Cancer and cancer treatments can produce a variety of symptoms. Not only are these symptoms unpleasant, but they can also be severe enough to cause additional health concerns and reduce quality of life. CBD, an extract made from the hemp plant, offers help and hope to people suffering from cancer symptoms. Many researchers are spending their resources and time in CBD oil and cancer and the results are very promising.
Unlike THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, CBD does not produce a high for the user. Studies show no risk of addiction to CBD, but they do show that CBD improves cancer and cancer treatment symptoms such as pain and nausea. There are few reported side effects with CBD use, and most of these side effects are mild.
The goal of current research is to understand better how and why CBD helps with cancer symptoms, what benefits CBD provides, and how CBD may even be used to treat cancer itself. Ongoing studies point to numerous ways that CBD helps cancer symptoms.
How CBD Works
Animal studies and human models show that CBD affects the endocannabinoid system in the brain and body. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or balance, of the chemicals that affect many essential functions including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproduction.
CBD acts on receptors to help balance neurochemicals. CBD mainly affects CB1 receptors in the brain, and CB2 receptors mostly found in the immune system. CBD helps regulate neurochemicals like serotonin, which relates to mood, wellbeing, sleeping, eating, and digestion. It may also decrease pain, alone or in conjunction with the THC found in marijuana.
Benefits of CBD for Cancer and Cancer Treatment Symptoms
Studies show the benefits of CBD for multiple cancer and cancer treatment symptoms, including:
- Alleviate Pain
- Increase Appetite
- Decrease Nausea and Vomiting
- Reduced Anxiety
- Improved Sleep
Cancer often causes pain from inflammation, pressure on internal organs, and nerve damage. Severe cancer pain can become opioid resistant, and strong narcotic medication may eventually offer little relief. By acting on the CB2 receptors, CBD reduces the inflammation associated with cancer pain.
CBD has a calming effect on the nervous system and digestive tract. By helping to decrease nausea and vomiting, commonly associated with cancer treatments, CBD may improve appetite. Cancer patients often struggle to eat enough nutrients and calories and to maintain a healthy weight.
A Canadian study reported an improved sense of taste and increased protein consumption with CBD use in patients with advanced cancer. The increased protein consumption translated into an improved quality of life for these patients because protein is a crucial building block of cells and tissues in muscle, bone, blood, and skin.
Multiple studies show a decrease in anxiety and improved sleep with CBD use. A cancer diagnosis often creates anxiety, which disrupts normal, healthy sleep patterns. The progression of cancer and experiencing symptoms of both cancer and cancer treatments can also raise anxiety levels.
One study showed a significant decrease in anxiety for participants who used CBD before public speaking. Studies have also shown improvement in anxiety symptoms and sleep issues for patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Surveys indicate that non-cancer patients most often use CBD for anxiety management.
Benefits of CBD for Cancer Prevention and Treatment
While there are few studies related to how CBD might prevent or treat cancer directly, there are promising signs. A case study detected a reduction in tumor size and lymph node involvement in a man with lung who used CBD for a month instead of traditional treatments. Two patients with brain tumors used CBD with conventional treatments and had no tumor progression for two years. Another study followed 119 with mostly late-stage cancers. That study found most patients had decreased tumor size without any side effects of CBD use.
Smoking CBD does not produce the same carcinogens as smoking marijuana. Along with CBD’s antioxidant properties, research continues on CBDs use for cancer prevention.