Cannabis, CBD oil and cancer
Cannabis is a plant and a class B drug. It affects people differently. It can make you feel relaxed and chilled but it can also make you feel sick, affect your memory and make you feel lethargic. CBD oil is a chemical found in cannabis.
- Cannabis has been used for centuries recreationally and as a medicine.
- It is illegal to possess or supply cannabis as it is a class B drug.
- Research is looking at the substances in cannabis to see if it might help treat cancer.
- There are anti sickness medicines that contain man-made substances of cannabis.
What are cannabis and cannabinoids?
Cannabis is a plant. It is known by many names including marijuana, weed, hemp, grass, pot, dope, ganja and hash.
The plant produces a resin that contains a number of substances or chemicals. These are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids can have medicinal effects on the body.
The main cannabinoids are:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
THC is a psychoactive substance that can create a ‘high’ feeling. It can affect how your brain works, changing your mood and how you feel.
CBD is a cannabinoid that may relieve pain, lower inflammation and decrease anxiety without the psychoactive ‘high’ effect of THC.
Different types of cannabis have differing amounts of these and other chemicals in them. This means they can have different effects on the body.
Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK. This means that it is illegal to have it, sell it or buy it.
CBD oil, cannabis oil and hemp oil
There are different types of oil made from parts of the cannabis plant. Some are sold legally in health food stores as a food supplement. Other types of oil are illegal.
CBD oil comes from the flowers of the cannabis plant and does not contain the psychoactive substance THC. It can be sold in the UK as a food supplement but not as a medicine. There is no evidence to support its use as a medicine.
Cannabis oil comes from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the cannabis plant. Cannabis oil often contains high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC. Cannabis oil is illegal in the UK.
Hemp oil comes from the seeds of a type of cannabis plant that doesn’t contain the main psychoactive ingredient THC. Hemp seed oil is used for various purposes including as a protein supplement for food, a wood varnish and an ingredient in soaps.
Why people with cancer use it
Cannabis has been used medicinally and recreationally for hundreds of years.
There has been a lot of interest into whether cannabinoids might be useful as a cancer treatment. The scientific research done so far has been laboratory research, with mixed results, so we do not know if cannabinoids can treat cancer in people.
Results have shown that different cannabinoids can:
- cause cell death
- block cell growth
- stop the development of blood vessels – needed for tumours to grow
- reduce inflammation
- reduce the ability of cancers to spread
Scientists also discovered that cannabinoids can:
- sometimes encourage cancer cells to grow
- cause damage to blood vessels
Cannabinoids have helped with sickness and pain in some people.
This means a cannabis based product used to relieve symptoms.
Some cannabis based products are available on prescription as medicinal cannabis. The following medicines are sometimes prescribed to help relieve symptoms.
Nabilone is a drug developed from cannabis. It is licensed for treating severe sickness from chemotherapy that is not controlled by other anti sickness drugs. It is a capsule that you swallow whole.
Sativex is a cannabis-based medicine. It is licensed in the UK for people with Multiple Sclerosis muscle spasticity that hasn’t improved with other treatments. Sativex is a liquid that you spray into your mouth.
Researchers are looking into Sativex as a treatment for cancer related symptoms and for certain types of cancer.
How you have it
Cannabis products can be smoked, vaporized, ingested (eating or drinking), absorbed through the skin (in a patch) or as a cream or spray.
CBD oil comes as a liquid or in capsules.
Prescription drugs such as Nabilone can cause side effects. This can include:
- increased heart rate
- blood pressure problems
- mood changes
- memory problems
Cannabis that contains high levels of THC can cause panic attacks, hallucinations and paranoia.
There are also many cannabis based products available online without a prescription. The quality of these products can vary. It is impossible to know what substances they might contain. They could potentially be harmful to your health and may be illegal.
Research into cannabinoids and cancer
We need more research to know if cannabis or the chemicals in it can treat cancer.
