CBD Against Cancer: Can Cannabidiol Help?
A few years ago, you could only get CBD in a gift or a supplements shop. Fast forward to today, CBD is everywhere, from certain grocery stores to local pharmacies. What is contributing to its fast-growing popularity?
Since ancient times, cannabis has been used to assist in the treatment of many diseases and symptoms. However, despite its many applications, cannabis use was discontinued at some point. A wave of negativity surrounding cannabis was spreading fast across the globe in the 20th century.
In the 21st century, associations and individuals have taken measures to get governments to decriminalize cannabis. Let us go back in history. Cannabidiol was discovered in 1940 by Roger Adams, a Harvard University researcher. It is only until 1963 that Rapahael Mechoulum discovered its molecular structure. This led to its differentiation from the psychoactive THC cannabinoid. Today, users swear by its effectiveness in improving their quality of life. Well, for starters you may ask; what is CBD, and why is it receiving so much attention?
What is CBD ?
CBD is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol. It is one of the hundred-plus cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The other popular cannabinoid is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), known for its psychoactive properties. These two are the most abundant substances in the cannabis plant.
In this article we shall be looking into whether cannabidiol works and helps to improve the condition of cancer patients.
What is Cancer ?
Cancer is a disease that causes a rapid division and growth of abnormal cells. These cells subsequently spread to other parts of the body. It can start anywhere in the body and can be fatal when it invades and destroys healthy body tissues and organs.
Cancer is the second most popular cause of death in Europe. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there were over 3.7 million new cases and over 1.9 million deaths per year.
How serious is the disease today? Picture this; Europe hosts an eighth of the world’s total population but contributes to a quarter of the worldwide cancer cases. This makes cancer a big concern in Europe.
Treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy leave patients with many side effects like;
- Loss of appetite
There is no definitive cure for cancer. Due to the growing and aging population, there has been an increase in mortality rates. This leaves many cancer patients and their loved ones to explore alternative forms of treatment.
Is CBD an Alternative to Cancer Treatments ?
No. CBD is not an alternative form of treatment for cancer, at least not yet. The studies that have been conducted before were too small in scale and not standardized. Also, the experiments used mice and in vitro cells (human cells in a test-tube) as the test subjects.
However, more significant studies are currently underway to establish claims regarding cannabidiol improving the conditions of cancer patients. The main focus is on whether CBD is capable of slowing down or stopping the fast-growing cancer cells.
CBD is not a cure, but can it help with the fight against cancer?
Currently, there isn’t any substantial research to prove whether CBD helps fight cancer. Its ability to ease cancer treatment side effects like nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and pain is also within a grey area.
That being said, CBD users’ claims and some clinical trial results indicate that CBD could help manage the side effects, hence improving cancer patients’ quality of life.
Dronabinol, a synthetic form of CBD, has received approval as a drug against nausea and vomiting. The drug seems to work just as well as other pharmaceutical anti-nausea chemical medication. Research studies also show that CBD seems to lower anxiety levels and promotes sleep. As a result, CBD may offer cancer patients a much-needed relief from the worry, stress, depression and anxiety that comes with conventional cancer-diagnosis and cancer treatments.
Are there promising studies and reviews that show CBD’s effectiveness?
As mentioned above, research into CBD’s medical properties lacks the backing of large-scale, in vivo and standardized studies. The list below comprises some of the most promising small-scale studies and reviews. Note that these studies need further research to substantiate the findings.
A 2017 review of studies conducted to determine the effects of cannabinoids (CBD and THC) in the treatment of glioblastoma (brain and spinal tumor) as well as their application in palliative care found that when the test animals were treated with high doses of CBD and THC, the tumors reduced by 50%-95%. In some cases, there was a total remission.
It also showed CBD was able to slow down cancer cells’ progression through promoting apoptosis (programmed natural cell death). CBD focused on the tumor cells while sparing the normal healthy cells. CBD also inhibited the development of blood vessels supplying tumour regions (tumor angiogenesis). In addition, the review concluded CBD was effective in treating cancer-related symptoms like nausea, pain, and vomiting. However it exposed the need for further research to find:
- The right dosage
- The right combination of cannabinoids
- CBD’s effectiveness in chronic treatment.
It stated that researchers needed to conduct human-based studies to obtain accurate findings.
Encouraging Results for the Scientific Community
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a case report and literature review of an 81-year-old man diagnosed with lung cancer. The man refused any form of conventional medicine and decided to self-administer CBD oil for one month.
Each visit within that one month showed that the tumor was slowly shrinking and disappearing. On his last scan, the mass had cleared, and everything looked normal. The man had no change in diet, lifestyle, or medication within that period.
The case indicates that CBD may have anti-cancer properties. This may be a result of CBD’s ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The endocannabinoid system connects cannabinoids produced in our bodies and their receptors while offering regulation of these two’s actions through inhibiting enzymes. CBD binds with CB2 receptors and informs the ECS of cancer cells in the body. This sends a warning that inhibits the reproduction and spread of cancer cells.
A 2014 study conducted on colorectal cancer cells indicated that CBD in high doses could inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells. Another study done in 2010 looked into the application of CBD for patients with breast cancer metastasis and cancer cell invasion. The invasion and metastasis happen during the final stages of cancer. Currently, there is very little that medical interventions can do to fight this. CBD administration appears to significantly reduce cell replication and invasion.
Is CBD Legal ?
CBD is legal in most European countries. The list includes Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
However, each country has its restrictions on the THC percentage that is legal. Alongside the THC threshold, be certain to look at your local regulations about cannabidiol and its products.
Side effects of CBD
Some of the reported side effects of CBD include :
2. Appetite variations
3. Weight fluctuation
6. Lower arterial pressure
More research is needed into the safety of cannabidiol when used in people from different demographics. This will help in narrowing down the specificity of the above mentioned side effects and bring out a conventional and balanced potency.
What are the most important things cancer patients should know about CBD ?
CBD is still new, and there is a growing need to learn more about it. It is always advisable to consult your doctor if you are using or planning to use CBD.
A medical practitioner is better placed to understand your physiological needs. As a result, they will advise you on whether to take it or not. They will also instruct you on how much to take and possible interactions with an ongoing cancer treatment.
Avoid sensationalized labels on products that insinuate that they cure cancer. Every claim made should have scientific evidence to support it, and at this point in time there is no such concrete evidence due to the lack of research and large-scale in-vivo clinical trials.
When given the go-ahead to take CBD by your doctor, always purchase CBD from a trusted source. Always choose a retailer that offers natural cannabidiol and 3rd-party laboratory tests. Also, look for products that are additive-free and 100% natural. Stick to conventional cancer treatment methods until sufficientCBD against cancer research is available. Wait until medical bodies approve a CBD drug before stopping other forms of treatment. If you would like to try CBD, do so concurrently with your treatment and make sure you consult your doctor first.
Cannabidiol is gaining substantial momentum in the world of health and wellness. With the interest from different quarters, we expect more research and discoveries into its full potential in promoting the wellness of cancer patients. All that is needed is enough time, dedication, and ample resources. And this is why Naturalpes is part of the EIHA (European Industrial Hemp Association), a European association dedicated to democratizing CBD and funding research for the cannabis plant and CBD. We hope that in a nearby future, medicine made from natural CBD will be created to treat various different kinds of illnesses, namely cancer.