Can CBD Oil help cancer patients?

Is CBD oil safe for cancer patients to use?

Cancer doctors will tell you that no clinic day goes by without a patient asking if they should use CBD oil or other products derived from marijuana.

The problem is that because marijuana is listed as a class 1 drug in the United States, there is little research into how cannabinoids derived from marijuana – substances such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – interact with cancer treatment.

Dr. Natalie Schmitz joined the UW School of Pharmacy from Minnesota in 2018, where medicinal marijuana is legal and where she worked as a medical cannabis pharmacist.

In Wisconsin, her research program investigates the use of marijuana derived drugs to treat spasticity and other problems related to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and head and spinal cord injuries.

She gave a presentation on CBD oil to patients, families and doctors who attended the Brain Tumors Across the Spectrum 2019 event, sponsored by UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Can CBD Oil help cancer patients?

Here is part of what she shared:

Is CBD oil safe for cancer patients to use?

Early research suggests that it is relatively safe, but the problem is that the FDA is not currently regulating supplements.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 discovered that CBD levels varied widely in the products they tested and that some of them also contain THC, the compound in marijuana that makes you ‘high’.

CBD alone will not make you high and it has minimal side effects, the most common is diarrhea.

Which conditions can help CBD or THC ?

The most common condition for which patients use it is pain.

Research shows that CBD has modest effects on pain, but some patients prefer it to standard and addictive forms of pain medication. There is more evidence for THC and pain relief.

THC has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting, as well as standard medicines for nausea.

Preclinical research shows that CBD also suppresses nausea in low doses, but higher doses can make it worse.

Some studies in mice suggest that marijuana has some anti-cancer properties, but it should certainly not replace standard treatment.

CBD has no effect on appetite. The results or CBD can help when sleep is mixed and better research is needed. There are indications that CBD improves anxiety symptoms .

In addition to cancer, both CBD and THC can prevent epileptic seizures and Epidiolex, a drug based on CBD, was approved last year for a severe form of epilepsy.

What are the problems that it could cause?

The problems are more strongly associated with marijuana products that contain THC.

Long-term smoking of cannabis can cause bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

So far, smoking marijuana has not been associated with lung cancer or head and neck cancer, but there is limited evidence of a link between smoking marijuana and testicular cancer.

Chronic use of marijuana can also have effects on heart rhythm and blood pressure.

Consuming THC can aggravate mental health issues such as psychosis and bi-polar disorder.

It is also not recommended for patients with a history of alcohol or other substance abuse.

In addition, because the effects of THC can include drowsiness and impaired cognitive function, its use can mask similar symptoms caused by brain tumors.

Because CBD does not cause cognitive impairment, we would not expect the same concerns.

In conclusion, what should patients pay attention to?

If patients are going to use CBD, make sure that the product they are using is free from contamination, has been tested by third parties and communicate its use with providers to check for possible drug interactions.

CBD oil (cannabidiol) is everywhere nowadays. Once only available at novelties or vitamin stores, it is now also available at your local supermarket, pharmacy or even yoga studio.

It comes in many forms : oils that fall under the tongue, roll-ons that are applied to the skin and even solutions for sheep.

Some producers extract CBD oil and add it to foods to make edible products.

But what exactly is CBD oil and how does it affect cancer patients?

Can it really treat or even cure cancer or alleviate its symptoms?

To separate fact and fiction, we spoke to our Kimberson Tanco, MD. This is what he wants cancer patients to know.

What is CBD oil and how does it differ from marijuana and hemp?

Marijuana and hemp are both varieties of the cannabis sativa plant.

Both contain cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the two most common, known active ingredients.

The main difference is that hemp has much less THC than a typical marijuana plant.

And unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive agent, so there is less chance of causing the same mental confusion, drowsiness or hallucinations that often occur with THC.

Is there any truth to the claims that CBD oil can cure cancer?

Not at this moment. There is no evidence that CBD oil can cure cancer.

If anything, what can CBD oil do to alleviate the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatment?

It is difficult to say whether CBD oil can relieve the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer, because the studies are quite mixed and even less standardized.

There have been reports that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD may be useful in nausea and vomiting and anorexia, as well as neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Synthetic cannabinoids such as dronabinol are approved for use in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, but have not been shown to be superior to conventional nausea medicines.

Have CBD oil derived products been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer, its symptoms or the side effects caused by its treatment?


Are products that use CBD oil approved by the FDA for treatment?

Yes. Epidiolex. It was originally approved in 2018 for the treatment of two disorders, both related to epilepsy: the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and the Dravet syndrome.

