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cbd oil and chemotherapy

What are the dangers of using CBD oil?

It comes in many forms: oils that are dropped under the tongue, roll-ons that are applied to the skin and even solutions for vaping. Some producers extract CBD oil and add it into foods to create edible products.

CBD has a very complex legal status right now.

Other sorts of substances have been found in CBD products, too, such as dextromethorphan, which is an ingredient in cough medicines. Heavy metals like lead and arsenic, pesticides and mold have also been found in CBD products.

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

The plant produces a resin that contains a number of substances or chemicals. These are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids can have medicinal effects on the body.
The main cannabinoids are:

Results have shown that different cannabinoids can:

What are cannabis and cannabinoids?

We need more research to know if cannabis or the chemicals in it can treat cancer.

Cannabis oil comes from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the cannabis plant. Cannabis oil often contains high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC. Cannabis oil is illegal in the UK.

There are trials looking at whether Sativex can help with cancer pain that has not responded to other painkillers.

As well as chemotherapy, many cancer patients receive radiotherapy treatment. This involves exposing the tumour cells to high-energy radiation to cause alterations that will halt cell division and induce their death. As in the case of chemotherapy, there is preclinical evidence to suggest that cannabinoids might sensitise tumours to this type of treatment. Scott and collaborators, for example, showed that a combination of submaximal doses (i.e. doses that exercise very discreet antitumour effects in themselves) of THC + cannabidiol (CBD) and radiation, caused a dramatic reduction in the growth of glioblastomas generated in mice 6 .

9. Yasueda A, Urushima H, Ito T. Efficacy and Interaction of Antioxidant Supplements as Adjuvant Therapy in Cancer Treatment: A Systematic Review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2016;15(1):17-39.

Medical use of cannabis in cancer patients

Cancer patients look to cannabis with two different —but not necessarily mutually exclusive— objectives: to alleviate the side effects of the cancer therapy and to achieve antitumour responses. With regard to the first of these goals, THC has been clinically demonstrated to prevent the nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite caused by chemotherapy 1 . In many cases, the adverse effects are so severe as to lead patients to abandon treatment. Cannabis also has other well-established properties of great benefit to cancer patients: as an analgesic, anxiolytic and a sleep inducer 1 . More recently, people suffering from cancer have also turned to cannabis for its supposed antitumour effects. While it is true that certain cannabinoids have been shown to have responses of this kind in different animal models of cancer 2 , there are as yet no controlled clinical trials to corroborate these observations in humans. Nonetheless, due to its high safety profile, thousands of oncology patients throughout the world use cannabis to try to halt the spread of the disease or even eliminate it altogether. In either of the two cases (palliative or antitumour effects), one of the first questions patients ask is whether it is safe to combine conventional therapy (chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy and radiotherapy) with cannabis.

Cristina Sánchez is a tenured lecturer in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Complutense University in Madrid. Her research focuses on the study of the endocannabinoid system in an oncological context. The ultimate aim is to understand the anti-tumour action of cannabinoids in breast cancer in molecular terms and use it for clinical purposes. Cristina was the Scientific Secretary of the Spanish Society of Cannabinoid Research, and still sits on its governing board. She was one of the founding members of the recently formed Spanish Observatory of Medicinal Cannabis and is currently its secretary.

10. Muñoz E. Cannabinoides y sistema inmune. En: Efectos terapéuticos de los cannabinoides. Ed: Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Neuroquímica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 2017. p. 55-64.