You may also be wondering if CBD is legal in your area. Some states allow the sale and possession of cannabis, including CBD and THC, for medical and recreational use. Others have stricter regulations, so state-by-state laws should always be learned before transporting CBD across state lines. Things are more complicated at the federal level. In 2018, the U.S. government recognized that hemp can be grown and manufactured legally as part of the Farm Act. Hemp can be used to make things like rope and clothing, in addition to CBD oil. In other words, hemp is no longer a controlled substance, which means it is not regulated by the government. This means that consumers have to evaluate the safety and quality of CBD products on their own. Some CBD, for example, may have much higher levels of THC than what is labeled.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It has been touted in some online forums as an alternative treatment, and even a cure, for many illnesses, including cancer. And, some people with cancer say that CBD has helped them as a complementary therapy in managing their symptoms and side effects from standard cancer treatment.
There is currently 1 CBD treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called Epidiolex, which is used to treat a rare and severe form of epilepsy in children. There are not currently any FDA-approved CBD medications for treating cancer or side effects of cancer treatments.
Can CBD help people with cancer?
There have been some studies that show that CBD, alone or together with THC, may relieve pain, insomnia, or anxiety, but these studies were not specific to people with cancer. While no studies to date have shown that CBD eases these side effects specifically in people with cancer or people receiving cancer treatment, some people with cancer have reported benefits in taking CBD, such as helping with nausea, vomiting, depression, and other side effects. According to ASCO guidelines, your doctor may consider prescribing cannabinoids for chronic pain management if you live in a state where it is legal. However, ASCO guidelines state that there is not enough evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for preventing nausea and vomiting in people with cancer receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Yet there’s very little research around CBD and its use in treating people with cancer. Here’s what to know about what CBD is and what science currently shows about whether it’s safe and effective for people with cancer to use.
Studies to answer this question are underway. Some scientists are studying whether CBD could relieve some of the side effects of cancer and its treatment, such as pain, insomnia, anxiety, or nausea. Other scientists are studying whether CBD could potentially slow or stop the growth of cancer.
CBD comes from cannabis plants called hemp that are specifically grown with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. Cannabis plants grown with high levels of THC are usually called marijuana. CBD comes from oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant. That oil can then be ingested as a liquid, a capsule, a gummy, or inhaled through vaping. It can also be added as an ingredient in such products as lotions and skin patches.
Newton-John is organizing a auction of some of her memorabilia (including her famous Grease leather jacket and pants) to raise money for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. Besides caring for cancer patients, the institute has been involved in about 200 clinical trials.
In addition to hormone suppression therapy (via estrogen receptor blockade), Newton-John has continued to use complementary treatments including herbs, marijuana, and mindfulness/meditation therapy.
— The singer and actress updates fans on her battle, but can marijuana help?
“The back pain that initially caused her to postpone the first half of her concert tour, has turned out to be breast cancer that has metastasized to the sacrum. In addition to natural wellness therapies, Olivia will complete a short course of photon [sic] radiation therapy and is confident she will be back later in the year, better than ever, to celebrate her shows.”
Anxiety and Sleep
There are a few studies done in mice, rats, and in vitro human cancer cell lines, that suggest that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis invasion and metastasis.
“I researched a lot and felt satisfied with my course of treatment. It was sort of an East meets West approach. I meditated every day, did yoga, and homeopathy, ate well — I boosted my inner strength as much as I could. When bad thoughts came in, I pushed them right out.”
To investigate the effect of THC, CBD, and cannabis extracts on hematopoiesis after BMT in vivo, we utilized a syngeneic transplantation model ( Figure 1A ). Mice underwent lethal whole-body irradiation and were reconstituted with donor bone marrow cells. The cannabinoid treatments were administered intraperitoneally (IP) from the day of transplantation, every other day, for 2 weeks. Once a week, blood was collected for complete blood counts. Surprisingly, all treatments—and especially THC—inhibited lymphocyte reconstitution after transplantation ( Figure 1B ). Only the high-THC extract improved platelet rehabilitation ( Figure 1C ). Indeed, using knockout mice as donors, we have demonstrated that the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), known to be activated by THC, has an inhibitory effect on post-transplant recovery of blood lymphocytes ( Figure 2 ).
McKallip et al. demonstrated, in a murine model of breast cancer, that the phyto-cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) promotes growth of cancer cells and metastasis by suppression of the anti-tumor immune response.18 One group demonstrated enhanced tumor growth in THC-treated immune-competent mice but not in immune-incompetent mice in models of lung cancer,19 while another group showed inhibition of tumor growth by synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists in both immune-competent mice and immune-incompetent mice, in a model of melanoma xenograft.20 In an ex vivo experiment, Zgair et al. showed that both phytocannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and THC have anti-proliferative effects on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) isolated from patients on chemotherapy regimens to treat non-seminomatous germ cell tumors, which were comparable to the effect on PBMCs from healthy volunteers.16
CANNABIS AND IMMUNITY IN HEMATOPOIETIC STEM CELL TRANSPLANTATION
The Role of CB2 in Lymphocyte Recovery.
A: Syngeneic BMT from CB2 KO donor mice to C57BL/6 WT mice. Average lymphocyte counts at different time points (left) and counts on day 21 after transplantation (right). *** P<0.0001. B: Syngeneic BMT from C57BL/6 WT donor mice to CB2 KO mice. Average lymphocyte counts at different time points (left) and counts on day 21 after transplantation (right). C: Model: CB2 has an inhibitory effect on post-transplant rehabilitation of blood lymphocytes. The WT graft rehabilitation will be delayed by endo- (ECS) and/or phyto-cannabinoid (THC) signaling (red T-bars) through CB2. Since the knockout graft does not express CB2, this inhibition is removed. Modified from Figure 5 in Khuja et al.17; reused under creative commons license (CC BY 4.0).
A: Recipient BALB/c mice (R) received lethal whole-body irradiation and were reconstituted with 8×10 6 donor C57BL/6 (D) bone marrow cells and 2×10 6 spleen cells. Cannabis/cannabinoids were administered IP every other day, for 2 weeks from the day of transplantation. The clinical condition of the mice was evaluated for up to 67 days after transplantation. B: Survival curve THC and CBD, pure cannabinoids treated groups; THC BDS and CBD BDS, cannabis extracts treated groups. C: Average GVHD score THC and CBD, pure cannabinoids treated groups; THC BDS and CBD BDS, cannabis extracts treated groups. Modified from Figure 6 in Khuja et al.17; reused under creative commons license (CC BY 4.0).