Clinical trials need to be done in large numbers where some patients have the drug and some don’t. Then you can compare how well the treatment works.
Many of the studies done so far have been small and in the laboratory. There have been a few studies involving people with cancer.
Sativex and temozolomide for a brain tumour (glioblastoma) that has come back
In 2021, scientists reported the final results of a phase 1 study to treat people with recurrent glioblastoma (a type of brain tumour that has come back). The study looked at Sativex in combination with the chemotherapy drug temozolomide.
Researchers found that adding Sativex caused side effects, which included, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and headache but patients found the side effects manageable.
They also observed that 83 out of 100 people (83%) were alive after one year using Sativex, compared to 44 out of 100 people (44%) taking the placebo.
However, this phase 1 study only involved 27 patients, which was too small to learn about any potential benefits of Sativex. The study wanted to find out if Sativex and temozolomide was safe to take by patients.
Researchers have now started a larger phase 2 trial called ARISTOCRAT, to find out if this treatment is effective and who might benefit from it. Speak to your specialist if you want to take part in a clinical trial.
Sativex and cancer pain
There are trials looking at whether Sativex can help with cancer pain that has not responded to other painkillers.
The results of one trial showed that Sativex did not improve pain levels. You can read the results of the trial on our clinical trials website.
Cancer and nausea and vomiting
A cannabis based medicine, Nabilone, is a treatment for nausea and vomiting.
A Cochrane review in 2015 looked at all the research available looking into cannabis based medicine as a treatment for nausea and sickness in people having chemotherapy for cancer. It reported that many of the studies were too small or not well run to be able to say how well these medicines work. They say that they may be useful if all other medicines are not working.
A drug called dexanabinol which is a man made form of a chemical similar to that found in cannabis has been trialled in a phase 1 trial. This is an early trial that tries to work out whether or not the drug works in humans, what the correct dose is and what the side effects might be. The results are not available yet. You can read about the trial on our clinical trials database.
Word of caution
Cannabis is a class B drug and illegal in the UK.
There are internet scams where people offer to sell cannabis preparations to people with cancer. There is no knowing what the ingredients are in these products and they could harm your health.
Some of these scammers trick cancer patients into buying ‘cannabis oil’ which they then never receive.
You could talk with your cancer specialist about the possibility of joining a clinical trial. Trials can give access to new drugs in a safe and monitored environment.
The science blog on our website has more information about cannabis and cancer.
CBD Oil for Cancer: Can Cannabis Oil Be Used as a Cure & Treatment?
It’s challenging to find a place that wouldn’t stock CBD today, at least in its traditional oil form. CBD oil has taken the United States by storm, driving the attention of doctors, researchers, and media outlets across the world. Universities are starting their research on the possibility of treating a variety of health conditions with CBD, including cancer.
As CBD continues to change the public perception of cannabis, more people than ever are turning to CBD oil as a natural alternative for their ailments. In this article, we’re going to shed light on scientific research concerning the potential use of CBD oil for cancer and its symptoms.
We’ll also provide our list of recommended CBD oils that could potentially help individuals on their way to safe recovery.
CBD Oil for Cancer-related Symptoms
There is limited research into CBD’s potential as a treatment for cancer and its symptoms. The FDA refuses to acknowledge CBD oil as a treatment for cancer; there’s only one pharmaceutical containing cannabidiol — its name is Epidiolex. However, Epidiolex is reserved for epilepsy patients, not those struggling with cancer.
If you want to use CBD oil for cancer, make sure to make an appointment with a doctor first; doing so will give you a fuller image of how CBD oil could help your treatment.
While CBD isn’t a cure-all, it can surely help you ease several of its symptoms as well as some adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radiation.
Here’s what studies have found when it comes to using CBD oil for cancer.
Researchers have proposed CBD as a natural resource to reduce nausea and vomiting due to how it interacts with the brain. Many patients regularly use cannabinoids to calm the uncomfortable sensation of nausea as an unwanted effect of chemotherapy, radiation, and anti-cancer medications. Moreover, CBD regulates serotonin levels, which can reduce the stimulation in the brain’s area responsible for vomiting.
