several laboratory and animal studies demonstrate CBD’s potential for the treatment of lymphoblastic diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma.
According to the results thus far, CBD promotes lymphoma cancer cell suicide, known as apoptosis. Scientists have also discovered that lymphoma is typically linked with increased CB2 activity. Their study published in 2006 indicated that "CBD exposure led to a significant CB2 receptor-mediated decrease in the number of viable cells as well as to the induction of apoptosis, both in vitro and in vivo." In laymen's terms, this means that through CBD's relationship with the CB2 receptors, it decreased the risk of cancerous cell formation. It also increased cancer cell suicide in lymphoblastic diseases.
Several important studies have been published by the same group of researchers at the Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare in Italy since 2006. The team has uncovered valuable details about how CBD acts as an antitumor agent, specifically for use against breast cancer. The team discovered that cannabidiol, in comparison with three other cannabinoids, proved to be one of the most effective in the fight against breast cancer. This was even when compared to other potent anti-cancer cannabinoids such as with THC. Throughout their decade of research, the Italian team uncovered many of the complex pathways through which CBD prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and how it inhibits breast cancer metastasization.
For a full article on the using CBD to fight breast cancer, check out Using CBD to Support with Breast Cancer.
The authors of a recent scientific review believe that, “In the light of its safety records, [the] results suggest that CBD might be worthy of clinical consideration in colon cancer prevention.” Although their opinion based on only preliminary results, these results are incredibly compelling.
Their review covers an interesting study on CBD for colon cancer. The study demonstrates the ability of CBD to reduce the formation several cancerous characteristics common in colon cancer. This includes the reduction of abnormal glands called aberrant crypt foci found in the rectum and colon. The study also found that CBD reduced the number of polyps and tumors.
Beyond those common cancers, CBD has been studied for application to many other cancers. The vast majority of published preliminary research has uncovered a positive benefit for CBD cancer therapy. Some other areas of research for CBD and cancer include in fighting brain, bladder, lung, and prostate cancers, among many others.
CBD’s Use for Treating Cancer Symptoms
CBD also has massive potential for treating cancer symptoms and for minimizing the devastating chemotherapy side effects. In fact, many of the synthetic cannabinoids currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration are used to treat nausea, vomiting, chronic pain and other side effects, cancer and traditional treatment options.
The preliminary data suggest that CBD is an entirely safe supplemental therapy that can easily soothe some of the more difficult side effects associated with traditional cancer treatments. Speak with any cancer patients using CBD oil, and they will tell you how beneficial they found the alternative therapy. In general, people report that CBD vastly improves their quality of life during chemotherapy.
Dosage for CBD and Cancer
It is vital that you consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting a CBD regimen. A doctor can provide essential information on how to dose CBD appropriately. Although there are many synthetic cannabinoids (Sativex, Dronabinol, and others) approved for cancer treatment, there is little official indication of how to dose CBD for cancer.
Cannabidiol can be used as a daily supplement at low doses, but can also be applied in high doses for acute therapies. Generally speaking, cancer patients will want to use quite high doses during their therapy to achieve the most benefit. The prevailing consensus among scientists is that CBD is safe to use, even during exceptionally high doses.
No matter what disease or illness is being treated with CBD oil, it's important to follow this process to find optimal dosage.
1. Consult a Medical Professional
First, it's important to consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner about how best to incorporate CBD into your treatment plan. CBD can actually increase the potency of chemotherapy, and therefore the dosage should be thoughtfully worked out beforehand.
2. Start Low and Slow
Always begin with the lowest-possible dosage. This serves two purposes; it saves you wasting valuable CBD oil and also lets your body become accustomed to change in medicine.
3. Be Patient
Maintain the same dosage for several days before increasing. Some sources suggest doubling every four days. It is also recommended to spread the daily dose over several smaller applications to allow for maximum absorption.
4. Monitor Physical Reactions
Over the course of your dose exploration, monitor physical and physiological changes experienced. Are they positive or negative? In cooperation with your healthcare provider, it's crucial that you monitor blood levels of other medications, especially chemotherapy drugs.
Considering that chemotherapy is essentially a toxic mix of chemicals, any change in toxicity could potentially lead to problems. Because CBD is thought to increase drug efficacy, it may be necessary to reduce medication levels to avoid increased toxicity.
Many people also use CBD oil in conjunction with other cannabinoids, including THC, to benefit from the entourage effect. This effect has been demonstrated through research, but remains little understood. The entourage effect is how the entire plant, including all natural cannabinoids and terpenes, work exponentially better together than if consumed separately.
What does the Federal Government Say?
Despite the fact that the National Cancer Institute has an entire section dedicated to cannabis and cancer, there is not enough clinical data for it to conclude anything about CBD’s effectiveness. According to the institute’s summary, “An overall level of evidence score cannot be assigned to cannabinoids because there has been insufficient clinical research to date.”
Aside from laboratory and animal test data, clinical data on CBD and cancer remains almost entirely at the case-study level. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are over 30 active CBD clinical trials, but it does take time for these results to be published.
Those currently using CBD and other cannabinoids for treating their own cancer can breathe easily, knowing there is low risk from their experimentation. Especially for patients lucky enough to have the support of their physician, they should be able to incorporate CBD oil into their treatment regimen safely and easily.
A Final Word
Over time, clinical results on CBD and cancer will come together with patient experiences to form a cohesive body of data. The preliminary conclusions clearly show that CBD has vast potential for treating cancer and cancer-related symptoms with little risk of side effects.
Beyond simply attacking the disease from one angle, CBD seems to target many aspects of cancerous cell growth and movement. Its ability to attack cancer so effectively in preliminary study, and without the devastating side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, help set it apart from other cancer treatments.