Cancer is a blanket term for a collection of diseases. Its something thats affected virtually all of us at some point, and roughly 40% of us will encounter it at some point in our lives personally. The common link between cancers is the unregulated division of your bodily cells that eventually spread and invade other tissues in your body and can cause widespread symptoms leading to death, especially if it metastasizes (spreads to multiple other parts of your body). The symptoms vary massively based on the type of cancer however general ones include mild to chronic pain, fatigue, weight loss and nausea.
It’s horrible stuff to witness to a loved one or to experience yourself, and chemotherapy can just as taxing.
Everyone Has Heard A “Miracle Cure Story” By Now
You hear it all the time on the “news” – someone with terminal cancer takes CBD or cannabis oil and suddenly recovers completely from near death! There’s a lot of this type of anecdotal evidence surrounding CBD, and while it’s great that some people are claiming to receive these huge benefits from CBD (and we should celebrate anyone’s recovery to good health!), we’re all about that science around here and some semblance of scientific proof.
Because of the residual stigma about CBD and other cannabinoids, research with real meaningful large study samples is still in the process of ramping up, and we’ve only got animal or cell studies for now.
CBD Has Been Shown To Possess Anti-Tumorigenic Activity
Studies such as this one have shown that CBD was shown to prevent an invasion of human cervical cancer cells and human lung cancer cells. The researchers suggested the suspected mechanism in the paper, called TIMP-1, but if you want to read about that in the link you’re welcome to (it’s a bit heavy on the science). While this was a study looking at cells rather than a study using human patients, the method used is a Matrigel invasion assay, which is a fancy experiment that can closely mimic the environments found within a living system.
Other studies have linked CBD to interacting with other receptors in different cancers, with respect to how they metastasize (spread to other places in the body). There’s a review of the different mechanisms found by research if you’re interested in further information here.
In 2016, researchers in Israel looked at the effect of THC & CBD treatment for Neuroblastoma, one of the most common solid cancers in children. Results found that CBD was able to slow down growth of neuroblastoma cells more so than THC, while also reducing the invasiveness of the tumour cells. CBD was also shown to induce apoptosis in the neuroblastoma cells (apoptosis is a scientific term for causing the cells to die in a controlled safe way). In other words, it’s looking good for further research into this area (so watch this space!).
The ‘Entourage Effect’
In late 2018, a paper published named “Appraising the “entourage effect”: Antitumor action of a pure cannabinoid versus a botanical drug preparation in preclinical models of breast cancer” compared the antitumour effect between a pure THC extract and what they called a “botanical drug preparation” (BDP) which basically is a crude extract that containing cannabinoids and terpenes alongside THC. They tested both these compounds on multiple types of breast cancer (ER+/PR+, HER2+ & triple negative breast cancer).
While both oils were shown to possess anti-tumoral activity, they found that the impure BDP showed a much more potent effect that just pure THC for all three types of cancer! The paper goes on to mention the importance of the “entourage effect” for the improved effectiveness of a artisanal cannabis extract with multiple cannabinoids, however stating that this effect is much more complex than we know yet, and we have a long ways to go to fully understand how far and wide this effect goes.
Sidenote: Since inception, Nordic Botanics have used a Broad Spectrum extract: An arbitrary marketing term created by consensus amongst the Cannabis industry. It means CBD + “As many Other Legal Cannabinoids” (such as CBG) but minus the THC (or CBN – a psychoactive cannabinoid common in Cannabis Hash, also illegal in the UK and many other countries).
Other benefits & The Mechanism Behind Them …
CBD has effects on your whole endocannabinoid system (ECS) – it’s a whole body messenger system that can control the normal functioning of your body! It’s proven to interact with the CB2 receptors in your ECS to help regulate the body in numerous ways that can improve quality of life if you’re undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from harsh side effects (such as break-through pain).
Here’s some ways it can help below:
- Helps improve your sleep: We talk about how CBD can help improve your sleep here, but for a quick rundown. CBD can help increase melatonin levels at night. Melatonin is regarded as the sleepy hormone, it prepares your body for shutting down. If you’re struggling with getting to sleep at night due to restlessness, CBD can help you chill out and improve the general quality of your sleep too!
- Can help relieve anxiety and stress: Leading on from the point before, CBD has been proven to lower cortisol levels in humans. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and it’s what keeps your body awake at night if you can’t turn off, and is raised when your feeling anxious or stressed. Excess cortisol causes the breakdown of muscle tissue and can cause further weight loss as well as multiple other problems such as raised blood pressure.
- CBD can relieve pain & inflammation: CBD and its entourage effect has been shown to reduce inflammation & pain in the body, without the side effects or psychoactive qualities of opioid painkillers, and avoids any gut-related problems associated with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. CBD has been shown to inhibit pain at the source rather than interfering with your brains pain reception and can also help reduce any swelling or pain in the joints.
While some drugs exist at the moment using cannabinoid extracts, CBD is yet to be licensed or approved for treatment of any illnesses. The benefits of CBD have been shown in some research but it’s still being fully understood. If you are looking to supplement with CBD extracts for assistance of side effects from chemotherapy or cancer always consult your doctor beforehand. We’re just exploring the current state of research here.