In a 2015 study conducted by Care By Design, most patients who took CBD oil for pain and inflammation reported improvements in their symptoms. CBD acts on specific pathways in the brain that may reduce inflammation and block pain signals. Pain is one of the most troubling symptoms of cancer — and a side effect of chemotherapy — so these are very promising results for those suffering from cancer.
Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances
CBD is an adaptogen, meaning they can help the body maintain homeostasis within the body without negatively impacting its functioning as well as making any changes in the brain structure. Adaptogens are also classified as smart molecules because they can act exactly where they are needed to promote balance and strengthen regeneration processes, such as neurogenesis. When cancer patients suffer from a lack of sleep, CBD may help ease some of the stress and anxiety that are often associated with this condition. This can help the body regulate its sleep cycles.
CBD may also help target the specific processes in the body to provide it with enough energy and vitality, which can be useful for cancer patients after chemotherapy. On top of the above, it can also improve focus. Some scientists refer to CBD as “the boy scout molecule” because it always reaches the right target in any given situation.
Loss of Appetite
Although some individuals report appetite suppression after using CBD, it turns out it may have an opposite effect on others. When CBD reaches specific receptors in the brain, it can improve your appetite. And since the majority of cancer patients suffer from loss of appetite, this particular trait of CBD oil may come in handy when it comes to helping the body’s needs for nourishment, which the body needs throughout the disease and after radiation.
Can CBD Oil Help Cure Cancer?
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence floating online from people claiming they have been cured of cancer by using cannabis. Scientific research performed on animals has shown that CBD can shrink tumors and stop them from spreading. For example, a research paper from 2011 showed that the stimulation of cannabinoid receptors through a mix of cannabinoids and fatty acids could potentially relieve prostate tumors.
Another study published in Plus One highlighted CBD’s anti-cancer properties to trigger a process of apoptosis — the death of cancerous cells — preventing tumor growth by reducing the number of certain proteins that are involved in the spread of malignant cells. The researchers concluded that they would recommend CBD as an anti-cancer agent due to its safety and lack of life-threatening side effects.
We’ve also visited the Cure your Own Cancer site, where patients provide their testimonials about their success in treating cancer with cannabis oil. The website was founded by a young activist Lincoln Horsley and it shares a lot of free information about cannabis, cancer, and how products like CBD oil can be used to support individuals on their way to recovery.
With all that said, using CBD oil for cancer isn’t an approved treatment because there haven’t been many human trials regarding this issue. Therefore, consumers must keep in mind that while anecdotal evidence about CBD oil and cancer is very optimistic, it must be scientifically investigated before being approved as a treatment method.
Best CBD Brands for Cancer Aid
The following compilation is a summary of CBD oils that we’ve selected after analyzing over 40 brands from local stores and online retailers. They have been evaluated according to the quality criteria such as hemp source, extraction methods, third-party testing, and customer service.
1. Royal CBD (Most Potent)
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
|Potency||250 mg –2500 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Berry, Mint, Vanilla|
|CBD per serving||8.3 mg – 83.3 mg|
Why Royal CBD is the Best CBD Oil for Cancer
My story with Royal CBD started about two years ago when we first read about them in one of our news briefs. They attracted us with the simplicity of their product selection, with only a few full-spectrum CBD oils available for sale. After two years, the company has grown by miles and expanded its line with capsules, gummies, and topicals — also adding a high-potency option to their oils.
Since then, Royal CBD oil has been our number one product.
Royal CBD oils come in four different potency options, including 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 2500 mg. You can choose from flavors like Mint, Berry, and Vanilla, save for the highest strengths, which only comes in the unflavored version. These are full-spectrum products, meaning they were made using the whole plant and contain all the non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes originally found in hemp. I’ve noticed the best results when it comes to nausea and pain relief using the 2500 mg bottle. The oil has also helped calm my anxiety and improved sleep.
