How Does Cannabis Help With Cancer?
One of the most profound uses of CBD is the treatment of various cancers, but positive research has spread like wildfire, igniting hope in the thousands of people affected by the disease each year. According to this preliminary evidence, CBD may have two major functions in the treatment of cancer; slowing/stopping the growth of cancerous cells (prevention) and dealing with the symptoms of cancer treatments like chemotherapy (symptom management).
In the United States, the most common treatment for cancer is chemotherapy – an administration of intense anti-cancer drugs that induce severe side effects like nausea, fatigue, gastrointestinal disease, etc.
Aside from CBD’s anti-cancer potential, researchers are interested in CBD’s ability to help combat all of these side effects. This is the beauty of plant-based medicine – experience an improved quality of life without any risk of overdose or side effects.
What’s more? Early research has shown CBD’s ability to stop some cancerous cells dead in their tracks. Studies have been performed evaluating CBD’s ability to manage various types of cancer including; bladder, brain, breast, colon, endocrine, Leukemia, lung, prostate, and skin. Results have been varied and some studies remain inconclusive, but overall research suggests a positive link.
That’s why so many people are turning to cannabidiol instead of (or as a compliment to) many pharmaceuticals after a cancer diagnosis. In order to better understand the mechanisms by which CBD may be beneficial for cancer patients, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past twenty years. We will address the results below.
What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in Cancer?
The discovery of CBD can be dated back to the 1940’s, but researchers didn’t begin to dig into the medicinal value of the supplement until much more recently. Since researchers and cannabis advocates have taken an interest in understanding the benefits of CBD, experts have uncovered evidence that suggests CBD may be a powerful weapon against cancer cells.
Some research angles at specific types of cancer, and there is research that suggests CBD may be a suitable choice for combating the spread of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Some studies take a broader approach, and CBD has been unofficially labeled “antiproliferative” and “anti-angiogenic” on several accounts. If these reports are proven accurate, it essentially means that CBD can stop the growth of new cancer cells and prevent tumors from growing their own blood vessels, both of which can help inhibit cancer’s advancement in the body.
As if cancer-fighting properties aren’t spectacular enough, research outlines several ways that cannabidiol may help manage other symptoms related to cancer and standard cancer treatments, like chemotherapy. In fact, some studies specifically involve chemotherapy patients hoping to manage nausea and vomiting and confirm the anti-emetic properties of CBD. Further research suggests CBD could even be useful for managing sleep disorders, pain, and inflammation, all of which are frequently primary concerns for cancer patients.
Research regarding CBD is expected to continue rapidly advancing, and there’s no doubt that cancer is one area of focus that won’t be overlooked. For now, the evidence we have suggests that CBD may be useful for cancer patients, which has led to a massive influx of anecdotal reports that “CBD cures cancer.”
Understanding exactly how it may work, however, requires a firm understanding of cannabidiol’s effect on the body’s endocannabinoid system and how it comes into play when regulating the immune system and combating cancer symptoms. Much more research is needed before CBD can be officially recognized as a cancer treatment, but a look at the following research will shed light on CBD and it’s many potential cancer-related uses:
1. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug
A 2013 study concluded that “Collectively, the non-psychoactive plant-derived cannabinoid CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumors and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic and perhaps anti-angiogenic properties. On the basis of these results, the evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread. Interestingly, the anticancer effect of this compound seems to be selective for cancer cells, at least in vitro, since it does not affect normal cell lines.”
2. Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms
A 2012 study found that “CBD exerts a potent anti-angiogenic effect by widely affecting several pathways involved in this process. Its dual effect on both tumor and endothelial cells further suggests that CBD could represent a potentially effective agent in cancer therapy.”
3.Cannabidiol inhibits cancer cell invasion via upregulation of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1.
A 2010 study evaluated the impact of CBD on cancer cell invasion. The study findings “provide a novel mechanism underlying the anti-invasive action of cannabidiol and imply its use as a therapeutic option for the treatment of highly invasive cancers.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19914218
4. Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines.
A 2004 study concluded that “The nonpsychoactive CBD was able to produce a significant antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617682
5. Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis.
2011 looked at the effects of CBD in the treatment of breast cancer. The data demonstrated “that CBD inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion through differential modulation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) pathways…”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859676
6. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms
A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology provides evidence “that plant-derived cannabinoids, especially cannabidiol, are potent inhibitors of prostate carcinoma viability in vitro.”
7. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer.
A 2012 study investigated the chemopreventative effect of CBD on colon cancer. The study concluded, “that cannabidiol exerts a chemopreventive effect in vivo and reduces cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22231745
8. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids.
