CBD in Cancer Treatment
Posted on May 30th, 2023 to Uncategorized
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a genetic disease in which abnormal or damaged cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body. These cells clumps become tumors and can spread to other parts of the body. These cells ignore signals that tell them to stop dividing or die, and they evade the immune system. This makes cancer a very stubborn disease. It is generally treated with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and in some cases, hormone therapy.
History of Cancer
Humans have been fighting cancer since ancient times. It was not until the mid 1700’s that oncology, the study of cancer sprung up. Doctors figured out that cancer could be treated with surgery. In the 19th century, scientists discovered hormones’ role in some cancers, like breast cancer, and hormone therapy was developed. With the invention of the x-ray, radiation therapy became a treatment for cancer in the early 1900’s. Chemotherapy came about after World War II due to the research on mustard gas that was being conducted at the time. Researchers found drugs that block cell growth and replication, and by the 60’s chemotherapy was a popular treatment for many different kinds of cancer. In the twenty-first century, immunotherapy was introduced as a cancer treatment. Monoclonal antibodies are given to patients to help them fight cancer cells.
The Endocannabinoid System and Cancer
All humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a network of chemical signals and receptors that respond to the endocannabinoids our bodies produce. It plays a part in regulating many functions in our body such as learning, memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature, pain, inflammation, eating, and immune responses. Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, act on the ECS system and mimic the endocannabinoids we naturally produce. Because CBD can interact with the endocannabinoid system which affects immune responses, it is theorized that CBD and THC may be helpful in battling cancer.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from the Hemp plant. Both Marijuana and Hemp are strains of the Cannabis plant but differ in their uses. Many skin and haircare products contain Hemp seed oil. Textiles and paper products also commonly contain Hemp. CBD, which comes from the flower of the Hemp plant, has a history of medicinal use and is not psychoactive, meaning it does not create the “high” that is associated with the THC in Marijuana. Federally legal CBD products contain 0.3% or less THC, and Marijuana, which is only legalized in some states, contains more.
Can CBD Help?
CBD and THC are often studied together, or studied with other cannabinoids. THC has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy. There are currently two different medications that take advantage of this Dronabinol, and Nabilone. Dronabinol is an FDA approved medication that uses THC to treat the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Nabilone uses a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC to accomplish the same goal.
Studies suggest that CBD may help pain regulation because it is an anti-inflammatory. Animal studies have shown it can prevent chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, a nerve problem that causes pain, numbness, and weakness. Patients who used marijuana extracts reported needing less pain medication. Studies have found THC to be effective in pain relief and appetite stimulation in cancer patients. One study found that THC was more effective than codeine at treating pain caused by cancer which tends to be resistant to opioids. One study also showed that a combination of CBD and THC worked better than THC alone.
THC can also be used to treat anxiety. In small studies involving cancer patients, low doses of THC were shown to have an anti-anxiety effect and improve sleep quality.
Can CBD Treat Cancer?
The short answer, is that we do not know. There is currently not sufficient evidence that CBD can treat cancer. There are some preliminary studies on cancer cells that show THC and CBD may be able to slow the growth, reduce the spread, or cause death in certain types of cancer cells, especially melanoma. There are some animal studies suggesting that both CBD and THC have anti-cancer properties such as promoting cell death among cancer cells, preventing growth, and protecting against inflammation.
There is limited research on cancer and cannabinoids in humans. One United Kingdom study found that cannabinoids increased the survival rate of cancer patients. Heavy cannabis use has been linked to increased risk of testicular cancer in one study. Another study found Cannabis use resulted in reduced risk of bladder cancer.
However, there are currently no human studies proving that CBD or THC can treat cancer. More research needs to be done on this subject. The human studies that have been done on cannabis and cancer show that cannabinoids are safe to use in treating cancer, and can reduce some symptoms, but do not show if CBD helps control or cure the disease.
While CBD may help lessen some symptoms of cancer, patients should not rely on CBD and/or THC alone to cure cancer. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments should not be substituted for CBD or THC. Patients should talk to their doctor before adding CBD or THC to their treatment plan.
Side Effects of CBD
Like any substance, CBD may produce some side effects. CBD can increase the risk of short-term memory loss, impaired attention, foggy thinking, dry mouth, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. CBD may also interact with other medications, the most common being blood thinners and seizure drugs. Patients should ask their doctor before taking CBD or any other cannabinoid.
Interested in CBD?
If you are interested in CBD, fill out our new patient form, and our pharmacist, Dr. Peggy, will be in touch to discuss your health concerns and potential treatments. Dr. Peggy is open to working with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure our patients are getting the best care possible.