Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018 and is increasingly being prescribed by doctors.
Whilst there is lack of clinical trials available, there are still some great studies available and some amazing user reports. Because of this there's a lot of hype and attention on CBD, which is taking the UK by storm.
CBD is said to help with numerous conditions, as it offers pain relief and has an antidepressant effect.
It makes sense then, given that cancer affects around 1,000 new people a day, that cancer research is also exploring the possible benefits of active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD).
More and more cancer patients are looking to CBD for an alternative therapy when convention medicine has failed them.
Unfortunately, the jury is still out on a full verdict and there is a pressing need for more information. Here we take a look at the existing information related to the use of CBD to alleviate symptoms related to cancer and chemotherapy.
CBD and cancer... in a nutshell
The scientific research available so far has been laboratory research, with mixed results. We do not know if cannabinoids can treat cancer in people. Nevertheless, there are already promising results.
It is, however, thought that CBD could curb the growth of cancer cells and cause the infected cells to die.
The use of CBD is also conceivable against side effects of cancer and cancer treatments such as pain, nausea and depression.
Cannabinoids could be used together with other therapeutic options such as chemotherapy.
Cannabinoids have helped with sickness and pain in some people. Logically then, CBD could help with cancer pain and the effects of chemotherapy.
What is CBD?
First, a short explanation about CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active ingredients of the cannabis plant, more specifically the cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis sativa plant is split into two parts: Marijuana and hemp (also known as industrial hemp).
CBD is just one of many 'cannabinoids'. In fact, there are hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol or 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is another cannabinoid and generally much better known given its intoxicating effects.
The two active substances should not be confused with each other. Although actually, research does show that the two are complementary and increase the effects if taken together. In contrast to THC, CBD does not cause a state of intoxication, does not have psychoactive effects, does not make you "high" and carries no risk of addiction.
According to the WHO, CBD is generally considered safe.
Nevertheless, reports have emerged that CBD can cause liver damage in very high doses. However, many studies and researchers are more concerned with the advantages of cannabinoids, which are said to be helpful in relation to many different diseases.
We already know CBD has been accepted to some extent in the world of medicine. Epidiolex is the only CBD drug available and is used in the treatment of epilepsy for patients aged 1 upwards. This is the first and only FDA (US food and drug administration) approved CBD drug available.
The exact effects of CBD are currently being investigated even more intensively. What we do know, is that it can be said that the active ingredient can have antidepressant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
CBD is being used for a variety of reasons, including:
Pain management, including neuropathic and chronic pain
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
...and many more.
As well for some major ailments, CBD is also being used for general wellness, much like vitamins. It's beneficial effects on the immune system are appealing to those who wish to lead a healthy and natural lifestyle. As well as those who desire an alternative and holistic way to relax and stay calm.
What is cancer?
It's a word we're all familiar with, and, for many of us unfortunately, more familiar that we might like. There are many sources going into the detailed science behind how cancer occurs. We couldn't do the whole subject justice here but we will cover a few fundamental things.
Cancer arises from a change in the genetic material. More specifically, if these changes go wrong or can no longer be repaired and are falsified.
Such changes are influenced, for example, by UV rays, smoking or chemicals. Some people are also more susceptible to cancer due to their heritage.
But chance can also play a role in cancer. With cell division, the genetic material is always doubled and finally distributed to two daughter cells. But this process (or these changes) can lead to errors or mutations in the cells.
These cancer cells can then continue to divide and spread throughout the body. They are also able to penetrate neighbouring tissue and spread further. This spread is called metastasis formation.
What types of cancer are there?
Unfortunately there are many different types of cancer, which of course does not necessarily make research easier. In principle, every organ can be affected by cancer.
Most often, however, the disease occurs in the intestine, lungs, prostate, or in breasts. Colon cancer is also another common form of the illness.
Whether there is a cure and what the chances are, depends on other factors as well as the type of cancer and can therefore not always be answered uniformly.
There are cancers where there is a higher probability of survival, but there are also cancers where the chance of survival is unfortunately very small. For example, prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer.
The prognosis for lung cancer is particularly poor. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 56% for cases that are detected early and still contained within the lungs. Sadly the number of cases detected at this stage is just 16%. Once the cancer has spread to other organ the 5 year survival rate is just 5%
Brain tumours are examined more frequently, even though they occur very rarely. They make up just 2% of cancer.
