As more research on cannabinoids like CBD is conducted, the big question on every cancer patient’s mind is: “Can cannabis cure cancer?” .
To be clear, as of yet, there’s no concrete evidence that using CBD for cancer will cure patients from the deadly disease . While CBD does show promise in specific areas, it’s certainly not a cure-all for cancer as some claim.
In the US, the number of states allowing medical applications for cannabis use, along with hemp oil, is increasing. Canada completely legalized the plant, and the world is gradually changing their overall stance.
With this, more and more evidence from preclinical and clinical studies have emerged in the pursuit of understanding the therapeutic potential and anticancer characteristics of CBD.
Let’s take a closer look at what research has been conducted, and the promising signs that using CBD for cancer may have.
CBD and Cancer: Studies and Research
Cannabis is known to contain at least 85 different cannabinoids, the active chemicals that create drug-like effects by binding with receptors in the human endocannabinoid system.
Cancer research has largely been limited to preclinical trials in animals; more research and human clinical trials are needed, but the research to date is promising in three main areas.
First, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and others have been shown to slow down cancer cell growth in several types of cancer, including breast, liver, leukemia, brain and melanoma.
In several studies conducted since 2011, CBD was shown to slow or stop tumor growth while protecting normal cells. In one application, CBD was able to kill breast cancer precursor cells but not affect normal breast tissue. For example, in animal studies, CBD has been shown to reduce the spread of tumors and make liver cancer cells much less viable.
These studies have shown that cannabinoids promote a programmed death (called apoptosis) of tumor cells and stop blood vessels from growing into tumors to supply nutrients.
A 2018 study on pancreatic cancer found that on mice when using chemotherapy treatment with CBD for cancer, these combined treatments inhibited the proliferation rate of cancer cells and tripled the survival rate of mice with pancreatic cancer. CBD tripled their life expectancy.
Overall, the promise in using CBD for cancer is related to the symptoms involved. Not a complete cure.
The other therapeutic potential of using CBD for cancer is its ability to help lessen the side effects related to cancer treatment – namely nausea, vomiting and pain.
CBD Offers Relief from Nausea
There’s considerable evidence that cannabinoids like CBD can be very effective with anti-emetic effects in controlling the nausea and vomiting that inevitably is a part of chemotherapy treatments. Cannabis can also stimulate appetite.
CBD has been shown to suppress nausea in a wide range of studies. In fact, two synthetic forms of THC – dronabinol and nabilone – are FDA-approved and widely used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, according to the American Cancer Society.
Currently, there are a number of approved CBD treatments in the US when it comes to treating nausea in patients:
- Dronabinol (Marinol) is a gelatin capsule containing THC to help relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It also helps with weight loss and poor appetite in AIDS patients.
- Nabilone (Cesamet) can be taken orally to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy when other drugs are insufficient. It is a synthetic drug.
So, nausea is one side effect that CBD can help with, but you probably know CBD is very effective for pain relief in cancer patients as well.
CBD, Inflammation and Pain Relief Treatment
Pain treatment is actually the number one reason people turn to CBD products. At this point in time, a THC/CBD cannabis extract drug called Sativex is approved as a pain relief medication for advanced cancer patients.
Furthermore, CBD is an inflammation fighter, and is certainly a better alternative than dangerous opioid drugs. For example, studies show that there is evidence that cannabinoids are safe and modestly effective in neuropathic pain and also for relieving pain in patients with malignant diseases, helping to reduce inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters.
CBD for Cancer: What’s the Bottom Line?
With all the impressive data showing a link between CBD in treating cancer and it’s symptoms, we truly hope legalization will occur around the globe, so that more research can be conducted, not only with animals but also with human trials, so we can truly understand what the therapeutic potential of cannabis is for this devastating disease.