Note: Royal CBD is only available online; you won’t find it in any local store, although their online shop offers great discounts and a loyalty program that lets you save money on their products.
- Sourced from locally grown organic hemp
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Contains full-spectrum CBD
- Available in 4 potencies and flavors
- Up to 2500 mg of CBD per bottle
- Only available online
2. Gold Bee (Best Flavor)
|Potency||250 mg –1200 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Honey|
|CBD per serving||8.3 mg – 83.3 mg|
About Gold Bee
Gold Bee is a Nevada-rooted brand that focuses on making honey-flavored CBD extracts. The company has developed its own blend of high-CBD strains in partnership with local growers from Colorado. These plants are grown from non-GMO seeds in healthy soils and without growth boosters or pesticides.
Aside from the premium quality of ingredients, I believe this brand deserves much appreciation for how they mix CBD with honey. The flavor is surprisingly natural and masks the earthy hemp aftertaste that you get from full-spectrum CBD oil.
About the effects, I noticed similar results with my anxiety and pain to what I got from Royal CBD oil, but due to the lack of high-potency oil in its selection, I’ve decided to give the guys at Gold Bee second place.
However, if low-to-moderate doses of CBD work for you, this is one of the best brands to purchase CBD oil from.
- Made from US-grown organic hemp
- Infused with full-spectrum CBD
- Up to 33 mg CBD/mL
- Decent potency range for beginners
- Third-party tested for potency and purity
- Delicious honey flavor
- No high-potency oils in their collection
3. CBDPure (Best Transparency)
|Potency||100 mg –1000 mg|
|CBD per serving||3.3 mg – 33 mg/mL|
CBDPure specializes in making mostly low-potency CBD oil. Recently, the brand has added a 1000 mg potency to their collection, which we simply couldn’t miss.
One interesting thing about CBDPure is that its low-potency oils work better than some high-potency products I’ve tried so far. For me, CBDPure is a textbook example of how to make top-of-the -shelf full-spectrum extracts. The effects were very similar to what I’ve experienced with the other two companies in this ranking.
CBDPure is my third-best pick on this list because both Royal CBD and Gold Bee offer a better price/quality ratio.
- Made from organic Colorado-grown hemp
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Lab-tested for CBD content and purity
- Contains full-spectrum CBD
- 90-day return policy
- Only two types of product available
- Low strength
- More expensive than the competition
4. Hemp Bombs (Best CBD Isolate)
|Potency||125 mg – 4000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Acai Berry, Orange Creamsicle, Peppermint, Watermelon|
|CBD per serving||4 – 133 mg/mL|
About Hemp Bombs
Hemp Bombs is an American manufacturer that produces CBD oil made from 99% pure isolate. The company offers an extensive range of CBD extracts, offering up to 4000 mg of total CBD. This CBD oil is an excellent choice for cancer patients who, for some reason, want to avoid any THC in their oil. Full-spectrum products contain 0.3% THC or less, which isn’t enough to get anyone high, but CBD isolate is 100% THC-free.
CBD isolate is also odorless and flavorless, so it’s a good alternative for those who have problems with holding full-spectrum extracts in their mouth. That being said, there’s no synergy from other cannabinoids and terpenes, so Hemp Bombs may not be the best choice for those looking for the entourage effect in cannabis.
- Sourced from organic hemp
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Available as broad-spectrum or isolate
- Third-party tested for CBD and purity
- Up to 4000 mg of total CBD
- 5 strengths to choose from
- Infused with synthetic flavorings
- No synergy from other cannabinoids and terpenes
- Most people don’t need such high-potency oils in their routine
5. CBDistillery (Best Price)
|Potency||250 mg – 5000 mg|
|Potency||8.3 – 166 mg/mL|
CBDistillery is one of the largest CBD companies in North America. The brand was launched by a group of Colorado citizens based on a mutual goal to supply consumers with affordable products that still match the highest quality standards. CBDistillery’s products are available in an extremely wide range of potencies, from 250 mg to a whopping 5000 mg of CBD per bottle. The highest potency contains 166 mg of CBD in each milliliter, which is enough to get yourself a few month’s worths of supplies.
