Scientists in at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, briefly review 10 studies that shed light on how CBD might interact with cancer treatments.
Sometimes, science fails to see the tree for the forest. Statistical significance and double-blind trials are important, but so is human experience. Case studies are meaningful. Case studies often portend future discovery. So the case study of two Brazilian brain cancer patients who successfully combined CBD with their cancer treatment should not be dismissed. In their report, Paula Dall’Stella and other doctors in São Paulo describe the typical treatment plan for patients with glioblastoma.
Breast cancers are often classified by the receptors they express. The three most common breast cancer receptors respond to estrogen, progesterone, or epidermal growth factor. The latter include HER2-positive breast cancers. Identifying these receptors facilitates treatment. A study led by scientists in Spain indicates that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the treatment of HER2-positive cancer.
Doctors in the UK recently reported the case of an elderly man who’s lung cancer responded to CBD. The man — being 81 years old — decided against chemotherapy or radiation, which would worsen his quality of life without much hope for extending it. Four months after a CT scan, the tumor cross section had shrunk to nearly one tenth of its initial size! The doctors — obviously surprised — found out that the patient had begun using a CBD oil 2-3 months earlier.
An “orphan receptor” is the term for a receptor in the body whose natural activator is not known. GPR55 is a G-protein coupled orphan receptor that interacts with the other cannabinoid system. CBD appears to inhibit GPR55, while endocannabinoids may activate it. Researchers in the UK and Italy collaborated on a study of GPR55 in pancreatic cancer.
The first medical use of THC allowed by the FDA was the 1985 approval of isolate THC (Marinol) to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Since then, research has demonstrated numerous possible applications of THC and cannabis in cancer patients, including painkilling, protecting the brain from toxic chemo, and even synergizing with the treatment itself.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an astonishingly safe drug. Currently, the biggest safety concern is that at high doses it can alter the metabolism of other pharmaceuticals. That means CBD might amplify the toxicity of other drugs. This has come to a fore with epilepsy treatment, since overdosing anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) is very dangerous.
In clinical research, cannabis is often set up to fail. Federal restrictions privilege studying isolated molecules from cannabis over the plant itself. And even when cannabis research is done, scientists are often forced to use low-quality weed from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Because of this, most of the useful medical data on cannabis comes from observational studies, where people consuming cannabis are asked about their experience. Researchers in Albuquerque recently analyzed an app-based survey of over 3,000 cannabis users.
According to a recent study by University of Pensylvannia scientists, there were “small or limited associations between [adolescent] cannabis use and structural brain measures.” But even calling the effect small is aggrandizing harms. Their data didn’t support the notion that teens using cannabis causes any changes in the developing brain. The report goes on to say that “Detailed studies of vulnerability to structural brain alterations and … long-term risk are clearly indicated,” which is directly refuted by their own data.