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CBD for Cancer: Everything You Need to Know

— July 5, 2019

Controversial or not, there is mounting evidence that medical marijuana has remarkable health benefits. This is particularly true with CBD for cancer.

With its many health benefits, marijuana or cannabis is becoming more and more popular in the natural medicine industry. Two of its active cannabinoid components, cannabidiol, which is also known as CBD, and delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, have been subjects of several medicinal studies over a period of time. CBD for cancer is a growing area, too.

These studies have found a link between cannabis and the human endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system, which contains receptors that bind with the cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana, is responsible for regulating a variety of physiological and psychological processes in the human body. 

With the presence of receptors and endocannabinoids in the central nervous system, cognitive and physical activities are greatly influenced. THC and CBD have a different impact on both significant receptors, which are CB1 and CB2. 

While THC alleviates nausea, pain, and inflammation, CBD can also reduce inflammation and nausea without that “high” feeling that’s usually present with THC use. In addition, aside from being a beauty regimen and a relief for premenstrual and menopausal symptoms in women, there have been discussions that CBD can also help in the treatment of cancer. 

CBD and Its Effects on Cancer 

The National Cancer Institute has conducted a review on a number of studies about the connection between CBD and cancer, but came up with different results. In a survey conducted by the Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and Oakland, it showed that 64,855 cannabis users didn’t increase the likelihood of having tobacco-related cancers. In that same research study, it revealed that marijuana users have a greater increased risk of prostate cancer than tobacco smokers.

Laboratory worker examining petri dish containing pink substance; image by Drew Hays, via
Laboratory worker examining petri dish containing pink substance; image by Drew Hays, via

Moreover, the 2015 California Men’s Health Study also showed that cannabis users have a 45% lower incidence of bladder cancer. In the 2012 research done by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, it stated that cannabinoids have proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects that intervene in the formation of tumors as well as in the migration, invasion, and metastasization of cancer cells. Furthermore, some studies also revealed the benefits of medical marijuanas for cancer patients as follows:

  • Eases Nausea and Vomiting

Smoking cannabis helps in reducing the severity of the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting. In fact, marijuana compounds like dronabinol and nabilone have been approved by the Food and Drug Authority to treat such symptoms. 

  • Alleviates Neuropathy

Neuropathy is an effect of cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy. As a peripheral nerve dysfunction, neuropathy includes numbness, weakness, and pain. A few studies show that using marijuana can help manage neuropathy conditions and relieve their symptoms. 

  • Improves Appetite

Along with nausea and vomiting during cancer treatments, a lot of cancer patients also complain about losing their appetite. 

While the FDA only approves dronabinol for the treatment of appetite loss in patients with AIDS, some other researches show that when CBD and other cannabinoids are ingested to a cancer patient’s bloodstream, these can also boost their appetite. 

  • Relieves Pain

Cancer itself is painful. Add it up with chemotherapy and other treatments, and the pain would almost be unbearable. The more severe the pain caused by inflammation, the more the body becomes resistant to pain relievers. Even the most potent pain reliever, opioids, would lose its effectiveness. 

CBD works differently than opioids as it acts on the cannabinoid receptor type 2 or CB2 present in the peripheral tissues of the immune system. This hemp-based compound fights against inflammation, which would consequently remedy the pain felt by cancer patients. 

Final Thoughts

There are ongoing debates on the therapeutic effects of marijuana on health issues. While some claims are still controversial, cannabidiol has been recommended for its favorable effects in a number of pathological conditions which include cancer. 

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