You can also choose which type of CBD extract you want in your oil because CBDistillery offers both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts (pure CBD oil). In the broad-spectrum variant, THC has been completely removed after initial filtration, but the other cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp have been preserved.
CBDistillery has scored the last place in your compilation of the best CBD oils for cancer due to their hemp sourcing practices — the plants used by the company are non-GMO but not certified organic.
- Available as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD
- Extracted with CO2
- 5 strengths to choose from
- Up to 166.6 mg of CBD per bottle
- Third-party tested for potency and purity
- Very affordable
- Their hemp isn’t organic
- No flavored options
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds in cannabis plants, which are categorized as cannabinoids. Unlike its psychoactive cousin THC, CBD can’t make you feel high. However, it still offers a plethora of benefits for our health.
It turns out that all mammals have an endocannabinoid system (discovered in the 1990s), which is a prime self-regulatory network composed of cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that are released to maintain homeostasis in the body, which is a state of equilibrium between all bodily functions, such as pain signaling, appetite, sleep cycles, immune function, emotional processing, and more.
CBD acts as a modulator, meaning it signals the endocannabinoid system to produce and maintain more of its native cannabinoids to help them effectively maintain the balance within the body.
CBD can also help the endocannabinoid system regain its proper functioning when homeostasis has been disrupted. Through the said signaling, it can promote the formation of healthy cells in the body while turning on the process of apoptosis — the destruction of malignant cells.
People use CBD for a wide range of health problems, from common anxiety to inflammatory conditions and severe chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, epilepsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and cancer.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a liquid extract that contains high concentrations of CBD. It is made using hemp flowers, the resinous part of the plant. After initial extraction, CBD oil usually undergoes filtration to dump the redundant plant material and suspend the extract in a food-grade carrier oil, such as hemp seed oil or MCT oil.
CBD oil comes in glass bottles with a dropper attached for easier and precise dosing. To take CBD oil, you need to use the dropper to measure out the dose and place the oil beneath your tongue, allowing it to sit there for about one minute to let it absorb through special membranes in the mouth. You can swish it around the mouth to increase the surface area and increase the oil’s bioavailability.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
CBD can be produced from hemp and marijuana, so it’s understandable that you may have questions about its legality.
Marijuana-derived CBD oil will contain a considerable amount of THC, which crosses the legal 0.3% barrier. Such products can get the user high and are legal only in states that legalized recreational marijuana use. In states with a medical marijuana program, you can apply for a medical marijuana card to purchase marijuana-derived CBD oil from one of the state-licensed dispensaries.
Hemp is legal on the federal level because it contains up to 0.3% THC, which can do anything but produce a psychoactive buzz. In 2018, hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances. Hemp-derived CBD oil can be found over the counter in pharmacies, dispensaries, fitness studios, local health stores, and online. It’s a plant-based supplement, so you don’t need a prescription for it.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Cancer
Researchers agree that cancer patients could benefit from CBD oil to some extent, but there is still much we don’t know about the exact mechanism behind its anti-cancer potential. Therefore, it’s too early to draw any conclusions.
Fortunately, CBD has garnered much attention from the medical community lately, and scientists are willing to further investigate its effects on cancer, its symptoms, and the side effects of chemotherapy. For instance, the Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis is aggressively researching cancer treatment with cannabis extracts, regularly posting their findings on its website.
If you want to try CBD oil to support your well-being during your cancer treatment and ease some of the uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy, consult your doctor about it, and above all, always buy your CBD oil from a reputable source that can provide premium-quality ingredients proven by lab-testing reports.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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