Anecdotal, preclinical, and clinical evidence attest to the broad protective role of our endocannabinoid system in preventing and suppressing chronic illnesses like cancer. Large randomized controlled trials and peer-reviewed studies across the world have shown that cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc) are effective for relieving some common symptoms of cancer, including pain, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, & sleep.
Pre-clinical animal trials have produced promising data, revealing the ability of cannabinoids to selectively kill tumor cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed in a variety of cancer types. However, any anti-tumor effects appear to be largely dependent on cancer cell type and the potency and ratio of the different cannabinoids, primarily THC and CBD. It has become clear that cannabinoids can effectively alter the development of a cancer cells life cycle, from its formation, proliferation to its death. This is why it is CRUCIAL to remove the clinical research barriers surrounding cannabis in the U.S. so that more studies may begin to apply these pre-clinical findings to our own physiology and start to create standards for dosing recommendations for specific types of cancer.
According to a report in Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, cannabinoids “represent a new class of anticancer drugs that retard cancer growth, inhibit angiogenesis [the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor] and the metastatic spreading of cancer cells.”
Key Research Findings
Learn more from the mounting evidence below:
The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. (2017)
- This report rigorously reviewed over 10,000 scientific studies and concluded that: “In adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, oral cannabinoids are effective antiemetics.”
- “Cannabis is useful in combatting anorexia, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, and depression. Cannabis might be less potent than other available antiemetics, but for some patients, it is the only agent that works, and it is the only antiemetic that also increases appetite.”
- “Patients with malignant disease, at all points of their disease trajectory, could be candidates for cannabinoid therapies whether as monotherapies or as adjuvants.”
- “A large body of evidence suggests that cannabinoids affect multiple signalling pathways involved in the development of cancer, displaying an anti‐proliferative, proapoptotic, anti‐angiogenic and anti‐metastatic activity on a wide range of cell lines and animal models of cancer.”
- This review includes a summary of currently ongoing clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids as anticancer agents.
Antitumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. (2006)
- “Delta-9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exhibits antitumor effects on various cancer cell types, but its use in chemotherapy is limited by its psychotropic activity.”
- “We found that, surprisingly, cannabidiol [CBD] acted as a more potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth than THC and that cannabigerol [CBG] and cannabichromene [CBC] usually followed cannabidiol in the rank of potency.”
- “In conclusion, our data indicate that cannabidiol and possibly Cannabis extracts enriched in this natural cannabinoid, represent a promising nonpsychoactive antineoplastic strategy. In particular, for a highly malignant human breast carcinoma cell line, we have shown here that cannabidiol [CBD] and a cannabidiol-rich extract counteract cell growth both in vivo and in vitro as well as tumor metastasis in vivo.”
- “Cannabinoids impair tumour progression at various levels. Their most prevalent effect is the induction of cancer cell death by apoptosis and the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation. At least one of those actions has been demonstrated in almost all cancer cell types tested.”
- “The use of combinational anticancer therapies has a number of theoretical advantages over single-agent strategies, because they allow for the simultaneous targeting of tumour growth, progression, and spread at various levels. In line with that idea, recent observations suggest that the combined administration of cannabinoids with other anticancer drugs acts synergistically to reduce tumour growth.”
- “To summarize, cannabinoids induce tumour cell death and inhibit tumour angiogenesis and invasion in animal models of cancer, and there are indications that they act similarly in patients with glioblastoma…and show an acceptable safety profile.”
- “In conclusion, our results indicate that CBD exerts a potent anti-angiogenic effect by widely affecting several pathways involved in this process. Its dual effect on both tumour and endothelial cells further suggests that CBD could represent a potential effective agent in cancer therapy”
- Collectively, the non-psychoactive plant-derived cannabinoid CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumours and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic and perhaps anti-angiogenic properties. On the basis of these results evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.
- “CBD behaves as a non toxic compound; indeed oral administration of CBD 700 mg day-1 for 6 weeks did not show any overt toxicity in humans suggesting its possible exploitation for prolonged treatment.”
- “Additionally, experimental data showed that combined treatment with CBD and Delta-9 THC could be more effective in reducing cancer cell proliferation, suggesting that the co-administration may represent a better choice for cancer therapy.”
Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. (2010)
- “THC:CBD combination showed a more promising efficacy profile than the THC extract alone. CBD may enhance the analgesic potential of THC… which may produce anti-inflammatory effects, along with its ability to inhibit immune cell migration. Additionally, CBD may modulate the potential unwanted effects of THC…which potentially would provide a better safety profile for the THC:CBD medication in chronic use.”
- “The THC:CBD and the THC medications were well tolerated…The clinical response to pain with THC:CBD extract oromucosal spray has not demonstrated tolerance in several clinical trials of longer duration.”
- “We can conclude that the observed reduction in pain scores is attributable to the positive analgesic effects of THC:CBD extract. This study shows that THC:CBD extract is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids.”