A 2011 study looked into the anti-emetic effects of cannabidiol and concluded that “Preclinical research indicates that cannabinoids, including CBD, may be effective clinically for treating both nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy or other therapeutic treatments.”
9. In vitro and in vivo efficacy of non-psychoactive cannabidiol in neuroblastoma.
A 2016 study evaluated CBD in the treatment of Neuroblastoma (NBL), one of the most common solid cancers in children. The results“demonstrate the antitumorigenic action of CBD on NBL cells. Because CBD is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that appears to be devoid of side effects, our results support its exploitation as an effective anticancer drug in the management of NBL.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27022310
Which CBD products help with cancer?
As you design your CBD-infused wellness routine for managing cancer-related symptoms, you should keep in mind that CBD has not yet been proven as an effective cancer treatment. Still, the public outcry suggests that many people with a cancer diagnosis have found great benefit when using regular doses of CBD. That means it may be most effective to utilize regular doses of CBD to take advantage of the protective and preventative properties of the cannabinoid. Then, CBD may also be a solution for sudden flare-ups related to your condition as well.
There’s a wide selection of CBD products to choose from but for managing cancer and related symptoms, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of tinctures or gel capsules.
These two products are very similar in that they both rely on the power of full-spectrum CBD oil. However, they provide two different dosing methods that make them more or less appropriate for some users. Capsules are easily swallowed while tinctures are dropped under the tongue. No matter which you choose, ensure that the product combines CBD and an MCT oil to increase the body’s ability to absorb cannabidiol.
Still, you may find that you experience sudden flares from your condition and need a safe way to manage them. CBD can be used to manage these sudden symptoms, too, and choosing a product is mostly based on preference.
Whether you’re hoping to manage pain, nausea, or another discomfort – we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these sudden symptoms. Vaping is recommended for the sudden onset of discomfort because it provides quick relief. CBD isolate is a 99% pure version of cannabidiol with other cannabinoids and terpenes removed. When vaporized, it can bring relief almost instantly, and the full onset of effects takes only 10 minutes.
If vaping isn’t your preference, you can increase your tincture or gel capsule dose to manage these acute flare-ups. However, they have a delayed onset compared to vaporized CBD—90 minutes vs only 10.
Many people find that managing the symptoms related to cancer requires a thoughtful combination of CBD products in order to ensure 24-hour therapeutic and preventative coverage.
What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat cancer?
Your weight, tolerance, condition, and severity of symptoms all play a role in how much CBD you will need to experience complete relief. It’s important to note that dosing for CBD is unique for every person, and you should start low and increase your dose until you reach a level of relief you’re comfortable with.
We suggest those suffering from cancer and related symptoms start with 20-40mg per day of CBD. If this isn’t enough to bring relief, we suggest slowly increasing the dose in increments of 10mg. A CBD tincture makes it easy to precisely measure doses, so you can increase and decrease as needed.
Alternatively, CBD gel capsules provide the convenience of pre-measured doses that make it easy to increase in larger increments. A 10-milligram capsule would be convenient for this dosing regimen, but there’s no harm in choosing a larger capsule, like a 20-milligram gel cap, because you can’t overdose on CBD and there are no serious side effects.
In addition to their antiproliferative properties, these ingestible products provide sustained relief for several hours, and many people report that a single dose is enough to get them through the entire day. Keep in mind that these ingestible CBD products have a delayed onset of approximately 90 minutes, so you need to allow plenty of time in between doses to monitor the effects before deciding to make adjustments.
Vaporizers provide a different vaping experience that can be more easily measured in the “number of puffs” needed to provide relief. Different formulas and vaping mechanisms may provide a different potency of CBD in each dose, but the effects kick in quickly, making them easy to monitor. To adjust your CBD vaping dose, take one or two puffs at a time and wait 10 minutes before deciding if another dose is needed. Slowly stacking doses in this manner will help you quickly learn your dosing threshold.
A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions
Many organizations have confirmed that CBD is safe for ingestion for most adults, but there is one potential drawback that raises awareness. CBD may interact with certain medications, specifically those that utilize cytochrome P450 pathways for absorption. CBD is metabolized by these liver enzymes, reducing their number as it passes through, which may reduce the number of other substances that can be metabolized.
Interactions could include many of the prescription medications and popular treatments used for cancer which utilize cytochrome P450 pathways for absorption. These interactions are not necessarily dangerous, but they may lower the efficacy of other medications by reducing absorption. This can become more serious when CBD interacts with medications used to manage life-threatening conditions.
This effect on liver enzymes is only brief, and many people experience no interactions at all when taking CBD alongside other medications. Sometimes, it may be enough to simply put space between your CBD dose and other medications. Either way, you should always talk to your doctor about CBD first, especially if you already take prescription medications or have a chronic illness.
What Other Conditions can CBD Help With?
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