The location of the tumour in the brain makes this cancer very tricky. An operation can be very dangerous as it involves many significant risks.
The growth of the tumour could also cause extensive damage to the brain. The most malignant tumour in the brain is a glioblastoma. Less than 10% survive the first 5 years since diagnosis, which is a scary and sobering statistic.
How Can CBD Help With Cancer?
Although the number of studies is still very low and certainly cannot be generally applied to every situation, some research has already shown promising effects of cannabidiol (CBD). These will have to be investigated further over time and confirmed in subsequent studies.
For example, there are studies that suggest that CBD may inhibit the growth of leukemia cells, as well as cervical, breast and prostate cancer cells. However, some of these studies have not been performed on humans.
Studies in which cancer cells and metastases have decreased following patients taking CBD are particularly interesting and suggest cannabinoids could be used to trigger cell death (apoptosis) of the diseased cells.
It is also suspected that CBD suppresses and inhibits angiogenesis. This could prevent the formation of new blood vessels and the docking with existing blood vessels and thus steal the nutritional basis for the cancer cells.
Studies on CBD in cancer
But what do the experts say about CBD and the world of oncology? We have found some interesting reports from the research available to us.
A report by scientists from Winchester Hant and London is particularly useful. They examined the effects of synthetic CBD on cancer in humans.
The result showed that CBD could have an effect on cancer cells and improve the patient's condition. 119 patients, most with metastases, participated in this study. A synthetic CBD in oil form (5% concentrate) was administered. One drop of the oil corresponded to approximately 1 mg of synthetic CBD.
The study participants received an average of 10 mg CBD daily. The exact dose was also dependent on the status of the disease and the individual.
The CBD oil was used in cancer patients for at least 6 months. However, some continued to take it afterwards.
The follow-up showed that in some patients the metastases decreased and the spread of the cancer cells was at least slowed down.
However, no effect was found in a few test subjects. Overall, an effect was recorded in 92% of the patients. There were no notable side effects.
As a sombre reminder of the seriousness of cancer, it should be noted that despite the treatment with CBD, 27 patients died during the study, although this isn't attributed to CBD. That is about 23% of all participants.
However, the authors remain optimistic and believe that CBD could be a potential treatment option for people with breast cancer or glioblastoma. However, further studies (especially clinical ones) were also necessary.
An inhibition of glioblastoma growth was also observed in a studyusing both THC and CBD. The more malignant the tumour, the more cannabinoid receptors it forms. So it goes without saying that cannabinoids like THC and CBD can then treat them more strongly through interactions with these receptors.
This result was also confirmed in another study. However, it seems that a mixture of CBD and THC is particularly beneficial for this type of cancer, which of course is tricky whilst THC remains illegal in the UK.
Study participants from the GW Pharmaceuticals group received a spray with 27 mg / ml THC and 25 mg / ml CBD for a certain period of time. Another group of patients, however, was only given the drug TMZ.
While the 1-year survival rate was 44% in the TMZ group, that in the spray group was 83%. A very promising result.
Eventful research is also available in the field of apoptosis, which suggests CBD can manipulate cancer cells to trigger premature cell death. An investigation shows that the not yet decarboxylated form of CBD - the CBDA acid, which we explain more about here - interacts with receptors in the cell nucleus and could thus provoke apoptosis.
Another study reinforces these findings. This study found that the use of CBD resulted in the activation of the apoptotic pathway that can be found in breast cancer cells, which subsequently lead to cancer cell death.
Of course, this raises the justified question of whether CBD will then also kill the other healthy cells. However, as studies in mice and rats show, CBD even protects normal cells from apoptosis, highlighting the idea that cannabinoids only kill tumour cells.
And in addition to this, another study found that breast cancer cells were sensitive to CBD’s anti-cell proliferation effects (i.e. the ability to stop rapid growth) without having a significant effect on healthy cells. Just low amounts of CBD were used in this study.
According to the same study, CBD has shown to inhibit 'migration, invasion, and metastasis in aggressive breast cancer in vivo and in vitro'. These are terms that are used a lot in scientic studies.
