Can CBD Really Cure Cancer?

The use of cannabidiol, in the form of extract or CBD oil, has attracted great attention in recent years thanks to its potential therapeutic properties, especially for the management of complications and symptoms attached to different types of cancer. Day by day researchers have a clearer picture of the potential and also the limitations of CBD oils.

CBD in Cancer TreatmentUse of CBD for Cancer Management

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid without psychotropic activity that exerts part of its effects through the modulation of different components within the Endocannabinoid System. In general, it is very common to find articles or publications suggesting that the use of cannabinoids, especially CBD, have the ability to "cure" diseases of this type.

While these types of headlines can attract a lot of attention to drive research and collective interest, they can also have the opposite effect: they can mislead readers about the progress in research and the use of these compounds, by exaggerating the report of results, misinterpretation or omission of key information.

Therefore, it is crucial to analyse both the content and the sources of these reports, and in this way to separate the noise from the relevant and valuable information.

The Beginning Of Cancer

All life begins with a fertilized egg, whose cells divide again and again. This process of cell growth is an intrinsic part of the life of every human being, which must be meticulously regulated to ensure proper development of tissues and organs.

Once we reach adulthood, a large part of our cells stop this division process, however, other types of cells must follow this path to ensure the replacement of inefficient cells (i.e. blood cells, skin and intestine). Unfortunately, spontaneous mutations in one or more of our genes result in inadequate functioning in the cell cycle regulation machinery, in other words, an excessive growth occurs without cell control, forming malignant tumours.

This phenomenon is known as Cancer.

It is important to mention that the great majority of mutations that cause cancer are due to external factors acting on genes and tumour suppressor genes.

  • Physical or chemical agents called carcinogens.
  • Ultraviolet, gamma, nuclear and possibly electromagnetic radiation.
  • Various viruses, including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) or herpes.

What We Know About Experimental Models

First of all, in order to know the context in which the results have been obtained, it is necessary to recognize the model of study implemented; it is necessary to look under what conditions CBD oil has been used for its investigation. There are a lot of reports using animal models: mice, rats or even more complex mammals such as pigs, as well as tumour cell lines in vitro.

After results are obtained within these models, CBD properties are reported, such as to reduce the proliferation of tumour cells, induction of apoptosis (cell death) and interference in the metastasis process. These results are quite encouraging, however, we must remember that human subjects tend to be more complex, both at the molecular and genetic levels.

What Interests Us: Human Trials And The Effect Of CBD

Secondly, and more relevant to us, are the clinical trials with human patients. Professor Guzmán - Universidad Complutense de Madrid - developed the first clinical trial in Spain to analyse the antitumor effect of cannabinoids in patients with advanced glioblastoma; 8 out of 9 patients showed some positive response in decreasing the growth rate of tumours, 1 showed no effect at all. It is interesting to note that no adverse effects were reported during the development of this study.

Many doctors continue to see cannabinoids as drugs of abuse, this, plus the volume of "paperwork" and the low commercial interest of natural components that cannot be patented make research and information limited. - Guzman, PhD

Added to this, we find anecdotal reports about patients and family members attesting to the effectiveness of CBD extracts and oils to reduce and control both symptoms and adverse effects in different diseases. These include a total recovery of appetite and weight gain, considerable pain reduction, cessation of hair loss, calm of nausea and even the 'complete' destruction of cancer cells.

To increase the interest of researchers to promote unconventional therapies based on CBD extracts and oils, it is crucial to educate both physicians and patients about the potential and also the limitations related to these compounds.

Please, visit Medical Marijuana for more information on CBD research.

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  1. Cannabidiol as Potential Anticancer Drug, Paola Massim Marta Solinas, Valentina Cinquina, Daniela Parolaro. Departamento de Farmacología, Quimioterapia y Toxicología, Universidad de Milan, 2012
  2. Cannabinoid Receptors as Novel Targets for the Treatment of Melanoma, Blazquez C, Carracedo A, Barrado L, Real PJ, 2006
  3. Cannabinoids in Cancer Pain, Franjo Grotenhermen. Nova-Institut, Alemania, 2010
  4. Cannabinoids: Potential Antitumoral Agents?, Manuel Guzmán. Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España, 2006
  5. The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy, Pacher P, Batkal S, Kunos G, 2006