But apart from Epidiolex, there is no CBD product approved by the FDA for any other medical purpose.


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What are the dangers of using CBD oil?

Quality, cleanliness and regulations are the biggest concerns.

All medicines and nutritional supplements are regulated by the FDA. But as long as CBD oil is not marketed as a medicine or dietary supplement, producers can circumvent that policy.

So CBD oil is currently very unregulated. This means that it is difficult to know how much CBD or THC is really in a certain product.

Certain hemp CBD products contain considerably less CBD or more THC than advertised.

In terms of purity, THC and CBD are both extracted from hemp and marijuana with essentially similar processes.

But traces of THC can still end up in CBD oil. And if the THC is high enough, it can cause the psychoactive effects that THC is known for.

Secondly, if a laboratory produces both CBD and THC products, there may be cross-contamination – whether through extraction, treatment or packaging.

Thirdly, the plant itself may have higher THC levels than expected. This may be due to the environment, prolonged flowering periods or cross-contamination and pollination between male and female plants, resulting in offspring with a higher THC content.

This mainly affects hemp plants, which must have fewer than 0.3% THC values.

Finally, there have been some reports of people getting infections after using CBD and cannabis products.

This is especially important for immunocompromised patients, who are already susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

Studies at a particular CBD manufacturer showed that its products were contaminated with a chemical known as 5F-ADB, which mimics THC.

5F-ADB is classified by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as illegal, potentially addictive and without accepted medical use.

Other types of substances have also been found in CBD products, such as dextromethorphan, an ingredient in cough medicines. Heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, pesticides and fungi are also found in CBD products.

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

CBD oil can adversely affect liver function. This is even stated on the warning label for Epidiolex.

And laboratory studies have shown that CBD inhibits certain enzymes responsible for drug metabolism, such as CYP2D6 and CYP3A4.

This can affect how medicines work and affect our bodies, either by reducing their efficiency or making them more dangerous.

This includes chemotherapy and other medicines.

This is very important for cancer patients to understand, because many people think that CBD oil is not a medicine.

They regard it more as a vitamin or a supplement, so they may not let their doctors know that they are using it.

Patients may not realize that the potential can be harmful. So it is very important to tell your doctor if you are using CBD oil.

Is CBD oil even legal?

CBD currently has a very complex legal status.

At the national level, every marijuana product – including CBD – is still technically illegal when used medically.

Although the Farm Bill 2018 legalized the production of hemp nationally, it is only permitted if it is not sold for medical use or as a dietary supplement.

CBD products intended for medical use must undergo an FDA assessment process.

State laws vary. In Texas, the Compassionate Use Act allows the use of medicinal marijuana for certain conditions.

Originally only for persistent epilepsy, the law was extended this year to include cancer and certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

But the application of this law is currently quite mixed up.

So while it may be legal to use CBD in a state like Colorado or Alaska, the standardization and quality of a CBD product is important if an employer follows federal regulations.

Because if there is even a small percentage of THC in that product, a drug test can come back positive. And this can lead to legal problems for the user.


What is the most important thing cancer patients should know about CBD oil?

There is still much to learn. So always let your healthcare team know if you are using CBD oil. That way we can ensure that nothing has a negative impact on your cancer treatments or other medicines.

Also avoid products with health-related claims on their labels.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that is gaining popularity in the world of natural medicine because it appears to offer many benefits to the body.

Although there is some debate on the subject, some people suggest using CBD in cancer treatment.

Although it is too early to make any claim about CBD for the treatment of cancer, this substance can help control the symptoms that occur as a result of this disease or its treatment.

It is important to note that CBD is not the same as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active cannabinoid in cannabis that causes a “high” when a person smokes or absorbs it.

Researchers are also looking into the possibility of using CBD for the treatment of anxiety and chronic pain.

Although the first results of small cancer cell and CBD studies are promising, they are not convincing.

In this article you will learn more about the effects of CBD on cancer and how it can help alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments.

The majority of the evidence available suggests that CBD and cannabis therapies can complement cancer treatment. CBD can help people with cancer by:

Stimulating appetite

CBD oil can relieve pain and stimulate appetite .
Many people who undergo cancer treatment experience nausea and loss of appetite.

These symptoms can make it difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight.

Swallowed cannabis that releases THC and other cannabinoids into the bloodstream can stimulate appetite, but there is no evidence that CBD alone can have this effect.