In vivo refers to when research using an entire, living organism. For example, animal models or human clinical trials.
In vitro refers to work that takes place outside of a living organism. For example, studying cells.
CBD for frequent complaints from cancer patients
Unfortunately, cancer is very adaptable. It is not only the disease itself that the sufferers must endure but additional side effects that reduce the quality of life of cancer patients. Could CBD help?
Above all, potential relief of pain is available due to the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD. Both the cancer and the treatment can cause the sufferer pain.
Patients often suffer from inflammation, pressure on internal organs or nerve injuries. For this reason, CBD could also be of interest to patients with end-stage cancer.
But even with depression, CBD could be a conceivable alternative to already known agents with stronger side effects.
According to science, CBD could increase serotonin and glutamate levels in the body, causing an increased feeling of happiness.
The anxiolytic effect can be helpful in acute anxiety and calm the patient somewhat. Fear is often a reason why it is harder to fall asleep at night.
With the help of cannabidiol, however, the body could be relaxed a little. According to a report, THC can even help with nightmares.
And what about nausea and vomiting? The CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) could be used here. Studies show that low doses of cannabidiolic acid could be a suitable antidote to alleviating strong nausea.
And mixture of CBD, CBDA and THC is potentially even more effective. This network could be used primarily for chemotherapy.
So if CBD could really at least mitigate and reduce these side effects, the cannabinoid would be an interesting substance for people with end-stage cancer that would provide a little more quality of life.
What side effects can occur when taking CBD?
While CBD is generally considered safe, side effects could nonetheless occur. Compared to other substances, however, these are relatively small.
In addition, CBD could also inhibit appetite. This may be a particular issue alongside cancer treatment, given that cancer patients may already be suffering with similar side effects. It is essential to ensure that there is no significant weight loss as there is a risk of cancer cachexia.
Many patients with advanced cancer undergo a wasting syndrome characterised by anorexia, loss of weight, asthenia, and a poor prognosis, referred to as the cancer anorexia/cachexia syndrome. In defining these terms further, anorexia describes loss of appetite and/or an aversion to food.
It is also important to know that there may be interactions between CBD and other drugs. Example drugs are Omeprazol, Warfarin or Diclofenac. It is therefore advisable to discuss the CBD intake with a doctor or pharmacist in advance.
CBD in combination with other therapies
So CBD seems to be a promising drug for cancer patients. But what about other cancer therapies? Can CBD be combined with these?
For example, it would be conceivable to supplement chemotherapy with CBD. This approach has already been examined more closely by the GW Pharmaceuticals Group.
In one study, patients with a brain tumour were given the drug Sativex, which also contains CBD in addition to THC, whereas another group of patients received only one placebo. There were promising results and the survival rate significantly improved.
The combination of CBD with radiation therapy was also examined in 2017. In this study too, glioblastomas focused on a malignant brain tumour.
The study showed that the CBD could weaken the cancer cells, making them more susceptible to radiation therapy.
This way, cannabinoids like CBD and THC could also increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
"In 2016, at the age of 23 I was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer called 'low grade serous ovarian cancer'. This type of cancer, created massive tumors that would push into my spine and would cause a lot of pain. Over time it got worse. Not only did I have a lot of pain, but I was struggling with inflammation in my stomach (from multiple surgeries), insomnia and PTSD.
When I was battling cancer, I started to use tinctures and gummies from Discover CBD and I noticed almost immediately that the CBD was helping not only with the aches and pains, but it was helping my stomach inflammation and mood. I was able to get a full nights sleep without tossing and turning, and I can’t even begin to describe how it helped my PTSD."
There are substances made for medical use that contain cannabis as an ingredient. An example would be the drug Sativex, which has also been examined in several studies for its behaviour with cancer.
Current medicines that can be issued by doctors are also Dronabinol or Nabilone. They are used to treat cancer-related side effects.
In order to relieve pain, cannabis is now increasingly being sold to some patients in UK on prescription since it's legalisation in 2018. However, there is still some reluctancy from UK doctors to do so.
A gratifying sign for cancer patients can now be seen in the US, where the regulatory authorities are now allowing a shorter approval process for medicines for glioblastomas. According to experts, new drugs could come onto the market as early as 2023.
There are two approved synthetic THC drugs that are being used to treat the effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting.
