CBD Oil Against Cancer – What Can We Expect?
So, by now, you have surely heard of CBD and its numerous heart-warming health benefits. And though this is only from anecdotal reports, CBD is quickly becoming the go-to substance for answers to various health problems. In fact, it has already been deemed a “miracle drug” on the streets. One of CBD’s prominent use has been to help alleviate chronic pain. But with the increase of cancer, laboratory research is going on to determine the effectiveness of CBD against tumors.
CBD is a chemical compound extracted from the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant. There are many ways to get your CBD fix – vaping, smoking, capsules, etc. CBD in the body interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a system of neuromodulators and their respective CB1 and CB2 receptors. This system regulates activities such as walking, thinking, appetite, perception, etc.
In the body, CBD is a neuromodulator. It binds onto the CB2 receptors affecting the release of neurotransmitters leading to various psychological and physiological outcomes in turn.
Is it possible to cure cancer with CBD?
Up until now, CBD use has been primarily as a palliative care to stimulate appetite, reduce nausea, and alleviate pain. CBD affects cell communication too, therefore, it’s being investigated if it can help with cancer. Since cancer is a cell and tissue condition resulting from cellular miscommunication that leads to abnormal cell growth. And although it’s a bit early to make any bold claims about the effectiveness of CBD against cancer, results from laboratory research so far suggest that CBD has anti-cancer properties. Here’s a look at where the medical world stands on CBD against cancer:
Cell culture studies show that CBD is antitumogeneric
A number of cell culture and animal experimentation have shown the antitumor effects of CBD in various cancer types. These experimental results, therefore, suggest new therapeutic opportunities for those living with cancer.
CBD activates the tumor-suppressive role of ECS
Evidence indicates that in tumor tissues, the ligands, receptors, and enzymes of the endocannabinoid system are upregulated. This overexpression of ECS components corresponds to tumor aggressiveness. In the body, CBD targets the endocannabinoid system thereby affecting various cellular processes and signaling pathways crucial to tumor development.
Studies on the anticancer effects of CBD on prostate cancer cells show that CBD downregulates the CB receptors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the Prostrate-specific antigen (PSA) thereby reducing the growth and spread of cancer cells.
CBD causes cancer cells to die
Tumors develop in the body when cells fail to respond to apoptosis signals. Apoptosis signals the start of cell self-destruction. Cell destruction is a normal part of growth and development. But if cells do not respond to apoptosis signals, they divide and spread faster, i.e., cell proliferation. CBD has shown to interfere with cancer cell proliferation by inducing apoptosis and autophagy.
In breast cancer cells, CBD showed anti-cancer effectiveness by stimulating the death of cancer cells. CBD prevented cancer cells from developing fresh blood vessels, thereby starving them of nutrients. It also stopped the cancer cells from dividing and spreading to other areas.
CBD has anti-inflammatory properties
The cell culture experiments also showed that CBD reduces the level of inflammation in cancer cells. Overproduction of cytokine and chemokine hormones in the body leads to inflammation due to an over-reacting immune system. CBD can help reduce tumor-related inflammation in cancer patients.
But by regulating the production of immune hormones, CBD has also shown its immunosuppressive properties, which could be dangerous if tumor growth goes unchecked.
The results haven’t been replicated in humans yet
Cell culture and animal experiments suggest the anti-cancer effects of CBD. There are, however, not enough completed or ongoing human trials. Therefore, until the same results can be replicated in human trials, we cannot conclude for sure on the efficacy of CBD in treating cancer.
However, the antitumogeneric potential of CBD gives us hope. According to Dr. Raphael Mouchouloum, a scientist and one-time Nobel Prize nominee, there is absolutely no reason why medical experts shy away from conducting human trials on the potential curative properties of CBD for cancer patients.
There are currently no FDA-approved CBD-derived products to help with cancer and cancer treatment. But there is evidence that some chemicals in CBD may help with vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, and pain, which are symptoms and side-effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Here’s a look at how CBD can be used as complementary cancer therapy:
How cancer patients may benefit from CBD
The side effects of chemotherapy are vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite. Cancer patients find it very difficult to maintain healthy body weights with ongoing treatments.