Pain relief

Both cancer and its treatment can cause pain. Cancer often causes pain due to inflammation, pressure on internal organs or nerve damage.

When the pain is severe, it may even become resistant to opioids, which are powerful painkillers.

CBD acts indirectly on the CB2 receptors, which can help with widespread pain relief by reducing inflammation.

THC works on the CB1 receptors, which can help with pain due to nerve damage.


Cannabis and cannabinoids such as CBD can also be useful for people with cancer who regularly experience nausea and vomiting, especially if this is due to chemotherapy.

However, the antinauseea effect appears to be from THC in cannabis, rather than CBD.

People who want to try cannabis to reduce nausea should prepare for the possible psychoactive effects of THC in prescribed cannabis products and discuss it with a doctor.

Many people find relief from low doses of THC. Prescription versions of synthetic THC are available with fewer side effects.

CBD for cancer prevention

Some people wonder about the use of cannabis or CBD to prevent cancer.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has assessed numerous studies into the relationship between cannabis and cancer and has found that the study has mixed results.

An older study of 64,855 men from the United States discovered that cannabis use did not increase the risk of tobacco-related cancers.

However, the same research also showed that male cannabis users who never smoke tobacco had an increased risk of prostate cancer.

On the other hand, the authors of a 2015 study found a promising relationship between cannabis and bladder cancer.

After correcting for various factors, they found that cannabis users had a 45 percent lower risk of developing bladder cancer.

Although research has shown that cannabis smoke is still carcinogenic, the relationship between inhaled marijuana and cancer remains unclear.

However, taking CBD extract does not expose the body to the same carcinogens as smoking marijuana.

More long-term human studies are needed to determine the role of CBD in cancer prevention.

Can CBD treat cancer?

There are currently no major clinical trials investigating the use of cannabis or cannabinoids as an anti-cancer treatment.

There are small pilot studies, but the research is still at an early stage.

In 2016, researchers noted that the use of cannabinoids is promising in the fight against cancer.

The authors discovered that cannabinoids appear to inhibit the growth of many different types of tumor cells in both test tubes and animal models.

However, they also noted that some doses or types of cannabinoids can suppress the immune system, allowing tumors to grow uncontrollably.

Much more research is needed to discover the possible therapeutic use of cannabinoids in the treatment of cancer.

Side effects of CBD

If a person stops CBD, he may experience insomnia.
The cannabinoid receptors in the brain do not work in the same way as many other drug receptors.

For this reason, there may be a lower risk of side effects.

Unlike traditional pain management medications, there are no apparent lethal doses of CBD. This is because the drug does not affect the central nervous system as opiates do.

However, cannabinoid receptors are widespread throughout the body, so CBD affects not only the brain, but many other organs and tissues.

Small-scale studies have shown that people generally tolerate CBD, but some people may experience mild side effects.

Among which:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

CBD can also interact with various drugs and cause liver damage. These drugs include:

  • antibiotics
  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety medicines
  • medicines for epilepsy
  • blood thinners
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • muscle relaxants
  • sedatives or sleeping pills

You may need to talk to a doctor about using CBD products because they can also work with some freely available aids and supplements.

People should be careful when taking CBD in addition to prescription drugs that warn of potential interactions with grapefruit.

Increased liver toxicity is a possible side effect of CBD. In a study from 2019 in the journal Molecules, researchers administered varying doses of CBD to mice.

The mice receiving higher doses experienced liver damage within 1 day.

Clinical trials with Epidiolex – the brand name of CBD medication approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy – found no evidence of physical dependence.

However, the manufacturers of Epidiolex also warn about the potential to cause liver problems in the product safety information.

As the NCI notes, CBD inhibits specific enzymes that may be important for cancer therapies. Cancer treatments that rely on these enzymes may be less effective if a person uses CBD.


Although CBD does indeed appear to be a beneficial agent for many cancer symptoms, no scientific research suggests that CBD can be an effective cancer treatment.

Cannabinoids and cannabis themselves may in some cases have their place as supplementary treatment, for example for people who need help in managing chronic pain and nausea.

People should always talk to a doctor before using CBD or any other substance during cancer treatment to ensure that it does not respond with the medicines they use.

Is CBD legal?

CBD products derived from hemp (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal at the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws.

It is important that you take CBD in the normal dose. The use of the oil is a better option because it will mix easily with your body and show more positive effects.

CBD Products that are sold in (online) stores may legally contain no more than 0.2% THC.

All products on  contain  no or hardly any THC .

You can therefore not get high and there is also  no risk  of an overdose.

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