This is available in the form of a capsule (Marinol) and in tincture form (Syndros) and contains THC.
This is an oral synthetic cannabinoid (Cesamet) that works in a similar way to THC.
Unfortunately, while Nabilone is available in the UK, Dronabinol is not classed as a licensed medicine in this area. We hope to see changes to the availability of medical marijuana as the world of CBD progresses.
CBD as a prevention for cancer?
Some people wonder whether they can or should even use cannabis or CBD to prevent cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States has reviewed and evaluated several studies on this topic.
Unfortunately, the results are somewhat confusing and inconsistent. For example, a study of over 60,000 participants found that cannabis use would not increase the risk of cancer due to tobacco use.
At the same time, however, the same study found that men who smoked cannabis were at greater risk of prostate cancer than men who had never smoked.
So it seems the cannabis smoke is still carcinogenic, so the situation is not entirely clear when inhaling marijuana.
However, taking CBD does not expose the body to the same carcinogens as when smoking. Further studies are needed to be able to answer the role of CBD in the prevention of cancer more precisely.
Because in some studies the risk of lung cancer from smoking and inhaling cannabis increased.
Although promising results have been seen, some studies did show that the risk of lung cancer from smoking and inhaling cannabis increased.
These studies focus on smoking CBD. But there are many other ways to take CBD that does not involve the potential risks of smoking. For example, oils and capsules.
Which CBD products could be suitable for cancer patients?
You should always choose highest quality products available to you - regardless of whether you have cancer or another illness. For example, for CBD oil full-spectrum extracts are often considered best, as you can benefit from other cannabinoids or terpenes in addition to cannabidiol (CBD) and thus obtain an entourage effect (this occurs when cannabinoids work together to enhance the effect of the product).
What does full spectrum mean?
There are three types of CBD, full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate.
Full Spectrum means the product includes multiple cannabinoids - including low amounts of THC.
Broad spectrum is also a mix of cannabinoids, but with no THC
CBD isolate is pure CBD. No other cannabinoids.
Some of the studies presented showed that it can make sense to consume a mixture of CBD and THC. However, THC is only legal for medical purposes in the UK, unlike CBD which is legal.
Over the counter CBD products are only legal if they do not contain THC or other controlled substances. This makes it tricky for patients to get the potential benefit of THC. In Europe and other parts of the world, the legal limit for THC is 0.2%.
So if you want to have THC legally in the UK, you have to get a prescription from a doctor. which you can then redeem in a pharmacy. Medical cannabis is already legal in the UK.
In general, it is certainly good to discuss using CBD with the doctor beforehand. CBD oils, CBD crytsals or CBD liquids may be the most practical ways to take CBD if you decide to. However, the latter is often taken via vaping, which may not be comfortable or advisable for certain kinds of cancers.
Depending on the complaints, you can also use other products. A calming hemp tea is very suitable, for example, before falling asleep or in case of anxiety.
How to use CBD products
If you choose to try CBD oil for cancer, one of the most effective way should be sublingually. This is where the the oil is dropped under the tongue. CBD oil generally comes in tinctures with a dropper, so it's easy to administer.
CBD oil works quickly and is absorbed into the oral mucosa after a few seconds.
A disadvantage of CBD oil, however, is that not everyone likes the taste, which can be quite bitter.
A CBD liquid comes in the vapouriser or in an e-cigarette and is therefore vaped. Here too, rapid absorption through the mucous membranes is guaranteed. But you should be careful if you already have inflammation and injuries in the mouth.
Hemp tea is also particularly practical. You can drink this well before going to bed if you have sleep problems. You just have to brew the CBD tea and let it steep for a while.
The dosage of the CBD products in cancer
There is no uniform dosage recommendation for CBD in cancer. Because everyone is different and reacts differently to CBD. It's worth knowing that you don't have to worry about an overdose.
While some believe that a too low a dose would be of no use (other than a placebo effect), we think that it shouldn't be exaggerated. Rather, you should approach the CBD products slowly and seriously and, in consultation with a doctor or pharmacist, find the right dosage. It is not uncommon for people who aren't feeling a significant effect from CBD, to be more success after lowing the dosage. More does not necessarily mean better in the world of CBD.
