While research into the topic is still scant, studies such as the retrospective paper mentioned above have turned up concerning findings: Patients who did not receive cannabis were 3.17 times more likely to respond to immunotherapy.
These days, you’re more likely than ever to hear cannabis and cancer mentioned in the same breath. Cannabis is already recognized as a valuable palliative treatment for cancer due to its antiemetic and analgesic effects. Emerging research suggests that cannabis may offer curative benefits for cancer, too—cannabinoids present in the plant can prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, slow tumor growth, or even stimulate the death of cancer cells.
While the study has limitations—a small sample size and short follow-up period—it nonetheless highlights that both physicians and patients need to be aware of the potentially negative effects of cannabis on immunotherapy treatment.
Cannabinoids May Suppress the Immune System
“Compounds in cannabis have been found to have an immunomodulatory effect,” says Macias. Immunomodulation downregulates the intensity or duration of an immune response, and can even increase the threshold required to kickstart immunoactivity.
“The way immunotherapy works is by using certain drugs, such as Nivolumab, to stimulate the immune system to help kill cancer cells,” explains Dr. Chanda Macias, Ph.D. and CEO of the National Holistic Healing Center. Immunotherapy harnesses compounds created by the body or synthesized in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function, to stop or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
Certain cannabinoids appear to fire up regulatory T cells, leading to immunomodulation and the inhibition of immune responses, which can dull the effects of immunotherapy—the treatment which aims to put the immune system into high gear to battle cancerous cells.
While the addition of cannabis to the cancer-fighting arsenal is a cause to celebrate, the complexities of cannabis and cancer interactions are still not fully understood. Scientists are still making sense of the role the endocannabinoid system plays in the development of cancer and whether certain cannabinoids may stimulate cancer cell proliferation.
As with any complementary therapy, you should always talk with your oncologist. Complementary therapies can interact negatively with immunotherapy or chemotherapies and/or reduce their effectiveness.
May I ask why are you taking cannabis oil? What are hoping it will help? Were you hoping it would help the infection and inflammation?
No idea. Anybody had the Keytruda experience?
I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in August, 2018. I had radiation treatment on my brain tumors that resulted in 1 tumor now barely detectable and the other 2 reduced by 75% – I was also being treated with 2 chemos (alimta and cisplatin) as well as keytruda. After 4 treatments of this combo, I am now on ongoing maintenance and receiving only alimta and keytruda. I have no side affects with the exception of sensitive/weepy eyes and a drippy nose in week 3 of every treatment. My MD says she has not heard of this before but I find it odd that it is always in week 3, the same week I will receive the next treatment. I have recently read about CBD oil and its possible anti-tumor effectiveness so started taking it just a week ago. I had no idea that it may reduce the effectiveness of the keytruda so plan to speak to my chemo pharmacist this Friday when I go in for my next treatment. There is so much conflicting information on the web, we must all be careful. My oncologist says of there is not a study on it, she will not recommend it. No alternative treatment advice from her, but so far I am responding well to treatment so we are doing something right. I hope to win this battle, that's for sure. Dies, exercise and meditation are so very good for us too!
Are they compatible, I.e. taking CO while having immunotherapy? Any experience from anybody who use bothv
Besides surgery, when one thinks of cancer treatment options, usually chemotherapy or radiation, come to mind. A patient and their doctor’s options have expanded over time, and newer approaches may now include a combination of targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell therapy, and immunotherapy. In simple terms, cancer immunotherapy or biological therapy is designed to stimulate a patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes referred to as immuno-oncology, and its popularity has dramatically increased over the past years. Many biotechnology companies are looking into cancer vaccines that actively target cancer cells with the immune system. One such cell-based immunotherapy that is approved by the FDA for the treatment of prostate cancer is Provenge. Therapy entails removing specific white blood cells from the patient through leukapheresis, which is then sent to a particular production lab where it is incubated with a fusion protein. Afterward, it is shipped back to an infusion center and administered to the patient. For patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer or HRPC, the median survival rate with the immunotherapy added 4.1 months compared to placebo.
The reason patients with autoimmune conditions receive such a benefit from cannabis has to do with its ability to “down-regulate” or suppress the immune system. This suppression of the immune system is a contradictory goal to immunotherapy. Although cannabis may continue to offer benefits during cancer treatment, studies show it can significantly decrease overall survival and time to tumor progression when combined with immunotherapy. Side effects of immunotherapy stem from overstimulation or misdirection of the system. Although they can be severe, they are usually mild to moderate and include rash, itching, nausea, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue. The side effects of immunotherapy were reduced by the use of cannabis, not surprisingly, resulting from marijuana’s immunomodulatory effects.
What Is Cancer Immunotherapy?
Medical Marijuana is extremely beneficial for treating so many symptoms and conditions. It works particularly well for Seizures, Spasticity, Pain, PTSD, Nausea, and many other disorders. Autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, IBS, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and more than 100 different diseases are well suited to medical cannabis as cannabinoids found in it such as THC and CBD have immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties.
Immunotherapy can include Immune checkpoint inhibitors, T-cell adoptive transfer, Cytokines, cancer vaccines, Monoclonal antibodies, and others. It is used to treat several different cancers, some of which include:
Because cannabis consumption during immunotherapy treatment may be associated with worsening clinical outcomes, we recommend patients try their best to refrain from medical marijuana during the treatment period with active immunotherapies.