Any form of cannabis, whether it be CBD or THC, as a treatment for cancer is a controversial topic in the world media. There are many success stories and much anecdotal evidence, but the lack of clinical research makes it very difficult for cannabis to be accepted as a medically valid form of cancer treatment. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there doing research, but most of it is privately funded as government-funded organizations such as NIDA are more interested in researching the harmful effects of cannabis.
So we have taken the liberty of finding the research for you. And without making sweeping generalizations, it looks promising. Nothing in this article is medical advice, but rather a review of the research that is available for discerning people to make their own decision about cancer treatment.
Cannabinoids are antiproliferative and antiangiogenic
One of the biggest factors that scientists are looking for when they do research for potential cancer drugs is its effect on cell proliferation. This is because cancerous cells proliferate uncontrollably. Cannabinoids exhibit antiproliferative qualities, meaning that they can halt the proliferation of cancer cells in the body.
In the study cited above, cannabinoids have shown antiproliferative properties in breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, bone cancer, lymphoma and more. What’s particularly interesting is that in each cancer, CBD acts as a proliferative agent using different biological mechanisms. Depending on the type of cancer, other cannabinoids might also be antiproliferative. It all depends on whether the particular tissue is lined with cannabinoid receptors or not.
It’s important to realize that CBD and other cannabinoids can slow the growth of cancers, although their power to cause the death of cancer cells is still being investigated. With that being said, studies have revealed the antiangiogenic properties of CBD in particular. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels, which is what vasculates a tumor and gives it an opportunity to continue growing. CBD’s antiangiogenic properties inhibit the growth of new blood cells, therefore directly cutting off blood supply to a tumor.
There is still much research being conducted about CBD and other cannabinoids’ potential in being anti-tumor agents. To be an anti-tumor agent, a compound should decrease the overall size of the cancer if not removing it entirely. One such study is this one, conducted in the year 2000, where the mechanism of action for cannabinoids in cancer treatment was investigated. In this study, THC got most of the attention. They found that THC causes cell death in cancers, making it potentially anti-tumor, with more investigation required for CBD.
Cannabinoids and chemotherapy
Another major topic in cancer treatment that the cannabis industry often neglects is the way that cannabinoids can work in tandem with conventional therapies such as chemotherapy. For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, the biggest discomforts are often the side effects of chemotherapy itself. CBD can assist a person with some of the negative side-effects of chemotherapy and essentially, help a person through the process.
Nausea is one of the biggest side-effects of chemotherapy. Both CBD and THC are antiemetic compounds, meaning they reduce nausea and vomiting. This is one way that CBD can help someone beat cancer, even if it is only a secondary line of treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy.
The same is true of sleep, anxiety, and mood. CBD can enhance a person’s mood, assist them into sleep and decrease sensations of anxiety related to being a cancer patient. We often underestimate the power of these symptoms, the ways that they affect the liveliness of a patient and at the root of it, the will to survive.
Sometimes, when CBD helps a person beat cancer, it is not necessarily because it cured the cancer itself. It may have assisted a person through the journey of chemotherapy with minimal negative side-effects. This is invaluable as so many cancer patients describe the side-effects of chemotherapy as intolerable and the worst part of their journey to heal cancer.
CBD: A first line of treatment or a complementary medicine
There are many cancer patients out there who overcame cancer by using CBD in conjunction with traditional, biomedical techniques such as chemotherapy. Even though science is working its way towards a true, valid explanation of how CBD might assist in cancer recovery, there simply isn’t enough evidence out there to make cancer patients abandon chemotherapy and work exclusively with cannabinoids.
So yes — some people are using CBD and other cannabinoids exclusively to cure themselves of cancer. But that doesn’t mean that everybody should do the same. At the very least, CBD can offer a real, tangible, effective way of managing the symptoms of cancer and of chemotherapy. In this way, it truly can help a person beat cancer.
Until governments begin to approve randomized controlled trials for the treatment of cancer with cannabinoids, it is going to be difficult for CBD to break through as a medically viable option. While for many of us, the writing is on the wall, the medical industry requires scientific knowledge for it to make sweeping claims about how cannabinoids can treat cancer. It’s something we all look forward to in the future: understanding exactly what causes cancer and how cannabinoids can play a role in destroying it.