The use of cannabis to treat symptoms associated with a cancer diagnosis has been around for decades and is what started the original push to legalize marijuana. New evidence is emerging that one of the most important cannabinoids found in cannabis – cannabidiol (CBD) – is responsible for many of the symptom-relieving effects of cannabis. Since cannabis is still illegal in many places, while CBD extract is legal and widely available, it is important to consider the evidence that CBD can provide relief for many of the symptoms associated with having cancer.
Why Does Chemotherapy Have So Many Side Effects?
The term chemotherapy refers to any drug that prevents cancer cells from dividing and growing. Although investigative strides are being made in creating drugs that target only cancer cells, a lot of chemotherapy drugs still in common use target all dividing cells, whether cancerous or normal. Cancer cells divide far more often and rapidly than normal cells, hence the reason chemotherapy drugs have typically targeted and killed dividing cells. But there are some other normal cell populations in your body that also divide very frequently – including blood cells, hair and skin cells, and cells lining the digestive tract. Most chemotherapy side effects are due to the death of these rapidly dividing normal cells. For example, hair loss occurs when the cells that divide to create hair are killed. Anemia and immunosuppression can be caused by the targeting of stem cells that rapidly divide to create new red blood cells and white blood cells. Nausea and vomiting can be caused by the effects on the rapidly dividing cells lining the intestinal tract. As research continues into finding new medications that can target cancer cells and cancer cells only, we should see a decrease in the number of side effects that accompany chemotherapy.
Unfortunately there haven’t been any human clinical studies using just CBD alone, but studies of THC-CBD combinations have yielded some interesting results. Sativex (nabixmols) is a prescription THC:CBD (in approximately a 1-to-1 ratio) oral spray that is frequently used to treat cancer-related pain. Clinical studies have shown that cancer patients treated with THC/CBD mixtures show superior pain relief that patients treated with just THC, suggesting that CBD is the key ingredient for cancer-related pain relief.
CBD has also been shown to be very effective with anticipatory nausea. Anticipatory nausea is nausea that occurs in anticipation of chemotherapy treatment, and is a condition that is very difficult to treat in patients undergoing longer-term chemotherapy. So the ability of CBD to help reduce this nausea could be a big benefit to cancer patients.
CBD also has great promise as an anti-tumor compound which can help to stop of the spread of cancer (metastasis). There is quite a bit of evidence that CBD inhibits cancer cell migration, adhesion, and invasion, making it a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread. You can read more about the anti-cancer effects of CBD by clicking the blue button above.
CBD’s ability to inhibit a multitude of cancer types appears to be due to its ability to block CB1 receptors. Cancer cells (for unknown reasons) have a lot of CB1 receptors. Since THC binds to and activates CB1 receptors, THC can potentially stimulate tumor growth, while CB1 blockers, like CBD, can potentially inhibit tumor growth. This evidence highlights the importance of pure CBD extract versus medical marijuana which contains both CBD and THC. Luckily, you can purchase CBD extract from Wai Natural which is guaranteed to be THC-free!