Smoking or ingesting cannabis has been linked with the munchies. Most people find that after using weed, they crave sugary and fatty foods. And while all this is due to THC increasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and making eating feel pleasurable, CBD too helps boost appetite, albeit in a different way.
CBD is nerve calming and relieves nausea. By helping the cancer patient feel less nauseated, and calming the digestive tract, the patient can eat more. Also, CBD relieves pain, feeling less pain may boost one’s appetite. Right now, there’s a trend towards CBD-infused edibles to increase appetite. Studies show that while CBD makes people eat more, it does not lead to overweight issues: CBD users are known to have lower body mass index than non-users.
To manage chronic pain
CBD can help alleviate the pain that comes with cancer and cancer treatments. When cancer pain gets too severe, even those opioids become ineffective.
CBD, on the other hand, can help manage chronic pain. A 2017 study on the effectiveness of CBD against pain was conducted on rats with osteoarthritis. The findings were that by applying CBD on the affected area, CBD dulled the pain receptors and blocked further nerve damage. This is a relief to cancer patients since Cancer often results in inflammations, nerve injury, pressure buildup on internal organs, etc. resulting in pain.
Scientists say the presence of CBD in the bloodstream increases the level of anandamide hormone, which helps with pain and anxiety.
To help with nausea
Pre-clinical studies show that CBD in low doses can help suppress nausea. Nausea and vomiting are among the adverse effects of chemotherapy treatments. By helping feel less nauseated, a cancer patient experiences an increase in appetite.
But the anti-nauseating effects of CBD are only possible in small doses, higher doses of CBD could make nausea worse!
Side effects of CBD
Studies show that people, in general, tolerate CBD well. But some individuals are bound to experience adverse effects from CBD. Therefore, what are the problems that could arise from treating cancer symptoms with CBD?
Some CBD doses suppress the immune system
CBD has shown its effectiveness in regulating immune hormones, but this has also revealed its immunosuppressive properties. Therefore, while celebrating the anticancer effects of CBD, such as inducing the death of cancer cells, reducing proliferation and tumor vascularization, we also have to note the protumogeneric effects of certain concentrations of CBD have to be noted too.
Certain concentrations and types of cannabinoids might suppress a patient’s immune system allowing cancer to spread unchecked. Results from human cell culture and animal experiments show the protumogeneric effects of CBD. The effectiveness of CBD against cancer, therefore, depends on concentration levels, among other factors.
CBD anti-nauseating effects are only felt from low concentrations of CBD. Take a high dose, and you risk making nausea worse. If you are looking to try CBD to reduce nausea, therefore, discuss it with a doctor first.
Fatigue is another side effect you can expect after medicating on CBD. Epidiolex, for example, is an FDA-approved CBD-derived drug to help with epilepsy conditions. Here, 21 percent of participants in Epidiolex trials have reported some form of fatigue.
Interaction with other drugs
CBD may interact with enzymes in a patient’s liver, thereby potentially lowering or increasing the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical drugs. For instance, a 13-week study on the interaction of CBD with anti-epileptic medication in children showed that CBD made the children experience fewer side effects from the anti-epileptic medicines.
Remember, though, that there is no FDA-approved CBD-derived drug for use to treat cancer symptoms yet. The FDA regulates CBD drugs and dietary supplements. But as long as CBD products are not marketed as food supplements or medicine, many producers are finding ways around FDA regulations. Watch out for the CBD product cleanliness, quality, and purity. CBD in itself is not psychoactive, but THC is. If you are planning on taking CBD as a complementary cancer therapy, please get CBD products with 0 THC percentage.
Lastly, will using CBD keep you from getting cancer? Researchers from a university in Korea have concluded that CBD kills cancer cells. But without any long-term human clinical trials, there is no way to make conclusions for sure. Given its ability to regulate CB receptors in the brain and immune system, CBD may help prevent cancer by interfering with cellular communication responsible for the growth and invasion of cancer cells.