There’s a reason cancer is called “the emperor of all maladies”. From the ancient Greeks to present day, we have been searching for the root cause and final cure to a disease that has always seemed to stay one step ahead of science. However, these days the prognosis for a cancer patient diagnosed early is much more hopeful than before. In addition to advances in radiation and immunotherapy, the use of medical cannabis and hemp derived CBD products are more accepted than ever for the alleviation of cancer symptoms and chemotherapy side effects.
On this World Cancer Day, Plants Not Pills CBD takes a look at how medical cannabis and hemp derived CBD products – by no means a cure for the illness – may at least aid those battling cancer find relief for a variety of symptoms and side effects.
Cannabis, CBD and Cancer
Breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers are amongst the cancers that CBD has demonstrated the highest inhibiting potential of cancers cells in animal models (Orellana-Serradell, et al., 2015). Further studies have shown that the activation of the CB2 receptors on natural killer cells suggests that it could also be effective at mediating cancer cell death in human subjects (McAllister, Soroceanu & Desprez, 2015) and (Ligresti, et al., 2006). CBD also inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation with clinically significant decreased surrounding tissue invasion. Moreover, CBD also modulates cell signaling and decreases the gene expression in breast cancer cells (McAllister, Soroceanu & Desprez, 2015). The tumor cell signal modulation from CBD lowers the tumor aggressiveness and clinically significant tumor size reduction has been reported (McAllister, et al., 2007). Through its immunomodulating effects, CBD has been identified as a good potential adjunct therapy in helping in the decrease of complications post stem cell or bone marrow transplant in Leukemia (Yeshurun, et al., 2015). In addition, it has been found to help cancer patients manage their nausea, vomiting and stimulate appetite (Guzman, 2003).
The acidic form of CBD (CBDA) is now recognized to have a down-regulating effect on cancer cells in invasive human brain cancer (Takeda, et al., 2014) and (Velasco, et al., 2016). Previous clinical trials and animal studies had established that THC had anti-neoplastic properties as well (Limbeer & Parker, 1999). THC has been shown to induce apoptosis, or death, in leukemia cancerous cells (Powles, et al., 2005). In addition, evidence suggests that combining THC with other established cytotoxic agents could have a synergistical effect and further enhance leukemia cancer cell death (Liu, et al., 2008). The THC antiemetic properties has also proven to be effective at reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea, allowing for chemotherapy patients to undergo treatments regiments with decrease side-effects, allowing higher compliance rates (Limbeer & Parker, 1999). In addition, when combined with CBD, THC has shown to significantly reduce pain levels in cancer patients with intractable pain (Johnson, et al., 2016). Well described in literature, THC has also shown to significantly stimulate appetite in patients that have cachexia related to cancer (Nelson, Walsh, Deeter & Sheehan, 1994) (Jatoi, et al., 2002) (Nauck & Klaschik, 2004).
Anandamide is one of the two main human-produced “endocannabinoids”, it is known to play a role in homeostasis and having anti-neoplastic effects. The cannabinoid CBC has shown to help inhibit the uptake of Anandamide by competing with the reuptake mechanisms, thus helping in modulating the cancerous cells and stimulating apoptosis of these cells. Strong evidence from animal studies shows that CBC, decreases the prevalence of cancerous tumor development in mice, suggesting potential use as a cancer prevention therapy (Nakajima, Nakae & Yasukawa, 2013).