Daily use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil may be linked to lung cancer regression
It may be worth exploring further the use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil as a potential lung cancer treatment, suggest doctors in BMJ Case Reports after dealing with a daily user whose lung tumour shrank without the aid of conventional treatment.
The body’s own endocannabinoids are involved in various processes, including nerve function, emotion, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation, sleep and immune function.
Chemically similar to these endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can interact with signalling pathways in cells, including cancer cells. They have been studied for use as a primary cancer treatment, but the results have been inconsistent.
Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in the UK. Despite treatment advances, survival rates remain low at around 15% five years after diagnosis. And average survival without treatment is around 7 months.
The report authors describe the case of a woman in her 80s, diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She also had mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various drugs.
She was a smoker, getting through around a pack plus of cigarettes every week (68 packs/year).
Her tumour was 41 mm in size at diagnosis, with no evidence of local or further spread, so was suitable for conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. But the woman refused treatment, so was placed under ‘watch and wait’ monitoring, which included regular CT scans every 3-6 months.
These showed that the tumour was progressively shrinking, reducing in size from 41 mm in June 2018 to 10 mm by February 2021, equal to an overall 76% reduction in maximum diameter, averaging 2.4% a month, say the report authors.
When contacted in 2019 to discuss her progress, the woman revealed that she had been taking CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer since August 2018, shortly after her original diagnosis.
She had done so on the advice of a relative, after witnessing her husband struggle with the side effects of radiotherapy. She said she consistently took 0.5 ml of the oil, usually three times a day, but sometimes twice.
The supplier had advised that the main active ingredients were Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 19.5%, cannabidiol at around 20%, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at around 24%.
The supplier also advised that hot food or drinks should be avoided when taking the oil as she might otherwise feel stoned. The woman said she had reduced appetite since taking the oil but had no other obvious ‘side effects’. There were no other changes to her prescribed meds, diet, or lifestyle. And she continued to smoke throughout.
This is just one case report, with only one other similar case reported, caution the authors. And it’s not clear which of the CBD oil ingredients might have been helpful.
“We are unable to confirm the full ingredients of the CBD oil that the patient was taking or to provide information on which of the ingredient(s) may be contributing to the observed tumour regression,” they point out.
And they emphasise: “Although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of CBD oil and the observed tumour regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumour regression is due to the patient taking CBD oil.”
Cannabis has a long ‘medicinal’ history in modern medicine, having been first introduced in 1842 for its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects. And it is widely believed that cannabinoids can help people with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders; cannabinoids are also used in palliative care, the authors add.
“More research is needed to identify the actual mechanism of action, administration pathways, safe dosages, its effects on different types of cancer and any potential adverse side effects when using cannabinoids,” they conclude.
Notes for editors
Please note: out of respect for patient confidentiality we don’t have the names or contact details of the cases reported in this journal.
Funding: None declared
Link to Academy of Medical Sciences labelling system
Externally peer reviewed? Yes
Evidence type: Single case report
Can CBD Cure My Lung Disease?
You’ve probably noticed that more and more media attention has been focused on a substance called cannabidiol (CBD), and there are claims that this substance can do miraculous things like control the spread of cancer. CBD is undergoing the same type of scrutiny and claims that revolve around vaping . CPD does offer some potential benefits, but there is currently little research available to show how it can help you medically.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of the thousands of compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. To many people, cannabis is synonymous with illegal marijuana, but the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has made the hemp plant, a type of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC, legal from a federal perspective. CBD can be derived from hemp, and this means its possible health benefits can now be more extensively studied.
What Forms of CBD Can Be Taken?
Many types of products containing CBD have appeared since the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was passed, and so there are a number of ways people can take CBD. Some of these forms include:
- Foods and drinks — Companies have begun adding CBD to a variety of foods, and you can find it added to drinks, too. Most edibles that contain CBD take between 20 minutes and 4 hours to take effect.
- Oral — CBD is available in a growing number of over-the-counter pills and capsules. These oral alternatives look similar to vitamins, and they usually contain a CBD isolate or oil.
- Oils and tinctures — These are a highly concentrated form of CBD that are designed to be placed under the tongue with a dropper. From there, the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Topicals — CBD is also included in products designed to be placed directly on the skin, hair or nails.
- Vaping — Vaping has not been proven to be safe in any form. Problems with vape liquids are known by the CDC and some included CBD. Some e-cigarette liquids contain CBD, and they’re vaporized just like other vape liquids. Typically, CBD liquids don’t contain nicotine.
Is There Any Proof That CBD Helps COPD?
Not a lot of research is available on CBD’s effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These preliminary results are encouraging. However, the results are based on animal studies, and the effects in humans are not well known. A 2015 study has shown that CBD can help open up bronchial passages, and this could help COPD patients breathe more easily and avoid low blood oxygen levels and other complications. Further, a 2014 CBD study on mice revealed that CBD helped reduce inflammation and improve lung function in mice with damaged lungs.
Be Cautious if Adding CBD to Your COPD Treatment Plan
Since there has been a shortage of CBD research, there is little information about how long-term use of this substance could affect the body. Also, it isn’t clear how it reacts with other drugs. At this stage, there is no indication that it can cure COPD or any other medical condition. Before you include CBD in your COPD treatment plan, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.
Natural Treatment Options for COPD Are Available at Lung Health Institute
At Lung Health Institute, our health care team offers natural treatment options for chronic lung diseases like COPD and emphysema . Our options include our Anti-Inflammatory Initiative ™, or AI 2 ™.
A big component of this plan is information about many lung-healthy food options , and the plan also contains specific recipes that are designed to use lung-healthy foods. Other information in the plan includes exercise advice, hydration advice and foods COPD patients should avoid. All these natural methods are combined with the intention of helping to boost your immune system and training your body to fight inflammation using fats .
Take the next step to Breathe Easier™. Contact a Lung Health Institute patient coordinator today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.