For decades, there have been suspected benefits to cannabis based medicines with regard to cancer and cancer treatments. It is no secret that medical cannabis has been offered to mitigate the nausea and vomiting that accompanies traditional forms of cancer treatment, like radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
There have also been anecdotal instances where medical marijuana derived oils have done the unthinkable: induced regression in cancerous tumours. It is not known for certain how this happens, and there are instances of the opposite effect occurring, however, the known instances of cannabis products positively impacting people with cancer, particularly those instances with no other traditional form of cancer treatment, indicate a need to understand the mechanisms at play.
WHAT IS CBD OIL?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The other main cannabinoid in the cannabis plant is Tetrahydrocannabinol THC - this is the psychoactive component that gives a ‘high’.
CBD products are available as a health food supplement, are believed to have a range of health benefits and there are different types of CBD products available:
CBD isolate - is a highly distilled of CBD only without any other cannabinoids or terpenes.
Broad spectrum CBD - CBD, other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes - no THC.
Full spectrum CBD - CBD and THC, other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF CBD OIL?
CBD oil, as a product, is the cannabis derived compounds in a carrier oil. The carrier oil is usually made from coconut, palm or soybean. Then the specific CBD product is added - CBD isolate, broad spectrum CBD or full spectrum CBD.
IS CBD OIL SAFE TO USE FOR CANCER PATIENTS?
The question of ‘is CBD safe for cancer patients’ is a tricky one to answer. CBD is well tolerated in most individuals, but it can interact with other medications, and there is concern that CBD may increase the toxicity of certain cancer treatments, or render them ineffective.
With that said, the British Medical Journal published a case study of an 80 year old woman with lung cancer who, having declined conventional treatment due to her personal experience, used a cannabis derived oil to treat herself. Despite the fact she carried on smoking throughout, the cancer reduced in size from 41mm to 10mm over the period of two and a half years. She also suffered from mild COPD, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various drugs.
If you are considering using CBD in addition to any cancer treatment, you should talk to your doctor first. There are clinical trials underway that are studying the potential role of CBD in cancer care, so we should have more information in the near future.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY ABOUT CBD OIL FOR CANCER TREATMENTS?
Cannabinoids, such as CBD, interact with our endocannabinoid system - a bodily system that contributes to functionality of ‘eating, sleeping, relaxing, forgetting and protecting’ - Cannabinoids interaction with this system appears to stimulate mechanisms that help to regulate appetite, sleep and wakefulness, relaxing of muscles and mind, the forgetting of unnecessary memories, and the immune response.
A 2019 review on cannabinoids in cancer treatment found that cannabinoids were able to effectively influence growth of cancerous tumours, both in culture and live subjects, but the types of cancer and dose of cannabinoids impacted the anti-cancer effect.
The function of the cannabinoids helps to control things like increasing the number of cells as well as cell death, while also interacting with our immune system, regulating our immune response. This is important because cancer is essentially when a cell forgets how to die correctly - cannabinoids can help cells die properly.
HOW DOES CBD OIL HELP CANCER PATIENTS?
CBD has been shown to alleviate pain by binding to the TRPV-1 receptor, which helps to regulate body temperature and the perception of pain and inflammation. CBD also slightly lessens the degradation of anandamide, an endocannabinoid nicknamed the ‘bliss chemical’.
Dealing with cancer is likely to have you anxious on a regular basis, and CBD may be able to help with this too. The CB1 receptors that CBD acts on are present throughout several brain regions, and may help to reduce the activation of the amygdala - a part of the brain that is thought to process fear and threats - effectively meaning CBD can reduce feelings of anxiety.
Another function that CBD carries out is the prevention of angiogenesis (new blood vessels forming from existing ones) in tumour growths. New blood vessels allow the cancer to grow, so preventing these forming stops the cancer from increasing in size. It appears that CBD also prevents tumour migration and cancer cell’s ability to invade other cells!
GUIDELINES FOR USING CBD OIL FOR CANCER PATIENTS
The current state of affairs is that more clinical trials for CBD need to be done. There is no specific dosage or even CBD product that is recommended to treat cancer - in fact, due to the potential for CBD to interact with other medications, you should make sure to consult your doctor if you are currently taking medications or having cancer treatment, and want to take CBD.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CBD PRODUCTS
The great thing about CBD oil is that it can be delivered in a wide variety of different methods. CBD oral drops are dropped under the tongue or consumed in food or drink, CBD gummies are chewed and swallowed, CBD creams are applied to the skin, CBD capsules are taken orally, and CBD vape juice can be vaped!
The topical creams are great for applying directly to problem areas, like specific muscles that are in spasm or aching, even skin issues like acne! The orally taken versions are good for neurological issues, general aches and pains, insomnia, anxiety and other intractable conditions. The fastest acting is the CBD for vaping - this may be a great way to deal with sudden bouts of anxiety or depression, or sudden hits of pain.
The Food and Drug Administration is the body responsible for protecting public health in the US, and the only FDA approved medical CBD treatment is Epidiolex, and this is used to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome.
BUYING CBD OIL FOR CANCER PATIENTS
If you are using CBD to treat a specific ailment, chronic pain, relieve stress or help you sleep, it helps to know how much you are taking. From there you can adjust the dosage to your specific needs for the desired effect. This should be straightforward, but not all CBD products are equal! What I mean is: not all CBD products have the levels of CBD in the product as advertised.
One investigation into CBD products tested a variety of online-bought CBD products and found that just over 25% of them had lower levels of CBD than stated on the label. Using products of this nature means you are not dosing correctly, and levels of CBD are not consistent if you switch brands.
Make sure to check a seller’s reputation before buying their CBD products - good reviews and access to information (like a product testing certificate we have for SMOKO CBD products) are always a good indication of a reputable seller.
HOW DOES CBD OIL HELP CANCER TREATMENT CONCLUSION
There are lots of steps that need to be taken for the Food and Drug Administration FDA to approve a product for use; however, it is a Federal agency, and there is a fair amount of disagreement at a state level - this is how we have come to see Federal law at odds with state laws. A Federal system will move a lot slower than the lawmakers in-state, so it isn’t necessarily that one or the other is in the wrong, but they are definitely moving at different speeds.
More clinical trials will reveal more information in time, but CBD could help alleviate side effects from cancer treatment, and help prevent tumour growth. The evidence is promising, and if you think you may benefit from CBD products, SMOKO’s CBD range is made here in the UK with cryogenically extracted CBD from responsibly grown cannabis sativa L plants in Oregon, USA.