Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that has been gaining popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits, especially for cancer. CBD has been studied extensively for its potential to prevent and reverse tumours, and numerous scientific studies have shown promising results in the use of CBD for cancer.

CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various physiological processes, including pain, mood, and immune function. By binding to specific receptors in the ECS, CBD modulates the release of neurotransmitters, which can have a direct effect on the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. CBD has been shown to have antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic, and anti-metastatic effects, meaning that it can reduce the growth, spread, and migration of cancer cells.

How does CBD act against cancer?

CBD exerts its antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic, and anti-metastatic effects through various mechanisms of action in the body.

One mechanism is through the interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a system of receptors and neurotransmitters that regulate various physiological processes, including pain, mood, and immune function. CBD binds to specific receptors in the ECS, such as the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which can modulate the release of neurotransmitters and affect the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.

Another mechanism is through the regulation of signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis. CBD has been shown to inhibit the activation of the pro-survival protein kinase B (Akt) and the pro-survival nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signaling pathways, which are involved in the survival and growth of cancer cells. CBD also activates the pro-apoptotic caspase-3 signaling pathway, which triggers programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells.

CBD has also been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which can promote the growth and spread of cancer cells. Additionally, CBD has been shown to suppress angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that can provide a source of nutrients and oxygen to cancer cells, which can aid in the spread of cancer.

One study, published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2007, showed that CBD can induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human breast cancer cells in vitro. Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2015, found that CBD administration reduced the size of lung tumors in mice. In a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2011, CBD was shown to reduce the growth of glioma (a type of brain cancer) cells in vitro and in vivo.

In addition to these in vitro and in vivo studies, there have also been several human case studies that support the use of CBD for cancer. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in 2018 reported that a patient with advanced stage ovarian cancer experienced significant improvement in symptoms, including pain, after receiving CBD oil. Another case study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016, reported that a patient with refractory leukemia achieved complete remission after treatment with a combination of CBD and THC.

Furthermore, a systematic review and meta-analysis of preclinical, animal, and human studies published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology in 2019 found that CBD has a favorable safety profile and can have an anti-tumor effect, particularly in breast and brain cancer. The authors of the study concluded that CBD may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of cancer, but more research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms of action and its effects in humans.

Does CBD help with chemotherapy?

CBD has shown promise as a potential complementary therapy for individuals undergoing chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, vomiting, pain, and fatigue, which can impact a patient’s quality of life.

Studies have shown that CBD may have potential as an antiemetic, meaning that it may help to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. In one study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2011, patients with advanced cancer undergoing chemotherapy reported reduced nausea and an improvement in quality of life after taking CBD.

CBD has also been shown to have potential as an analgesic, meaning that it may help to relieve pain. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2015, patients with advanced cancer reported a significant reduction in pain after taking CBD.

CBD has also been shown to have potential as a neuroprotectant, meaning that it may help to protect the nervous system and reduce the risk of nerve damage associated with chemotherapy.

The use of CBD for individuals undergoing chemotherapy is still in the early stages of research, and more studies are needed to fully understand its safety and efficacy. 

Formulations and Concentrations for Effect

The most effective CBD formulations and concentrations for cancer treatment have not been definitively established, as more research is needed to fully understand the optimal use of CBD for this purpose. However, several studies have investigated the use of various CBD formulations and concentrations for cancer treatment.

One study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2015, used a sublingual spray with a CBD concentration of 2.5 mg/kg per day in mice with lung cancer. The study found that the CBD treatment reduced the size of the tumours.

Another study, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in 2018, used a CBD oil with a concentration of 20% in a patient with advanced stage ovarian cancer. The patient reported significant improvement in symptoms, including pain.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016 reported the use of a combination of CBD and THC in a patient with refractory leukemia. The THC:CBD ratio was not specified in the study.

As with any treatment, it is important to consult a healthcare provider to determine if CBD is appropriate and to discuss the potential risks and benefits. A healthcare provider may also be able to provide guidance on the most appropriate dose and route of administration for one’s individual needs.

Are there any side effects from taking CBD for cancer?

CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, but some side effects have been reported in some individuals. The most common side effects of taking CBD for cancer include:

  1. Dizziness: CBD can cause lightheadedness or a feeling of dizziness in some individuals, particularly when taken in high doses.
  2. Dry mouth: CBD can cause a decrease in saliva production, leading to dry mouth.
  3. Diarrhea: CBD can cause digestive upset in some individuals, leading to diarrhea.
  4. Changes in appetite and weight: CBD can affect appetite and weight in some individuals, leading to either an increase or decrease in appetite and changes in weight.
  5. Fatigue: CBD can cause fatigue or drowsiness in some individuals, particularly when taken in high doses.

It is important to note that these side effects are typically mild and short-lived, and most individuals do not experience any significant adverse effects from taking CBD. However, if any significant or persistent side effects are experienced from taking CBD, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider.

Additionally, CBD can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, anti-epileptic drugs, and antidepressants, so it is important to inform a healthcare provider when taking any medications before taking CBD.

Does CBD interact with drugs for cancer?

CBD can interact with some drugs used for cancer treatment. This interaction can either increase or decrease the concentration of these drugs in the bloodstream, which can affect their safety and efficacy.

For example, CBD can interact with certain chemotherapy drugs, such as taxanes and anthracyclines, by affecting the metabolism of these drugs through the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. This interaction can decrease the concentration of these drugs in the bloodstream, reducing their effectiveness.

Additionally, CBD can interact with some drugs used to treat cancer-related symptoms, such as pain, nausea, and vomiting. For example, CBD can increase the concentration of certain drugs used to treat pain, such as opioids, in the bloodstream, potentially increasing their side effects.

Again, a healthcare provider may need to adjust the dose or recommend a different medication to avoid any potential interactions.

The potential for interactions between CBD and drugs used for cancer treatment highlights the importance of closely monitoring and communicating with a healthcare provider when using CBD. A healthcare provider may also be able to provide guidance on suitable dosing and administration.

In conclusion, CBD has shown promising results in the prevention and reversal of tumours in various studies and case reports. The scientific evidence supports the use of CBD for cancer, although more research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms of action and its effects in humans. It is important to note that CBD should not be used as a sole treatment for cancer and should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

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