Depending on the suffering and degree of illness, a certain number of drops (with CBD oil) is helpful. So the dosage would be much easier.
A drop of 5 percent CBD oil, for example, corresponds to 1.7 mg of CBD, whereas a drop of a 10 percent oil is already 5 mg of CBD.
CBD for animals with cancer
Animals like dogs and cats can get cancer as well as humans. CBD works by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system and plays an important role in many different body processes.
Animals also have such an endocannabinoid system, which is why the substance CBD could also achieve the same or at least similar effects on them.
Consequently, CBD oils could also help animals or their disease by simply relieving the side effects of cancer, such as pain, anxiety and nausea.
The use of CBD in animals with cancer is also supported by the fact that some studies have been carried out on mice or rats and positive effects have also been found here.
Unfortunately, there are still insufficient studies to really say that CBD could be a good alternative to prescribed medication for cancer. However, research is already showing promising results on which one should and must build. It is a positive that CBD is able to be taken alongside current cancer treatments.
We are by no means saying that CBD cures cancer. However, there is evidence that CBD can be used in relation to cancer and that it can help relieve the side effects or side effects of cancer.
It would be conceivable for patients to regain a little quality of life if their suffering from pain, anxeity of nausea is alleviated.
Even if there is at least a small chance that CBD will promote the killing of cancer cells or that chemo and radiation therapies could be more effective, research should continue.
Unfortunately, many scientists are still put off by the taboo status of cannabis in society and fear the damage to their reputation.
Our success stories come from social media, other CBD websites or through people we know personally. Some people are comfortable sharing their names and products, others prefer to remain anonymous. We feel hearing other people's positive experiences are a vital part of learning about how CBD can help, although it is important to remember that not all CBD products work the same for everyone. Don't be disheartened if one product/dosage doesn't work for you... keep trying!
We'd love to hear your success stories! If you would like to share yours, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Landon Riddle was only 2 when he was diagnosed with leukemia, and was given only an 8% chance of living.
Landon’s Mum Sierra turned to CBD as a last resort. In an amazing turn of events Landon improved dramatically just after a few weeks and quickly went into remission.
Doctors told Sierra that the disease would return without chemotherapy, but given the harm the chemo was causing Landon, coupled with how well CBD had been working, it was decided to continue purely with CBD.
Landon is now 10 years old and doing phenomenally well!
His story is discussed in this video where Dr. Gupta explains, “The chemo made him violently ill. He was in intense pain, he suffered nerve damage in his legs, and he went 25 days without eating.”
Sharon Kelly was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small lung cancer in January 2014.
Her condition was deemed terminal, although it was discovered that an oral chemotherapeutic drug called Tarceva could potentially extend her life. With the drug, she was given 6 to 9 months to live.
Sharon discovered that cannabis oil could potentially save her life, and began using it along with Tarceva in February 2014. She was able to increase her intake by adding cannabis suppositories as well. The combination of treatments proved very potent, and by 3 September, 2014, a scan showed Sharon was cancer free.
In February 2015, medical tests indicated cancer cells had reemerged in Sharon’s lungs. This recurrence is much smaller compared to the original tumors Sharon had, and she is using aggressive cannabis extract therapy to once again beat the cancer.
Her experience has made her one of the most powerful activists in the Australian medicinal cannabis community.
Stan Rutner fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma successfully back in the 1980s using conventional treatments.Unfortunately, the cancer returned in 2011, attacking his lungs and brain.
Chemotherapy and radiation failed this time around, and Stan was put in a hospice. As a last resort, he began ingesting cannabis-infused coconut oil to help with pain.
The effects were dramatic, and Stan eventually added in larger doses of high-THC and high-CBD oil. By early 2013, Stan was completely cancer free.
His son-in-law and daughter, John and Corinne Malanca, started United Patients Group as a way to help other people facing cancer.
Watch the video that goes into detail about how CBD helped Stan.
The world is slowly beginning to realise the benefits of CBD. Human studies remain in their infancy but the results so far are extremely promising, and the success stories we are hearing are beyond inspiring.
We think CBD is amazing and we've made it our goal to provide you with the best possible information and feedback to help you decide if CBD is right for you. For our content, we research and evaluate the latest studies and sources from the multiple sources in the US and the UK.