CBD and cancer — it’s a loaded topic. A lot of vague, misleading information gets thrown around.
Some claim cannabinoids are the cure we’ve been looking for while others maintain it’s all speculation. But what do we actually know?
Unfortunately, not as much as we wish. Drug prohibition severely limited research regarding cannabis as a medicine. Even to this day, scientists struggle to receive approval from government agencies when it comes to looking into cannabis’ medical properties.
Still, that’s not to say there’s nothing out there. Throughout this article, we’re going to share with you what we do know about cannabidiol (CBD) and cancer. From there, we’re going to give you our honest, educated opinion about using CBD as part of your treatment.
As always, remember that we’re not doctors and you should always get an expert’s advice before changing your treatment or supplement routine.
Table of Contents
CBD inhibits cancer spread in laboratory
One of the biggest difficulties when it comes to research is the number of different types of cancer there are. There are over 200 types of cancer, each with their own unique treatment needs.
Currently, scientists have only looked into CBD’s effects on a handful of types of cancer. However, even with that said, the results have been relatively positive.
A general consensus of most research shows that CBD has the ability to effectively modulate tumor growth in some cancer models. These effects are usually dependent on both the cancer type and how CBD is administered to the patient.
For some, this may seem like enough knowledge to start handing out CBD oils to those fighting their battle with cancer. However, the problem is much more complicated than that. In order for this knowledge to be administered properly, researchers need to look into various aspects of the cancer cells, including:
- How CBD is able to modulate essential cellular processes (particularly, those involved in tumorigenesis, tumor growth)
- The progression of the cell cycle
- Cell proliferation and death
- Interactions between CBD and the immune system
Without the above-listed knowledge, it’s extremely difficult for the FDA to approve CBD as a viable medication for cancer patients, or for doctors to recommend it.
And as already mentioned, this research is limited to only a handful of cancer types. There’s a lot we still need to know when it comes to CBD’s ability to inhibit cancer cell growth. As of this time, that last statement is essentially all we know.
CBD does not cure cancer
Can CBD cure cancer?
No. Research is much too limited to confirm this. Furthermore, some of the very limited research we do have is showing signs that it doesn’t cure cancer, but rather, may prevent certain types of cancer cells from spreading.
Even if cannabis can’t cure cancer, it can help the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment.
In other words, CBD may be able to help prevent cancer from worsening once it’s in the body. This in itself could have a number of medical benefits that could potentially save lives.
However, it’s important to understand what we mean when we say “limited research.” As summed up up by the American Cancer Society, current research is mostly limited to experimenting on CBD with cancer cells growing in lab dishes rather than in actual patients. There have also been some limited studies using animals, but very few with actual humans.
Further, even if research does prove that CBD could help treat cancer, the treatment may look very different from the way consumers use CBD at home. It could come in a different form, or need to be administered directly by medical professionals. For example, most lab tests involving CBD use extremely high doses, far more in a single dose than most people take in an entire day at home.
Using CBD to help symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment
Even though it’s not a cure, CBD does have benefits for cancer patients. When it comes to traditional cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy), there are a number of uncomfortable side effects that come with the journey. These include (but aren’t limited to):
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
Certain properties within CBD have been found to help alleviate some of these side effects. That’s because CBD and other cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The compounds in the plant mimic chemicals our body naturally produces in unique ways, and fit into some of the same receptors in our body as these endogenous (meaning produced by our bodies) cannabinoids.
Here’s a bit more detail about the way CBD can help symptoms of cancer or cancer treatment:
Loss of Appetite
Most of the time, cancer patients experience weight loss due to a lack of appetite. And this lack of appetite is often caused by intense nausea brought on by traditional forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy.
CBD itself doesn’t necessarily stimulate the appetite. However, it’s been found to reduce other appetite depleting properties, such as anxiety and nausea. And when these symptoms are reduced, appetite naturally increases.
One of the reasons CBD has been found to have so many potential medical benefits is due to the fact that it helps to balance out our ECS. For example, if our body is producing a lot of anxiety, CBD may help to restore balance and, in turn, alleviate fears and paranoia.
The same is true for nausea. Symptoms of nausea and vomiting are generally regulated by our ECS. Therefore, when we take CBD, these symptoms return to some balance and, in many ways, relieved.
Just like nausea, pain is also regulated within our ECS. Therefore, CBD can help balance out pain levels and even holds the potential to block certain pain receptors. Currently, many thousands use CBD for relief from chronic pain.
The potential of THC and ‘marijuana’ in cancer treatment
The truth is, when it comes to cannabis and cancer, THC has also shown a lot of potential. Similarly to CBD, it can’t cure cancer, but it does have the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth. Again, research remains limited here as well, but there is a lot of promise.
For example, one 2015 study found that those who consume psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) regularly were 45% less likely to develop bladder cancer.
In some regards, THC also may work better as a therapeutic medicine. For instance, it’s fairly well understood that people who smoke cannabis are more likely to develop a stronger appetite. This is because THC affects our ECS by attaching itself to CB1 receptors and these receptors have a number of responsibilities within the body. One of them being our appetite.
For this reason, THC may work better as an appetite stimulator in comparison to CBD. Once again, more research needs to be done in order to confirm these claims.
While our primary focus at Ministry of Hemp is on CBD and hemp, rather than THC-rich psychoactive cannabis, we’re still interested in sharing information about the whole plant. You might be interested in our comparison between THC and CBD for treating pain.
While it’s legal to buy and consume hemp-based CBD supplements nationwide, psychoactive cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and only legal for use in some states. If psychoactive cannabis is legal in your area, it could offer considerable relief to many side effects of cancer treatment.
Final thoughts on CBD and cancer
Until more research is developed, it’s unlikely CBD will ever be used for medical treatment when it comes to cancer. And even with more research, evidence suggest CBD has more potential to act as a therapeutic medicine rather than a standalone treatment.
Even if cannabis can’t cure cancer, it can help some people manage the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. However, if you’re a cancer patient and have been looking into CBD as a therapeutic medicine, it’s important to consult a medical professional beforehand. Though it’s rare, CBD can have side effects or even negatively interact with certain medications.
Still, cancer is a nasty beast to battle. And any aid to those struggling with it should be viewed as a win. Though CBD may not be the only answer, it definitely holds promise.
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