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CBD and Cancer

Cancer can be most broadly defined as a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. There are over 100 types of cancer, with the most common in industrialized nations being lung, breast, prostate, and colon/rectal. While cannabis is known for treating symptoms related to cancer and its treatment—like nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, pain, and insomnia—there is mounting evidence that it can play an adjunctive role in fighting it as well. And by adjunctive, we mean that cannabis and CBD can provide therapeutic benefit or synergistic value to current medical treatment, not that traditional treatments should be replaced with cannabis.

Initial research with CBD shows promising results for various forms of cancer, such as bladder, brain, breast, colon, endocrine, leukemia, lung, and skin cancers. While better quality research is needed (and this can never be overemphasized!), a 2013 evidence review concluded that cannabinoids work to reduce tumor size and interfere with cancer cell migration, adhesion, invasion, and metastasization.1 CBD specifically has been shown to stop the proliferation of new cancer cells.2 In a 2012 study, it was shown that CBD can prevent angiogenesis, an important mechanism by which tumors promote the formation of new arteries and veins to provide them with oxygen and nutrients.72 And a recent study showed that CBD can also increase the efficacy of antitumor drugs.3

The synergies between CBD and THC have also been demonstrated,4 as have the importance of terpenes, flavonoids, and other active compounds in cannabis for treating cancer. A 2013 study showed that a spectrum of cannabinoids was more effective for treating leukemia, for example.5

This story is from Esther, age 49, who was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.

“After researching and learning online about CBD and THC for advanced breast cancer, I reached out to Eileen Konieczny to find out more. Because of her years of knowledge and experience as an oncology nurse and her role as an advocate for CBD/THC, I trust her information.

I went through the process of getting a medical cannabis card and began taking daily doses of two tinctures; one was high in THC and the other was a combination of THC and CBD in a 1:4 ratio. I began this in October 2016, alongside my traditional allopathic treatments, and I am so glad I did! My quality of life is greatly improved with this healing medicine. I feel great!

To date, I seem to tolerate chemotherapy quite well whether or not I’m on these tinctures, but since incorporating them into my routine, I notice many important, positive differences in my constitution: My appetite went from practically nonexistent to actually feeling hunger, desiring food, and enjoying eating reasonably sized portions. I’m maintaining my weight, which helps keep my system stronger and more stable during chemotherapy. The pain from treatments and recovery from procedures has been reduced. I haven’t used pain medicine since I started the tinctures.

Nighttime has transformed from disruptive wake-ups to sleeping solidly until my alarm sounds. My body feels centered and aligned, not scattered and out of sync. My energy stays up during the day. I am active and able to accomplish tasks I set out to do without fear of falling apart by early afternoon. My mood is generally elevated because I’m not frustrated by physical symptoms. My oncology caregivers seem surprised that I consistently report feeling so well, considering the harshness and frequency of my treatments. Because of the easeful adjustment of my body to these tinctures, I plan to continue taking them indefinitely. I am curious to see longer term effects through upcoming PET and CT scans versus symptom management.”

  1. Paola Massi et al., “Cannabidiol as Potential Anticancer Drug,” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 75 no. 2 (2013): 303–12, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04298.x.
  2. Massi, “Cannabidiol as Potential Anticancer Drug,” 303–12.
  3. M. Solinas et al., “Cannabidiol Inhibits Angiogenesis by Multiple Mechanisms,” British Journal of Pharmacology 167, no. 6 (2012): 1218–31, doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02050.x.
  4. A.I. Fraguas-Sanchez, A. Fernandez-Carballido, and A.I. Torres-Suarez, “Phyto-, endo-, and synthetic cannabinoids: promising chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of breast and prostate carcinomas,” Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs 25, no. 11 (2016): 1311-1323, doi:10.1080/13543784.2016.1236913.
  5. Sean D. McAllister, Liliana Soroceanu, and Pierre-Yves Desprez, “The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids,” Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology 10, no. 2 (2015): 255–67, doi:10.1007/s11481-015-9608-y.
  6. Katherine Ann Scott et al., “Enhancing the Activity of Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids In Vitro Through Modifications to Drug Combinations and Treatment Schedules,” Anticancer Research 33, no. 10 (2013): 4373–80.